Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/11/2014
Format: 07/11/2014
State of Tennessee Ex Rel. Dawn Moss v. William Moss
M2013-00393-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Robbie T. Beal

In this post-divorce action, Mother and Father both sought to modify the child support obligation of Father. The trial court, inter alia, found that Father had an annual income of $65,000 and held that there had been a significant variance. The court raised Father’s child support obligation to $233.00 per month, applied a downward deviation of $83.00, and ordered support to continue past age 21 for one of the children due to her disabilities. Father appeals, contending that the court erred in its calculation of his income. We affirm the method used to determine Father’s income; we vacate the child support obligation and remand for a redetermination of the support amount.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 04/24/14
Debra Lynn Lloyd v. Huston Foley Lloyd
M2012-02240-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Donald Paul Harris

Husband in divorce proceeding appeals numerous issues relating to the trial court’s administration of the trial and valuation and division of marital property. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.

Cheatham County Court of Appeals 04/24/14
Wells Fargo Bank, N. A. v. William S. Lockett, Jr., et al.
E2013-02186-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dale C. Workman

This is a detainer action in which Mortgagors sought to rescind the foreclosure sale of their property. Wells Fargo filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that recision of the sale was not a remedy available under Tennessee law. The trial court agreed and upheld the sale. Mortgagors appeal. We reverse the decision of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.

Knox County Court of Appeals 04/24/14
In Re: Kory W. A.
E2013-02282-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Toohey

This is a termination of parental rights case in which the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Father to the Child. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the termination of Father’s parental rights based upon his incarceration. The court likewise found that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the Child’s best interest. Father appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 04/24/14
In the Matter of Ryan K.M., et al.
W2013-02201-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Mother’s parental rights to her three sons were terminated after she pled guilty to the second degree murder of a fourth son. On appeal, Mother concedes that termination grounds were proven by clear and convincing evidence; she challenges only the trial court’s finding that termination of her parental rights is in the children’s best interest. We affirm the trial court’s best interest finding, and thus, its termination of Mother’s parental rights.

Chester County Court of Appeals 04/23/14
Carroll Marie Stovall, et al. v. UHS of Lakeside, LLC, et al.
W2013-01504-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge John R. McCarroll, Jr.

Appellant medical providers appeal the trial court’s denial of their motions to dismiss a medical malpractice complaint for failure to strictly comply with Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-26-122(d)(4). Because we conclude that the trial court had good cause to grant an extension, within which to file a certificate of good faith, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
Brenda J. Hutcherson v. Wallace Jackson Hutcherson
M2013-01658-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson

This is a contract interpretation case involving the proper apportionment of proceeds from the sale of several properties owned by the parties as tenants in common. When Husband and Wife divorced in 2005, a marital dissolution agreement was incorporated into their Final Decree of Divorce. In pertinent part, the agreement required the parties to sell six properties and split the proceeds therefrom. The agreement listed each of the properties with a dollar amount beside it. The agreement provided that Wife could be compelled to accept an offer for a particular property so long as her share of the proceeds equaled the dollar amount listed with that property in the agreement. The sum of the amounts listed with the properties at issue was $565,800. Real estate values declined substantially after the agreement was entered, and the properties were finally sold together for $322,287.71 in 2012. Following the sale Husband filed a motion seeking an equal division of the sale proceeds. Wife answered, insisting that the agreement entitled her to $565,800 and that she was therefore entitled to all of the sale proceeds, less Husband’s expenses related to the properties. During a bench trial, the court found the agreement ambiguous and therefore considered parol evidence to determine the intent of the parties. Based on its findings, the trial court determined that the parties intended to split the sale proceeds equally. Additionally, the trial court concluded that the agreement entitled Husband to reimbursement for one-half of his expenses on the properties, which the parties stipulated to be $156,270.48. In its final accounting, the trial court awarded $234,834.09 to Husband and $87,453.62 to Wife. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
RCK Joint Venture, (A Joint Venture Comprised of River Road Construction, LLC, Creative Homes, LLC and Keystone Homes of TN, INC.) v. Garrison Cove Homeowners Association, A Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation - Dissent
M2013-00630-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Robert E. Corlew, III

I respectfully dissent from the holding of the majority. I do not believe that the fact that fees are available to the Pattons requires that they be awarded under the particular facts and circumstances of this case.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
RCK Joint Venture, (A Joint Venture Comprised of River Road Construction, LLC, Creative Homes, LLC and Keystone Homes of TN, INC.) v. Garrison Cove Homeowners Association, A Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation
M2013-00630-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Corlew, III

The only issue in this appeal is whether two property owners in a subdivision are entitled to an award of attorney fees for prevailing in a third-party action brought against them by the homeowners association to enforce restrictive covenants. The association argued that the property owners were not entitled to attorney fees because they did not prevail on every issue that came up during litigation, because the attorney fee provision in the restrictive covenants could be read to mean that no such award could be made if additional damages were not also awarded, and because they did not personally pay their own attorney fees. The trial court agreed with those arguments and denied the motion for attorney fees. We reverse the trial court and remand the case for a determination of the amount of the attorney fee award.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
Kathy Austin, et al v. Jacob Wilds, Jr., et al
E2013-01310-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

Kathy Austin, Vickie Shipley, and Sherry Foshie (“Plaintiffs”) sued their brothers, Jacob Wilds, Jr. and James Wilds (“Defendants”), seeking to have certain deeds from their mother set aside due to alleged undue influence and/or duress. After a bench trial, the Chancery Court for Greene County (“Trial Court”) entered its order rendering judgment in favor of Defendants after finding and holding, inter alia, that Plaintiffs had failed to prove the existence of a confidential relationship necessary to show that the subject deeds were procured through undue influence. Plaintiffs appeal. We find and hold that the evidence does not preponderate against the Trial Court’s findings, and we affirm.

Greene County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
Melinda Jan Metzinger v. Ronald Wayne Metzinger
W2013-02220-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tony Childress

This appeal involves the classification and division of Husband’s $66,000.00 personal injury settlement in a divorce proceeding. The trial court classified the settlement as marital property, it deducted $13,400.00 for what it found to be “legitimate expense[s] of the marriage” paid by Husband, and it awarded Wife one-half of the balance, or $26,300.00. We reverse the trial court’s award to Wife.

Dyer County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
Norma Simpson, Ind. and next of kin of J. W. Simpson v. Faye Fowler
W2013-02109-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Michael Maloan

This is the second appeal of this case, involving the application of Tennessee Code Annotated Section 31-1-105 to set aside certain transfers by decedent to his long-term companion, which transfers were allegedly made with intent to deny his surviving spouse of her share of his estate. From the totality of the circumstances, and applying the factors outlined by this Court in Finley v. Finley, 726 S.W.2d 923 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1986), we conclude that the evidence preponderates in favor of the trial court’s award of $8,500.00 in insurance proceeds to the surviving spouse for decedent’s funeral costs, but that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s award of a $28,000.00 bank account to the surviving spouse. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

Obion County Court of Appeals 04/22/14
Michael James Little, Jr. v. Rhonda G. Little
M2013-00983-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Philip E. Smith

The trial court determined that no material and substantial change in circumstance had occurred and denied Father’s petition to modify the parties’ parenting plan. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/21/14