Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/03/2015
Format: 07/03/2015
Billy L. Grooms v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01228-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ben W. Hooper, II

The petitioner, Billy L. Grooms, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus and/or motion to correct an illegal sentence. He argues that: (1) the indictment is void because it was returned without a juvenile petition for transfer, prior to transfer to the criminal court, and without the criminal court’s acceptance; (2) the indictment is void because it and the endorsements were not part of the record insofar as they were never spread upon the minutes of the trial court to become part of the record; (3) the indictment is void because it alleged only legal conclusions, did not provide adequate protections against double jeopardy, and did not enable the trial court to enter an appropriate judgment; and (4) his sentence is void in light of Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012). After a thorough review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 03/25/15
Deborah Ann Treadway v. Gregory Steven Treadway
M2014-00898-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jane W. Wheatcraft

The trial court awarded Wife a judgment in the amount of $28,000 for back alimony and ordered Husband to honor his obligations, under the parties’ marital dissolution agreement, with respect to life insurance and disability insurance. Husband appeals. We affirm and remand the case for further proceedings as are necessary and consistent with this Opinion.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 03/24/15
In Re Brookelyn W.
W2014-00850-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Walter L. Evans

In this termination of parental rights case, mother and step-father appeal the trial court’s decision to set aside a decree of adoption entered by default, as well as the trial court’s subsequent finding that they failed to prove grounds for the termination of biological father’s parental rights. We affirm the trial court’s decision to set aside the adoption decree, but reverse the trial court’s determination that mother and step-father failed to prove grounds for termination. Instead, we conclude that clear and convincing evidence exists to show that biological father abandoned the child by willfully failing to visit and support the child. As such, we remand to the trial court for a determination of whether termination is in the child’s best interest.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/24/15
Donny O. Locklear v. Stacey L. Locklear
E2014-01465-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor E.G. Moody
This is an appeal from a Final Decree of Divorce. Because a notice of appeal was not timely filed in this case, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal.
 
Sullivan County Court of Appeals 03/24/15
David Crump, Sr. v. Sherry Pike
E2014-02074-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex H. Ogle
The final order from which the appellant seeks to appeal was entered on October 14, 2014. The only notice of appeal “filed” by the appellant was submitted to the Trial Court Clerk via facsimile transmission in violation of Rule 5A.02(4)(e) of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Because the Notice of Appeal was insufficient to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court, this appeal is dismissed.
 
Cocke County Court of Appeals 03/24/15
In Re Brittany M.C.
E2014-01450-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Raymond C. Conkin, Jr.
This is a termination of parental rights case in which the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate Mother’s parental rights to the Child. The trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the termination of Mother’s parental rights on the statutory grounds of abandonment, substantial noncompliance with the permanency plans, and the persistence of conditions which led to removal. The court further found that termination of her rights was in the Child’s best interest. Mother appeals. We affirm the trial court’s termination of Mother’s parental rights. 
Sullivan County Court of Appeals 03/24/15
In Re Malaki E.
M2014-01182-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kenneth R. Goble

This appeal arises from the termination of Mother’s parental rights. When the child was four months old, he was placed in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services’ for lack of supervision and drug exposure. A permanency plan was created shortly thereafter, but less than one year later, the Department petitioned to terminate Mother’s parental rights. Following a trial, the juvenile court terminated Mother’s parental rights on the grounds of: (1) abandonment for failure to support; (2) abandonment for failure to provide a suitable home; and (3) persistent conditions. Mother appeals the juvenile court’s determination on all three statutory grounds, the court’s finding that termination was in the child’s best interest, and several other court rulings. We affirm.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 03/23/15
In Re Jayden C.
M2014-00957-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ken Witcher

The mother of the parties’ only child contends the trial court erred in changing the designation of the primary residential parent from Mother to Father and in limiting her parenting time to 100 days a year. She also contends the court erred in failing to award her retroactive child support. We affirm the trial court’s designation of Father as the primary residential parent and the parenting schedule. As for Mother’s claim for retroactive child support and reasonable medical expenses for the birth of the child, she asserted these claims in her counter-petition; however, when Father attempted to introduce documentary evidence of support he had provided to Mother and child, Mother’s counsel objected to the relevancy of the evidence, informing the trial judge that Father “made those payments” and that back child support was not an issue. Based on Mother’s representations, the court ruled that evidence of Father’s payments of back child support was not relevant, and no evidence was introduced to show that support had been provided or that any support was owed. While we acknowledge prior cases which stand for the general rule that parents may not waive or circumvent their minor child’s right to support, State ex rel. Dauda v. Harris, No. W2006-01314-COA-R3-JV, 2007 WL 906746 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 26, 2007), we cannot allow a litigant to proceed on a claim she affirmatively abandoned during trial. Moreover, because she deprived the trial court of the opportunity to rule on the issue at trial, we will not permit Mother to raise this issue for the first time on appeal. For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the trial court in all respects.

Trousdale County Court of Appeals 03/23/15
In Re Joseph Brown
W2014-00825-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Curtis S. Person, Jr.

An attorney was summarily punished for direct criminal contempt. The attorney appeals, alleging numerous procedural errors and claiming that his actions did not rise to the level of contemptuous behavior. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/23/15
Angela Dawn Gilmore v. Dustin Michael Gilmore
W2015-00234-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donna M. Fields

The notice of appeal was not timely filed. Therefore, we must dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/23/15
In Re Noah J.
W2014-01778-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge Dan H. Michael

This appeal involves a dispute between unmarried parents regarding a parenting schedule for their young son. Following a hearing before a juvenile court magistrate, an order was entered providing that the parents would have joint custody, with the designation of primary residential parent alternating each year. Mother requested a rehearing before the juvenile court judge. Several months later, the matter was reheard before another magistrate, who was appointed by the juvenile court judge to hear the matter as substitute judge. The magistrate sitting as substitute judge entered an order naming Mother primary residential parent and limiting Father to only supervised visitation. Father was ordered to pay all of Mother‟s attorney's fees. Due to the lack of written findings, we vacate the final order and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/23/15
Danny Long Et Al v. Quad Power Products, LLC et al.
E2013-02708-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Jeffrey Hollingsworth

This is a product liability action arising from a workplace injury to the plaintiff, Danny Long. Mr. Long’s left arm was severely injured on October 30, 2002, when a reducing mechanism attached to a ball valve he was using suddenly broke, causing a release of pressurized air and water onto his left arm and shoulder. Following lengthy medical treatment and multiple surgeries, Mr. Long’s left arm was amputated. On October 30, 2003, Mr. Long and his wife filed a complaint alleging, inter alia, negligence in the design, manufacture, assembly, distribution, and sale of the ball valve, as well as failure to warn of potential danger to users of the ball valve and failure to include with the ball valve adequate safety information relative to its use. The Longs named four companies as defendants allegedly responsible for the design, manufacture, assembly, distribution, and sale of the ball valve. Mr. Long’s employer was subsequently joined as an intervening plaintiff. Through the course of the proceedings, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of two of the defendant companies on the basis of lack of personal jurisdiction. These defendants are not parties to this appeal. Mr. Long died on December 22, 2006, and Ms. Long thereafter by substitution assumed his interest in this action. In May 2010, the trial court granted Ms. Long and the intervening plaintiff permission to amend the complaint to reassert a strict liability claim against the two remaining defendant companies based upon the sole theory of failure to warn. In May 2013, the two remaining defendants subsequently filed separate motions for summary judgment. Finding that no genuine issue of material fact existed that could establish strict liability based upon failure to warn, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of both remaining defendants. Ms. Long and the employer appeal. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 03/20/15
In Re: Caleb B.
M2013-02564-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ray Grimes

This case involves a custody dispute between two parents and a non-parent intervener. Father originally filed a petition against Mother requesting a change of custody, but the couple reconciled and began living together while the litigation was pending. Thereafter, the maternal grandmother intervened, seeking custody of the child. The trial court found that Father presented a substantial risk of harm to the child based on his prior and current criminal history but granted Mother custody of the child. On appeal, Grandmother argues the court erred in not finding that Mother also presented a risk of substantial harm to the child because Mother lived with Father. We affirm the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 03/19/15
Allen Mathis, et al v. City of Waynesboro
M2014-00864-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Lee Holloway, Jr.

This appeal arises from the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, the City of Waynesboro. Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on May 5, 2006, alleging that acts and/or omissions of the City caused injury to them on May 6, 2003, when a creek near their home flooded and damaged their property. The City moved for summary judgment. The trial court found that the material facts were not in dispute and that Plaintiffs’ lawsuit was time-barred by the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act’s statute of limitations. Moreover, the trial court found that the City was immune from liability for the claims. Accordingly, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the City. After thoroughly reviewing the record on appeal, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wayne County Court of Appeals 03/19/15
In Re: Anna D.
M2014-00995-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

This case involves the termination of a biological father’s parental rights to a young child. The trial court granted the mother and step-father’s petition to terminate the father’s rights and to allow the step-father to adopt the child. Father appeals. We affirm the trial court’s judgment. The evidence is clear and convincing that (1) the father abandoned the child by failing to visit and failing to support her for four months preceding the filing of the petition and (2) it is in the child’s best interest that the father’s parental rights be terminated.

Maury County Court of Appeals 03/19/15
In Re Conservatorship of Karen Klyce Smith
W2014-01044-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Karen D. Webster

The substantive issue in this case is whether the decedent was a domiciliary of Tennessee or Texas at the time of her death. Because Appellant was not an original party and did not file a motion to intervene in this case, we dismiss this appeal for lack of standing and remand the case for further proceedings as are necessary and consistent with this Opinion.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/19/15
Mary Kindred v. National College of Business and Technology, Inc., et al.
W2014-00413-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Childers

A former student at National College of Business and Technology, Inc. (“National College”) sued the school and its director for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act following the cancellation of her enrollment due to the fact her student file did not contain an official copy of her high school transcript or the equivalency certificate as required by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Plaintiff’s claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act were dismissed pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Thereafter, Defendants moved to summarily dismiss Plaintiff’s remaining claim for breach of contract. The trial court found that Defendants negated two essential elements of Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim, namely, breach and damages, and summarily dismissed that claim. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/19/15
Pamela Barkley, et al. v. Shelby County Board of Education
W2014-00417-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss

Action under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act to recover for injuries sustained in a slip and fall at a school operated by the Shelby County Board of Education. In a bench trial, the court held the school board 60% liable and plaintiff 40% liable and awarded plaintiffs damages totaling $29,400. The Board of Education appeals the holdings that it was negligent, that its immunity was removed, and that the plaintiff was less than 50% at fault for her injury. While the evidence does not preponderate against the finding that plaintiff fell on water in the school hallway, there is no evidence that the Board had notice of the water; consequently, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the case.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/18/15
In Re Agustine R. et al.
E2014-01091-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey D. Rader
This is a termination of parental rights appeal brought by the father. The trial court found clear and convincing evidence to support termination of the father’s parental rights on the statutory grounds of abandonment for failure to remit child support and failure to comply with the permanency plans. The court also found that termination of the father’s parental rights was in the best interest of the children. The father appeals. We affirm. 
Sevier County Court of Appeals 03/17/15
Terrence Moore Robinson, Jr. v. Susan Kathleen Robinson
M2014-00431-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

In this post-divorce action, Mother appealed from the trial court’s decision to change the designation of primary residential parent to Father. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court found that a material change in circumstances had occurred based on the child’s recent athletic development and its impact on his social development. The trial court also found that making Father the primary residential parent was in the best interests of the child. In making the best interests determination, the trial court made particular note that the parties’ fifteen-year-old son preferred to live with Father. Mother appealed, arguing that there was no material change in circumstances and that the trial court erred by failing to consider the importance of continuity and by allowing the preference of the child to control the outcome of the best interests determination. Because we find that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings and that there is no error in the trial court’s conclusions, we affirm.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 03/16/15
Melissa L. Taylor Et al. v. James T. George, II et al.
E2014-00608-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor John F. Weaver
The plaintiff filed this action seeking to enforce a judgment for child support and alimony entered in South Carolina and subsequently domesticated in Tennessee. One defendant serves as the trustee of a testamentary trust while the other defendant is a trust beneficiary and the judgment debtor. Before this action proceeded to trial, the trustee distributed all of the respective trust assets to the beneficiary/debtor. As the trial court determined that there was insufficient evidence of a fraudulent conveyance or civil conspiracy, it dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against the trustee. The trial court upheld the plaintiff’s judgment against the beneficiary/debtor and awarded pre- and post-judgment interest thereon. The plaintiff appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment. 
Knox County Court of Appeals 03/16/15
Richard Malone, et al v. Mathew Lasater, et al
M2014-00777-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Laurence M. McMillan, Jr.

The parties executed an arbitration agreement to submit disputes arising from their franchise agreement to binding arbitration. The trial court held that, under the arbitration agreement, the individual Defendants were liable, in their personal and corporate capacities, for amounts awarded to Plaintiffs by the arbitrators. Additionally, the trial court denied Defendants‟ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, in which Defendants contended that the arbitrators‟ decision was invalid as a matter of law. We affirm and remand.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 03/12/15
In Re: Clarice R.
M2014-01018-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Bussart

Father appeals the trial court’s determination that it was in the best interest of the child to terminate father’s parental rights. We find that clear and convincing evidence supports the decision of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Appeals 03/12/15
In Re Noah B.B.
E2014-01676-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Frank Brown, III

This appeal involves the termination of a Mother's parental rights on the grounds of abandonment by willful failure to visit and willful failure to support. We affirm the trial court's finding that grounds for termination exist due to abandonment by willful failure to visit, and we also affirm the trial court's finding that termination is in the best interest of the child. We vacate the trial court‟s finding of abandonment by willful failure to support but otherwise affirm the order terminating Mother‟s parental rights as modified.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 03/12/15
Stephanie J. Solima v. David J. Solima
M2013-01074-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

This appeal arises out of Mother’s and Father’s opposing motions to modify a parenting plan. Both of the parties and the court agreed that there had been a material change in circumstance warranting a modification of the plan. After a hearing, the court largely adopted Mother’s proposed parenting plan and reduced Father’s residential parenting time. The court also denied Mother’s request for attorneys’ fees. Shortly after the new parenting plan was entered, Mother filed a motion for a one-time modification of the plan to allow the child to attend a school trip that coincided with both parties’ parenting time. After a hearing, the court granted Mother’s motion. Father appealed the new parenting plan and the one-time modification. We find the modification issue moot and, therefore, dismiss that portion of Father’s appeal. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects. 

Williamson County Court of Appeals 03/11/15