Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/16/2018
Format: 08/16/2018
In Re: The Estate of Ernest Dwight King, Deceased
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

Following the death of her husband, a widow filed a petition in probate court and sought to aggregate the estate’s assets. The decedent had been in partnership with two brothers in a company that owned real estate and operated a nursery. The widow sought to partition the land and sell the partnership’s assets to obtain the estate’s one-third share of the partnership. The trial court ordered the land be sold at auction and the proceeds partitioned as the widow requested, and decreed certain expenses be paid from the sale before the proceeds were distributed to the estate and the two brothers. The brothers appealed the trial court’s decree affirming the payment of certain expenses before the proceeds were divided up among the partners, and claimed the estate should be liable for additional expenses the partnership incurred following the decedent’s death. However, the brothers failed to present evidence to the trial court in support of their arguments, with the result that we are unable to provide the brothers with any of the relief they seek. Accordingly, the trial court is affirmed in all respects.

Warren County Court of Appeals 04/19/11
Estate of Miguel Robles, etc. et al. v. Vanderbilt University Medical Center, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barbara N. Haynes

Defendants in medical malpractice action appeal the denial of their motion to set aside order entered on plaintiff’s Tenn. R. Civ. P. 41.01 notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice. Defendants contend that, because the certificate of good faith required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-122 was not filed with the complaint, dismissal should have been with prejudice. Finding that Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-122 does not limit plaintiff’s right to voluntarily dismiss an action without prejudice under the circumstances presented, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/19/11
Elmwood Apartments v. Jessica Woodson, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

This appeal arises out of a detainer action originally filed in general sessions court in which landlord of apartment was awarded possession of leased premises. Tenants filed a petition for writs of certiorari and supersedeas for de novo review to the circuit court, accompanied by an affidavit of indigency; the writs were issued. Landlord subsequently sought dismissal of both writs on several grounds. The court granted the motion, finding that the writ of supersedeas was improperly granted and, as a consequence, review by certiorari was not available as a substitute for appeal. Finding that the court erred in considering grounds for dismissal which were added by landlord within five days of the hearing on the motion, we reverse the judgment and remand for further proceedings.

Maury County Court of Appeals 04/19/11
Bennie Joe Poteet, II, Individually and by and Through Evelyn Poteet, as Conservator of Bennie Joe Poteet, II v. National Healthcare of Cleveland, Inc., et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Michael Sharp

This appeal involves a claim of medical malpractice. Bennie Joe Poteet, II, individually and by and through his mother, Evelyn Poteet, as his conservator (collectively “the Plaintiffs”), sued Adam E. Fall, M.D. (“Dr. Fall”) and National Healthcare of Cleveland, formerly doing business as Cleveland Community Hospital (“the Hospital”) (collectively “the Defendants”) for medical malpractice after Mr. Poteet suffered a stroke while admitted at the Hospital which rendered him completely paralyzed from the nose down. Both parties moved for partial summary judgment on Mr. Poteet’s later added claim of negligence per se based on a bonus incentive plan allegedly maintained by the Hospital that indirectly set forth the reduction of MRIs ordered by Dr. Fall as a factor in his annual bonus determination. The trial court granted the Hospital’s dispositive motion on the issue, as well as the Hospital’s motion to dismiss on the bonus issue. Prior to trial, the court also granted the Defendants’ motions in limine to exclude any evidence of the bonus incentive plan offered to Dr. Fall, but denied the Defendants’ motion to exclude all testimony of one of the Plaintiffs’ neurology experts. At the close of the case, the trial court submitted a special verdict form to the jury which instructed that the question regarding the Hospital’s negligence based on insufficient neurology coverage was to be disregarded if neither Dr. Fall nor the treating nurses were found to be negligent. The jury subsequently returned a verdict favorable to the nurses and Dr. Fall, leaving the question on the adequacy of neurology coverage unaddressed. Judgment was entered on the jury’s findings. The Hospital thereafter filed a motion for directed verdict on the neurology coverage issue while the Plaintiffs moved for a new trial on multiple grounds. The trial court denied the Plaintiffs’ motion for new trial but granted the Hospital’s motion for directed verdict as well as the Defendants’ motions for discretionary costs. The Plaintiffs have appealed. We affirm.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 04/19/11
Judy Davis, as Next Friend of Eloise Gwinn, an Incapacitated Person v. Kindred Healthcare Operating, Inc., et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerry Stokes

This is a nursing home abuse case. The trial court denied Appellant nursing home’s motion to compel arbitration based upon an alternative dispute resolution agreement that was executed by Appellee, the niece of the patient being admitted to Appellants’ nursing facility. The patient had executed a power of attorney in favor of her niece and her niece’s husband, but only the niece had signed the admission papers on behalf of the patient. The trial court determined that the power of attorney created a joint agency, whereby the signatures of both the niece and her husband were required in order to bind the patient, as principal, to arbitration. Affirmed and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/19/11
Darryl Suggs as Administrator of the Estate of Billy Ray Suggs v. Gallaway Health Care Center, et al.
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

This appeal arises out of a complaint filed against various healthcare providers. Before the trial court, Plaintiff filed a motion to consolidate this case with an identical lawsuit he had filed against the same defendants in another county. The motion to consolidate was denied. The trial court later dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim against one of the defendant physicians for improper venue, and the other defendants were dismissed for various reasons not relevant to this appeal. Plaintiff appeals the dismissal of his claim against the physician for improper venue, and he argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to consolidate. We affirm.

Fayette County Court of Appeals 04/18/11
In the Matter of: Melanie T. et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson

This dependent and neglected action involves the defendant’s minor biological child and two minor stepchildren. The defendant appeals the finding by the circuit court that he severely abused his two stepchildren. He contends that DCS failed to state a claim against him upon which relief could be granted because he is not the biological or legal father of the children. He also contends the evidence is insufficient to find that he committed severe child abuse. We have determined the petition states a claim against the defendant, and that the evidence clearly and convincingly supports the findings that all three children are dependent and neglected, and that the defendant severely abused the two stepchildren children. Thus, we affirm.

Coffee County Court of Appeals 04/15/11
Dawn A. Moss v. William Barry Moss
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robbie T. Beal

At issue is when Husband shall pay $250,000 in cash awarded to Wife in the division of the marital estate and whether post-judgment interest shall accrue. In the Final Decree, payment of the $250,000 was deferred pending Husband’s receipt of an expected inheritance from his recently deceased uncle. The Decree, however, expressly provided that Wife could petition the court for relief in the event the deceased uncle’s estate was not closed within one year. As authorized by the trial court, one year later, Wife filed a motion requesting that Husband be ordered to pay the $250,000 award. The trial court denied Wife’s request for immediate payment of the money and denied her request for post-judgment interest. Wife appeals contending that the trial court erred in not awarding the immediate payment of the full amount and post-judgment interest. Finding it inequitable for Husband to have the use and benefit of the marital estate, much of which is income producing, while Wife is deprived of the bulk of her share of the marital estate, we reverse and remand with instructions for the entry of a judgment in favor of Wife of $250,000 plus post-judgment interest from the filing of the motion for relief.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 04/15/11
4215 Harding Road Homeowners Association v. Stacy Harris
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Carol McCoy

The Homeowners’ Association of a high-rise condominium building filed this action against an owner/occupant of a condominium unit alleging she was in violation of the Master Deed and Bylaws due to grossly unsanitary conditions in the defendant’s unit and extremely offensive odors that emanated from her unit into common areas. The Association requested that the defendant’s condominium unit be sold at a judicial sale and that it be awarded its attorneys’ fees. The trial court found the defendant’s acts and omissions violated the Master Deed and Bylaws and that the Association was entitled to the relief it requested; accordingly, the court ordered that the unit be sold and awarded $116,037.77 in attorneys’ fees against the defendant. We affirm the trial court in all respects.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/15/11
Barry Ogle v. Ben Seigler, d/b/a Ben's Bobcat
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Herschel Pickens Franks
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

In this breach of contract action, the defendant appealed the Judgment of the Trial Court, who entered a monetary judgment against defendant and awarded attorney's fees. Defendant has appealed, and on appeal we reverse the award of attorney's fees, vacate the Trial Court's Judgment and remand, with directions for the parties or the Court to prepare a complete Statement of Evidence.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 04/15/11
Vivian Kennard v. Arthur M. Townsend, IV, M.D., et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Childers

This is a medical malpractice case. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee healthcare provider after its determination that Appellant patient’s medical expert did not meet the locality requirement, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-26-115(a)(1). Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/14/11
Gwen Shamblin, et al. v. Rafael Martinez
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robbie T. Beal

This defamation action arises out of the publication of a statement to an internet website. The trial court held that plaintiffs were unable to show actual malice in order to sustain defamation and false light invasion of privacy claims and granted summary judgment to the defendant. Finding no error, we affirm.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 04/14/11
Cynthia Lynn Liner v. Robert Clifford Liner, Jr.
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Mark Rogers

In a divorce action, Husband appeals the trial court’s classification of the residence he owned before the parties’ marriage as marital property and its award of one-half of the equity in the residence to Wife. We affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 04/13/11