Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/30/2016
Format: 08/30/2016
Eric Magness et al. v. Terrell W. Couser et al.
M2006-00872-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell Heldman

This case involves a property dispute between neighbors. Property owner and her son who resides on her property brought an action to quiet title and for ejectment against a neighboring property owner. The trial court imposed sanctions against the defendant under Rule 37 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure for failing to comply with its order compelling discovery responses. The court subsequently granted the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment and, after a hearing on damages, issued a permanent injunction against the defendant and her son and a judgment for damages and costs against the defendants. The defendants have appealed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in part, reverse in part and remand.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 01/24/08
John Edward Woods v. Jill Suzanne Woods
M2002-01736-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge William C. Koch, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Heldman

This appeal involves the financial aspects of the dissolution of a twelve-year marriage. Even though the husband filed a petition for divorce in the Circuit Court for Williamson County, the parties eventually stipulated that the wife was entitled to divorce on the ground of the husband's adultery. Following a bench trial, the court awarded the wife eighty percent of the net marital estate, $1,000 per month in rehabilitative alimony for three years, $25,000 in alimony in solido, and one-half of her attorney's fees. The husband appealed. We have determined that the evidence does not support the manner in which the trial court divided the marital estate, the amount of the rehabilitative alimony award, the alimony in solido award, or the award for attorney's fees. We modify the judgment accordingly.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 07/12/05
Howard and Suzanne Levy v. James and Rhonda Franks, Lindsey Butler and Tennessee Valley Homes, Inc.
M2002-02730-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Holly M. Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor R.E. Lee Davies

This case involves a dispute between neighbors. The plaintiffs owned a one-acre parcel of property in a rural setting almost completely surrounded by a sixteen-acre parcel of property owned by the defendants. The defendant larger landowners began building structures and storing equipment in an escalating commercial use of their property. The plaintiff small landowners complained to county officials that the defendants' use of their property constituted a zoning violation. The ensuing dispute between the two landowners was marked by the defendants engaging in threatening and intimidating behavior and the plaintiffs repeatedly complaining to authorities and incessantly documenting and videotaping the defendants' activities. Finally, the plaintiffs sued the defendants for, among other things, malicious harassment, outrageous conduct, civil conspiracy, and malicious prosecution. The trial court found in favor of the plaintiffs on the malicious prosecution claim but declined to award punitive damages. The trial court dismissed the remaining claims. The plaintiffs appeal. We affirm the dismissal of the plaintiffs' claims of malicious harassment and civil conspiracy. We reverse the dismissal of the plaintiffs' claim for outrageous conduct, finding that the defendants' behavior rose to the level of outrageous conduct, and remand for an award of damages on this claim. Finally, we reverse the denial of an award of punitive damages on the plaintiffs' malicious prosecution claim.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 07/09/04
Cher Lynn Hogue v. Joseph Hogue
M2002-02500-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor R.E. Lee Davies

Chancellor found father of minor child, who told child he is gay, in contempt for violating restraining order which prohibited father "from taking the child around or otherwise exposing the child to his gay lover(s) and/or his gay lifestyle." Father appeals, asserting the restraining order was overbroad and/or vague, not issued pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 65.03, and had expired prior to the alleged offense. While we find the restraining order was issued properly and not overly broad, we find the father's act of telling child he is gay did not violate the restraining order as written.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 03/24/04
TPC Facility Delivery Group, LLC, v. Dr. James H. Lindsey, Jr., et al.
M2002-01909-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Don R. Ash
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

On May 5, 1999, TPC Facility Delivery Group, LLC entered into a Preliminary Design-Build Agreement with defendant PAMOB, LLC in connection with the construction of a proposed medical office building in Tullahoma, Tennessee. TPC was to provide architectural, engineering, and general contracting services under this agreement. The initial contract provided for an additional agreement to be entered into by the parties if the owner elected to proceed with the project beyond the Preliminary Design-Build services. On December 18, 2001, TPC filed suit in Williamson County Chancery Court claiming it performed additional services to PAMOB beyond those designated in the Preliminary Agreement all of which were allegedly authorized by various defendants. For these additional services, TPC submitted bills to PAMOB which were never paid. In response to the complaint, the defendants filed separate motions to dismiss on the grounds of improper venue. On May 6, 2002, the trial court heard oral arguments from all counsel and found the motion to dismiss should be granted. On July 19, 2002, the trial court entered its Order of Dismissal dismissing TPC's complaint on the grounds of improper venue. Notice of this appeal soon followed. For the reasons set forth below, the order of the trial court dismissing the complaint for improper venue is affirmed.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 01/30/04
Lorraine Miller v. Bruce Miller
M2002-02731-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: R.E. Lee Davies
The trial court awarded a divorce to a sixty-four year old woman with multiple health problems, and ordered her former husband to pay her $700 per month as alimony in futuro. The husband argues on appeal that the trial court erred, because the wife was capable of working, and was therefore only entitled to rehabilitative alimony. We affirm the trial court.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 12/10/03
Amy Smith v. Madeleine Fowler
M2002-01575-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Cain
Trial Court Judge: R.E. Lee Davies
Appellant, the defendant in fault, challenges the lower court's refusal to set aside default judgment. Appellant failed to file her answer timely in the trial court. Neither in the original Motion for Default nor in the response to the Motion to Set Aside did Plaintiff aver any prejudice to her other than delay. We reverse the default judgment and remand the case to the trial court.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 07/14/03
Jeffrey Edmisten v. Kathy Edmisten
M2001-00081-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge:
Wife sought separate maintenance and support. After a two year separation during the pendency of Wife's petition, Husband sought a divorce on the statutory ground of the separation. Wife opposed the divorce. The trial court dismissed Husband's counter-complaint, awarded Wife a legal separation, divided the marital property, and awarded alimony in futuro to Wife. Husband appeals, challenging not only the trial court's decision not to award a divorce, but also the division of marital property and award of alimony to Wife. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and modify the trial court's order.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 05/13/03
In Re: Estate of James H. Williams
M2000-02434-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Jeffrey S. Bivins
This case began as four separate cases which were consolidated. All four cases arose from the divorce of James Hollister Williams and Kathyrn L. H. Williams, his untimely death, and the probate and distribution of assets in his sizeable estate. The trial court upheld the validity of the divorce by denying Ms. Williams relief under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02, awarded several annuities to Ms. Williams based on her status as the named beneficiary, ordered her to pay the estate taxes resulting from those annuities, and approved part of a claim filed by Ms. Williams against the Estate, but denied part. We affirm the decisions of the trial court upholding the validity of the divorce and awarding the annuities to Ms. Williams, but vacate the order granting the Estate a judgment against Ms. Williams for the estate taxes on the annuities. We also affirm in part and reverse in part the decision of the trial court with respect to the claim against the Estate, and hold that the entire claim should have been denied.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 04/28/03
Gale Smith & Co. v. The Governors Club
M2001-01616-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Holly M. Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Timothy L. Easter
This is a breach of contract case. The defendant real estate developer developed a golf club. The plaintiff insurance broker entered into an insurance binder with the manager of the golf club. The "master" binder covered five separate properties with which the manager was involved. The binder listed another of the manager's entities as the insured. The manager was later terminated by the defendant and a new management company was hired to manage the golf club. The insurance broker then issued a separate policy naming the defendant as the insured and sent invoices for the unpaid premiums to the new management company. The management company declined to pay the premiums. The insurance broker then filed suit against the defendant. The trial court entered a judgment for the insurance broker for all unpaid premiums due under the insurance binder, plus interest. We affirm, finding that manager had the apparent authority to enter into an insurance contract and that there was a contract for insurance between the parties.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 09/20/02
State v. Roger D. Haywood
M2000-01400-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge David Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: J. Russ Heldman
The Trial Court held that National City Mortgage Company ("National"), which services the mortgage on the property at issue, and its attorneys violated Tenn. R. Civ. P. 11.02 and imposed sanctions against them in this condemnation proceeding. National and its attorneys appeal the Trial Court's Rule 11.02 sanctions. We reverse and remand.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 08/28/02
Dudley G. Boyd, et al. v. Comdata Network, Inc., et al.
M2000-00949-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge William C. Koch, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Russell Heldman
This appeal involves a discovery dispute implicating the common interest privilege and the work product doctrine. After filing suit in the Chancery Court for Williamson County to rescind their guaranties, the individual guarantors of a corporate debt served interrogatories and requests for production of documents on the creditor seeking copies of all written communications between the creditor and the corporation from which the creditor had purchased the corporate debt. The creditor objected to the production of documents involving its negotiation of a joint defense agreement with the original creditor and the drafts of an agreement to repurchase the corporate debt. The trial court directed the creditor to produce both categories of documents but permitted the creditor to pursue an interlocutory appeal. We granted the interlocutory appeal to address the application of the common interest privilege and the work product doctrine. We have determined that the common interest privilege shields the documents relating to the joint defense agreement from discovery and that the work product doctrine likewise protects the drafts of the repurchase agreement. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's order compelling the production of these documents.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 04/30/02
David Schwab v. David Miller
M2001-00932-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Ben H. Cantrell
Trial Court Judge: R.E. Lee Davies
The Chancery Court of Williamson County held that in order to claim a major benefit of an employment contract the employee had to be employed when the other contingencies in the contract were met. We affirm the lower court's interpretation.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 02/20/02
First Union National Bank v. Donald Abercrombie
M2001-01379-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge William C. Koch, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Russell Heldman
This appeal involves a dispute stemming from a defaulted note. The lender filed suit against the purported borrower in the Chancery Court for Williamson County asserting that he was liable for $57,778.20. The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that he was not personally liable on the note because he was simply an officer of the corporation named as the borrower on the note and because he was not a guarantor of the corporation's debts. Thereafter, the lender moved for a default judgment, and the purported borrower then filed an answer denying liability on the note and a counterclaim against the lender for compensatory and punitive damages. The trial court granted the lender a default judgment for $57,778.20 without addressing the pending motion to dismiss or the answer and counterclaim. We have determined that the trial court erred by granting the default judgment and, accordingly, reverse the judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 01/16/02
Raymond Mueller v. Denise Mueller
M2001-00098-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Ben H. Cantrell
Trial Court Judge: Jeffrey S. Bivins
In this appeal of a divorce decree, the husband argues that the rehabilitative alimony awarded to the wife is excessive, and that his visitation schedule unnecessarily limits the time he can spend with his son. We affirm the award of rehabilitative alimony, but reduce its duration to three years. We also remand this case to the trial court for reconsideration of the visitation schedule.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 11/30/01
Susan Green v. Leon Moore, et al.
M2000-03035-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge:
Trial Court Judge: Robert E. Lee Davies
This appeal arises from the breach of a settlement agreement entered into by the Appellants and the Appellee. The Appellee filed a complaint against the Appellants in the Circuit Court for Williamson County, seeking damages for loss of reputation, embarrassment, humiliation, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and loss of the ability to advance. The Appellants filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the action was barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court granted in part and denied in part the motion to dismiss.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 07/12/01
Pamela Lynn Lewis v. Andrew Robert Frances
M1998-00946-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Henry Denmark Bell

In this divorce case, Husband appeals from the trial court's decisions classifying, valuing, and dividing the parties' property incident to their divorce and asserts that he is entitled to an award much greater than the $250,000 granted to him by the trial court. Wife also appeals the trial court's classification and distribution of property, asserting that Husband was not entitled to any portion of her separate property and that there was no marital property. An additional issue was raised by a post-judgment ruling by a successor trial judge setting aside the order of the prior judge declaring the parties divorced. We affirm the divorce and reverse the award to Husband.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 03/07/01
Marika Avery vs. Thomas Avery
M2000-00889-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Russell Heldman
In this divorce case ending a 25 year marriage, the trial court classified a bequest made solely to the husband as marital property under an "implied partnership" theory and divided the bequest equally. The parties' other property was divided, and the wife was awarded alimony in futuro. The husband appeals the classification and division of property and the award of alimony in futuro. We reverse the trial court's classification of the bequest as marital property and classify the original bequest as Husband's separate property. We find the increase in value of that separate property to be marital because of the parties' contribution to its maintenance and increase. We modify the award of marital property accordingly, modify the alimony award, and decline to award Wife attorney fees on appeal.
Williamson County Court of Appeals 01/29/01
01A01-9606-CV-00260
Authoring Judge:
Trial Court Judge: Henry Denmark Bell
Williamson County Court of Appeals 06/19/98
01A01-9408-CH-00394
Authoring Judge:
Trial Court Judge: Henry Denmark Bell
Williamson County Court of Appeals 03/21/96
Thomas v. White
01A01-9507-CH-00324
Authoring Judge:
Trial Court Judge: Henry Denmark Bell
Williamson County Court of Appeals 02/28/96