Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/30/2014
Format: 08/30/2014
Austin Davis, Et Al v. Covenant Presbyterian Church, Et Al
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carol Soloman

Plaintiffs sued four individual defendants and three religious institutions for invasion of privacy; malicious harassment; assault; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligence; negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention; and civil conspiracy. The trial court dismissed all of plaintiffs’ causes of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. We affirm the dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims against two of the religious institutions for failure to state a claim for vicarious liability. We also affirm the trial court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims for invasion of privacy; malicious harassment; intentionalinfliction of emotionaldistress;negligence;negligenthiring,training,supervision and retention; and civil conspiracy. However, having liberally construed the complaint as we must at this stage of the pleading process, we find the complaint states a cause of action for assault against the individual defendants and one of the religious institutions. Therefore, we must reverse the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiffs’ allegation of assault and affirm the court in all other respects.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/23/14
Wise North Shore Properties, LLC v. 3 Daughters Media, Inc., Et Al.
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Frank Brown

Wise North Shore Properties, LLC (“Plaintiff”) appeals the order of the Chancery Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”) dismissing Plaintiff’s claims against Gary E. Burns. We find and hold as a matter of law that Mr. Burns executed the contract at issue in this case both in his capacity as CEO of 3 Daughters Media, Inc. and in his individual capacity personally guaranteeing the contract. We, therefore, reverse the Trial Court’s June 18, 2013 order dismissing Plaintiff’s claims against Mr. Burns.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 06/23/14
Deborah Mason Hawkins, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Wayne Hawkins, Deceased, v. Rodney A. Martin, M.D., and Baptist Memorial Hospital
Authoring Judge: Judge Holly M. Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge John R. McCarroll, Jr.

This appeal involves compliance with the statutory requirements for a health care liability action. The plaintiff filed a health care liability lawsuit. The attorney for the plaintiff inadvertently failed to provide the defendant health care providers with medical authorizations that complied with T.C.A. § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E). The defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion, finding no extraordinary cause to justify noncompliance with the statutory requirement. The plaintiff filed his first appeal. The appellate court vacated the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for the trial court to consider the totality of the circumstances, including those of the attorney. After additional discovery on remand, the trial court again held that the plaintiff had not established extraordinary cause for noncompliance with the statutory requirement, and so dismissed the lawsuit. The plaintiff again appeals. After a careful review of the record, we find no abuse of the trial court’s discretion and affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 06/23/14
Kathy Hudson v. William T. Hudson
Authoring Judge: Judge Holly M. Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Van D. McMahan

This divorce appeal involves the division of marital property. The husband claims the trial court erred in its valuation of the marital assets and in its overall distribution of the marital estate. Discerning no error, we affirm.

McNairy County Court of Appeals 06/23/14
Willie Campbell & Ulysses Campbell, Sr. v. Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss
Trial Court Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers

This case involves a plaintiff who fell outside the Memphis International Airport and sued the Airport Authority for negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant Airport Authority, finding, based on the undisputed facts, that the plaintiffs and their witnesses are unable to identify what caused the fall. Plaintiffs appeal. We affirm and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 06/20/14
Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. v. Michael Starnes, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter L. Evans

The trial court vacated an arbitration award in favor of Petitioner/Appellant Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc., on the basis of “evident partiality” and remanded the matter for rearbitration before a different panel. We reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 06/20/14
Mary Lisa Gaston Luplow v. Martin Duane Luplow
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson

This is an appeal in a divorce case, where Wife appeals the classification and division of marital property and debt, the calculation of the division of the proceeds from the sale of the marital residence, the dismissal of the contempt petition she filed against Husband, and the failure to award her attorney fees. Husband appeals the classification of certain real property and the division of marital debt; he also requests his fees on appeal. We modify the judgment allocating the marital debt and awarding $16,691 to Wife as alimony in solido; we affirm the judgment in all other respects

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/19/14
Jeffrey Wade Myrick v. Gloria Denise Myrick
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Tom E. Gray

The issue presented in this case is whether alimony in futuro was properly terminated by the trial court. The parties entered into a marital dissolution agreement, which provided that Husband/Appellee would pay Wife/Appellant alimony in futuro until death, remarriage, or “until a third person not the Wife’s child, moves into the Wife’s residence.” The marital dissolution agreement was incorporated, by reference, into the final decree of divorce. Thereafter,Wife’s mother moved into Wife’s home,and Husband filed a motion to terminate his support obligation based upon the occurrence of the suspending condition. The trial court granted Husband’s petition, finding that the parties’ agreement for alimony in futuro was contractual in nature and that the unambiguous language mandated cessation of Husband’s support obligation when Wife’s mother moved into Wife’s home. Based upon the provision for attorney’s fees in the parties’ marital dissolution agreement, the trial court also awarded Husband his attorney’s fees and costs. Wife appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 06/19/14
In Re Brennen T.
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Laurence M. McMillan, Jr.

This is a termination of parental rights case. After the Appellants filed a termination petition against Biological Parents, Mother filed a counter-claim for malicious use of process, kidnapping, and perjury. The trial court dismissed the termination petition, but failed to rule on Mother’s counter-claim. Accordingly, we dismiss this appeal for lack of a final judgment.

Robertson County Court of Appeals 06/19/14
Ashley Evans v. Nigel M. Reid
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mike Faulk

At an earlier time, Ashley Evans (“the petitioner”) filed a petition against Nigel M. Reid (“the respondent”) seeking an order of protection. The trial court dismissed the petition due to “[in]sufficient cause.” In the same order, however, the court found “proof of the need of a restraining order.” Accordingly, the court restrained the respondent from coming about, calling or harassing the petitioner or her family. Several years later, the respondent asked the court to void the restraining order, which, on its face, was still in effect. The court refused. The respondent appeals. We reverse the trial court and hold that (1) the trial court was without jurisdiction to issue the restraining order and (2) the restraining order is, consequently, null and void.

Hamblen County Court of Appeals 06/19/14
Practical Ventures, LLC d/b/a AAA Cash Fast v. James Neely, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and Danyelle A. McCullough
Authoring Judge: Judge Holly M. Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kenny W. Armstrong

This is an appeal from an administrative decision on unemployment benefits. The appellee Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development held that the claimant employee was “constructively discharged” and was therefore eligible for unemployment benefits. The appellant employer filed a petition for judicial review of the administrative decision. The chancery court affirmed, and the employer appeals. We hold that the doctrine of constructive discharge is inapplicable to proceedings under the unemployment compensation statutes. The facts as found by the administrative tribunal support a holding that the employee voluntarily terminated her employment. For this reason, we conclude that the administrative decision awarding benefits to the employee is not supported by substantial and material evidence and is arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, we reverse.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 06/19/14
Wilson R. Vasconez v. Shelby County, Tennessee, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss

Appellant Shelby County appeals a portion of the trial court’s judgment in favor of Appellee, the purchaser of property formerly owned by Shelby County. After a bench trial, the trial court awarded the Appellee property damages, prejudgment interest, and attorney’s fees based on its finding that Shelby County committed inverse condemnation of the Appellee’s property by failing to inform the Appellee of the condemnation proceedings commenced by the City of Memphis. Because the City of Memphis, and not Shelby County, was the condemnor of the property, we conclude that the trial court erred in awarding damages against Shelby County on the theory of inverse condemnation, and further erred in awarding attorney’s fees pursuant to the inverse condemnation statute. Accordingly, we reverse the finding of inverse condemnation and the award of attorney’s fees against Shelby County. Shelby County does not appeal the trial court’s award of property damages or prejudgment interest. That award is, therefore, affirmed. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 06/19/14
Clayton Arden, Surviving Spouse v. Kenya L. Kozawa, M. D.
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Michael Sharp

The plaintiff, as surviving spouse, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his health care liability action against the defendant doctor who treated the plaintiff’s wife prior to her death and the hospital wherein the treatment occurred. The trial court granted the defendants’ motions for summary judgment based upon the plaintiff’s failure to strictly comply with the pre-suit notice requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121 (Supp. 2013). We reverse the trial court’s ruling that the plaintiff had to strictly comply with the provisions of the notice requirement and conclude that the plaintiff substantially complied with said requirement. We affirm, however, the trial court’s ruling that the plaintiff could not rely upon the statutory 120-day extension of the statute of limitations due to his failure to properly serve the notice. We therefore affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims as barred by the statute of limitations.

Monroe County Court of Appeals 06/18/14