Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 05/27/2018
Format: 05/27/2018
Visuvalingam Vilvarajah, M.D. v. Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

Physician appeals Chancery Court decision affirming his summary suspension of his license to practice medicine on the basis of his conviction in the State of Kentucky for facilitation to traffic in controlled substances. We affirm the Chancery Court judgment and the summary suspension of the physician’s license.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/09/11
In Re Conservatorship of Karubah Carnahan
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Frank Brown, III

In this conservatorship case, a daughter filed a petition asking the court to appoint her as the conservator of her father, who had experienced cognitive decline after a stroke and required full-time care in an inpatient facility. The father’s spouse protested the appointment of the daughter as the conservator and requested that a neutral third party be appointed instead. After a hearing, the trial court determined that the daughter was the appropriate person to serve as conservator, and specifically enumerated the power to file for divorce on behalf of the ward to the conservator. The spouse appeals. We affirm. Our first opinion in this case originally was filed on January 21, 2011. Appellant thereafter filed a petition to rehear. The petition to rehear contained a meritorious assertion. Accordingly, we granted the petition, withdrew our original opinion and now submit this substitute opinion.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 03/09/11
Helen M. Land v. Jack Casteel
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lawrence Puckett

The appellant appeals the trial court’s issuance of orders of protection against him. The appellant’s sister and brother-in-law filed petitions for ex parte orders of protection and alleged that on two separate occasions, the appellant fired shots toward their home. The appellant denies the allegations. After a hearing, the trial court found by a preponderance of the evidence that entry of the orders of protection was necessary. We affirm.

McMinn County Court of Appeals 03/08/11
In Re Samaria S. and Samarion S. State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services v. Tikindra G.
Authoring Judge: Judge Holly M. Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roger A. Page

This is a dependency and neglect appeal from a finding of severe child abuse. The respondent mother gave birth to premature twins. Before the hospital released the premature infants to the mother’s care, she was given extensive instructions on their feeding. Two weeks later, one twin was hospitalized, near death from severe malnutrition and dehydration. Days later, the other twin was hospitalized, also severely malnourished and dehydrated. The twins were taken into State protective custody, and a petition for dependency and neglect was filed, alleging severe child abuse. The mother stipulated to dependency and neglect, but denied severe child abuse. The juvenile court held that the first twin had been subjected to severe child abuse, but not the second twin. The mother appealed this finding to the circuit court. After a de novo hearing, the circuit court held that both twins had been subjected to “severe child abuse” as defined in Tennessee Code Annotated § 37-1-102(b)(23)(A) and (B). The mother now appeals. We affirm, finding, inter alia, that subsection (B) of the statute does not require proof that the mother’s conduct was “knowing” in order to find severe child abuse.

Madison County Court of Appeals 03/08/11
Renasant Bank, a Mississippi Charter Bank Doing Business in Tennessee v. William R. Hyneman, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Judge by Designation D.J. Alissandratos

This is a breach of contract case. The trial court found two defendants liable for breaches of continuing guaranty agreements related to a construction loan and awarded judgment for the plaintiff. The trial court, however, did not adjudicate a pending cross-complaint. Although the court attempted to certify the judgment as final pursuant to Rule 54.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, the court’s order did not make the express findings essential to certification. Because the trial court did not properly certify the judgment as final, we do not have jurisdiction to consider the issues raised before us. We dismiss the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/07/11
Appleby Trust Limited, Trustee v. New England Life Insurance Company, a Division of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lori Ridder

Current owner of a life insurance policy filed a complaint for declaratory judgment, alleging that the life insurance company wrongfully terminated the policy after failing to notify the current owner of the impending lapse of the policy for nonpayment of premiums. The life insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment, along with an affidavit and a copy of the policy, in an attempt to  demonstrate that it had provided notice in accordance with the policy terms. The current owner filed a response along with an affidavit. The trial court granted summary judgment to the life insurance company. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/07/11
Elma Lou Hale v. Gerald D. Hale et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

This is the second appeal of an action to partition 74 acres. Plaintiff is a widow who owns a one-half interest in the land as a tenant in common with Defendants, Plaintiff’s stepson and his wife. Plaintiff filed this action in 2008 to partition the property by sale. Defendants opposed a sale and sought partition in kind. The trial court ordered the property sold upon findings that a partition in kind was impractical and that the two tracts were more valuable if sold together. Defendants appealed, and we affirmed with instructions that the property be sold on remand. Before the sale, a survey was conducted which revealed that Defendants’ home, located on a one-acre tract owned separately by Defendants, encroached on the property held by the parties as tenants in common. In order to resolve the encroachment issue, the trial court ordered Plaintiff to quitclaim a mere 0.168 acres to Defendants and ordered Defendants to quitclaim a like-sized portion of the property of equal value to Plaintiff. Although this remedy was favorable to Defendants, they nonetheless appealed, claiming the trial court had no legal authority to order them to quitclaim any property to Plaintiff. We have determined the trial court is authorized to partition a portion of the property in kind, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-27-104, and to order that the remaining property be partitioned by sale. Thus, we affirm.

Van Buren County Court of Appeals 03/04/11
Lamar Reynolds v. Louis R. Tognetti and Wendee L. Tognetti
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

Before filing this personal injury action arising from an automobile accident, the plaintiff filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Although the plaintiff’s personal injury action accrued prior to his filing for bankruptcy, he omitted the potential claim from a schedule of assets in the bankruptcy petition. The plaintiff received a discharge in bankruptcy, and, shortly thereafter, filed the instant action. After the defendants moved for summary judgment, the plaintiff moved to amend his complaint in order to add the bankruptcy Trustee as a party. The trial court did not rule on the plaintiff’s motion to amend, and instead granted the defendants summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff lacked standing and was judicially estopped from pursuing his personal injury claim. On appeal, we conclude that the trial court erred when it failed to rule on the plaintiff’s motion to amend his complaint prior to adjudicating the defendants’ summary judgment motion.

Fayette County Court of Appeals 03/04/11
Blake Michelle Bodle (Rooks) v. John Virgle Bodle
Authoring Judge: Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

The mother has filed a notice of appeal challenging the trial court’s decision regarding the father’s child support obligation. Because the mother did not file her notice of appeal within the time permitted by Tenn. R. App. P. 4, we dismiss the appeal.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 03/03/11
Patrick Riley v. Daron Hall, Sheriff
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

This is an appeal from a judgment dismissing an inmate’s petition for writ of certiorari challenging a disciplinary decision. Because the appellant did not file his notice of appeal within the time permitted by Tenn. R. App. P. 4, we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/02/11
Jamie Randolph, on behalf of her deceased mother, Carolyn Randolph v. Gianfranco Meduri, M.D., et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles McPherson

This appeal arises out of an action to hold UT Medical Group, Inc. vicariously liable for the alleged negligence of its employees. In 1997, the original plaintiff filed an amended complaint for medical malpractice and wrongful death which specifically named two doctors as employees of the defendant who negligently caused the death of a patient. As trial approached, a substitute plaintiff attempted to add new allegations concerning the negligence of a third doctor. The trial court denied the motion to amend and later granted a motion in limine to exclude evidence concerning  the alleged negligence of the third doctor as beyond the scope of the 1997 amended complaint. The plaintiff consequently was unable to offer expert testimony at trial to prove an employee of the defendant negligently caused the patient’s death, and the trial court granted judgment in favor of the defendant. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/02/11
Robert H. Goodall, Jr. v. William B. Akers - Dissenting
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tom E. Gray

Unlike the majority, I do not believe the trial court abused its discretion by prohibiting Mr. Akers’ two expert witnesses from giving their opinions on whether Mr. Goodall’s reliance on Mr. Akers’ representations was reasonable. Furthermore, even if the exclusion of this testimony was error, I find it to be harmless error. Therefore, I respectfully dissent.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 03/01/11
Robert H. Goodall, Jr. v. William B. Akers
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tom E. Gray

Buyer of real property brought suit against seller for intentional misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract, and breach of express warranty. The trial court determined that the buyer’s reliance upon the seller’s representations was reasonable. On appeal, the seller argues that the evidence does not support the trial court’s decision and that the trial court erred in excluding expert testimony offered by the seller. Because we have determined that the trial court erred in excluding the expert testimony in question, we reverse and remand.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 03/01/11