William J. Needham et al v. Robert G. Gerwig II
E2023-00394-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge John B. Bennett

In this personal injury case, Appellants, Husband and Wife, alleged that Appellee’s dog collided with Husband’s bicycle causing him to crash and sustain injuries. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee dog owner, finding that Appellants failed to meet their burden to show that Appellee’s dog was involved in the accident. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Hamilton Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Terrell Craft
W2023-00152-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The defendant, Terrell Craft, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions
of second degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault, challenging the sufficiency
of the convicting evidence and the trial court’s omission of a jury instruction on the defense
of necessity. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Jason Britt v. Richard Jason Usery, et al.
W2022-00256-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Plaintiff hired the Defendant to build a concrete foundation for his new home. The
foundation was allegedly defective. The Plaintiff hired a third party to remove the concrete
and to properly complete the work. The Plaintiff then sued the Defendant, alleging breach
of contract, negligent construction, and fraud. The case languished for several years. The
trial court ordered the Plaintiff to provide dates on which the Defendant could inspect
certain evidence, but the Plaintiff failed to comply. The trial court then orally granted the
Defendant’s motion to dismiss with prejudice for failure to prosecute. Before the trial court
entered a written order, the Plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal. The trial court
concluded that the Plaintiff’s notice was untimely submitted, coming after the oral ruling
granting the motion to dismiss, and entered a written order dismissing the Plaintiff’s case
with prejudice for failure to prosecute. Concluding that the Plaintiff maintained his right
to a voluntary dismissal under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.01(1), we reverse.

Henderson Court of Appeals

Jessica Neal v. Patton & Taylor Enterprises, LLC
W2022-01144-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Russell

This appeal arises from a single-car accident in which the vehicle crashed into a fence,
dumpster, and construction materials in the far-right lane of a city street. The plaintiff,
who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the vehicle at the time of the accident,
executed a release with the driver and the driver’s insurance company. The plaintiff
subsequently filed a complaint against the construction company who placed the
construction materials on the street, alleging negligence and negligence per se. The
defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion on the
ground that the claim against the defendant was precluded by the release. The plaintiff
appealed. We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Clay Dale
M2023-00167-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes

The Defendant, Jeffrey Clay Dale, was convicted by a Maury County Circuit Court jury of two counts of driving under the influence, third offense, which the trial court merged. See T.C.A. §§ 55-10-401(1) (2020) (driving under the influence of an intoxicant), -401(2) (driving with a blood- or breath-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more), 55-10-402 (a)(3)(A) (2020) (subsequently amended) (third offense driving under the influence). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days, with 140 days to be served in jail and the balance on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and (2) the trial court erred in allowing a law enforcement officer to testify about his observations during field sobriety testing of the Defendant. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury Court of Criminal Appeals

Tavaris D. Bledsoe v. State of Tennessee
W2023-00361-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chirs Craft

Petitioner, Tavaris D. Bledsoe, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing
that the post-conviction court erred in concluding that he received the effective assistance
of counsel. Upon our review, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to prepare a sufficient
brief in compliance with Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 27(a)(7) and Tennessee
Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 10(b). Accordingly, his issues are waived, and the appeal
is dismissed.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Lee Ardrey Harris v. Alena Marie Allen
W2023-01794-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

The appellant is the Mayor of Shelby County. He filed a complaint for divorce, and the
Shelby County chancellor originally assigned to the case recused herself. The case was
reassigned to another Shelby County chancellor who accepted the case. Six months later,
the appellant filed a motion to recuse the chancellor based on the Mayor’s budgetary duties
regarding Shelby County government, including the chancery court and the chancery court
clerk. The chancellor denied the motion, finding that it was not filed promptly in
accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B. We affirm.

Shelby Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee, ex rel., William Goetz v. Donel Autin, et al
W2023-01385-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rhynette N. Hurd

The notice of appeal in this case was not timely filed. Therefore, this Court lacks
jurisdiction to consider this appeal. The appeal is dismissed.

Shelby Court of Appeals

David Hutchins v. Cardinal Glass Industries, Et Al.
E2023-00587-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Don Ashe, Sr.

Appellant David Hutchins challenges the trial court's denial of his Motion to
continue a summary judgment hearing and its denial of his Motion to Alter or Amend
the Court's summary judgment. The appeal was referred to the Special Workers'
Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and
conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm.

Workers Compensation Panel

Erica Wayne Barton v. Mechelle Scholmer Barton
E2022-01574-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Telford E. Forgety, Jr.

This is an appeal of a trial court’s valuation of a marital asset, division of a marital estate, and award of alimony in solido as a result of the divorce of Eric Wayne Barton (“Husband”) and Mechelle Scholmer Barton (“Wife”). In its 2018 Final Judgment of Divorce (“2018 Judgment”), the Chancery Court for Blount County (“the Trial Court”) found that Husband’s 100% interest in Vanquish Worldwide, LLC, (“Vanquish Worldwide”) was marital property and that Vanquish Worldwide’s outstanding claim for potentially $32 million against the U.S. Government (“Government Claim”) was marital property. The Trial Court accordingly awarded to Wife a portion of the Government Claim. In Husband’s first appeal, this Court reversed the Trial Court’s finding that the Government Claim was marital property and its awarded portion to Wife. This Court, concluding that the Government Claim was nevertheless relevant to an accurate valuation of Vanquish Worldwide and the total value of the parties’ marital business interests, instructed the Trial Court on remand to revalue Vanquish Worldwide, and in doing so, to consider the Government Claim. On remand, the Trial Court found that Husband had dissipated $12.375 million of the Government Claim proceeds by using the funds to satisfy a personal judgment against him. The Trial Court accordingly added the dissipated $12.375 million to its $4 million valuation of Vanquish Worldwide. Husband has appealed, contesting the Trial Court’s consideration of the Government Claim proceeds in its valuation of Vanquish Worldwide, as well as its overall division of the marital estate, award of alimony in solido, and placement of a lien and an assignment in trust to Wife on Husband’s ownership interests in his numerous LLCs, including Vanquish Worldwide. We affirm the Trial Court’s finding that Husband dissipated marital property and its valuation of Vanquish Worldwide but modify the Trial Court’s judgment to the extent it awarded interest on Wife’s award of alimony in solido. The balance of the Trial Court’s judgment is affirmed, including its division of the marital estate and award of alimony in solido to Wife. We further decline to award Wife attorney’s fees on appeal.

Blount Court of Appeals

The Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County, et al. v. Tennessee Department of Education, et al.
M2022-01786-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin; Judge Tammy M. Harrington; Judge Valerie L. Smith

This appeal concerns a lawsuit challenging the Tennessee Education Savings Account Pilot Program, Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-2601, et seq. (“the ESA Act”). A group of parents and taxpayers from Davidson and Shelby Counties (“Plaintiffs”) sued state officials (“State Defendants”) in the Chancery Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”). In their operative amended complaint, Plaintiffs alleged that the ESA Act violates the Tennessee Constitution and state law by diverting taxpayer funds appropriated for public schools in Davidson and Shelby Counties to private schools, resulting in unique harm to these localities. A group of parents with children eligible for the ESA Act (“Bah Defendants”) and another group (“Greater Praise Defendants”) (all defendants collectively, “Defendants”) intervened in defense of the ESA Act. Defendants filed motions to dismiss, which the Trial Court granted on grounds that Plaintiffs lack standing and their claims are not ripe for judicial review. In reaching its decision, the Trial Court found that the ESA Act has not caused the affected counties any unequal hardship. Plaintiffs appeal the dismissal of their first, second, and sixth causes of action only. We conclude that the Trial Court erred by deciding factual disputes over the impact of the ESA Act on Plaintiffs at the motion to dismiss stage. Plaintiffs alleged enough in their amended complaint to establish standing both as parents and taxpayers. Plaintiffs’ claims also are ripe for judicial review. We, therefore, reverse the judgment of the Trial Court as to Plaintiffs’ first, second, and sixth causes of action and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

Davidson Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Christopher Laron Matthews
M2022-01170-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Christopher Laron Matthews, Defendant, appeals the trial court’s consecutive alignment of twelve-year sentences for sale of methamphetamine in Case No. 27504 and Case No. 27505 for an effective twenty-four-year sentence. The trial court based the consecutive sentencing on its finding that Defendant was an offender whose record of criminal activity was extensive. We affirm.

Maury Court of Appeals

Bobby V. Summers v. State of Tennessee
M2023-00103-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

Bobby V. Summers, Petitioner, appeals the post-conviction court’s summary dismissal of his petition as time-barred. Upon review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

In Re Sebastian O.
E2023-00439-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sharon M. Green

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights based on Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1-113(g)(14). Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Johnson Court of Appeals

In Re Gabrella T.
W2023-00317-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Damita J. Dandridge

Syeda C. (“Mother”) and Hosea T. (“Father”) (Mother and Father collectively, “Parents”) are the biological parents of Gabrella T. (the “Child”).  The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) petitioned the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County (the “Juvenile Court”) for an adjudication that the Child was dependent and neglected in the care of Parents and for an award of temporary legal custody of the Child to DCS.  The Juvenile Court granted DCS’s petition, adjudicated the Child dependent and neglected, and awarded temporary legal custody of the Child to DCS.  Mother appealed the Juvenile Court order to the Shelby County Circuit Court (the “Circuit Court”).  Mother failed to appear at the hearing in the Circuit Court on her appeal; upon oral motion made by DCS, the Circuit Court dismissed Mother’s appeal.  Mother now appeals to this Court.  Upon thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the Circuit Court.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Pamela Salas v. John David Rosdeutscher et al.
M2021-00449-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kelvin D. Jones

Plaintiff’s attorneys appeal the trial court’s imposition of sanctions against them in the amount of $68,617.28 and the denial of their second motion to disqualify the trial court judge. We affirm the trial court’s discretionary decision to impose sanctions, but we vacate the amount of sanctions awarded and remand for the trial court to calculate the reasonable amount of monetary sanctions in keeping with the procedures and considerations outlined in this opinion. We have determined that Plaintiff’s attorneys’ issue regarding the trial court’s denial of their second motion to recuse is moot. Finally, we decline to award attorney’s fees on appeal.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Edward Ronny Arnold v. Allstate Insurance Company
M2023-00536-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lynne T. Ingram

While a prior lawsuit was still pending on appeal, the Plaintiff filed a nearly identical lawsuit. The trial court dismissed this second suit based on res judicata. Although the second suit was not barred by res judicata because the first suit was not final for res judicata purposes, we nevertheless affirm the dismissal on the basis of the prior suit pending doctrine.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Hamid Houbbadi v. Kennedy Law Firm, PLLC et al.
M2022-01166-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kathryn Wall Olita

The plaintiff filed an action for breach of contract and fraud against his former attorneys and the attorneys’ law firm. The defendants moved for a judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the plaintiff failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted, and that the action was untimely. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, and, having determined that the plaintiff’s action is untimely under Tennessee Code Annotated section 28-3-104(c)(1), we affirm.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

James Moore v. State of Tennessee
W2022-01785-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Jones, Jr.

The Petitioner, James Moore, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of attempted first
degree murder and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for
which he received an effective sentence of twenty-six years’ imprisonment. He now
appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief, arguing that trial counsel was
ineffective by failing to: (1) subpoena records that might have shown the victim’s
intoxication; and (2) adequately advise the Petitioner about testifying. Alternatively, he
argues that the cumulative effect of trial counsel’s deficiencies entitles him to relief. After
review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Sarah Elizabeth Parker v. Kenton Stone Parker
E2022-00644-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor E.G. Moody

In this divorce appeal, the husband challenges the trial court’s classification of real estate as marital property. Following a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan Court of Appeals

Maryclair McDonald v. Kaleb Coffel
E2022-01569-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Jenne

In this action initiated by the mother to modify the parties’ permanent parenting plan for their minor child, the trial court limited the father’s co-parenting time to include no overnight visitation with the child after finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the father had committed domestic abuse against two women whom he had previously dated. The trial court relied on Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-406 to restrict the father’s parenting time based on its determination that the father’s acts of domestic violence and hostility toward women had a negative effect on his ability to effectively parent the minor child. The father appealed, but this Court dismissed that appeal because the trial court’s order was not a final judgment. See McDonald v. Coffel, No. E2021-00460-COA-R3-CV, 2021 WL 4958475 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 26, 2021). On remand, the trial court addressed all pending matters and entered a final judgment, keeping in place the residential co-parenting schedule limiting the father’s parenting time to exclude overnight visitation. The father has again appealed, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by denying him overnight co-parenting time and by relying on Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-406. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Bradley Court of Appeals

In Re Lyrik L.
M2023-00276-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ronald Thurman

This appeal arises from a pending petition for termination of parental rights and adoption. Two weeks after the maternal grandparents commenced their action to terminate the parental rights of the mother of their grandchild (the father being deceased), the paternal grandparents (“the Intervenors”) filed a motion to intervene for the purpose of filing a competing petition for adoption and termination of parental rights; they also sought to set aside an order granting permanent guardianship over the child to the maternal grandparents previously issued by the juvenile court in a separate proceeding. The Intervenors also filed a motion for leave to intervene for the purpose of filing a petition for grandparent visitation. The maternal grandparents opposed all relief sought by the Intervenors. The trial court denied the motion to set aside the juvenile court’s order of permanent guardianship for lack of jurisdiction, and it denied the motion to intervene for purposes of adoption on the ground that the Intervenors lacked standing because they did not meet the definition of prospective adoptive parents under Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-102(44). However, the court granted their motion to intervene for the purpose of grandparent visitation. The Intervenors appeal the denial of the motion to intervene for purposes of adoption, and the maternal grandparents appeal the order granting the Intervenors leave to intervene for the purpose of grandparent visitation. We have determined that the Intervenors have standing to file a petition for adoption and termination of parental rights; thus, we reverse the trial court’s ruling on that issue. We affirm the trial court in all other respects.

Putnam Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Kelvin Montgomery
W2022-01160-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Appellant, Kelvin Montgomery, was convicted of especially aggravated kidnapping
and aggravated sexual battery. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of thirtyseven
years’ confinement. On appeal, the Appellant argues that: (1) the evidence is
insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court committed plain error by failing
to provide the jury instruction required under State v. White, 362 S.W.3d 559, 580-81
(Tenn. 2012), in connection with his aggravated rape charge; and (3) the trial court abused
its discretion by imposing the maximum within-range sentences and ordering that they be
served consecutively. Upon our review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Larry King, et al. v. Town of Selmer, Tennessee
W2023-00390-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

In this Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9 interlocutory appeal, we address whether
the trial court erred in denying Appellant Town’s motion for summary judgment on
Appellees’ negligence and joint-venture claims. We conclude that the public-duty doctrine
shields the Town from liability, and the special-duty exception does not apply.
Furthermore, Appellees’ “joint venture” claims are simply additional negligence claims
seeking to hold Appellant Town liable for the alleged negligence of other defendants.
Because the Tennessee Legislature has not waived governmental immunity under such
circumstances, Appellant Town’s immunity was never removed as to the “joint venture”
claims. As such, the trial court erred in denying Appellant Town’s motion for summary
judgment as to Appellees’ negligence and “joint venture” claims.

McNairy Court of Appeals

Roger Noble Et Al. v. Jerry Gray Et Al.
E2022-01356-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Melissa Thomas Willis

Five easement holders filed suit against two other easement holders and the servient estate owners seeking a declaratory judgment regarding whether the easements could be used for commercial logging activities. The trial court concluded that commercial logging activities were not a permissible use of the easements and entered an order restraining and enjoining use of the easements for such activities. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Rhea Court of Appeals