Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/20/2014
Format: 10/20/2014
In Re: Conservatorship of Maurice M. Acree, Jr.
M2013-02588-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter C. Kurtz

The trial court approved and affirmed the final accounting of a trust held in a conservatorship estate and closed the conservatorship following the death of the Ward. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/11/14
Jerry Beech v. John Doe
M2013-02496-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The plaintiff in this case brought suit to recover uninsured motorist benefits. The insurance company moved for summary judgment contending that the plaintiff was not entitled to coverage because he was not “upon” the insured vehicle so as to “occupy” it. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurance company and we affirm.

Maury County Court of Appeals 06/11/14
William H. Fleming v. Tejinder Saini, M.D. and Healthquest Clinic
W2013-01540-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Holly M. Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gina C. Higgins

This is an appeal from the denial of a post-judgment motion. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit. At the hearing on the motion, the plaintiff agreed to dismissal of his lawsuit. The trial court entered an order dismissing the lawsuit and assessing court costs against the plaintiff. The plaintiff filed a timely motion to alter or amend, asking the trial court to reconsider the award of court costs; this was denied. The plaintiff filed a second motion to alter or amend, again seeking reconsideration of the award of court costs; this request for reconsideration was denied as well. The plaintiff now appeals the trial court’s order on the second post-judgment motion. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 06/10/14
In Re Hannah H., Et Al.
E2013-01211-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dwight E. Stokes

 

This is a termination of parental rights case. Following a hearing, the trial court found clear and convincing evidence existed to support the termination of the parental rights of both the mother and the father on the statutory grounds of abandonment based on failure to provide a suitable home, failure to substantially fulfill the requirements of the permanency plans, and persistence of conditions. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 36-1-113(g)(1)-(3), 36-1-102(1)(A)(ii), 37-2- 403(a)(2). The court further concluded that termination was in the best interest of the children. Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(i). The mother and father appeal. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 06/10/14
City of Athens v. Blair Strong Enterprises, LLC, d/b/a Open Door Cafe
E2013-02405-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lawrence H. Puckett

This appeal challenges a citation for an alleged violation of a city ordinance prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to a person under the age of twenty-one. A municipal judge and the trial court found against the appellant restaurant. We affirm.

McMinn County Court of Appeals 06/10/14
Cleveland Custom Stone, Et Al. v. Acuity Mutual Insurance Company
E2013-02132-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael J. Sharp

This case concerns Acuity’s refusal to pay insurance proceeds to Plaintiffs, who filed suit, alleging negligence, breach of contract, bad faith refusal to pay, and violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated section 47-18- 101, et. seq. The case proceeded to jury trial. The jury awarded Plaintiff compensatory damages and found that Acuity’s failure to pay was in violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The jury declined to award punitive damages. Likewise, the trial court affirmed the verdict but did not treble the damages. Acuity appeals. We affirm.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 06/10/14
Deborah Evans Wilhoit v. Gary Dennis Wilhoit
M2013-01499-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tom E. Gray

Husband filed a petition to terminate his alimony obligation, asserting that he sold his dental practice following the entry of the final divorce decree for health reasons,as a result of which he was unable to pay alimony because his only income was social security benefits. The trial court found that husband’s retirement constituted a material and substantial change of circumstances, but declined to modify his obligation. Husband appeals the denial of his petition and wife appeals the denial of her request for attorney fees. We affirm the decision in part, reverse in part and remand for further consideration.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 06/09/14
In The Matter of: Shayla H.
M2013-00567-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alan Edward Calhoun

Mother and Father were divorced and Mother was designated as the primary residential parent of their child in 2003. Father filed a petition several years later seeking to have the designation of primary residential parent changed from Mother to himself. The trial court granted Father’s petition after determining Father had proved a material change in circumstances and it was in the child’s best interest for Father to become the primary residential parent. Mother appealed, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/09/14
The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority D/B/A Erlanger Health System v. United Healthcare Plan of The River Valley, Inc. D/B/A Americhoice and Tennessee Attorney General
M2013-00942-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Carol L. McCoy

Hospital filed an action against TennCare managed care organization (“MCO”) for breach of contract and unjust enrichment when MCO refused to pay Hospital’s standard charges for emergencyservices and follow-up care. Hospital was notpart of MCO’s “provider network” under the TennCare regulations and therefore was “non-contract” provider. MCO alleged Hospital was required to accept as payment the rate TennCare specified in its regulations. MCO filed motion for summary judgment, and the trial court dismissed the portion of the complaint to which the TennCare regulations may apply due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The trial court determined the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (“UAPA”) divested it of jurisdiction because Hospital did not first seek a declaratory order from the Bureau of TennCare regarding the applicability of its regulations to Hospital’s dispute with MCO. Hospital appealed the dismissal of its claims, and we reverse. Because Hospital is not challenging applicabilityor validityof TennCare regulations,UAPA does not divest trial court of jurisdiction.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/06/14
Aaron Bissinger, Et Al v. New Country Buffett, Et Al.
M2011-02183-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Hamilton V. Gayden, Jr.

A man who suffered a blood infection after eating raw summer oysters at a Nashville restaurant filed suit against the restaurant, claiming that the oysters were contaminated because they were kept at an improper temperature. The restaurant owner answered, and among other things he named three companies in the supply chain that furnished the oysters to the defendant restaurant as possibly liable under the doctrine of comparative fault. The plaintiff subsequently died, and his executor was substituted as plaintiff. The executor filed an amended complaint that added the suppliers as defendants, and included claims against all the defendants of negligence, negligence per se, product liability, and breach of warranty. All the parties filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court denied the defendant restaurant’s motion for summary judgment, but it granted summary judgment to the defendant suppliers on all issues except failure to warn. After studying the voluminous record in this case, we affirm all the trial court’s rulings on the summary motions against the restaurant. We affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the suppliers, and reverse the denial of summary judgment to them for failure to warn.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/06/14
William Barry Wood v. Karla Davis, Commissioner of Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Et Al.
M2013-01008-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Carol L. McCoy

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development hired plaintiff in 2007 as an executive service appointment. The Department terminated his employment in 2011. He petitioned for a declaratory order stating that his position was actually career service and, therefore, he was entitled to notice and a hearing pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. The order was denied. He filed a chancerycourt petition for declaratoryand injunctive relief. The trial court held that his job classification was not reviewable under the facts of this case. He appealed. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/05/14
William Barry Wood v. Karla Davis, Commissioner of Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, et al.
M2013-00400-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Carol L. McCoy

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development hired plaintiff in 2007 as an executive service appointment. The Department terminated his employment in 2011. In August 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint based on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a violation of his due process rights. The trial court found that the statute of limitations for § 1983 actions had expired. Plaintiff appealed. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/05/14
In Re: Estate of Betty D. Gentry Meek
M2013-01070-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Laurence M. McMillan

The surviving husband who was excluded from his wife’s will filed a petition for elective-share, year’s support, exempt property, and homestead. The executors of her estate opposed the petition claiming the marriage was void ab initio because it was procured by fraud and misrepresentations, specifically alleging that he lied on the marriage license about his age and number of prior marriages. Alternatively, if he is the surviving spouse, they contend he is equitably estopped to assert such claims for the same underlying reasons. The trial court summarilydismissed the petition finding “(1) the marriage between [Plaintiff] and the Decedent was void ab initio due to the fraud perpetrated by [Plaintiff] in connection with false information supplied by him on the application for the parties’ marriage license; and (2) equitably estopped as a matter of law.” Based on these findings the trial court dismissed all claims. We have determined the marriage was not void ab initio; whether the marriage was voidable is now moot for any right to avoid the marriage abated upon the wife’s death. As for equitable estoppel, we have determined that summary judgment was inappropriate because essential facts are either disputed or not in the record, including whether the decedent relied on the misrepresentations to marry him. Accordingly, we reverse the award of summary judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 06/04/14