Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/20/2021
Format: 01/20/2021
Dennis Williamson v. Regional One Health, et al.
W2019-02213-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerry Stokes

In this healthcare liability action, Appellant/patient appeals the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellee/hospital. The trial court granted summary judgment based, inter alia, on its conclusion that Appellant failed to provide evidence that Appellee’s immunity under the Governmental Tort Liability Act is waived due to some action/inaction of its employee. Affirmed and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 01/15/21
Crystal Spearman, Individually and as Parent and Next Friend of Kenji Lewis, a Minor v. Shelby County Board of Education, et al.
W2019-02050-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Yolanda R. Kight

This suit involves an injury sustained by a minor at a track and field tryout at the middle school he attended. The minor’s mother brought suit individually and on behalf of her minor child against the county school system and the school board for the minor’s injuries and subsequent medical expenses. After a bench trial, the trial court found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her $200,000 in compensatory damages. The defendants appealed. We affirm the trial court’s decisions and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 01/15/21
Jabari Issa Mandela a/k/a John Wooden v. Tennessee Department of Correction, et al.
W2019-01171-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

This appeal arises from a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a prisoner, Jabari Issa Mandela a/k/a John Wooden (“Petitioner”), seeking relief pursuant not only to a writ of certiorari but also including in his petition an action seeking damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 due to an alleged violation of his constitutional rights. Following the respondents’ motion to dismiss pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02(1) and (6) and Petitioner’s response thereto, the Trial Court dismissed Petitioners’ original civil rights cause of action, filed pursuant to section 1983, due to its impermissible joinder with an appellate cause of action. The Trial Court further granted the motion to dismiss as to the writ of certiorari, in part, because Petitioner had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Because Petitioner has failed to comply with Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 27 by not presenting an argument concerning whether he had exhausted his administrative remedies prior to filing his petition for writ of certiorari, he has waived this issue on appeal. As such, the Trial Court’s dismissal of the petition is affirmed. Petitioner also raises an issue concerning the amount of filing fees he was required to pay by the Trial Court to initiate the current action. On remand, the Trial Court shall revisit its order regarding the amount of filing fees to determine compliance with Tennessee Code Annotated § 8-21-401.

Lake County Court of Appeals 01/15/21
In Re Scarlet W., et al.
W2020-00999-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor James F. Butler

This is a termination of parental rights case. The Chancery Court for Henderson County terminated the parental rights of a mother to two minor children based upon two statutory grounds: persistence of conditions and a ten-year prison sentence while the children were under the age of eight years old. We reverse the trial court’s finding that the ground of persistence of conditions was satisfied by clear and convincing evidence. We affirm, however, the trial court’s finding that clear and convincing evidence supports termination of the mother’s parental rights based upon her current prison sentence. We also affirm the trial court’s conclusion that termination is in the best interests of both children.

Henderson County Court of Appeals 01/15/21
Anthony Justice v. Craftique Construction, Inc., Et Al.
E2019-00884-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Frank V. Williams, III

A homeowner in a subdivision sued the construction company that developed the subdivision and the president of the company for damages, claiming that the subdivision was a “failed development” because only five out of thirty-one lots were developed before construction ceased and promised amenities, including a club house and swimming pool, were never built. The homeowner obtained default judgments for liability and money damages against the company and a default judgment for liability against the company president. During the trial to determine damages against the company president, the homeowner orally stated his intent to nonsuit his claim for damages while retaining the default judgment for liability. The trial court entered an order nonsuiting the homeowner’s entire claim against the company president. The homeowner appeals, claiming the right to a partial nonsuit. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Loudon County Court of Appeals 01/15/21
IN RE ELLA H.
M2020-00639-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jonathan L. Young

In this termination of parental rights case, Appellants Mother and Stepfather appeal the trial court’s finding that termination of Father’s parental rights was not in the Child’s best interest. Appellee Father appeals the trial court’s finding that he abandoned the Child by willful failure to visit and willful failure to support. Upon review, we conclude that Father abandoned the Child by willful failure to visit and support. Because the record supports the conclusion that termination of Father’s parental rights is in the Child’s best interest, we reverse the trial court as to this issue, and we remand for entry of an order terminating Father’s parental rights.

DeKalb County Court of Appeals 01/13/21
Katrina Walker d/b/a Rainbow Kidz Child Care Center v. Tennessee Department of Human Services
W2019-01829-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

In this Opinion, we are tasked with reviewing two separate cases concerning the State’s oversight of a child care center in Memphis. Somewhat uniquely, these cases were adjudicated under a single docket number in the Shelby County Chancery Court and were appealed to this Court in that posture. One of the cases, which concerns a petition for a writ of mandamus, was originally filed in the Davidson County Chancery Court and was subsequently transferred to the Shelby County Chancery Court. The second case involves judicial review under the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. As to the mandamus case at issue, we conclude that venue lies only in Davidson County and, therefore, the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to enter relief. Accordingly, that judgment is vacated, and we direct that the case be transferred back to the Davidson County Chancery Court. As to the case for judicial review, we conclude that the decision of the hearing officer was supported by substantial and material evidence and therefore reverse the trial court and remand for the entry of an order reinstating the hearing officer’s decision.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 01/13/21
Fatma Adel Sekik v. Nehad Abdelnabi et al.
E2019-01302-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gregory S. McMillan

In this divorce appeal, Husband challenges the court’s failure to grant a continuance, the child support and alimony obligation imposed, and certain provisions of the parenting plan prohibiting contact with his children and revoking the parental rights set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-101(a)(3)(B). This proceeding also involved allegations of a conspiracy to defraud Wife of funds resulting from a sale of marital property in Gaza during the pendency of the divorce by Husband, his brother, and his brother’s wife; those nonspousal parties challenge the court’s jurisdiction over them and over the property in Gaza, as well as the court’s valuation of that property. They also challenge the court’s rulings that they engaged in a civil conspiracy and whether the judgment imposed against them is supported by the pleadings and the evidence. Upon our review of the issues raised, we discern no reversible error in the rulings of the court and accordingly affirm it in all respects.

Knox County Court of Appeals 01/13/21
In Re Katelynn S. Et Al.
M2020-00606-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sheila Calloway

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate a mother’s parental rights based on abandonment by failure to provide a suitable home; substantial noncompliance with permanency plans; failure to remedy persistent conditions; and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody of the child. The trial court granted the petition, finding that the Department proved all alleged grounds by clear and convincing evidence and that terminating the mother’s parental rights was in the best interests of the child. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/08/21
Kevin Arnold, Et Al. v. Beatrice Fowler
M2020-00608-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Melissa T. Blevins-Willis

This is an action to set aside a quitclaim deed. The sole issue on appeal is whether the grantor delivered the deed to the grantee with the intention that it be an effective conveyance. After the grantor signed a quitclaim deed transferring title to a 42-acre tract to the grantee, the grantor’s mother, the grantee took possession of the deed. Later that day, the deed was placed in a lockbox maintained for the grantee’s benefit but co-owned by the grantor and her sister. Approximately three years later, while the deed remained in the lockbox, the grantor died. Shortly thereafter, the mother instructed the surviving daughter to bring the deed to her, which she did, and the mother recorded the deed. Upon learning of the recording of the deed, the grantor’s husband and children commenced this action to set aside the deed for failure of delivery arguing the deed remained in the grantor’s possession and control from the time she executed it until her death. Following a bench trial, the court found that the grantor delivered the deed to her mother with the intention that it be an effective conveyance and held that the conveyance was valid. We affirm. 

Franklin County Court of Appeals 01/08/21
Corey Clark v. Monica Clark, Et Al.
M2020-01519-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Charles K. Smith

This is an appeal from an order entered on September 21, 2020, dismissing the husband’s petition seeking to set aside a 2014 judgment. Because the husband did not file his notice of appeal within thirty days after entry of the order appealed, we dismiss the appeal.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 01/07/21
William L. Kellerman, ET Al. v. Gerald S. Gabriel, Et Al.
M2019-01893-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Darrell L. Scarlett

This appeal arises out of a boundary dispute. Following a bench trial, the court determined that the plaintiffs established the boundary line based on an oral boundary agreement between the parties’ predecessors in interest. On appeal, the defendant takes issue with the trial court’s finding that the parties to the oral boundary agreement were uncertain of the location of the original boundary at the time they entered into the agreement. The defendant also takes issue with the trial court’s determination that the plaintiffs’ deed was not void for champerty based on the court’s conclusion that the remnants of the fence the defendant relied on to establish the property line met none of the requirements of adverse possession. After reviewing the evidence presented at the trial, we affirm the trial court’s decision.

Cannon County Court of Appeals 01/06/21
St. Paul Community Limited Partnership, Et Al. v. St. Paul Community Church
M2020-00272-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Patricia Head Moskal

This appeal concerns the trial court’s denial of attorney’s fees upon remand from this court.  The defendant church requested attorney’s fees, to which the plaintiff lessee asserted that such fees were not warranted given the nature of the action.  The trial court denied the request for fees, holding that an award of attorney’s fees was conditioned upon the need to hire counsel for the enforcement of the lease agreement and that the action at issue was one for declaratory judgment.  We reverse and hold that attorney’s fees are warranted pursuant to the terms of the lease agreement.  We remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/05/21
In Re John A.
E2020-00449-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael A. Davis

Petitioner Angela Y. brought this action to terminate the parental rights of Melissa V. (“Mother”) to her child John A. (“Child”). Petitioner is the sister of Child’s father. Petitioner has had custody and taken care of the Child since April 25, 2017, when the Child was a little over one year old. The trial court terminated Mother’s rights on the grounds of abandonment by failure to visit and abandonment by failure to support Child. We reverse the trial court’s finding that Mother abandoned Child by willfully failing to visit. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects, including the termination of Mother’s parental rights.

Morgan County Court of Appeals 01/04/21
Camille Black v. Maryam H. Mula Khel
W2020-00228-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary L. Wagner

This appeal involves a personal injury action stemming from an automobile accident. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, holding that the plaintiff’s filing fell outside of the applicable statute of limitations. In granting dismissal, the trial court found that the plaintiff was not entitled to relief under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 15.03. For the same reasons, the trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion to alter or amend. The plaintiff appealed. We affirm the trial court’s decisions and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/30/20
In Re Treymarion S., et al.
W2019-01330-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vicki S. Snyder

In this matter involving the termination of a mother’s parental rights to her two minor children, who were eight and seven years of age, respectively, at the time of trial, the trial court determined that there were three statutory grounds supporting termination: (1) abandonment by failure to provide a suitable home, (2) substantial noncompliance with the permanency plans, and (3) persistence of the conditions leading to the Children’s removal. The trial court further found clear and convincing evidence that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interest. The mother has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Henry County Court of Appeals 12/30/20
Kirby Parkway Professional Condominium Association, Inc. v. Cindy-Jarvis Limited, L.P., et al.
W2019-02280-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Valerie L. Smith

This is an appeal from a case between a nonprofit development management association and a condominium unit owner regarding the unit owner’s failure to pay monthly fees as well as a special assessment approved by the Board of the association. The trial court held in favor of the association, finding that it was well within its authority to assess both the monthly fees as well as the special assessment against the unit owner. The unit owner now appeals. For the reasons contained herein, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/30/20
In Re Amber R., et al.
W2019-01521-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Logan

In this termination of parental rights case, Appellant/Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights to the minor children on the grounds of: (1) abandonment by failure to provide a suitable home, Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 36-1-113(g)(1), 36-1-102(1)(A)(ii); (2) substantial noncompliance with the requirements of the permanency plan, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(2); (3) persistence of conditions, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(3); and (4) mental incompetence, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(8). Appellant also appeals the trial court’s finding that termination of her parental rights is in the children’s best interests. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Carroll County Court of Appeals 12/29/20
Gwendolyn H. King v. Bank of America, N.A., et al.
W2018-01177-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

Following two unsuccessful lawsuits filed by the instant plaintiff in federal district court, a foreclosure on the plaintiff’s home, and a successful unlawful detainer action filed in general sessions court by the purchaser of the home at foreclosure, the plaintiff filed this action against multiple defendants in the chancery court, seeking an order setting aside the foreclosure and a temporary injunction prohibiting her eviction. Following a hearing, the trial court dismissed the instant action on the basis of res judicata. The plaintiff has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/29/20
In Re Maddox F.
M2020-00241-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Laurence M. McMillan, Jr.

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
Garrett Ramos v. The Electric Employees' Civil Service And Pension Board Of The Metropolitan Government Of Nashville And Davidson County
M2020-00324-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

Appellant, a Lineman with the Nashville Electric Service (“NES”), filed a grievance with Appellee Electric Employees’ Civil Service and Pension Board (the “Board”) after the NES revoked Appellant’s unauthorized raise. The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) held that the facts supported the NES’ decision to withdraw the raise, and the Board adopted that finding. Appellant appealed to the Chancery Court of Davidson County (“trial court”). The trial court held that there was substantial and material evidence to support the Board’s decision and that the decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/23/20
In Re Ryan J. H.
M2019-01439-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Bussart

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
Sharon Kay Story, Et Al. v. Mark Steven Meadows, Et Al.
M2019-01011-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin

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
Tracy Darrell Adkins v. Rhonda Forlaw Adkins
M2018-00890-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

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
Helen Butler v. KBK Outdoor Advertising, Et Al.
M2019-00321-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ted A. Crozier

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