Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 04/17/2021
Format: 04/17/2021
Larry Thomas Cochran v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00316-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Larry Thomas Cochran, appeals from the Sevier County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2010 convictions for attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, resisting arrest, and criminal impersonation, for which he is serving an eighteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by finding that his petition for relief was untimely and by denying relief on his allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel and due process violations. Although we conclude that the post-conviction court erred by determining that the petition for relief was untimely, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/05/21
Beverly Gardner v. Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital
M2019-02237-COA-R3-CV

A patient filed a health care liability claim against a hospital, asserting the hospital was vicariously liable for injuries she suffered as a result of the anesthesia providers’ conduct.  The hospital moved for summary judgment, arguing that the anesthesia providers were not employed by the hospital and the hospital was, therefore, not liable for the anesthetists’ actions as a matter of law because the statute of limitations had run on the plaintiff’s direct claims against the anesthesia providers by the time the plaintiff filed her complaint against the hospital.  The trial court granted the hospital’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint, relying on the common law set forth in Abshure v. Methodist Healthcare-Memphis Hospitals, 325 S.W.3d 98 (Tenn. 2010).  Acknowledging the conflict between provisions of the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act and the common law, we hold that the statute prevails.  Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/01/21
In Re Estate of Dorothy Jean McMillan
E2020-00413-COA-R3-CV

On behalf of the estate of his mother, one son, as substitute personal representative, filed suit against his brother, the previous personal representative, seeking return of funds alleged to be missing from the decedent’s accounts. Upon summary judgment, the trial court found in favor of the defendant, the initial administrator of the estate. We reverse and remand for trial.

Knox County Court of Appeals 04/01/21
Dennis Harold Ultsch v. HTI Memorial Hospital Corporation
M2020-00341-COA-R9-CV

This appeal concerns the interplay between the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act (“HCLA”) and the common law on vicarious liability with respect to pre-suit notice in a health care liability claim against the principal only.  We have determined that the provisions of the HCLA take precedence over the common law and that the plaintiff’s claims in this case were timely filed.  Therefore, we reverse the decision of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/01/21
John L. Smith, Jr. v. Giovanni Gonzalez, et al.
W2019-02028-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a challenge to the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in finding that his complaint was deficient per the signature requirements in Rule 11.01(a) of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated herein, we reverse the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint and conclude it is in compliance with the requirements of Rule 11.01.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/01/21
Cumberland Advisory Group, LLC v. Martha Arnita Lee Et Al.
M2019-02072-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a boundary dispute in a residential neighborhood in Nashville. After a bench trial, the court determined the boundary between the plaintiff’s and the defendants’ properties was depicted on a survey prepared by the plaintiff’s surveyor. The dispositive issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred in determining the location of the boundary. Having concluded that the evidence preponderates in favor of the trial court’s decision, we affirm. Additionally, we have determined that the plaintiff is entitled to recover the reasonable and necessary expenses and attorney’s fees incurred as the result of a frivolous appeal in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 27-1-122. Therefore, we remand for the trial court to make the appropriate award.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/31/21
Juan LaSean Perry v. State of Tennessee
M2020-00583-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, Juan LaSean Perry, appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. He asserts on appeal, as he did in his petition, that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter a judgment for second degree murder. He also asserts for the first time that the trial court erred in applying certain enhancement factors during sentencing. Following careful review, we affirm the denial of the habeas corpus petition.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/21
State of Tennesse v. Jamie P. Dennis
M2018-01894-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jamie Paul Dennis, was convicted by a Stewart County Circuit Court jury of attempted rape of a child, a Class B felony, and attempted incest, a Class D felony. He was sentenced to respective terms of twenty-eight years and twelve years, to be served consecutively in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions and that the trial court erred in failing to provide a modified unanimity jury instruction where the State did not make an election of offenses. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Stewart County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/21
Buddy Ray Small v. State of Tennessee
W2020-00064-CCA-R3-PC

Buddy Ray Small, Petitioner, was indicted for first degree murder, abuse of a corpse, and arson. He pled guilty to a reduced charge of second degree murder in addition to the other charges as listed in the indictment in exchange for an effective sentence of thirty-five years at 100%. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary and that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. In this appeal, Petitioner challenges the denial of post-conviction relief. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. However, because there are clerical errors in the judgment forms, we remand to the post-conviction court for correction of the judgment forms.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/21
Lesley Murrell, et al. v. Board of Administration City of Memphis Pension and Retirement System, et al.
W2020-00187-COA-R3-CV

Police officers filed a petition for writ of certiorari seeking judicial review of a municipal board’s decision to approve a monthly amount of pension benefits for each officer. The petitioners alleged that the municipal board erred in calculating their benefits and in failing to provide them with a hearing in compliance with the contested case procedures in the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. Upon the city’s motion, the trial court dismissed the petition as improperly filed and remanded the matter to the municipal board for a written determination after a hearing. Because the trial court erred in dismissing the petition, we vacate that portion of the judgment. In all other respects, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/31/21
In Re Adaleigh M. Et Al.
E2019-01955-COA-R3-PT

A mother and father appeal the termination of their parental rights to their two children. The juvenile court concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence of multiple statutory grounds for termination. The court also concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence that termination of their parent's parental rights was in each child's best interest.

Grainger County Court of Appeals 03/31/21
State of Tennesse v. Ronnie Lucas Wilson
E2019-01864-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Ronnie Lucas Wilson, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of four counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm; attempted first degree murder; two counts of employing a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony; driving while the privilege to do so was canceled, suspended, or revoked; evading arrest in a motor vehicle and creating a risk of death or injury; two counts of initiating or making a false report to a law enforcement officer; and employing a firearm by a convicted felon during the commission of a dangerous felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-1307(b)(1) (Supp. 2017) (subsequently amended) (firearm possession by a convicted felon), 39-13-202 (2018) (subsequently amended) (first degree murder), 39- 12-101 (2018) (criminal attempt), 39-17-1324(b) (2018) (subsequently amended) (employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony), 55-50-504(a)(1) (2017) driving while privilege canceled, suspended, or revoked), 39-16-603(b)(1), (b)(3)(B) (2018) (evading arrest); 39-16-502 (2018) (a)(1), (a)(2) (false report). The jury found that the Defendant was a member of a criminal gang, and the trial court enhanced his sentences for being a felon in possession of a firearm and attempted first degree murder, which qualified as Criminal Gang Offenses pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-121. The court merged the convictions for being a felon in possession of a firearm into a single count, merged the convictions for employing a firearm into a single count, and merged the convictions for initiating or making a false report into a single count. The court imposed an effective fifty-eight-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for attempted first degree murder and the criminal gang enhanced verdicts, (2) the gang enhancement counts violate the Defendant’s constitutional rights to due process and expressive association, (3) the court erred in denying his motion to continue after severing the codefendant’s case on the morning of the trial, and (4) he is entitled to a new trial on the basis of cumulative trial error. We affirm the Defendant’s convictions, but we vacate the jury’s findings regarding the Criminal Gang Offenses Statute, and we modify the Defendant’s sentences for being a felon in possession of a firearm and remand for entry of corrected judgments for attempted first degree murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/21
State of Tennessee v. Donald L. Elliott
W2020-00769-CCA-R3-CD

A Weakley County jury convicted the defendant, Donald L. Elliott, of resisting arrest for which he received a sentence of six months with all but seven days suspended to supervised probation. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the jury’s verdict.

Weakley County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/21
State of Tennessee v. Linda Holmes
W2020-00424-CCA-R3-CD

A Madison County jury convicted the defendant, Linda Holmes, of theft of property valued at $1000 or less for which the trial court imposed a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to be served in the county jail. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting her conviction. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/21
State of Tennessee v. John Dennis Green
M2019-02197-CCA-R3-CD

A Rutherford County jury convicted Defendant, John Dennis Green, of aggravated assault and domestic assault, for which the trial court imposed an effective three-year sentence. On appeal, Defendant contends that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on self-defense and that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/30/21
The Northshore Corridor Association Et Al. v. Knox County, Tennessee, Et Al.
E2020-00573-COA-R3-CV

Upon a petition for common law certiorari filed by a community organization comprised of several homeowners’ associations and individual homeowners, the trial court reversed a decision by the Knox County Board of Zoning Appeals (“BZA”) affirming the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission’s approval of the respondent developer’s neighborhood development plan. The trial court determined the BZA’s decision to be illegal upon finding that the development plan included an on-site wastewater treatment plant in violation of the applicable zoning ordinance. The trial court subsequently denied cross-motions to alter or amend the judgment. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 03/30/21
Samuel L. Davis v. Sovereign Investments, LLC
M2019-01949-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff appeals the summary dismissal of his petition to quiet title based on res judicata and waiver. This is the fourth action between the parties, or their privies, involving real property the plaintiff lost in a nonjudicial foreclosure sale in 2012. The first three actions were decided on the merits adversely to the plaintiff. Following the dismissal of the third action regarding the same real property, the parties entered into a settlement agreement wherein the plaintiff consented to the sale of the property to the defendant and waived all claims that had been or could have been asserted in relation to the real property. Thereafter, the plaintiff commenced this action to quiet title to the same real property. Upon the motion of the defendant that had purchased the property, the trial court summarily dismissed the action. This appeal followed. We affirm the trial court in all respects.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/30/21
Allen C. Bond v. Tennessee Department of Correction
M2019-02299-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a declaratory judgment action filed by an inmate, Allen C. Bond (“Petitioner”), against the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”), concerning the calculation of Petitioner’s sentence and whether he had been awarded the correct number of pretrial credits.  The Trial Court dismissed Petitioner’s complaint for declaratory judgment upon its finding that TDOC had calculated Petitioner’s sentence in compliance with the criminal court’s most recent judgment.  Discerning no error, we affirm. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/30/21
Alvin Mack, et al. v. Baptist Memorial Hospital, et al.
W2020-00809-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a health care liability action. Darryl G. Rush-Mack (“Decedent”) died while receiving care at Baptist Memorial Hospital (“the Hospital”). Alvin Mack (“Mr. Mack”), Kevin Mack, and Darwisha Mack Williams (“Plaintiffs,” collectively) sued the Hospital and Dr. Aaron Kuperman (“Dr. Kuperman”) (“Defendants,” collectively) in the Circuit Court for Shelby County (“the Trial Court”). Defendants filed motions to dismiss, which the Trial Court granted. Thirty days from entry of the order passed without Plaintiffs filing a notice of appeal. Plaintiffs later filed a motion to set aside pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 asserting that the order was not stamped to be mailed until six days after it was filed and it went to a PO Box Plaintiffs’ counsel does not use for business. The Trial Court granted the motion and entered a new order of dismissal, from which Mr. Mack appeals. We find that Mr. Mack failed to meet the clear and convincing evidentiary burden necessary for Rule 60.02 relief; indeed, the Trial Court relied only upon statements of counsel rather than evidence. We, therefore, reverse the Trial Court’s grant of Plaintiffs’ Rule 60.02 motion.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/30/21
State of Tennessee v. Termaine York
W2020-00292-CCA-R3-CD

A jury convicted the Defendant, Termaine York, of first degree premeditated murder for a shooting he committed at his former workplace. The Defendant appeals his conviction, arguing that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to convict him of first degree premeditated murder because the State failed to establish premeditation. After a review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/30/21
Teresa Lynn Brown v. Charles Furman Phillips, Jr.
E2020-00441-COA-R3-CV

This divorce action concerns the trial court’s valuation and division of the marital estate. We affirm the judgment of the trial court as modified.

Roane County Court of Appeals 03/29/21
Kristy Billingsley v. Rhonda Gallman
E2020-00794-COA-R3-CV

A woman against whom the trial court granted an order of protection appeals the order of protection. The trial court granted the order based upon its finding that the woman, a former girlfriend of the petitioner’s husband, threatened the petitioner and her husband with physical violence through a series of videos. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 03/29/21
Robert Echols v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01982-CCA-R3-CV

The Petitioner, Robert Echols, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner argues that trial counsel was ineffective for advising the Petitioner not to testify at trial and for failing to timely file a motion for new trial. However, because the Petitioner filed an untimely notice of appeal document and the interest of justice does not favor waiver of the timely filing requirement in this case, this appeal is dismissed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/21
Marcus Johnson v. State of Tennessee
W2019-02289-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Marcus Johnson, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for relief from his convictions for felony murder and aggravated assault and his effective life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief on his Rule 36.1 illegal sentence, habeas corpus, and post-conviction claims. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand this case in order for the trial court to enter an order reflecting findings of fact and conclusions of law as to each claim for relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/21
DeShawn McClenton v. Grady Perry, Warden
W2020-00336-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, DeShawn McClenton, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Shelby County Criminal Court, alleging that the trial court used four judgments of conviction from a prior case that were void on their face to sentence him as a career offender in the present case, which rendered the judgments of conviction in the present case void. The habeas corpus court summarily denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals the denial. Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/21