Court of Appeals Opinions
Kevin Fisher et al. v. Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Robert E. Corlew
The main issue in this case is whether Rutherford County provided adequate notice, under the Open Meetings Act, concerning a planning commission meeting to vote on the site plan for a mosque. We have concluded that the trial court erred in finding the notice provided to be inadequate under the Open Meetings Act. In all other respects, we affirm the decision of the trial court.
|Rutherford County||Court of Appeals||05/29/13|
Angela Carroll v. Robert Corcoran
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. L. Rogers
Unmarried Father and Mother of infant child filed petitions to establish initial custody, calculate parenting time, set child support, and determine residential sharing schedule. Father sought to have the child bear his surname. The trial court entered a parenting plan and denied Father’s request to change the child’s surname. Father appeals and assigns as error certain parenting plan provisions, the trial court’s award to Mother of her attorney fees, and the trial court’s decision not to change the child’s surname. Mother appeals the trial court’s calculation of the number of days of parenting time for purposes of determining child support. Finding that the court miscalculated the number of days of parenting time, we remand for a redetermination of child support. We also remand the attorney fee award for reconsideration. In all other respects, we affirm the trial court.
|Sumner County||Court of Appeals||05/29/13|
State of Tennessee Ex Rel., Wendy Harrison v. Danny Scott
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Nolan Goolsby
This appeal arises from a post-divorce petition to modify the father’s child support obligation as set in 2000 under a previous version of the child support guidelines. The dispositive issue is whether there is a “Significant Variance” in the father’s income as required by Department of Human Services Rule 1240-2-4-.05(2)(b)(1) to allow a modification. The trial court found no significant variance in the father’s income; nevertheless, it modified his child support obligation, setting it at the presumptive amount as calculated under the current child support guidelines and using the parties’ current income. We have determined the trial court’s finding of no significant variance was based upon a mathematical error, and we find there is a significant variance entitling the father to a modification of his child support obligation. Accordingly, we affirm the modification of the father’s support but on different grounds than those relied upon by the trial court.
|Putnam County||Court of Appeals||05/29/13|
In Re: Victoria G. et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy Irwin
This is a termination of parental rights case involving two minor children, Victoria G. and Ethan G. (“the Children”). The Children were born during the marriage of David G. (“Father”) and Rachel M. (“Mother”). When Father and Mother divorced in 2004, Mother was awarded primary custody of the Children. In 2005, Mother suffered a recurrence of cancer. She and the Children subsequently moved in with her sister, Amanda M., and her sister’s husband, Paul M. When Mother died on October 6, 2005, Amanda M. obtained custody of the Children the following day. Father did not seek custody of the Children until April 2006. The parties engaged in protracted litigation, during which Father was allowed varying types of visitation. In September 2010, Father was granted progressively expanding visitation with the Children, designed toward increasing co-parenting in frequency and consistency over time. The visits did not go well, however, and the Children eventually refused to go with Father. The last attempted exchange, occurring on September 9, 2011, resulted in an incident wherein Father was arrested for assault. Father did not seek visitation with the Children after that date. Paul M. filed a petition seeking to terminate Father’s parental rights on January 26, 2012, based upon the statutory ground of abandonment by willful failure to visit and support. Following a bench trial, the trial court granted the petition after finding clear and convincing evidence that Father had willfully failed to visit the Children for at least four months preceding the filing of the petition, and upon determining that termination was in the Children’s best interest. Father appeals. We affirm.
|Knox County||Court of Appeals||05/29/13|
Berlinda Lane, and Edward L. Montedonico, as Chapter 7 Trustee for the Estate of Berlinda Lane v. Jacob L. Daniel and Daniel J. Lund
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss
This case involves the application of the statute of limitations to an intervening personal injury complaint filed by a bankruptcy trustee after the defendants asserted that the original plaintiff, the debtor in the bankruptcy proceeding, lacked standing to bring the claim. Once the bankruptcy trustee became aware of the claim, he filed a motion for intervention, or in the alternative, for substitution pursuant to Rule 17.01 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. The trial court granted the trustee’s motion and the trustee later filed an intervening complaint. The trial court, however, later dismissed the case, reasoning that because the first complaint was filed by a party without standing, the original complaint was a nullity. Under this theory, the trial court concluded that the action was commenced upon the filing of the trustee’s intervening complaint, which was undisputedly outside the applicable statute of limitations. Having determined that the plaintiff’s original complaint was not a nullity, we conclude that the trustee’s intervening complaint relates back to the original complaint and, thus, was filed within the applicable statute of limitations. Accordingly, we reverse and remand.
|Shelby County||Court of Appeals||05/29/13|
State of Tennessee ex rel. Tonya Dotson v. Donald Howard
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Child Support Magistrate Joshua L. Rogers
The father of one child appeals the trial court’s finding of ten counts of criminal contempt for failing to pay ten weekly child support payments and the imposition of consecutive sentences of ten days for each count for a total sentence of 100 days in jail. Petitioner introduced little evidence other than proof that the father had not paid child support; the father defended the petition insisting he did not have the ability to pay support. Medical records introduced into evidence, along with the testimony of the father and his optometrist, established that the father suffered from an autoimmune medical condition that substantially impairs his vision and prevents him from working in bright light, including sunlight, and from working in a hot environment. Additionally, the father has a tenth grade education and is a convicted felon, facts which further impair his employability. Considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, we are unable to conclude that a trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the father had the ability to pay and that his failure to pay support was willful. Accordingly, his conviction of ten counts of contempt for willfully failing to pay child support is reversed.
|Williamson County||Court of Appeals||05/28/13|
Estate of Joe Boyd Martin
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.
This case involves a claim first asserted against a decedent’s estate by the decedent’s longtime companion, and then pursued after her death by her heirs The claim was transferred from the probate court to the chancery court and then, by agreed order, to the circuit court for a jury trial. The jury upheld the validity of the claim, and the court entered a judgment on the verdict. The decedent’s heirs then filed post-trial motions contending that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction over the claim. After extensive briefing, the circuit court agreed with those arguments and vacated its own judgment. We reverse the trial court and reinstate its original judgment.
|Wilson County||Court of Appeals||05/28/13|
Bringle Farms Partnership v. State of Tennessee
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner Robert Hibbett
The claimant has filed a notice of appeal from an Order Denying Claimant’s Motion for En Banc Review entered by the Tennessee Claims Commission on February 26, 2013. Because the claimant did not file its notice of appeal with the clerk of the Claims Commission within the time permitted by Tenn. R. App. P. 4, we dismiss the appeal.
|Court of Appeals||05/28/13|
Nitra Lynn Haggard v. Dylan Haggard
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Butler
After the trial court entered a final decree of divorce, the wife filed a motion to alter or amend, seeking a modification of the division of marital property. The trial court granted the motion to alter or amend, stating that the court was operating under a misconception concerning the wife’s position at trial, which rendered the division of marital property inequitable. The court awarded an asset previously awarded to the husband to the wife instead. Husband appeals. We affirm.
|Henderson County||Court of Appeals||05/28/13|
The Commissioners of the Powell-Clinch Utility District v. Utility Management Review Board
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins
Respondent utility district commissioners appeal the trial court’s determination that a ground for removal from office added to Tennessee Code Annotated § 7-82-307(b)(2), as amended effective June 2009, may be applied retrospectively to acts occurring prior to the effective date of the amendment to remove them from office. They also appeal the trial court’s determination that the additional ground for removal of commissioners, “failing to fulfill the commissioner’s or commissioners’ fiduciary responsibility in the operation or oversight of the district,” is not unconstitutionally vague. We reverse retrospective application of the additional ground for removal contained in the statute, as amended, and remand.
|Davidson County||Court of Appeals||05/24/13|
Pamela Renee Cantrell v. Jessie Arvil Cantrell
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sammie E. Benningfield , Jr.
Former wife appeals the assessment of past child support to her and the court’s disposition of her motion to hold former Husband in contempt of court. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.
|White County||Court of Appeals||05/23/13|
Martis J. Kelley and Joseph Kelley, Sr. v. Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority, individually and d/b/a Erlanger Health System
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Neil Thomas, III
This is a medical malpractice action filed pursuant to the Tennessee 1 Medical Malpractice Act (“the TMMA.”) The plaintiffs are wife and husband. The sole defendant is a governmental entity subject to the Governmental Tort Liability Act (“the GTLA”). The defendant operates a hospital in Chattanooga. The complaint alleges that wife was a victim of medical malpractice at the hospital in February 2010. On February 2, 2011, the plaintiffs sent the notice required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a) (2012), a part of the TMMA. On June 3, 2011, the plaintiffs filed suit against the Hospital Authority. The Authority filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to the provisions of Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12(6), arguing that the suit was not timely filed because it was not filed within the one-year statute of limitations, Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-305(b) (2012), set forth in the GTLA. The plaintiffs responded that the period of limitations was extended by 120 days by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(c) because the plaintiffs had complied with the pre-suit notice requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 29- 26-121(a). The trial court dismissed the complaint as untimely filed. The plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.
|Hamilton County||Court of Appeals||05/23/13|
Leonard Embody v. Robert E. Cooper, Jr.
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins
This appeal arises from a challenge to the constitutionality of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307 (a)(1), a law restricting the carrying of firearms in Tennessee. Leonard Embody (“Embody”) challenged the validity of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307 (a)(1) in a case filed against Attorney General and Reporter Robert E. Cooper, Jr. (“Respondent”) in the Chancery Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”) on grounds that the law violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Tenn. Const. Art. I, § 26. The Trial Court upheld the law as constitutional. Embody filed an appeal to this Court. We hold that Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307 (a)(1) is a valid regulation of the carrying of firearms that does not contravene either the Second Amendment or Tenn. Const. Art. I, § 26. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.
|Davidson County||Court of Appeals||05/22/13|