COURT OF APPEALS OPINIONS

In Re Remington C., Et Al.
M2023-00983-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

In this parental termination case, the paternal grandparents filed a petition to terminate the
mother’s parental rights to her four children, alleging several grounds for termination. The
trial court found that one ground for termination had been proven and that termination of
the mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests. Based on these findings,
the court terminated the mother’s parental rights. The mother appeals. We affirm the trial
court’s finding that the termination ground of abandonment by wanton disregard pursuant
to Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-102(1)(A)(iv)(c) has been proven and that
termination of the mother’s parental rights is in the children’s best interests. Accordingly,
we affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights.

Warren Court of Appeals

John David Ruff v. Vanderbilt University Medical Center
M2022-01414-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

The plaintiff filed a health care liability action without a certificate of good faith. When the defendant moved to dismiss, the plaintiff asserted that the certificate was unnecessary because the common knowledge exception applied. He also contended that his noncompliance should be excused based on the defendant’s failure to timely provide medical records and/or for extraordinary cause. The trial court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments and dismissed the action with prejudice. We affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Rodney N. Washington v. Music City Autoplex, LLC
M2023-00286-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda J. McClendon

This is an appeal from a trial court’s dismissal of a complaint for race discrimination for failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, we affirm the decision of the circuit court.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Delvon Paden v. Kyrstyen Davison
M2023-00240-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy K. Barnes

The trial court entered a permanent parenting plan in 2014 that governed the parties’ custody arrangement for nine years. In 2022, the child’s father petitioned the juvenile court for a modification of the parenting plan. During the pendency of the modification petition, he also filed a motion for a restraining order to prevent the child’s mother from removing the parties’ daughter from his custody, which was granted. After a hearing on the modification petition, the court found a material change in circumstances had occurred warranting modification and that modification of the custody arrangement was in the child’s best interest. We affirm.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

Michael Frisbey Et Al. v. Salem Pointe Capital, LLC Et Al.
E2023-01233-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri Bryant

The company holding developer’s rights to a subdivision and the company’s principal member used the developer’s rights to unilaterally remove a board member from the board of the subdivision’s homeowners’ association. The aggrieved board member and his wife filed suit, asking for an injunction allowing the plaintiff to remain a board member. The trial court granted the plaintiff’s request for a temporary injunction and later held that the defendant company lacked the authority to remove the plaintiff as a board member. The trial court reasoned that the bylaw on which the company relied in removing the board member was contrary to state law and improper. Defendants appealed to this Court. We reverse in part and affirm in part, affirming the trial court’s ultimate ruling that the plaintiff is entitled to his seat on the homeowners’ association board.

Monroe Court of Appeals

Angel Aguilar ET AL v. Eads Auto Sales
W2023-00914-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gina C. Higgins

In an appeal from a general sessions court judgment, the trial court awarded the plaintiffs compensatory damages for a misrepresentation by a car dealer, declined to award treble damages, and awarded the plaintiffs only a portion of their attorney’s fees. Both parties appeal. We vacate the denial of treble damages, but otherwise affirm the decision of the trial court.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Roger Glen Vincent v. Deborah Lynn Vincent
M2023-01116-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Adrienne Gilliam Fry

In this divorce action, the wife contends that the trial court inequitably divided the parties’
marital estate. The trial court awarded the husband the divorce on the ground of
irreconcilable differences, classified the parties’ assets as separate or marital, and then
divided the parties’ marital estate. The court also determined that an award of alimony to
the wife was not appropriate and further denied the wife’s motion for civil contempt. This
appeal by the wife followed. Due to the wife’s failure to file a table that lists “all properties
and debts considered by the trial court, including: (1) all separate property, (2) all marital
property, and (3) all separate and marital debts,” as required by Court of Appeals Rule 7,
along with other deficiencies in the wife’s brief, we conclude that she has waived her issues
on appeal. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Robertson Court of Appeals

Donald Douglas Wright v. Angel Sims Wright
M2023-01134-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: PER CURIAM
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson

In this post-divorce dispute over child support, the mother has appealed an order striking her pleadings and granting the father a default judgment as to his counter-petition. Because the order appealed does not resolve all the claims between the parties, we dismiss the appeal for lack of a final judgment.

Davidson Court of Appeals

James V. Holleman v. Barbara J. Holleman
E2022-01396-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr.

After many years of contentious post-divorce litigation, the trial court ordered the court clerk’s office to distribute property-sale proceeds to the parties. The trial court also ordered that the wife’s portion of the sale proceeds be taxed in an amount sufficient to satisfy a previous sanctions award against the wife and an award of attorney’s fees to the husband. The wife appeals to this Court. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox Court of Appeals

Hollie Cherry v. Lori Christine Moss, et al.
W2023-00146-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge W. Ray Glasgow

Grandmother appeals the denial of her petition for grandparent visitation, arguing that the trial court failed to apply the presumption of irreparable harm contained in Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-306(a)(5). Because Grandmother never asked the trial court to apply a rebuttable presumption of harm, we affirm.

Shelby Court of Appeals

In Re Destiney S. et al.
E2023-00895-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Pemberton

The Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate the mother’s parental rights to her five children on multiple grounds. The trial court found that grounds had been proven and that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests. The mother of all five children appeals. For the reasons stated below, we vacate that part of the judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights to Destiney S. and Serenity S. because they attained the age of majority prior to the entry of the final judgment. As for the three youngest children, Aurora R., Kanan R., and Kyaion R., we affirm the trial court’s determination that grounds for termination of Mother’s parental rights were proven and that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in their best interests. Accordingly, we affirm the termination of Mother’s parental rights to Aurora R., Kanan R., and Kyaion R.

Meigs Court of Appeals

Leslie Burke et al. v. Department of Children's Services
E2023-00904-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Douglas T. Jenkins

This is a child custody matter involving the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-201, et seq. (“the UCCJEA”). Leslie Burke and Melissa Burke (“the Burkes”) received temporary custody pending adoption of the minor child Jane Doe (“the Child”) from an Indiana court (“the Indiana Court”). The Burkes then brought the Child to Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) later filed a dependency and neglect action in the Juvenile Court for Greene County (“the Juvenile Court”). DCS alleged that the Child disclosed having been sexually abused in previous adoptive homes, and that the Burkes were not cooperating with individual therapy for the Child. The Juvenile Court ordered the Child’s removal into DCS custody. The Child’s legal parents in Indiana surrendered their parental rights. DCS moved for guardianship of the Child in the Circuit Court for Greene County (“the Circuit Court”), which the Circuit Court granted. The Burkes sued DCS2 in the Circuit Court challenging the legal parents’ surrender of their parental rights and the Circuit Court’s award of full guardianship to DCS. The Burkes and DCS filed motions for summary judgment. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of DCS, dismissing the Burkes’ complaint. The Burkes appeal, arguing that the Circuit Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction even though the Indiana Court expressly ceded jurisdiction to Tennessee. We hold, inter alia, that Indiana relinquished its exclusive, continuing jurisdiction. We affirm

Greene Court of Appeals

John Stalnaker, Jr. v. Carole Cupp
M2023-00404-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Deanne B. Johnson

The beneficiary of a trust sued the trustee, who also served as the executor of the estate of the beneficiary’s stepmother, for various claims, including breach of fiduciary duty and conversion. The trustee moved to dismiss the petition pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6), and the trial court granted the motion after concluding that the breach of fiduciary duty claim was time-barred and that the petition failed to allege facts sufficient to establish a claim for conversion. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial court’s decision.

Williamson Court of Appeals

Deirdra Ransom et al. v. Legends Bank
M2023-00132-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Thompson

This appeal arises from a dispute regarding a residential property mortgage and the subsequent default, foreclosure, and eviction. Because the notice of appeal was not timely filed, we find that this court does not have jurisdiction over the matter. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

Janet Sura v. Jimmy's Last Laugh LLC
M2023-01174-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

Plaintiff sued the owner of a hotel after she fell in its lobby. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, concluding that the defendant did not owe a duty to the plaintiff. Because the trial court’s order does not adequately explain how an expert report proffered by the plaintiff was treated in adjudicating the motion for summary judgment, we vacate and remand to the trial court for the entry of an order that addresses this issue.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Cherokee Fiber & Associates , Inc. v. David Gerregano, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue
M2023-00748-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

The Tennessee Department of Revenue conducted an audit of a business and assessed unpaid taxes against the business. After an informal review by the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the business filed suit in the Chancery Court for Davidson County to challenge the assessment. The trial court concluded that the complaint was not timely filed, thus preventing the court from exercising subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint. Finding no error, we affirm the chancellor’s decision.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Stargate Auto Sales, LLC v. David Gerregano, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue
M2023-00496-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

The Tennessee Department of Revenue audited a car dealership and assessed unpaid taxes against the business. After an informal review by the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the auto dealership filed suit in the Chancery Court for Davidson County to challenge the assessment. The trial court found that the auto dealership’s complaint had been filed one day past the applicable filing period and dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Finding no error, we affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Michael Beinke, et al. v. Adam Roberson d/b/a 38 Construction, et al.
M2023-00637-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

This appeal involves the right to a nonsuit pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.01. Two plaintiffs (an individual and a limited liability company) filed this lawsuit against several defendants, asserting eight causes of action arising out of a construction contract. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss. At a hearing, the trial judge orally ruled that the motion to dismiss was denied as to all claims, with one exception. The trial judge took under advisement whether Count 2, asserting a violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, was barred by the statute of limitations. Four days after the hearing, the plaintiffs filed a notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice along with a proposed order to that effect. In response, the defendants filed a “motion in opposition” to the proposed order of voluntary dismissal, asking the trial court to delay entry of the order of voluntary dismissal until the trial court entered an order addressing the TCPA claim. The trial court ultimately ruled that the defendants had a “vested right” that prevented the plaintiffs from voluntarily dismissing the TCPA claim from the moment the trial court took the matter under advisement. The trial court then proceeded to analyze the TCPA claim. Although the issue taken under advisement related to the statute of limitations, the trial court sua sponte dismissed the TCPA claim asserted by the individual plaintiff because the court found that he did not meet the definition of a “consumer” pursuant to the TCPA. The trial court then considered the statute of limitations issue as it related to the TCPA claim asserted by the remaining plaintiff. The trial court found that the TCPA claim was not barred by the statute of limitations and denied the motion to dismiss on that basis. Having resolved the motion to dismiss as to the TCPA claim, the trial court ruled that the nonsuit then became “effective,” as of the date of the trial court’s order, resulting in voluntary dismissal of all claims except the individual plaintiff’s TCPA claim, which the trial court sua sponte dismissed with prejudice. The individual plaintiff appealed, asserting, among other things, that the trial court erred by concluding that the defendants had obtained a vested right and by delaying entry of the order of nonsuit so that the trial court could rule on the motion to dismiss. For the following reasons, we reverse the decision of the trial 06/12/2024 - 2 - court to the extent it dismissed the individual’s TCPA claim with prejudice and remand for entry of an order under Rule 41.01 dismissing all claims without prejudice.

Williamson Court of Appeals

In Re Jaylynn J.
M2023-01496-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sheila Calloway

This appeal involves the termination of parental rights of a mother.  The juvenile court found by clear and convincing evidence that five grounds for termination were proven and that termination was in the best interest of the child.  The mother appeals.  On appeal, DCS maintains that four grounds for termination were sufficiently proven against the mother.  We vacate one ground due to insufficient findings by the trial court.  We conclude that the three other remaining grounds for termination were sufficiently proven, but due to insufficient findings in the termination order, we vacate the court’s determination that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the best interest of the child and remand for the court to consider all of the relevant best interest factors and detail its findings.  Accordingly, we affirm in part, reverse in part, vacate in part, and remand for further proceedings.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Matthew Ooten v. Jason Baril
E2022-01673-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Christopher D. Heagerty

The plaintiff, a founding member of a law firm, filed this action against other members. The trial court found that the defendant members violated their duty of good faith and fair dealing, breached their contract with the plaintiff, violated their fiduciary duty toward the plaintiff, engaged in a conspiracy, and committed conversion. We affirm the ruling of the trial court.

Knox Court of Appeals

Robert R. Batson, Sr. Revocable Living Trust, by Sean Batson v. Diane Batson-Smith Et Al.
M2024-00739-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Matthew Joel Wallace

The Petitioners seek accelerated interlocutory review of an order denying their motion to
recuse. However, because the Petitioners’ filings fail to comply with Tennessee Supreme
Court Rule 10B, we dismiss the appeal.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

In Re Temperance A.
M2023-00641-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Matthew Joel Wallace

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights.  The trial court found four statutory grounds for termination: abandonment by failure to visit, abandonment by failure to support, persistent conditions, and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody.  The trial court also concluded termination was in the child’s best interest.  Neither the guardian ad litem nor Mother received notice of the trial court’s Order.  Becoming aware of the trial court’s Order more than thirty days after the decision, Mother filed a motion asking the trial court to set aside and then re-enter its final order, seeking to ensure that she could still appeal.  The trial court granted Mother’s motion.  Mother appeals, arguing the trial court erred with regard to each ground of termination that it found and that its conclusion as to the best interest of the child was also in error.  On appeal, Petitioners, paternal grandparents seeking to terminate Mother’s parental rights, argue the trial court erred in setting aside and then re-entering its termination order and, consequently, that this court lacks jurisdiction over Mother’s appeal.  The Petitioners also defend the trial court’s termination decision on the merits.  We conclude this court has jurisdiction over Mother’s appeal, that the trial court did not err in finding that grounds were established for termination, and that the trial court did not err in finding that termination is in the best interest of the child.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

Magnolia Pointe Homeowners' Association v. Kathryn Mitchell
E2022-1581-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Christopher D. Heagerty, Jr.

A homeowner’s association sought to enforce a recorded declaration of restrictive
covenants against a property owner in a subdivision. The property owner moved to dismiss
on the basis that the declaration did not appear in her chain of title and did not expressly
apply to her property. The HOA contended that language in the property owner’s chain of
title was sufficient to make the property subject to the restrictive covenants. And if not,
the restrictive covenants were enforceable as equitable servitudes. Without notice to the
parties, the trial court dismissed the action on an unasserted basis. We reverse.

Knox Court of Appeals

In Re Miguel P., et al.
W2023-01261-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge W. Ray Glasgow

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate a mother’s parental rights to two of her children. The trial court found that two grounds had been proven and that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests. Based on these findings, the court terminated the mother’s parental rights. The mother appeals. We reverse the trial court’s finding that the ground of persistence of conditions has been proven but affirm the trial court’s finding that another ground for termination has been proven and that termination of the mother’s parental rights is in the children’s best interests. Thus, we affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Mary McCabe Peirce v. Lee Wesson Hope
W2023-00621-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gina C. Higgins

This is a grandparent visitation case brought by the maternal grandmother of the child at issue. When the trial court dismissed the grandmother’s petition following a trial, it held, among other things, that there was no danger of substantial harm to the child in the absence of visitation. Although the trial court ruled in favor of the child’s father on the merits of the underlying case, it ultimately rejected the father’s request to recover attorney’s fees for his defense of the lawsuit. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the grandmother’s petition and also affirm the trial court’s denial of attorney’s fees to the father.

Shelby Court of Appeals