Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 12/09/2021
Format: 12/09/2021
Darryl Williams v. Hendersonville Hospital Corporation d/b/a Hendersonville Medical Center
M2021-00077-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff appeals from the summary judgment dismissal of his complaint against the defendant hospital pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 68-11-262.[1] The trial court held, inter alia, that this court’s decision in Fowler v. Morristown-Hamblen Hospital Association, No. E2018-00782-COA-R3-CV, 2019 WL 2571081 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 24, 2019)[2] mandated dismissal because Section 68-11-262 does not create a private right of action.  The plaintiff alleges on appeal that the trial court’s reliance upon Fowler was misplaced because his action is one for contract and therefore not dependent upon the legislature’s creation of a private right of action.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 11/10/21
State of Tennessee v. Tommy Michael Owen
M2020-01375-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant was convicted by a Lewis County Circuit Court jury of reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony, and sentenced by the trial court to two years in the Department of Correction, suspended to unsupervised probation.  Defendant argues on appeal that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his request for judicial diversion.  Based on our review of the entire record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lewis County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/21
In Re Lauren F.
W2020-01732-COA-R3-PT

This case involves a petition to terminate the parental rights of a child’s biological father and for step-parent adoption. The trial court terminated the biological father’s rights on the ground of abandonment for failure to visit, abandonment for failure to support, and wanton disregard. The court held that termination was in the child’s best interest. Biological father appeals asserting that the trial court erred in not granting him a continuance on the day of trial and that the trial court erred in its best interest determination. We vacate the trial court’s conclusion that termination was warranted on the grounds of abandonment by failure to support and abandonment by engaging in conduct that exhibited wanton disregard for the child’s welfare, but we affirm the trial court’s conclusion that the biological father’s rights should be terminated on the ground of failure to visit in the four months preceding his incarceration and that terminating his parental rights is in the best interest of the child. Therefore, we affirm the trial court’s termination of the biological father’s parental rights.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 11/10/21
State of Tennessee v. Crystal Michelle Rickman
W2020-00901-CCA-R3-CD

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Crystal Michelle Rickman, of aggravated assault and domestic assault. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying an alternative sentence. We affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/21
In Re Daylan D. Et Al.
M2020-01647-COA-R3-PT

Father appeals the termination of his parental rights on grounds of (1) abandonment by failure to support; (2) substantial noncompliance with permanency plans; (3) persistence of conditions; and (4) failure to manifest a willingness and ability to assume custody of the children. Although we vacate the trial court’s finding of substantial noncompliance with permanency plans, we affirm the remaining grounds, as well as the trial court’s determination that termination was in the children’s best interests. 

Macon County Court of Appeals 11/09/21
State of Tennessee v. Torius Saville Russell
W2020-01323-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Torius Saville Russell, was indicted for one count of first degree felony murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, eight counts of aggravated assault, and one count of reckless endangerment. After the State closed its proof in chief, the trial court dismissed the attempted first degree murder count and partially dismissed the first degree felony murder count, allowing the jury to consider the lesser included offense of second degree murder. Defendant was convicted of second degree murder as a lesser included offense of felony murder, eight counts of aggravated assault, and one count of reckless endangerment. Defendant received a total effective sentence of 50 years. Defendant argues on appeal that: (1) the evidence at trial was insufficient to establish Defendant’s identity as the shooter; (2) the trial court erred in partially granting Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal as to first degree felony murder and allowing the State to pursue a lesser included offense; (3) the trial court abused its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion for mistrial after the State’s witness made two hearsay statements; and (4) the trial court abused its discretion in imposing a sentence of 40 years for second degree murder and in ordering the second degree murder sentence to be served consecutively to his sentences for aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm Defendant’s convictions and sentences.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/09/21
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Eugene Williams
E2021-00035-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Thomas Eugene Williams, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s revocation of his probation and reinstatement of the remainder of his two-year sentence for failure to appear. Although the Defendant acknowledges that he violated the terms of his probationary sentence, he contends that the trial court abused its discretion by requiring him to serve the balance of his sentence in custody rather than ordering an alternative sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Court of Criminal Appeals 11/09/21
Fred Auston Wortman, III v. State of Tennessee, Tennessee Board of Parole, Et Al.
M2021-00068-COA-R3-CV
This appeal concerns a denial of parole. Fred Austin Wortman, III (“Wortman”) pled guilty to two counts of attempted first degree murder and one count of solicitation of first degree murder, all stemming from Wortman’s repeated attempts to kill his wife. Wortman was sentenced to thirty years in prison. After a parole hearing, the Tennessee Board of Parole (“the Board”) denied Wortman parole due to the seriousness of his offenses and the substantial risk that he would not conform to the conditions of release. Wortman subsequently filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”) challenging the Board’s decision. The Trial Court affirmed the Board’s decision. Wortman appeals to this Court raising a number of issues. We affirm the Trial Court.
 
Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/08/21
State of Tennessee v. Mario Ramirez Rodriguez
M2020-01526-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Mario Ramirez Rodriguez, appeals the summary dismissal of his motion to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence imposed for his 2007 guilty-pleaded convictions of two counts of rape of a child.  Discerning no error, we affirm the ruling of the trial court but remand the case for the entry of a corrected judgment form for Count 2 that reflects the pretrial jail credits awarded to the defendant.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/21
In Re Conservatorship Of Ruth Tomlinson Osborn
M2020-01447-COA-R3-CV

Aristotle once explained that “it is possible to fail in many ways . . . while to succeed is possible only in one way[.]”[1] With some notable exceptions, in order for an issue to be proper on appeal, success depends on the following requirements: (1) that an issue be properly raised in the trial court; and (2) that the issue be properly raised on appeal. Of the three arguments Appellants presented in this appeal, none meets both of the above requirements, though they all fail in different respects. As a result, we affirm the decision of the trial court and award Appellee attorney’s fees for defending against a frivolous appeal.

Putnam County Court of Appeals 11/05/21
Michael A. Cress Et Al. v. Tennessee State Board Of Equalization Et Al.
E2021-00093-COA-R3-CV

This action involves the valuation of thirty-two unimproved parcels of real property for taxation purposes. The property owners appealed the values assigned by the Knox County Assessor of Property to the Knox County Board of Equalization, the Tennessee State Board of Equalization, and the Tennessee Assessment Appeals Commission before filing a petition for judicial review in the Knox County Chancery Court (“trial court”). The trial court affirmed the respective values of the parcels as found by the Tennessee Assessment Appeals Commission. The property owners have appealed the trial court’s determination. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Knox County Court of Appeals 11/05/21
Deric J. Mead v. James Loyd Tucker
M2020-01512-COA-R3-CV

In this personal injury negligence action, the defendant died while the litigation was pending.  The plaintiff failed to file a motion for substitution of party within ninety days of the original defendant’s death being suggested on the record.  Over a month later, the plaintiff moved the trial court to enlarge the time to substitute the parties pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 6.02(2).  The trial court denied the motion for an enlargement of time.  Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 11/05/21
Lisa Dorothea Henry v. Lauren Delano Smith
E2021-00019-COA-R3-CV

The Domestic Relations Court for Meigs County dismissed a petition for order of protection, and the petitioner appealed to the Chancery Court for Meigs County (the “trial court”). The trial court determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case and dismissed the appeal. Because the trial court has subject matter jurisdiction, we reverse.

Meigs County Court of Appeals 11/05/21
State of Tennessee v. Benjamin Barton
W2020-01273-CCA-R3-CD

A jury convicted the Defendant, Benjamin Barton, of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”), driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of 0.08 percent (“DUI per se”), and reckless driving. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days, with six months to be served in confinement. The Defendant moved for a new trial and for the trial court to reconsider his sentence under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 35, and the motions were denied. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the verdicts, that he is entitled to a mistrial due to a discovery violation regarding expert testimony on retrograde extrapolation, that the trial court abused its discretion in failing suspend his sentence due to his health, and that there are errors on the judgment forms. We conclude that the Defendant is not entitled to relief on his convictions but that the sentencing forms are in conflict with the trial court’s oral judgments, and we remand for the trial court to correct the forms.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/04/21
State of Tennessee v. Estevenico Chandler, Jr.
E2020-01409-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Estevenico Chandler, Jr., pled guilty to aggravated criminal trespass and theft of property and was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of eleven months and twentynine days on unsupervised probation. Following a hearing on a violation of probation warrant, the trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve the remainder of the two consecutive sentences in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his probation. Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/04/21
State of Tennessee v. Louis Bernard Williams, III
W2020-00281-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Louis Bernard Williams, III, was convicted of felony evidence tampering, a Class C felony, and three respective counts of simple possession of marijuana, cocaine, and hydrocodone, Class A misdemeanors. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-16-503, -17-408, -17-415, -17-418. On appeal, the pro se Defendant contends that (1) his residence was improperly searched because the search warrant listed the incorrect address; (2) the evidence obtained in that search should be retroactively suppressed because the Defendant was not convicted of the offense alleged in the search warrant; (3) the evidence should have been suppressed because the confidential informant referenced in the search warrant affidavit was not identified and did not testify at trial; and (4) the trial court should have recused itself due to showing bias against the Defendant by denying his motion to suppress and the court’s imposition of an incorrect release eligibility in two previous cases. We affirm.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/04/21
Ruby Bridges v. Randall Roth
W2020-01508-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 4.01(3) summons issue. The trial court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss after finding that plaintiff intentionally delayed the issuance of the summons for the complaint in contradiction to Rule 4.01(3) of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 11/04/21
State of Tennessee v. Delvon J. White
E2020-00731-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Delvon J. White, appeals the revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his original sentence of incarceration in two cases, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by not either reinstating his probation or ordering a sentence of split confinement followed by modified conditions of probation to address his mental health and substance abuse. Following our review of the entire record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/21
In Re Austin W.
M2020-01315-COA-R3-PT

This appeal involves the termination of a father’s parental rights to his young son.  The trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that four grounds for termination were proven and that termination was in the best interest of the child.  We affirm and remand for further proceedings.

Giles County Court of Appeals 11/03/21
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Summers Cavin
E2020-01333-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Johnny Summers Cavin, entered guilty pleas to burglary and theft of property valued more than $2,500 but less than $10,000. He also entered guilty pleas to unrelated charges from a separate case. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant received concurrent sentences of two years and six months each on supervised probation, to be served consecutively to the sentences he received in an unrelated probation violation case. In a subsequent restitution hearing, the trial court ordered him to pay a total of $5,500 in restitution. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to impose restitution and that, alternatively, the trial court erred in setting the restitution amount at $5,500, asserting that the victim’s pecuniary loss was not substantiated by evidence and that the amount is unreasonable based on the Defendant’s income. Upon review, we conclude that we are without jurisdiction to address the merits of the instant case, and the appeal is dismissed.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/21
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Summers Cavin - dissenting
E2020-01333-CCA-R3-CD

I respectfully dissent from the majority’s holding that this court does not have jurisdiction to address the merits of this case.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/21
State of Tennessee v. Destiny Hall
W2020-01706-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Destiny Hall, was convicted at trial of evading arrest through the use of a motor vehicle, and she received a
one-year sentence, suspended to probation supervised by community corrections after service of thirty days in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/21
Deon Smith v. State of Tennessee
W2020-01672-CCA-R3-PC

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Petitioner, Deon Smith, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, auto burglary, and theft, in exchange for an effective sentence of eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner filed a petition for postconviction relief, claiming his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered due to the ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied relief after a hearing, and the Petitioner now appeals. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/21
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Summers Cavin - concurring
E2020-01333-CCA-R3-CD

I concur in Judge McMullen’s opinion and only write separately to respectfully address Judge Holloway’s view expressed in his dissenting opinion that the trial court need not establish installment terms for the payment of restitution for the judgment to be complete and final.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/21
In Re Sebashtian K. Et Al
E2020-01439-COA-R3-PT

A mother and father appeal the termination of their parental rights to three 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 the parents’ parental rights was in the children’s best interest. After a thorough review, we agree and affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/02/21