Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 03/03/2021
Format: 03/03/2021
State of Tennessee v. Frank Edward Sharp, Jr.
M2020-00489-CCA-R3-CD
The Appellant, Frank Edward Sharp Jr., contends that the trial court erred by revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the balance of his original sentence in confinement. The Appellant acknowledges that he violated the terms of his probation and argues that the trial court should have given him a sentence of split confinement. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court, but we remand to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment of conviction in case number 17-CR-125 to reflect that the Appellant pled guilty to possession of .5 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to sell or deliver.
 
Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/23/20
State of Tennessee v. Laron Rashawn Lumpkin
M2019-01912-CCA-R3-CD

Indicted for felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, Defendant, Laron Rashawn Lumpkin, was convicted by a jury of voluntary manslaughter and especially aggravated robbery. The trial court imposed a sentence of five years for voluntary manslaughter and twenty years for especially aggravated robbery to be served concurrently for an effective twenty-year sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm Defendant’s conviction for especially aggravated robbery but reverse and vacate his conviction for voluntary manslaughter. In doing so, we impose a conviction for the lesser-included offense of reckless homicide and remand the case to the trial court for a sentencing hearing on the newly imposed conviction.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/23/20
State of Tennessee v. Laron Rashawn Lumpkin - Concurring in Part, Dissenting In Part
M2019-01912-CCA-R3-CD
I join the majority in affirming Defendant’s conviction of especially aggravatedrobbery. However, I write separately to dissent from the majority’s conclusion that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction of voluntary manslaughter.
 
Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/23/20
In Re Maddox F.
M2020-00241-COA-R3-PT

This appeal involves the termination of a father’s parental rights. The Trial Court conducted a trial and entered an order finding that the statutory ground of abandonment existed for termination of the father’s parental rights and that termination was in the child’s best interest. Because a court reporter was not present, the Trial Court approved a statement of the evidence for purposes of appeal. We determine that the Trial Court failed to make sufficient findings of fact relevant to the statutory grounds of abandonment by failure to visit the child and failure to provide financial support for the child that were in effect at the time of the 2017 termination petition, as required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-1-113(k), and that the statement of the evidence approved by the Trial Court is insufficient for us to review the termination on appeal. Therefore, we vacate the Trial Court’s judgment terminating the father’s parental rights. We remand for the Trial Court to enter an order with sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law on each of the statutory grounds for the termination of the father’s parental rights and the best interest analysis. If there is a subsequent appeal of that order, the Trial Court shall develop a more detailed statement of the evidence reflecting a complete account of the testimony and evidence presented during trial. If a detailed statement of the evidence is not possible, the Trial Court shall conduct additional proceedings as necessary to prepare a sufficient record for appeal, including a new trial if necessary. 

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 12/23/20
Jon Vazeen v. US Med
E2019-01562-COA-R3-CV

Pro se appellant appeals the trial court’s involuntary dismissal of this action pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.02(2). Due to the deficiencies in the appellant’s brief, we dismiss the appeal.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/22/20
St. George Holdings LLC v. James D. Hutcherson
E2020-00082-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns an option agreement. St. George Holdings, LLC (“SGH”), an entity formed to purchase the old St. George Hotel (“the Hotel”) in Chattanooga, entered into an agreement with James D. Hutcherson (“Hutcherson”) under which SGH would borrow $700,000 from Hutcherson to develop the Hotel. An option agreement, one of four documents executed in the transaction, provided that if SGH was unable to obtain a full development loan in 18 months, Hutcherson could purchase the Hotel for the amount of his loan. SGH never obtained a development loan. When Hutcherson attempted to exercise his right to purchase, SGH refused to comply. Instead, SGH sued Hutcherson in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”). Hutcherson filed a counterclaim. The Trial Court granted summary judgment to Hutcherson on SGH’s claims. After trial on Hutcherson’s counterclaim, the Trial Court granted him specific performance. SGH appeals, arguing among other things, that a jury waiver provision in the deed of trust did not serve to waive its right to jury under the option agreement. We hold, inter alia, that the deed of trust’s separately-initialed jury waiver, broad in its language as to its scope across the transaction, was sufficient to waive the right to jury for actions arising out of the option agreement. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court in all respects.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 12/22/20
Timothy Weakley v. Franklin Woods Community Hospital Et Al.
E2020-00591-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from a trial court’s order dismissing a claim of false imprisonment against a hospital and two of its employees, wherein the trial court found that the acts alleged all constituted “health care services” as defined by the Tennessee Healthcare Liability Act. Specifically, the trial court found that the Appellant failed to provide pre-suit notice and failed to file a certificate of good faith as required by statute. As a result, the trial court dismissed the Appellant’s claims with prejudice. The Appellant now appeals the trial court’s decision. For the reasons contained herein, we affirm the decision of the trial court

Washington County Court of Appeals 12/22/20
Willie Gordon v. William Louis Chapman
W2019-01655-COA-R3-CV

Two men were driving along I-40 in Memphis when their cars collided. One driver sued the other driver for damages, alleging negligence, and the other driver counter-sued, also alleging negligence. The defendant filed a motion to compel the plaintiff to supplement his discovery responses. The trial court ordered the plaintiff to serve his supplemental discovery on the defendant’s attorney by August 2, 2019, and stated that the case would be dismissed if he failed to comply. The plaintiff failed to meet the deadline or ask for an extension, and the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff appeals, and we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/22/20
In Re Jaylan J., et al.
W2019-02025-COA-R3-PT

This appeal involves the termination of parental rights of a mother and a father. The trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that several grounds for termination had been proven and that termination was in the best interest of the two children. The mother and the father separately appealed. On appeal, the Department of Children’s Services “does not defend” some of the grounds that the trial court concluded were established. However, DCS maintains that three grounds for termination were sufficiently proven against the mother and that one ground was sufficiently proven against the father. We conclude that two of the remaining grounds for termination alleged against the mother were sufficiently proven, but we do not find clear and convincing evidence that termination of her parental rights is in the best interest of the children. We conclude that the sole remaining ground alleged against the father was not proven by clear and convincing evidence. As such, we reverse the termination of parental rights and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/22/20
In Re March 9, 2012 Order
W2019-01923-COA-R3-CV

In a prior appeal, this Court affirmed dismissal of this case and remanded for the trial court to determine the appropriate amount of attorney’s fees owed to the appellee due to the appellant’s frivolous appeal. On remand, the trial court ordered the appellant to pay the sum of $11,901.35. The appellant then filed a motion to alter or amend, arguing, for the first time, that the trial court’s order was “void ab initio” because it was “adjudicated by an adjudicator with compromised neutrality in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment[.]” As support for this claim, the appellant pointed to comments made by the trial judge during hearings in a separate but related case in 2010 and 2012. The appellant argued that the Fourteenth Amendment required the trial judge to disqualify herself sua sponte and that her failure to do so rendered all subsequent orders entered by the trial judge void. The trial court treated this as a request for recusal “embedded” in the motion to alter or amend and denied the motion in all respects. The appellant has appealed. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/22/20
Helen Butler v. KBK Outdoor Advertising, Et Al.
M2019-00321-COA-R3-CV

A widow sued to recover the value of her late husband’s interest in a general partnership.  She argued that, in compensating a deceased partner, the assets of the partnership had to be valued at fair market value.  On a motion for summary judgment, the trial court concluded that the partnership agreement provided that, upon a partner’s death, partnership assets would be valued at book value.  After our review of the partnership agreement, we reverse. 

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 12/22/20
Tracy Darrell Adkins v. Rhonda Forlaw Adkins
M2018-00890-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a contentious divorce case that has been pending since 2015. The trial court entered an order purportedly certifying fourteen of the orders entered over the course of the litigation as final and appealable orders pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 54.02. We conclude that the trial court improvidently certified these orders as final and dismiss the appeal.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 12/22/20
Sharon Kay Story, Et Al. v. Mark Steven Meadows, Et Al.
M2019-01011-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns a dispute over ownership of two corporations and five limited liability companies, operating as Nashville Ready Mix. The ultimate issue on appeal is whether the Trial Court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants, Mark Steven Meadows; Nashville Ready Mix, Inc.; Nashville Ready Mix of Murfreesboro, Inc.; Nashville Ready Mix of Columbia, LLC; Nashville Ready Mix of Franklin, LLC; Nashville Ready Mix of Clarksville, LLC; Nashville Ready Mix of Dickson, LLC; and Nashville Ready Mix of West Nashville, LLC (collectively, “Defendants”). The plaintiffs in this action, The Meadows Community Property Trust and Sharon Kay Story and Mary Helen Meadows, as co-trustees of Meadows Community Property Trust, (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) appeal the Trial Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants and the dismissal of all their claims. Determining that there are genuine issues of material fact that preclude summary judgment, we reverse the Trial Court’s grant of summary judgment concerning the issues of statute of limitations, implied partnership, and accounting and remand for further proceedings. Plaintiffs have waived the issues regarding unjust enrichment, constructive trust, and de facto merger due to their noncompliance with Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 27 and Tennessee Court of Appeals Rule 6.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/22/20
In Re Ryan J. H.
M2019-01439-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns the termination of two parents’ parental rights. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition in the Juvenile Court for Marshall County (“the Juvenile Court”) seeking to terminate the parental rights of Jared H. (“Father”) and Annalisa P. (“Mother”) to their minor child, Ryan J. H. (“the Child”). After a hearing, the Juvenile Court entered an order terminating Father and Mother’s parental rights on a host of grounds and finding that termination of Father and Mother’s parental rights is in the Child’s best interest. Father and Mother appeal. We reverse several grounds rightly conceded on appeal by DCS. We affirm the grounds of failure to support as to Father and substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan as to both Father and Mother. In addition, we reverse the Juvenile Court’s finding that DCS failed to prove the ground of failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody, and instead find that ground proven as to both Father and Mother by clear and convincing evidence. We find further that termination of Father and Mother’s parental rights is in the Child’s best interest. Thus, while we reverse the Juvenile Court’s judgment in part, we affirm its termination of Father and Mother’s parental rights to the Child.

Marshall County Court of Appeals 12/22/20
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Ryan Simmons
M2019-00786-CCA-R3-CD

The Lincoln County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Christopher Ryan Simmons, for aggravated burglary in count one; vandalism less than $1,000 in count two; theft of property valued between $2,500 and $10,000 in counts three and four; evading arrest by motor vehicle in count five; and evading arrest on foot in count six.  Following a trial, the jury convicted Defendant on all counts as charged.  On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion for judgment of acquittal, asserting that the evidence was insufficient to establish his identity as the perpetrator of the offenses.  Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/22/20
Carlos Wilson v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01588-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Carlos Wilson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/22/20
Jim Hudgins v. State of Tennessee
E2019-02173-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Jim Hudgins, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, seeking relief from his conviction of first degree premediated murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to present evidence that he was too intoxicated to form the requisite intent for premeditation. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/22/20
In Re Anouck C.
M2019-01588-COA-R3-JV

This case arises from an investigatory order issued by the Juvenile Court for Rutherford County allowing DCS to investigate abuse allegations regarding a minor child pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. section 37-1-406. The order also prohibited the mother of the child from interfering with the investigation. The mother appeals. Because the issues raised by mother are moot, we dismiss the appeal.  

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 12/21/20
Tiffany Michelle Taylor v. State Of Tennessee
M2019-01312-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Tiffany Michelle Taylor, was convicted by a Putnam County jury of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life in the Tennessee Department of Correction. More than a year after this court affirmed her conviction, Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that her juvenile life sentence violated the Eighth Amendment as interpreted in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016). The post-conviction court subsequently denied the petition on its merits. Following our review of the record and relevant law, we conclude that the post-conviction court should have dismissed the petition because it was not timely filed.  The judgment dismissing the petition is affirmed.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/21/20
Phillip Mahnken v. Andrew Bettis Aviation, LLC
W2019-01903-COA-R3-CV

Employee sued his former employer for the compensation that he alleged he was owed under an employment contract. Following a bench trial, the employee was awarded damages representing thirty days’ compensation. The employer appeals, arguing that its nonperformance on the contract was excused by an implied condition. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/21/20
Worldwide Property Hub, LLC v. Loretta E. League
W2020-00605-COA-R3-CV

Appellee purchased real property at foreclosure and filed this forcible entry and detainer action seeking possession. Appellee received a judgment for possession in the general sessions court, and Appellant, the former owner of the property, petitioned for de novo review in the Circuit Court for Shelby County. Appellee filed a motion for summary judgment; Appellant filed no response to the motion and no countervailing statement of undisputed material facts. On the undisputed facts, Appellee is the bona fide purchaser for value of the property and has good title pursuant to the “Substitute Trustee’s Deed.” The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee, granting it immediate possession of the Property. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/18/20
In Re: Ayanna B.
E2020-00227-COA-R3-PT

This case involves a petition to terminate parental rights. After a trial on the petition, the trial court terminated the parental rights of the biological parents. In its written order, the trial court failed to make the necessary findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1-113(k). For the reasons stated herein, we vacate the trial court’s order and remand with instructions for the trial court to make appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-1-113.

Cumberland County Court of Appeals 12/18/20
In Re Tavarius M. Et Al.
M2020-00071-COA-R3-PT

Darius M. (“Father M.”) and Denzel W. (“Father W.”) appeal the juvenile court’s decision to terminate their parental rights. They also challenge the juvenile court’s finding by clear and convincing evidence that termination of their parental rights was in the best interest of the children. Because the juvenile court erred in allowing Father W.’s attorney to withdraw from representation on the first day of trial, we vacate the court’s termination of his parental rights on all grounds and remand for a new trial. We affirm the juvenile court’s termination of Father M.’s parental rights.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 12/18/20
In Re Walter B.
M2020-00069-COA-R3-PT

The trial court terminated a father’s parental rights on the ground of severe child abuse.  The father argues that the trial court erred in finding that he committed severe child abuse and in finding termination to be in the child’s best interest.  He asserts that there was no evidence that he knew or should have known about the child’s injuries.  In light of all of the facts, including the nature of the child’s injuries, the medical evidence, and the trial court’s finding concerning the father’s credibility, we conclude that the trial court did not err in terminating the father’s parental rights.  

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 12/18/20
State Of Tennessee v. Margle Otis Ward
M2019-02172-CCA-R3-CD

Margle Otis Ward, Defendant, admitted to violating the conditions of his probation. The trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and ordered the execution of the judgments as originally entered. Defendant claims that the trial court erred by fully revoking his probation “without considering alternative sanctions or tailoring a sanction to address Defendant’s drug use.” We determine that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in both revoking probation and in ordering the execution of the judgments as originally entered.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/18/20