Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/08/2020
Format: 04/08/2020
ORNL Federal Credit Union Et Al. v. Estate of Helen D. Turley Et Al.
E2019-00861-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor M. Nichole Cantrell

This appeal concerns a lawsuit between brothers over funds belonging to their late mother, Helen D. Turley (“Decedent”). Tim Turley, executor of Decedent’s estate (“the Estate”), deposited $138,605.14 from a Y-12 Federal Credit Union (“Y-12 FCU”) account owned by Decedent into an estate account at ORNL Federal Credit Union (“ORNL FCU”). An issue arose because William Dean Turley was named sole payableon- death beneficiary on the Y-12 FCU account, and he asserted the funds were his. ORNL FCU filed a complaint for interpleader in the Chancery Court for Anderson County (“the Trial Court”) to determine the funds’ owner. In a cross-claim, Tim Turley and the Estate alleged that William Dean Turley exercised undue influence over Decedent and that Decedent was incompetent when she named William Dean Turley as the payable-on-death beneficiary on the account. William Dean Turley filed a motion for summary judgment, which the Trial Court granted. The Estate and Tim Turley appeal. We hold that William Dean Turley successfully demonstrated that the evidence at the summary judgment stage is insufficient to establish undue influence, fraud, or lack of mental competency, and there are no genuine issues of material fact for trial. We reverse the Trial Court’s judgment, however, to the extent it awarded attorney’s fees and expenses to William Dean Turley, as these fees and expenses were awarded in contravention of the American Rule. Otherwise, we affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 04/03/20
Ronald C. Young v. E.T. Stamey et al.
E2019-00907-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Nichole Cantrell

This appeal concerns whether a city councilman is disqualified from office because he also is employed by his city’s municipal school system. Ronald C. Young (“Young”) ran against E.T. Stamey (“Stamey”) for a seat on the Clinton City Council. Stamey, the incumbent, won. Afterward, Young filed suit in the Chancery Court for Anderson County (“the Trial Court”) against Stamey as well as the Anderson County Election Commission and its members (“the Commission”). Young alleged that, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-51-1501 and the Clinton City Charter, Stamey is disqualified from being a city councilman because he works for Clinton City Schools (“CCS”), albeit in a noninstructional capacity. The Commission filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, and Stamey filed a motion for summary judgment. The Trial Court granted both motions. Young appeals. We hold, first, that Stamey is not a city employee. We hold further that even if Stamey is a city employee, as a noninstructional public school employee he is allowed to run for city council pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-5-301. Finally, we hold that Young failed to state a claim against the Commission, which acted solely in its ministerial capacity in certifying the election results. We affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 03/25/20
Anderson County Tennessee, et ql. v. Tennessee State Board of Equalization, et al.
E2018-00142-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge. M. Nichole Cantrell

This appeal concerns the validity of an agreed order entered in a proceeding before the Tennessee Board of Equalization in a contested case between Anderson County, Tennessee, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Inc. The order purported to settle a dispute over the value of dies, jigs, and molds used for manufacturing automobile parts. The attorney for the Tennessee Comptroller’s Division of Property Assessments, which intervened in the proceeding, signed the agreed order on behalf of Toyota and the Anderson County Property Assessor “with express permission” of both parties, two months later, the Assessor moved to set the order aside, asserting that he had not agreed to the settlement terms or given the attorney for the Division of Property Assessments permission to sign on his behalf. The administrative judge treated the motion as one for extraordinary relief under the guidance of Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 and held an evidentiary hearing. The administrative judge found the testimony of the Division of Property Assessment’s attorney was more credible than that of the Anderson County Assessor and denied the motion. The County filed a petition for review with the Chancery Court and the trial court reversed the decision of the administrative law judge, finding that the documentary evidence gave more credibility to the Assessor’s testimony. Considering the deference that reviewing courts must give to credibility determinations, we find no basis for reversing the administrative judge’s decision to deny Anderson County’s motion. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court, and remand the case with instructions to remand the case to the Tennessee Board of Equalization for further proceedings.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 02/14/20
In Re Serenity S. Et Al.
E2019-00277-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brian J. Hunt

This is a termination of parental rights case, focusing on Serenity S., Hezeki S., Azaiah W., and Lyriq S., the minor children (“the Children”) of Angela W. (“Mother”) and William S. (“Father”). The Children were taken into protective custody by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) on March 30, 2017, upon investigation into allegations of environmental and educational neglect. The Anderson County Juvenile Court (“trial court”) subsequently adjudicated the Children dependent and neglected as to both parents on May 23, 2017. On July 11, 2018, DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Mother and Father to the Children. Following a bench trial, the trial court granted the petition as to both parents in an order entered on January 18, 2019.1 As pertinent to this appeal, the trial court found that statutory grounds existed to terminate Mother’s parental rights upon its finding by clear and convincing evidence that (1) Mother had abandoned the Children by failing to visit them, (2) Mother had failed to substantially comply with the reasonable responsibilities and requirements of the permanency plans, (3) the conditions leading to the Children’s removal from Mother’s home persisted, and (4) Mother had failed to manifest an ability and willingness to personally assume custody of or financial responsibility for the Children. The trial court further found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the Children’s best interest. Mother has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights to the Children.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 01/31/20
Pamela Cotham v. Nicholas Jay Yeager Et Al.
E2019-00423-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

The plaintiff filed this action seeking to recover damages on behalf of Anderson County based upon the plaintiff’s allegations that the defendants had submitted false claims for payment by the county. The trial court dismissed the action, determining that the plaintiff’s amended complaint had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The plaintiff has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment of dismissal.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 01/24/20
J. Philip Harber v. Marquerita Annette Dixon, Et Al.
E2019-00028-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor M. Nichole Cantrell

This appeal arises from an acrimonious dispute between former friends over real property. William M. Pruitt and his wife Shirley J. Pruitt (“the Pruitts,” or “Mr. Pruitt” and “Mrs. Pruitt”) live in a house next to three parcels of land once owned variously by Mr. Pruitt’s stepfather and mother, both of whom died intestate. J. Philip Harber (“Mr. Harber”), former attorney for the Pruitts, paid Mr. Pruitt’s fellow heirs for quitclaim deeds with the aim of acquiring their interests in the subject parcels. Mr. Harber then filed a petition in the Chancery Court for Anderson County (“the Trial Court”) to determine the interests of the parties and sell the three parcels. The Trial Court found in favor of Mr. Harber and ordered a partition by sale for division. The Pruitts appealed to this Court. On appeal, the Pruitts rely on several theories to argue that Mr. Harber never acquired an interest in the land. The Pruitts argue further that, even if Mr. Harber acquired an interest, the Trial Court should have applied the doctrine of unclean hands to deny him his requested relief because he sued them out of spite. We find and hold, inter alia, that Mr. Pruitt is but one of many heirs to his deceased parents’ land; that the other heirs never lost their interests in the land; and, that the other heirs were at liberty to sell their interests in the land to Mr. Harber, which they did. Although there is considerable evidence that Mr. Harber was motivated by spite in bringing this action, that alone does not compel application of the unclean hands doctrine, particularly as fraud is not alleged. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 12/12/19
Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB v. United States Department Of Justice, Et Al.
E2018-01250-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Nichole Cantrell

Plaintiff Wilmington Savings Fund Society brought this action for foreclosure on property owned by defendants Reginald Hall and Rhonda Hall, requesting that the trial court declare its debt from a loan secured by deed of trust to have priority over debts allegedly owed by the Halls to other named defendants. The trial court granted plaintiff summary judgment and Reginald Hall appealed. Plaintiff argues on appeal that the trial court’s judgment was not final and therefore this Court does not have jurisdiction. We hold that the trial court did not adjudicate all of the claims raised by the parties. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed for lack of a final judgment.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 12/10/19
Dr. Victor W. McLaughlin, M.D. v. Elizabeth King McLaughlin a/k/a Rev. Elizabeth King
E2018-01319-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor M. Nichole Cantrell

The plaintiff filed this action on a sworn account, seeking to recover $20,451.00 that he had allegedly loaned in several money transfers to the defendant, plus prejudgment interest and costs. In her answer to the complaint, the defendant denied all substantive allegations but failed to raise any affirmative defenses. At trial, the defendant stipulated to having received the money transfers. However, she requested that the court allow her to orally swear under oath that the transfers did not constitute a valid debt. The trial court found that the defendant was attempting to assert an affirmative defense that the transfers constituted gifts rather than loans and that she had waived such a defense pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 8.03 by failing to raise it in her responsive pleading. The trial court entered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff in the total amount of $33,942.69, including prejudgment interest. The defendant filed a motion to alter or amend, requesting that the judgment be vacated on the ground that under Tennessee Code Annotated § 24-5-107 (2017), she should have been allowed to raise any defense orally at trial. Following a hearing, the trial court found that because the defendant had elected to file a responsive pleading, she was required to raise the affirmative defense in the pleading. The trial court thereby declined to vacate the judgment. The defendant has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 10/28/19
Patricia A. Graham v. Garrett Weaver Et Al.
E2018-00682-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Ray Elledge

Plaintiff appeals the dismissal of her premises liability action for failure to show that Defendant was the owner of the premises or built the deck on which Plaintiff fell. Plaintiff has failed to file a trial transcript or statement of the evidence; consequently, we accord the trial court’s judgment a presumption that the evidence supports the holding and affirm the judgment.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 09/10/19
Sharon A. Loving v. Jonathan E. Loving
E2018-00667-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor M. Nichole Cantrell

Husband appeals from a divorce judgment and the entry of a permanent parenting plan, arguing that the trial court erred in not allowing him to put on any proof at the trial of this matter. For the reasons stated herein, and because we conclude that Husband should have been able to put on proof concerning the child’s best interests, we vacate the permanent parenting plan and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 09/10/19
In Re Brenlee F.
E2018-01498-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor M. Nichole Cantrell

This action involves the termination of a mother’s parental rights to her minor child. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the statutory grounds of abandonment by her (1) failure to visit; (2) failure to support; and (3) conduct that exhibited a wanton disregard for the child’s welfare. The trial court also found that termination was in the best interest of the child. We reverse the trial court on its finding that the mother abandoned the child by failing to remit support. We affirm the trial court on all other rulings.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 08/30/19
In Re: Kaden W.
E2018-00983-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brian J. Hunt

This is a termination of parental rights case involving the parental rights of the mother, Tora W. (“Mother”), to her minor child, Kaden W. (“the Child”), who was eleven years old at the time of trial. On January 19, 2017, the Anderson County Juvenile Court (“trial court”) found that the Child was dependent and neglected and entered an order removing the Child from Mother’s custody and placing the Child into the temporary legal custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”). The Child was immediately placed in foster care, where he remained at the time of trial. On December 20, 2017, DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Mother.1 Following a bench trial, the trial court terminated Mother’s parental rights to the Child upon determining by clear and convincing evidence that (1) Mother had abandoned the Child by failing to provide a suitable home for him, (2) Mother had not substantially complied with the reasonable requirements of the permanency plans, and (3) the conditions leading to the Child’s removal from Mother’s custody persisted. The trial court further found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the best interest of the Child. Mother has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 05/13/19
Daniel James Finstad v. Jessica Ann Calfee Finstad
E2017-01554-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Nicole Cantrell

In this action for divorce, alimony was the only remaining issue at trial. After the hearing, the trial court entered a final decree of divorce declaring that wife is an economically disadvantaged spouse pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-121(f) and that husband is able to pay her alimony. The court held that there was no proof that wife was underemployed and no proof she could be rehabilitated; it therefore awarded wife alimony in futuro. We hold that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding wife alimony in futuro. We modify the trial court’s judgment so as to provide wife transitional alimony. As modified, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed. We remand this case to the trial court with instructions.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 10/19/18
In Re: Virgil W., Et Al.
E2018-00091-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Darryl Edmondson

A father’s parental rights to two children were terminated on the grounds of abandonment by incarceration, substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan, failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody, and upon a determination that terminating the father’s parental rights would be in the best interest of the children. Father appeals; finding no error, we affirm

Anderson County Court of Appeals 10/11/18
Duracap Asphalt Paving Co. Inc. v. City of Oak Ridge et al.
E2017-02414-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Nichole Cantrell

The unsuccessful bidder on a contract for a street resurfacing project brought suit against the City of Oak Ridge, alleging that the city had not followed the competitive bidding process mandated by its municipal code. Plaintiff’s complaint sought declaratory relief, equitable relief and damages, as well as review under a writ of certiorari. The trial court determined that the lawsuit presented a proper case for review under the common law writ of certiorari and dismissed the pleaded original causes of action, finding their joinder to be inappropriate. The certiorari action was later dismissed after the trial court determined that it was not supported by a proper oath or affirmation. On appeal, plaintiff challenges the trial court’s conclusion that this case was proper for certiorari review. We affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 09/06/18
In Re: Estate of Michael Denver Shell
E2017-02146-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Nicole Cantrell

In this probate action, the intestate decedent owned real property at the time of his death that was titled solely in his name. The decedent’s spouse subsequently died within 120 hours of the decedent’s death. The trial court ruled that, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 31-3-120 (2015), the spouse’s heirs possessed no claim to or interest in the real property at issue. The spouse’s heirs have appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the trial court’s ruling. We decline to award attorney’s fees to the decedent’s estate as damages, determining that this appeal is not frivolous.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 08/29/18
Paul Koczera, Et Al. v. Christi Lenay Fields Steele, Et Al.
E2017-02056-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. McAfee

This negligence action primarily concerns a failed attempt at service of process in an underlying healthcare liability action filed in 2008. After the dismissal of a defendant doctor in the underlying suit, the plaintiffs filed the present case asserting that the defendants prevented the doctor from being served with process in the healthcare liability action. The defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial court, among other rulings, granted the motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiffs appealed the trial court’s various rulings. In an opinion filed on April 28, 2017, we affirmed the denial of the plaintiffs’ motions for default judgment, to dismiss their own complaint as moot, and for additional time to conduct discovery; however, we vacated the order granting the defendants’ motion for summary judgment and remanded the case for entry of an order that complied with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 56.04. On remand, the trial court again granted summary judgment explaining that its decision was based on its conclusion that no duty of care was owed by the defendants to the plaintiffs. We affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 08/20/18
Joseph J. Levitt, Jr. v. City of Oak Ridge, et al.
E2016-02140-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor M. Nichole Cantrell

Joseph J. Levitt (“Owner”), the owner of the Applewood apartment complex located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, appeals the September 14, 2016 order of the Chancery Court for Anderson County (“the Trial Court”) granting summary judgment to the City of Oak Ridge, the Oak Ridge Board of Building and Housing Appeals, and Denny Boss (collectively “the City”) in this suit seeking to overturn the City’s order that six of the Applewood buildings be vacated and demolished. Owner raises issues on appeal regarding the adminstrative warrants and whether the decision of the board was arbitrary, capricious, or illegal. We find and hold that the adminstrative warrants satisfied the requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-120-117 and that the decision of the board was not arbitrary, capricious, or illegal. We, therefore, affirm the Trial Court’s grant of summary judgment.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 07/24/18
Randall E. Pearson, MD, Et Al. v. Paul Koczera, Et Al.
E2017-00258-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. McAfee

This appeal follows prior appeals in this litigation that has spanned a decade. In this latest appeal, the trial court determined that the motions filed by the administrator ad litem for the estate of the third-party plaintiff should be denied. We affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 05/07/18
Warren R. Schede v. Anthony & Gordon Construction Co., Inc.
E2016-02318-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Ray Elledge

A bookkeeper for two companies was terminated after his employers learned that he had a conviction for money laundering and mail fraud arising out of his previous employment. The employee filed suit, alleging that he was terminated because of his age, in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act, and his disability, in violation of the Tennessee Disability Act. The employers moved for summary judgment, asserting that the employee was terminated for poor performance and for not disclosing the prior conviction, that these grounds constituted legitimate, nondiscriminatory grounds for termination, and that the employee could not demonstrate that these grounds were a pretext for unlawful discrimination. The trial court granted summary judgment to the employers, and the employee appeals. Finding that there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether the asserted reasons for Plaintiff’s termination are pretextual, we reverse the judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 04/05/18
In Re: Estate Of Ernest Lester Salmons
E2017-00389-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Nicole Cantrell

This appeal presents the issue of whether a trial court may properly transfer a probate proceeding that was allegedly filed in the wrong county to the county where the decedent was residing when he passed away. The administratrix of the probate estate was appointed by the Campbell County Chancery Court upon the filing of a verified petition alleging that the decedent died in Lake City, Tennessee. A defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit, subsequently filed by the administratrix regarding the death of the decedent, filed a motion in the Campbell County Chancery Court, seeking to have the previously issued letters of administration revoked because the decedent was residing in a nursing facility in Anderson County at the time of his death. Rather than revoking the letters of administration, the Campbell County Chancery Court transferred the probate matter to Anderson County. Subsequently, the Anderson County Chancery Court denied a similar motion, stating that it had no jurisdiction to revoke letters of administration issued by the Campbell County Chancery Court. The movant has appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm the Campbell County Court’s order transferring the probate action to Anderson County.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 03/14/18
Randall Lloyd Case v. Mary Kathryn Case
E2017-02025-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Nicole Cantrell

The notice of appeal in this case indicates on its face that the appellant is appealing from a decision entered on September 18, 2017. However, there is no final judgment in the proceedings below entered on September 18, 2017, or any other date. Because the case remains pending in the trial court, we lack jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 12/11/17
Jason Donaldson v. Susan Donaldson
E2017-01806-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Nicole Cantrell

This is an appeal from an order granting a motion filed pursuant to Rule 60.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. The order on appeal vacated and set aside the Final Decree of Divorce, Permanent Parenting Plan and Marital Dissolution Agreement previously entered by the Trial Court in the proceedings below. The appellee has filed a motion to dismiss this appeal arguing that the lack of a final judgment deprives this Court of jurisdiction. We agree and grant the motion to dismiss.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 11/09/17
Ray W. Buck v. Accurate C & Services, Inc., ET Al.
E2017-00231-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney, C.J.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Elledge

Ray W. Buck (“Plaintiff”) appeals the January 4, 2017 order of the Circuit Court for Anderson County (“the Trial Court”) granting summary judgment to Accurate C & S Services, Inc. (“Accurate”) and R&R Properties of Tennessee, LLC (“R&R”) in this suit for premises liability. We find and hold that the defendants made properly supported motions for summary judgment and that Plaintiff failed to respond with genuine disputed issues of material fact showing that a rational trier of fact could find in his favor. We, therefore, affirm the grant of summary judgment.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 11/06/17
Carl C. Smith, II v. Anderson County Sheriff Paul White, et al.
E2016-00656-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancelor M. Nichole Cantrell

This is an employment termination case involving a civil service employee. The petitioner was employed as a law enforcement officer with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department (“the Department”) when the Department received notice from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) that the petitioner had been “indicated” as a perpetrator of child abuse in a DCS investigation pending in Roane County. The petitioner was placed on voluntary administrative leave. Upon subsequent notification that the DCS indication had been upheld through administrative review, the Department terminated the petitioner’s employment in November 2009. The petitioner appealed the termination to the Civil Service Board of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department (“the Board”). While the appeal to the Board was pending, the petitioner filed a petition in the Roane County Chancery Court, seeking judicial review of DCS’s administrative decision. Upon review, the Roane County Chancery Court entered a judgment on August 3, 2012, reversing the classification and directing DCS to change the classification from “indicated” to “unfounded.” Through his counsel, the petitioner contacted Anderson County Sheriff Paul White to request reinstatement of his employment, but Sheriff White denied the request. Following a hearing conducted on August 6, 2013, the Board affirmed the Department’s termination decision and denied the petitioner’s motion for reinstatement filed during the hearing. The petitioner filed a petition for certiorari and review of the Board’s decision with the Anderson County Chancery Court (“trial court”) on September 4, 2013, naming the Board and Sheriff White as respondents (collectively, “Respondents”). The petitioner then filed a motion for partial summary judgment, averring that he had not been provided constitutionally sufficient notice of misconduct justifying termination. Following a hearing, the trial court, with Chancellor William E. Lantrip presiding, granted partial summary judgment in favor of the petitioner in an order entered February 27, 2014. The Respondents filed a “motion to revise order,” pursuant to Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure 54 and 59. Following a hearing, the trial court, with Chancellor M. Nicole Cantrell now presiding, vacated the prior order granting partial summary judgment and affirmed the Board's decision. The petitioner has appealed to this Court. We affirm the portion of the trial court’s judgment affirming the Board’s decision to uphold the initial termination. However, having determined that the Board’s decision to uphold the denial of reinstatement was not supported by substantial and material evidence and yielded an arbitrary and capricious result, we reverse the trial court’s affirmance of the Board’s decision to uphold Sheriff White’s denial of the employee’s September 2012 request and the Board’s denial of the petitioner’s motion for reinstatement. We remand for entry of an order to reinstate the petitioner to his employment and a determination of back pay and other damages to be calculated from the point of his September 2012 request for reinstatement.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 05/01/17