Home

SEARCH TNCOURTS.GOV:

COURT OF APPEALS OPINIONS

In Re Kamyiah H.
M2021-00834-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kathryn Wall Olita

A mother appeals the trial court’s decision to terminate her parental rights based on the grounds of (1) abandonment by wanton disregard, (2) persistence of conditions, (3) sentenced to two or more years’ imprisonment for conduct against a child, (4) incarcerated under a sentence of ten or more years, and (5) failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody and financial responsibility.  She further challenges the trial court’s finding by clear and convincing evidence that termination of her parental rights was in the best interest of the child.  Finding that the trial court failed to make sufficient findings of fact for the failure to manifest an ability and willingness ground, we vacate that termination ground.  We affirm the trial court’s decision in all other respects.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

In Re Estate of John Jefferson Waller
M2022-00183-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Randall Kennedy

A reverse mortgage borrower died.  The administrator of his estate petitioned the probate court to enjoin the lender from foreclosing and to set aside the loan and mortgage based on lack of capacity and fraud.  While the injunction against the lender was in place, the mortgaged property was sold.  On the administrator’s motion, the probate court ordered the administrator to escrow the payoff amount for the reverse mortgage pending the outcome of the litigation.  After a bench trial, the probate court dismissed the estate’s claims against the lender.  The administrator then asked the court for leave to release the escrowed funds in an amount equal to a payoff provided by the lender shortly before the sale.  The lender objected because the sale had occurred over four years before.  The lender requested payment of interest accruing since the sale and recovery of its attorney’s fees and costs.  The probate court sided with the administrator and denied the lender’s motion for attorney’s fees and costs.  We affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Shelby Ireland v. Tennessee Farmers Life Insurance Company et al.
M2021-01360-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes

This appeal challenges a grant of summary judgment to an insurance company on a breach of contract claim for failing to honor a life insurance policy.  The chancery court concluded the policy was void because of misrepresentations made by the decedent in obtaining coverage. The beneficiary, the spouse of the decedent, argues disputed facts exist both as to whether any misrepresentations were made and whether any of the purported misrepresentations increased the insurer’s risk of loss.  Accordingly, the beneficiary contends that the chancellor erred in awarding summary judgment.  We find no error and affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. 

Maury Court of Appeals

Rachel Reiss Et Al. v. Rock Creek Construction, Inc.
E2021-01513-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge William T. Ailor

This appeal involves a counterclaim asserting defamation filed by the original defendant, a construction company, concerning statements that the original plaintiffs/homeowners made online and to third parties that were allegedly damaging to the construction company’s reputation. The homeowners sought dismissal of the defamation claims pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 20-17-101, et seq., known as the Tennessee Public Participation Act (“TPPA”). The trial court denied the homeowners’ motion to dismiss and ultimately entered judgment against them. The homeowners have appealed solely the trial court’s denial of their motion to dismiss. Determining that the trial court should have analyzed the motion to dismiss pursuant to the provisions of the TPPA rather than applying a traditional Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12 analysis, we vacate the court’s denial of the motion to dismiss and remand for further proceedings. We also vacate the trial court’s monetary award to the defendant construction company and remand that issue for further consideration once the motion to dismiss has been properly adjudicated.

Knox Court of Appeals

Gary Haiser Et Al. v. Michael McClung Et Al.
E2021-00825-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

This appeal involves a long-running dispute between two groups of property owners in the real estate community development of Renegade Mountain over composition of the board of directors and resultant control of the community organization. Plaintiffs, members of the Renegade Mountain Community Club, Inc. (“RMCC”), a homeowner’s association, brought this action in 2011, seeking a declaratory judgment affirming their status as directors and officers of RMCC. The Defendants contested the validity of the election at which Plaintiffs were allegedly elected. Plaintiffs also sought a declaration of whether the purported developer possessed developer’s rights. After two prior appeals and a subsequent retrial, the trial court held that Defendant Moy Toy, Inc., a property owner, does not have developer’s rights. The trial court further ruled that Plaintiffs were properly elected as members of RMCC’s board and enforced an easement of enjoyment to use certain property in the development that was designated as “common areas,” in favor of Plaintiffs and all other members of RMCC. Defendants appeal. We vacate the trial court’s findings that the parties stipulated that the old golf course property was not “common property,” and that Plaintiffs “have no interest” in it because the parties agreed and stipulated only that the old golf course property was “not an issue” in this case. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in all other respects.

Cumberland Court of Appeals

In Re Bentley J. et al.
M2022-00077-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Reed Brown

This is a termination of parental rights case involving two minor children.  Mother and Father appeal the trial court’s order terminating their parental rights to the children on multiple bases.  Having reviewed the record on appeal, we affirm the ruling of the trial court.

Pickett Court of Appeals

Thomas Jackson (Deceased), By Next of Kin, Latisha Jackson v. Vanderbilt University Medical Center
M2022-00476-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda Jane McClendon

Patient, by next of kin, sued hospital alleging negligence during his treatment. Trial court granted hospital’s motion to dismiss based on patient’s failure to file the complaint prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Patient appealed the dismissal. Because the trial court correctly determined that the statute of limitations commenced running when the patient was discharged, we affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

James Franklin Byrd v. Valerie Finley Byrd v. Byrd Brothers, LLC, et al.
W2021-00926-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss

This is an appeal following a four-day divorce trial. The husband raises nine issues on appeal regarding the grounds for divorce, the role and testimony of an expert witness, the valuation and division of marital property, judgments for attorney fees and accountant fees, and a finding of criminal contempt. For the following reasons, we affirm as modified and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby Court of Appeals

McGinnis Oil Company, LLC v. William H. Bowling d/b/a Teague Grocery, et al.
W2021-01104-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

This is a contract dispute. The trial court dismissed Appellant's action for failure to state a claim based on the statutes of limitations prescribed by Tennessee Code Annotated section 47-2-725 and/or Tennessee Code Annotated section 28-3-109(a)(3). We reverse and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings.

Fayette Court of Appeals

Jenny Sue Taylor v. George Green Taylor, III
E2021-01281-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge John B. Bennett

George Green Taylor, III (“Father”) filed a petition to modify his permanent parenting plan in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (the “trial court”). Father’s ex-wife, Jenny Sue Taylor (“Mother”), responded to the petition contending, inter alia, that Father’s proposed plan was not in the children’s best interests. Following a bench trial, the trial court determined that a slight change in the parties’ children’s summer schedule was warranted and ordered an upward deviation in Father’s child support for extraordinary educational expenses. Father appeals. The trial court’s ruling on Father’s child support is modified to reflect that Father’s base child support obligation is $731.00 per month, and we affirm as modified. We also affirm the trial court’s finding that an upward deviation in Father’s child support is warranted and in the children’s best interests, but we remand for entry of an order and child support worksheet reflecting the monthly amount owed for said upward deviation. Finally, we affirm the trial court’s ruling that Mother is entitled to her attorney’s fees incurred in the trial court pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-5-103(c).

Court of Appeals

Brian Boling v. Spireon, Inc.
E2021-00598-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deborah C. Stevens

This appeal involves a contractual dispute related to the plaintiff’s employment. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant. The plaintiff appealed. We affirm.

Knox Court of Appeals

Laurel Martin Griffin v. Kevin Michael Griffin
M2021-00173-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

In a previous appeal from a divorce, this Court vacated the trial court’s award of alimony to the wife.  We remanded for reconsideration of the amount of alimony after determining the husband’s ability to pay.  On remand, the parties stipulated that the husband’s gross income was less than the amount the trial court originally relied upon in setting alimony.  But the court made no change in its alimony award.  The husband appeals.  We affirm.

Williamson Court of Appeals

Mary Causby Jackson, As Administratrix of the Estate of Samara Elizabeth Jackson v. Lenita H. Thibault, M.D., Et Al.
E2021-00988-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge John S. McLellan, III

Plaintiff appeals the trial court’s decision to exclude her proffered expert for failing to comply with the locality rule expressed in Shipley v. Williams, 350 S.W.3d 527 (Tenn. 2011). Plaintiff also appeals the trial court’s decision to grant the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. Discerning no abuse of discretion, we affirm the decision of the trial court to exclude the expert. Additionally, we affirm the grant of summary judgment to defendants.

Sullivan Court of Appeals

In Re Autumn D. Et. Al.
E2022-00033-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John S. McLellan, III

This appeal arises from a common-law writ of certiorari filed in the circuit court; however, the dispositive issue on appeal is whether the juvenile court, which was presiding over a dependency and neglect action, retained jurisdiction to enter a custodial order after a petition to adopt the children at issue had been filed in the chancery court. The adoption petition was filed after a contested evidentiary hearing for the change of custody had concluded but prior to the juvenile court announcing its decision or entering an order. After the adoption petition was filed, the juvenile court entered an order removing the children from their grandmother’s custody and awarding custody to the mother. The grandmother challenged the jurisdiction of the juvenile court to enter the order by filing a petition for a common-law writ of certiorari. The circuit court granted the writ but held “that the Juvenile Court had the authority to enter the [post-petition custodial order] owing to the fact that proof had been heard on [the petition to change custody].” We respectfully disagree. Tennessee Code Annotated § 37-1-103(c) unambiguously states, “when jurisdiction has been acquired [by dependency and neglect proceedings] under this part, such jurisdiction shall continue until . . . a petition for adoption is filed regarding the child in question as set out in § 36-1-116(f).” (emphasis added). Furthermore, Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1- 116(f)(2) directs that “any proceedings that may be pending seeking the custody . . . of the child . . . who is in the physical custody of the [adoption] petitioners on the date the petition is filed . . . shall be suspended pending the court’s orders in the adoption proceeding, and jurisdiction of all other pending matters concerning the child . . . shall be transferred to and assumed by the adoption court.” Here, the grandmother had legal and physical custody of the children when the adoption petition was filed. Accordingly, the juvenile court’s jurisdiction was automatically transferred to the chancery court upon the filing of the adoption petition. For these reasons, the juvenile court no longer had jurisdiction to enter an order removing custody from the petitioner in the adoption case, the grandmother. Accordingly, the judgment of the circuit court is reversed, and this matter is remanded with instructions for the circuit court to enter judgment holding that the juvenile court’s order changing custody is void for want of jurisdiction. 

Sullivan Court of Appeals

KLDW Wyocorp, Inc. v. Reginald Hall
E2022-00799-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor M. Nichole Cantrell

Because the order appealed from does not constitute a final appealable judgment, this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Anderson Court of Appeals

E. Joseph Robinson, II et al. v. Nelle Powell Williams Mahaffey et al.
M2021-01068-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor J.B. Cox

This appeal arises from a dispute between three neighbors over the nature and permissible use of an easement created through a 1983 judgment of the chancery court.  The plaintiffs own the property that is burdened by the easement and argue that the trial court correctly found that the 1983 judgment created an easement in gross in favor of the landowner directly north of their property.  We find that the trial court erred in finding an easement in gross and hold that the 1983 judgment created an express easement appurtenant creating a dominant and servient tenement; however, the easement appurtenant was not capable of being conveyed to landowners who were not purchasing the dominant estate.  Likewise, we find that there was no prescriptive or implied easement allowing the easement to be deeded from one neighbor to another.  Because the trial court’s judgment lacked findings of fact relevant to the slander of title cause of action, we remand this issue to the trial court for the entry of specific findings of fact on the elements of slander of title.  We affirm the trial court’s holding that defendants are responsible for the cost of re-installing a gate that they damaged.  The chancery court’s order is reversed in part, vacated in part, and affirmed in part.

Bedford Court of Appeals

Raymond Sines v. Regina Tinnin
E2021-01434-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Howard L. Upchurch

This post-divorce appeal arises from the trial court’s designation of the primary residential parent of two minor children. Due to the lack of a transcript or a statement of the evidence, we must affirm.

Bledsoe Court of Appeals

Alexandrea Parker Ex Rel. Orrin Arlo Parker v. Jeanie D. Dassow, M.D.
E2021-01402-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney, C.J.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle E. Hedrick

This appeal involves a healthcare liability action. The plaintiff sued a physician who had interpreted the results of her fetal ultrasound. The physician was employed by a Tennessee state university as a professor. Her job duties included both educational responsibilities and clinical care to patients in the residency clinics. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the physician, finding that she had received no personal gain by her act of interpreting the ultrasound. Therefore, the physician possessed absolute immunity under the Tennessee Claims Commission Act for her actions within the scope of her state employment. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton Court of Appeals

In Re Brayleigh C.
W2021-00910-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew T. Cook

This appeal involves a dispute between unwed parents, in which the mother filed a petition to modify a parenting plan and the father filed a counter-petition to modify the parenting plan and to modify custody. The juvenile court dismissed both the petition and counterpetition finding that modification was not in the child’s best interests. The father appeals. We affirm.

Lake Court of Appeals

In Re Kendall K.
M2021-01463-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ted A. Crozier Jr.

A father and stepmother sought to terminate the parental rights of a mother to her child.  The trial court found clear and convincing evidence that the mother had abandoned her child by willful failure to visit during the four months preceding the filing of the termination petition.  But the court found the evidence less than clear and convincing that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest.  We affirm. 

Robertson Court of Appeals

Benjamin McCurry v. Agness McCurry
E2022-01387-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge James E. Lauderback

The appellant, Agness McCurry, has appealed the September 29, 2022 order of the Circuit Court for Washington County (“the Trial Court”). Because the September 29, 2022 order does not constitute a final appealable judgment, this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Washington Court of Appeals

In Re Kailyn B.
E2021-00809-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Elizabeth C. Asbury

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. In addition to disputing the grounds for termination and best interest, Mother argues that the petition was fatally flawed, and Petitioners should not have been allowed to amend after the close of their proof. We conclude that the trial court did not err in deciding the case on its merits because the amendments were not prejudicial to Mother and remedied the petition’s deficiencies. We further conclude that clear and convincing evidence was presented of both the grounds for termination and that termination was in the child’s best interest. As such, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Campbell Court of Appeals

Mark Leedy v. Hickory Ridge, LLC
E2022-00035-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge E.G. Moody

This appeal concerns a breach of contract claim. Mark Leedy (“Plaintiff”) and Hickory Ridge, LLC (“Defendant”) executed the Real Estate Land Installment Contract (“the Contract”) under which Plaintiff would purchase real estate from Defendant located at 195 Derby Drive, Kingsport, Tennessee (“the Property”). Although Defendant accepted money from Plaintiff to be applied toward insurance, Defendant opted to “self-insure.” Sometime later, severe storms damaged the Property. Defendant failed to properly assess or repair the damage. Plaintiff spent another 18 months living on the Property all the while making payments before he left. Plaintiff sued Defendant in the Circuit Court for Sullivan County (“the Trial Court”) for breach of contract. Defendant filed a counterclaim. After a bench trial, the Trial Court ruled in favor of Plaintiff. Defendant appeals, arguing, among other things, that Plaintiff assumed the risk of loss. We hold, inter alia, that Defendant was obliged to insure the Property pursuant to the Contract and associated documents. However, we reverse the Trial Court’s award to Plaintiff of attorney’s fees and expenses as there is no provision in the Contract for such an award to Plaintiff. Otherwise, we affirm.

Sullivan Court of Appeals

Emily Daily Fuller v. Christopher Mark Fuller
E2022-00701-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Marie Williams
Because the order appealed from does not constitute a final appealable judgment, this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Hamilton Court of Appeals

In Re Travionna W., et al.
W2021-01349-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dan H. Michael

This appeal concerns the termination of a mother’s parental rights to four of her children. The trial court found that the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) established several grounds for terminating the mother’s parental rights and that termination of her rights was in the children’s best interests. On appeal, the mother contends that the trial court erred when it terminated her rights because the evidence is insufficient to prove any ground for termination or that termination of her parental rights is in the children’s best interests. We have determined that DCS proved grounds for termination and that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the best interests of the children. Accordingly, we affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights.

Shelby Court of Appeals