Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 05/04/2016
Format: 05/04/2016
SecurAmerica Business Credit v. Southland Transportation Co., LLC, et al.
W2015-00391-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donna M. Fields

This is the third appeal involving liability on personal guaranties securing the debt of a transportation company. On remand after our second opinion, the trial court found that the transportation company and the lender, through the actions of its president, entered into a conspiracy to violate the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and violated the duty of good faith and fair dealing, thereby relieving the guarantors of their liability under the continuing guaranties. Specifically, the trial court found that the guarantors were “consumers” under the TCPA, that the guarantors suffered an ascertainable loss due to the transportation company's deceptive acts, and that a violation of the TCPA can be a predicate tort for a civil conspiracy claim. Now, we reverse the trial court's finding that the transportation company's acts affected trade or commerce within the meaning of the TCPA. Accordingly, we also reverse the trial court's determination that the guarantors should be released from their guaranties.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/01/16
Linda Beard v. James William Branson, et al.
M2014-01770-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Burch

The dispositive issue in this wrongful death action is whether the pro se complaint filed by the decedent’s surviving spouse tolled the statute of limitations. The defendants, a hospital and a physician, filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the complaint was a nullity because the surviving spouse was asserting claims in a representative capacity and the complaint was not signed by a licensed attorney. It is undisputed that the decedent was survived by three heirs, the surviving spouse and two children of the decedent. The trial court denied the motion concluding that, although the pro se complaint could not assert the claims of the children, the surviving spouse could properly assert his own claims. The trial court also held that the initial complaint was sufficient to toll the statute of limitations and the claims of the children were not time barred because a licensed attorney signed and filed an amended complaint that related back to the original filing pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 15. Following a jury trial, the defendants were found liable and damages were awarded. The hospital appealed. We conclude the claims asserted by the surviving spouse were brought in a representative capacity on behalf of the decedent and were not his individual claims. Filing a complaint on behalf of another constitutes the practice of law and “[p]roceedings in a suit by a person not entitled to practice law are a nullity.” Bivins v. Hosp. Corp. of Am., 910 S.W.2d 441, 447 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1995). Because the complaint filed by the surviving spouse was a nullity, it did not toll the statute of limitations and no other complaint was filed within the statute of limitations. Therefore, the trial court erred in denying the hospital’s motion for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations defense. Accordingly, we reverse and remand with instructions to dismiss all claims and vacate all judgments against the hospital. 

Houston County Court of Appeals 03/31/16
Edgar Michael Galaway v. Patrice Jolene Galaway
M2015-00670-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson

In this post-divorce appeal, Father asserts the trial court erred in failing to find a material change of circumstance had occurred such that he should be designated the child’s primary residential parent. Father also asserts the trial court erred in awarding Mother her attorney’s fees. We affirm the trial court in all respects.   

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/31/16
In re Joseph F., et. al.
E2015-00733-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. McAfee


This is a termination of parental rights case, focusing on the four minor children—Joseph F., Johnathon S., Sarah S., and Larry S. (“the Children”)—of the respondent mother, Elizabeth F. (“Mother”). In January 2011, Mother voluntarily placed all four Children in the custody of Ernest S., the biological father of the younger three children. Ernest S. passed away on June 27, 2011, while Mother was living in Oregon. Upon motion of Ernest S.'s minister and family friend, Betty Shirley, the Grainger County Juvenile Court granted temporary custody of the Children to Ms. Shirley on June 28, 2011. Ms. Shirley gave physical custody of the Children to the petitioners on July 8, 2011. The petitioners filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Mother and to adopt the Children on that same day. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that statutory grounds existed to terminate the parental rights of Mother upon its finding by clear and convincing evidence that Mother (1) had abandoned the Children by willfully failing to provide financial support, (2) was guilty of severe abuse, and (3) was mentally incompetent to care for the Children. The court further found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the Children's best interest. Mother has appealed. We affirm the trial court's judgment terminating Mother's parental rights in all respects.

Grainger County Court of Appeals 03/31/16
Eastman Credit Union v. Thomas A. Bennett
E2015-01339-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jean A. Stanley


This appeal involves the foreclosure sale of improved real property located in Erwin, Tennessee. The plaintiff lender filed a complaint seeking a foreclosure deficiency award in the amount of $53,489.59, plus interest and reasonable attorney's fees, pursuant to the promissory note. The defendant debtor asserted as an affirmative defense that the lender had purchased the property during a foreclosure sale for a sum materially less than the fair market value. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that the fair market value of the property was $158,900.00, an amount the lender had purportedly been offered by an employment relocation company prior to the foreclosure sale. The lender had purchased the home at foreclosure for $95,000.00. Finding the foreclosure sale price to be materially less than the fair market value, the trial court ruled that the debtor had successfully overcome the statutory presumption, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 35-5-118, that a foreclosure sale price is equal to fair market value. The court entered a deficiency judgment in favor of the lender in the amount of $9,659.62. The lender appeals. Discerning no reversible error concerning the award, we affirm. However, having determined that the promissory note provided for reasonable attorney's fees to the lender in the event of default, we remand for an evidentiary hearing on the amount of reasonable attorney's fees to be awarded for work performed during trial.

Unicoi County Court of Appeals 03/31/16
Starla Merkel v. Carl Shane Merkel
E2014-01888-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Michael Sharp


In this divorce case, Carl Shane Merkel (Husband) contends that the trial court erred in its division of the marital estate, its award of child support made retroactive to the date that Starla Merkel (Wife) filed her complaint, and its monetary award to Wife's father, Terry McKeel, who was allowed by agreed order to intervene as an indispensible party. The award to McKeel was based on the trial court's finding that Husband owed McKeel $15,343.45 for unpaid loans made during the marriage by McKeel to Husband. We find no error in the division of the marital estate and the trial court's child support order. We hold that the issue of Husband's debt to McKeel was properly raised in McKeel's cross-claim and that the trial court had jurisdiction to dispose of this claim under the factual scenario reflected in the record. Wife raises the issue of whether there is evidence supporting the trial court's order decreeing that Chris Allen, a friend of hers, could not be in the presence of the two children born to Husband and Wife. We agree and modify the trial court's judgment to remove the prohibition barring Allen from having contact with the children. The judgment is affirmed in all other respects.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 03/31/16
Mahalet B. Girma v. Haile A. Berhe
M2015-00586-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstong
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Mark Rogers

This is a divorce case. Wife appeals the trial court’s order concerning the division of property and award of various fees and expenses. Because the trial court did not enter an order on Wife’s motion for reimbursement of certain fees and expenses, the judgment of the trial court is not final and appealable as of right. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.  

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 03/30/16
In re Estate of Patrick Takashi Davis
M2015-01425-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Randy M. Kennedy

Appellant appeals the trial court’s determination that Appellee, who was born in 1992, is an heir-at-law of the Decedent, who died intestate. Appellant argues that the Appellee, as a child born out of wedlock, was required to file a claim against decedent’s estate within the statutory period in order to inherit. However, the Decedent is listed on Appellee’s birth certificate. Under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 68-3-305(b) (1992), in order for his name to be listed on Appellee’s birth certificate, the decedent would have signed an “affidavit . . . acknowledging paternity.” With the enactment, in 1994, of Tennessee Code Annotated Section 27-7-113, such “affidavits” were deemed “voluntary acknowledgment[s] of paternity,” which constitute a “legal finding of paternity.” It is undisputed that the decedent’s estate consists only of real property. Because the inclusion of decedent’s name on Appellee’s birth certificate evinces the execution of a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity that constitutes a legal finding of paternity, Appellee’s portion of the estate vested, upon decedent’s death, in Appellee pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 31-2-103 and the laws of intestate succession, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 31-2-104. Affirmed and remanded. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/30/16
Jacqueline Harrison v. Shelby County Board of Education
W2015-01543-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Walter L. Evans

This is a termination of employment case. Appellant Shelby County Board of Education appeals the trial court’s decision to reinstate a tenured teacher whose employment was terminated for inefficiency. The trial court found that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of inefficiency. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/30/16
Clayton Keltner, et al v. Estate of Mary Lois Simpkins, et al.
M2014-02023-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Robert E. Burch

This appeal involves a dispute arising from the plaintiff’s attempted exercise of an option to purchase a tract of land. In part, the contract provided that “a fair and equitable price for said property will be established at a later date.” The trial court held that the option was not enforceable because it was too vague with respect to price. The plaintiffs appealed. We affirm. 

Cheatham County Court of Appeals 03/29/16
James A. Farley v. Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
M2014-02479-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Carol L. McCoy

This is an appeal from the trial court’s dismissal of a petition for judicial review for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The petitioner is seeking to recover a motor vehicle he claims to own that was seized due to “illegal alterations to the vehicle’s identification numbers.” It is undisputed that the petitioner was never the registered owner of the vehicle, that he was not in possession of the vehicle when it was seized, and that he did not receive notice of the seizure of the vehicle or the issuance of the notice of forfeiture. More than 60 days after the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security issued the Order of Forfeiture, which constitutes the Department’s final order, the petitioner filed his petition for judicial review. His primary contention was that the Department of Safety failed to provide him with proper notice of the issuance of forfeiture warrant. The chancery court rejected this contention, concluding that he was not entitled to notice because he was never the registered owner. The court also found the petition for judicial review was untimely filed because administrative orders become final pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-5-322(b)(1)(A) if a petition for judicial review is not filed within 60 days from the entry of the order. Concluding that the 60-day limitation period is jurisdictional, the court dismissed the petition for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/29/16
Lisa Lynn Odom, et al. v. Claiborne County, Tennessee, et. al.
E201402328-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

An “affidavit of complaint” was issued against Lisa Odom for custodial interference. Deputies from the Claiborne County Sheriff's Office visited Ms. Odom for the purpose of taking custody of her child and returning her to Ms. Odom's ex-husband, Scott Odom. Ms. Odom objected to the removal of her child, and William Phipps, Ms. Odom's father, asked to see a warrant prior to the removal of the child. After a prolonged standoff, the deputies called Assistant District Attorney General Amanda Sammons, who explained over a speakerphone that a warrant was not necessary because there was a court order for Ms. Odom to return the child to Mr. Odom. During the course of the phone call, Ms. Odom overheard General Sammons use derogatory language when referring to her. Ms. Odom was ultimately arrested for custodial interference. Nearly a year later, Ms. Odom and Mr. Phipps (collectively the plaintiffs) filed a complaint against General Sammons alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. General Sammons filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted. The plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.

Claiborne County Court of Appeals 03/29/16
Marlene J. Bidelman-Dye v. James D. Dye
E2014-01891-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jacqueline S. Bolton

In this post-divorce matter, numerous issues arose after the former wife, the primary residential parent, sought to relocate with the minor child. The trial court allowed the wife to relocate with the child to Pennsylvania and adopted her proposed parenting plan with certain modifications. On the issues raised in this appeal, the trial court ruled in the husband's favor. The wife appeals. We affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 03/29/16
Timothy Sumner v. Campbell Clinic, PC, et al.
W2015-00580-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Childers

This lawsuit centers on allegations that the Plaintiff received improper medical care at the hands of several Defendants. However, the present appeal concerns only the trial court's dismissal of the Plaintiff's claims against a single Defendant, Dr. Jeffrey Kutsikovich (“Dr. Kutsikovich”), a resident physician employed by the University of Tennessee. The trial court was of the opinion that the Plaintiff's amended complaint stated only “tort medical battery claims” against Dr. Kutsikovich and that these claims were barred by the applicable one-year limitation period. On appeal, the Plaintiff asserts that the trial court erred in classifying his claims and in determining that they were barred by the statute of limitations. Dr. Kutsikovich contends that the trial court's dismissal was proper, not only for the stated grounds, but also due to waiver under Tennessee Code Annotated section 9-8-307(b) and the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Having reviewed the record transmitted to us, we conclude that the Plaintiff waived his claims against Dr. Kutsikovich in this case by asserting a claim against the State under the Tennessee Claims Commission Act. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's dismissal of Dr. Kutsikovich from this case, albeit for a different reason than held by the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/29/16
State of Tennessee Ex Rel. Michelle Amanda Creigton v. James Michael Hayner
M2014-02503-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry R. Brown

Father seeks to declare a child support arrearage judgment entered in January 2005 void ab initio for lack of service of process. The dispositive issue is whether the petition for civil contempt and summons issued in August 2004 were properly served on Father. It is undisputed that the 2004 petition and summons were delivered to an attorney’s office and left with the receptionist. After learning that a summons and petition had been “served on Father” at her office, the attorney promptly notified Mother’s attorney she was not authorized to accept service on Father’s behalf and that she did not represent Father in the pending matter. When the petition came on for hearing, no one appeared on behalf of Father, and the juvenile court entered an arrearage judgment for the amount owed. Several years later, Father filed a motion seeking to set aside the 2005 judgment as void for lack of service of process. The motion was supported by affidavits from the attorney and Father. The attorney testified that she was not authorized to accept service on Father’s behalf and that she did not represent Father in the pending matter. In his affidavit, Father confirmed the testimony of the attorney and he further stated that he was in the United Kingdom when service of process was attempted. The juvenile court held that Father was properly served and denied the motion. Father appealed, insisting the January 2005 arrearage judgment was void ab initio for lack of service of process. The State, acting on behalf of Mother in this appeal, admits in its brief that service of process was not properly effectuated, and that the judgment obtained on January 2005 is void. We agree. Accordingly, the judgment of the juvenile court entered on November 25, 2014, is reversed, and this matter is remanded with instructions for the juvenile court to enter an order declaring the January 2005 arrearage judgment void.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 03/28/16
BancorpSouth Bank v. 51 Concrete, LLC, et al.
W2013-01753-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Walter L. Evans

This is a conversion case. The appellant bank perfected a security interest in collateral for a loan made to its debtor. The debtor subsequently sold the collateral to appellee companies, representing that there were no liens on the collateral. The appellee companies subsequently resold the collateral. Later, the debtor defaulted on the loan, and the appellant bank obtained a default judgment against him. The debtor then filed bankruptcy. The appellant bank filed this lawsuit against the appellee companies for conversion, seeking the proceeds from the sale of the collateral. The trial court awarded judgments against both appellee companies, plus prejudgment interest accruing from the date of the appellant bank's prior default judgment against the debtor. The appellant bank appealed arguing, among other things, that the trial court erred in determining the date from which prejudgment interest began to accrue. The appellee companies contend that the appellant bank should not be awarded prejudgment interest. On appeal, we affirm the trial court's decision to award prejudgment interest but modify the amount of the award.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/28/16
Wendy W. Rose v. Lisa Bushon, et al.
E2015-00644-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William T. Ailor


Wendy Rose filed suit alleging, among other things, breach of contract and misrepresentation by defendants Lisa Bushon and Innovative Risk Management, LLC. Later, on October 13, 2014, plaintiff filed a notice of “voluntary nonsuit” in the trial court.  She also faxed the notice to opposing counsel.  A hearing on a pending motion to disqualify the plaintiff’s counsel had been previously scheduled for October 14.  The hearing was held as scheduled.  Plaintiff, assuming that the case was concluded with the filing of her notice, did not appear at the hearing.  On October 20, 2014, the trial court entered an order granting plaintiff a voluntary nonsuit and dismissing the case without prejudice.  Defendants filed a motion to modify or amend the order of dismissal.  On December 17, 2014, the trial court entered an order disqualifying plaintiff’s counsel and awarding defendants attorney’s fees of $7,779.  We hold that Tenn. R. Civ. P. 41.01 grants plaintiff the free and unrestricted right to take a voluntary nonsuit.  Accordingly, we hold that the trial court erred in ordering the disqualification of counsel and awarding attorney’s fees after plaintiff filed the notice of voluntary dismissal and the trial court entered an order of dismissal.  We reverse the trial court’s judgment, which disqualified plaintiff’s counsel and awarded attorney’s fees to defendants.

Knox County Court of Appeals 03/28/16
In re K.J.G. - Dissenting
E2015-00087-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Douglas T. Jenkins


D. MICHAEL SWINEY, C.J., dissenting.
I respectfully dissent from the majority’s decision in this case. I cannot agree with the majority as to the issue of what constitutes written findings of fact and conclusions of law sufficient to satisfy the requirements of ...

Greene County Court of Appeals 03/28/16
In re K.J.G.
E2015-00087-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Douglas T. Jenkins


This is a termination of parental rights case. The trial court found clear and convincing evidence of grounds for terminating the parental rights of R.P.G. II, (father) to K.J.G. (the child). By the same quantum of proof, the court found that termination was in the child‘s best interest. Father appeals. We hold that the trial court‘s final judgment does not include or incorporate written findings of fact justifying its decision as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(k) (2014). For this reason, we vacate the trial court‘s judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Greene County Court of Appeals 03/28/16
Kenneth D. Hardy v. Tennessee State University, et al
M2014-02450-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carol Soloman

Former state university police officer brought suit against the university, its governing board, and the university’s chief of police asserting causes of action under the Tennessee Public Protection Act (“TPPA”), the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”); the officer alleged that he had been discriminated against on the basis of his sex and in retaliation for filing a complaint of discrimination with the university and charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), and that he was subjected to a hostile work environment and constructively discharged. At a hearing on the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on all causes of action the trial court orally granted the motion in full; in the final order the court adopted findings of fact and conclusions of law which had been prepared by counsel for defendants. The officer appeals the dismissal of all causes of action except for sex discrimination; he also asserts that the findings and conclusions do not comply with Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56.04. Holding that the findings and conclusions adopted by the court reflect the court’s independent analysis as required by Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56.04 with respect to the incidents which were alleged to violate the TPPA, we review the grant of summary judgment and affirm the judgment. As to the causes of action arising under Title VII and the THRA, we conclude that TSU was only entitled to summary judgment on the claim that the officer was constructively discharged and on all claims of retaliation except those arising from his transfer to the downtown campus and from multiple warnings the officer received for tardiness, and from his claim of a hostile work environment with respect to numerous write-ups he received. Accordingly, we remand the case for further proceedings related to those claims.    

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/24/16
Alexis Breanna Gladden v. Cumberland Trust and Investment Company et al.
E2015-00941-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas Wright

We granted an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Tenn. R. App. P. 9 in this case to consider whether the signature of the trustee of the Alexis Breanna Gladden Irrevocable Trust (“the Trust”) on an investment/brokerage account agreement agreeing to arbitration binds the minor beneficiary of the Trust to conduct arbitration of unknown future disputes or claims. We find and hold that while the plain language of the trust agreement does allow the trustee to agree to arbitrate claims and disputes that have arisen, it does not allow the trustee to agree to arbitration of unknown future disputes or claims. Therefore, the signature of the trustee of the Trust on an investment/brokerage account agreement agreeing to arbitration does not bind the minor beneficiary to conduct arbitration of unknown future disputes or claims.

Hamblen County Court of Appeals 03/24/16
State of Tennessee Ex Rel. Daniel E. Blandford v. Tanya L. Blandford
E2015-00357-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

This appeal involves a juvenile court’s subject matter jurisdiction to address a post-divorce matter of child support. The parties were divorced through judgment entered by the Knox County Fourth Circuit Court. Although the Circuit Court initially ordered the mother to pay child support for the parties’ three children, the Circuit Court subsequently entered an agreed order in 2008, directing that neither party would be obligated to pay child support from that date forward. The father commenced the instant action on June 7, 2010, by filing a petition in the Knox County Juvenile Court, alleging dependency and neglect as to the mother. Following a hearing conducted on February 14, 2011, the Juvenile Court entered an agreed order awarding “custody” to the father and finding the children dependent and neglected as to the mother. The father subsequently filed a petition to set child support. Following a hearing conducted on June 1, 2012, the Juvenile Court magistrate entered findings and recommendations, setting the mother’s child support obligation.

Knox County Court of Appeals 03/24/16
Jarratt Bell et al. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County et al
M2015-01521-COA -R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman

In 1979, a property owner (“Owner”) was notified that his property was in violation of the zoning ordinance, which allowed a maximum of two dwelling units in that area. The property contained five dwelling units. Owner appealed the zoning administrator’s decision to the board of zoning appeals (“BZA”), which permitted him to retain the five units for as long as he owned the property. In 2014, when Owner decided to sell the property, he petitioned the zoning administrator to remove the ownership condition so that another owner could maintain the five units. The administrator denied this request, and Owner appealed to the BZA, which removed the ownership condition. Five nearby property owners filed a writ of certiorari in chancery court challenging the BZA’s decision. The chancery court vacated the BZA’s decision, finding that the BZA acted arbitrarily in removing the ownership condition and then failing to consider the effect of this decision, namely, the creation of a new permanent variance without a determination that the property met the statutory standards. The chancery court remanded the case to the BZA for further consideration. Owner appeals, and we affirm the chancery court’s decision.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/21/16
Timothy Wayne Masse v. Mandy Joe Masse Cottar
M2015-00822-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove


Mother and Father were married for eight years and had three children when they divorced in 2009. Mother was named the primary residential parent, and each party was awarded equal residential time with the children. In 2010 Mother moved from Spring Hill, where the parties had lived during their marriage, to Goodlettsville. When Mother attempted to remove the children from Maury County schools and enroll them in Robertson County schools, Father filed a petition to modify the parenting plan and to be named the primary residential parent. Following a trial, the court found that the parties’ failure to follow the parenting plan constituted a material change of circumstances and that it was in the children’s best interest for the primary residential parent designation to change from Mother to Father. Mother appealed, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Maury County Court of Appeals 03/21/16
Judith Moore-Pennoyer v. State of Tennessee, et al.
E2015-01701-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

This is a Rule 9 interlocutory appeal for a determination as to whether a person who has prevailed in a judicial election, but not yet assumed the office of judge, acts as a “state officer or employee” for purposes of the waiver provision set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated section 9-8-307(b), when making administrative staffing provisions. The plaintiff filed this action alleging tortious interference with an employment relationship by the defendant, a newly elected circuit court judge. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that he was entitled to immunity based upon his position as a state officer. Following a hearing, the trial court found that the defendant did not enjoy any form of immunity and that the waiver provision did not apply because he was not yet a state officer or employee when the actions at issue took place before he took the oath of office and assumed his position. The court denied the motion to dismiss but granted permission to file an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Rule 9. We granted permission to appeal and now affirm the decision of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 03/21/16