Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/21/2014
Format: 10/21/2014
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
Jay Wilfong v. CRK Real Estate , LLC, Et Al
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles K. Smith

This case arose out of a contract for the sale of real estate. The contract included a provision requiring the buyer to make “commercially reasonable efforts” to sell the property, and to split any profits with the seller if the property was resold within 36 months. The buyer did not sell the property, and the seller brought suit, raising numerous claims, including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, violations of the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act (RESPA), the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, the Consumer Protection Act, RICO, wrongful foreclosure, promissory fraud, civil conspiracy, collusion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, constructive trust, conversion and unjust enrichment. After a hearing, the trial court granted the buyer’s motion to dismiss thirteen of the seller’s claims, denied the motion to dismiss another six of his claims, and certified its order as final for the purposes of appeal under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 54.02. We affirm the trial court.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 06/17/14
In Re Aaliyah R.
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donna Scott Davenport

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. The trial court found four grounds for termination of Mother’s parental rights: substantial noncompliance with the requirements of the permanency plan, failure to support financially, failure to provide a suitable home, and persistence of conditions; the court also determined that termination was in the best interest of the child. Mother appeals arguing the evidence is insufficient to establish any of the grounds and that termination was in the child’s best interest. We have determined that the evidence clearly and convincingly supported two of the grounds, that of substantial noncompliance with the requirements of the permanency plan and persistence of conditions. We have also determined that termination was in the child’s best interest. Therefore, we affirm the termination of Mother’s parental rights.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 06/17/14
In Re Kason C. Et Al.
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donna Scott Davenport

Father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his two children. The juvenile court found the Department of Children’s Services established four grounds for termination of father’s parental rights: 1) parent sentenced to ten or more years for any criminal act and the children are under eight years of age pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(6); 2) parent sentenced to more than two years for conduct against a child or sibling/half-sibling of the child who is the subject of the petition pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(5);
3) abandonment by wanton disregard pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 36-1-113(g)(1) and 36-1-102(1)(A)(iv); and 4) substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(2). The juvenile court also found that termination of Father’s rights was in the children’s best interest. Father appealed. We affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 06/17/14
Tina Wilder v. Union County Board of Education
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew Tillman

This appeal arises from the dismissal of a tenured teacher. The Union County Board of Education (“the Board”) dismissed Tina Wilder (“Wilder”) following an incident involving underage drinking at Wilder’s lake cabin. Wilder, contesting her dismissal, filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court for Union County (“the Trial Court”). The Trial Court concluded that the evidence sustained Wilder’s dismissal. Wilder raises several issues on appeal. We hold, inter alia, that Wilder was afforded due process, that the Trial Court applied the correct standard of review, and that the evidence supported the Trial Court’s decision. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Union County Court of Appeals 06/16/14
Kathy D. Palmore v. Linda K. Neal, Et Al.
Authoring Judge: Special Judge J. Mark Rogers
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. L. Rogers

Former employee brought an action for retaliatory discharge and intentional interference with employment. The trial court dismissed the complaint pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6). Having determined the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, we affirm the dismissal.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 06/12/14