Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/31/2014
Format: 07/31/2014
Annie Harris v. Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

Former tenant of an apartment complex whose lease was terminated for an alleged breach sued alleging violations of the Tennessee Human Rights Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-101 et seq. Specifically, the former tenant contends the defendant failed to make reasonable accommodations in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-601(b)(2)(B); she also contends it intentionally discriminated against her due to her disabilities in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-311(e). The defendant denied all claims and moved for summary judgment contending the plaintiff could not establish essential elements of her claims;it also contended it terminated the lease on legitimate, nondiscriminatory grounds. The trial court summarily dismissed the complaint, finding there were no genuine issues of material fact as to whether the landlord violated the Tennessee Human Rights Act. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/28/14
Rebekah Shay Trembley v. Guy Dale Dunn, II
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

This is a post-divorce action involving a modification of the defendant’s child support obligation. Because the order from which the plaintiff appealed adjudicated fewer than all of the claims of the parties, it was not a final appealable order pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3(a). We must therefore dismiss this appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Blount County Court of Appeals 04/28/14
In Re: Aiden W.
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Jude Daniel Swafford

This is a termination of parental rights case. Father’s parental rights were terminated on the grounds of Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(9)(A)(vi), failure to establish/exercise paternity; Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1), abandonment for willful failure to visit; Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-113(g)(2), substantial non-compliance with a permanency plan; and Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(3), persistent conditions. We reverse in part and we affirm in part; we affirm the termination of Father’s parental rights to Aiden W.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 04/28/14
Joe Houghland Hooper, III v. Amanda Marie Bures Hooper
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Philip E. Smith

In this divorce action, Father appeals the denial of his motion to suspend Mother’s parenting time and the decision to lower Mother’s child support; he also requests that this court modify the residential parenting schedule. Mother appeals the trial court’s calculation of the number of days she exercises parenting time in determining the amount of child support she was ordered to pay. Finding that the court erred in its calculation of Mother’s residential time, we vacate the award of child support and remand for recalculation; in all other respects, the judgment is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/25/14
Consulting and Financial Services, Inc, et al. v. John H. Friedmann, Sr.
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tom E. Gray

This is the second appeal of this case, arising from the installation of tile flooring. In Consulting and Financial Services, Inc. v. Friedmann, No. M2011-00093COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 1390621 (Tenn. Ct. App. April 19, 2012), we held that the trial court’s measure of damages was correct, but remanded for re-calculation of the amount of damages. The remand was necessary because the original judgment included damage amounts that were based upon tile repairs to certain areas of the home, which repairs were not raised by Appellees/homeowners within the one-year warranty period. We did not, however, mandate the method by which the trial court could determine the adjusted amount. Upon remand, the only evidence presented was from the original contractor, who relied upon his original estimate. To arrive at the portions of the original estimate that were for the excluded areas, the contractor had his tile subcontractor submit separate estimates for those areas. The separate estimates were calculated using the current price-per-square-foot applicable at the time of remand, which was less than the price-per-square-foot that was used in the original estimate. To arrive at the adjusted damages amount, the trial court simply subtracted the separate estimate amounts from the original estimate. Appellant/Contractor appeals, arguing, inter alia, that the lower price-per-square-foot applicable at the time of remand should apply to the entire judgment, or, in the alternative, that the excluded amounts should be calculated using the same price as was used in the original estimate. The “law of the case,” based upon our holding in the first appeal, was that the judgment would be adjusted to exclude all costs associated with the excluded areas. Although we did not mandate that the trial court re-try the issue of damages, we did not preclude that option in our first opinion. However, it was implicit in our holding that, if the trial court chose to use the original estimate (which it did), then the total costs for the excluded areas would be calculated, at the same price used in the original estimate, and subtracted from the original estimate. Because the trial court used new estimates for the excluded areas, which were not calculated at the same rate as in the original estimate, the adjusted judgment did not remove the full amount for repairs to the excluded areas that were contemplated in the original estimate. Accordingly, the law of the case was not followed. Vacated and remanded with instructions.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 04/24/14
State of Tennessee Ex Rel. Dawn Moss v. William Moss
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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