Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/04/2020
Format: 08/04/2020
KELLY LOVE MCGUFFEY v. BELMONT WEEKDAY SCHOOL ET AL.
M2019-01413-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kelvin D. Jones

A preschool teacher terminated from her employment at a church preschool brought multiple claims against the church, the school, the director of the school, and a church committee. After the teacher presented her evidence to a jury, the court granted motions for a directed verdict as to all defendants except the church and on all claims except common law retaliatory discharge and promissory estoppel. The teacher claimed that the director terminated her employment in retaliation for her complaints about safety issues at the school and that she relied on a promise by the chair of a church committee that a probation report would be removed from her personnel file. The jury found in favor of the church on both counts, and the trial court entered judgment in favor of the church. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/27/20
Martha Gilmore, Executrix of the Estate of Nannie Susan Carpenter v. NOL, LLC a/k/a Premier Radiology
M2019-01308-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kelvin D. Jones
A physical therapy patient standing just outside a building was struck by the building’s
automatic door, causing her to fall and suffer broken bones. The patient sued the owner
of the building, asserting negligence and premises liability. The owner asserted the
affirmative defense of comparative fault. The jury returned verdicts finding both parties
negligent and assigned more fault to the patient than to the building owner, thus barring
the patient from any recovery. The patient moved for a new trial, arguing that the jury’s
verdict finding her to be at fault was contrary to the weight of the evidence. The trial
court denied her motion, and the patient appealed. We conclude that the trial judge did
not err in its role as the thirteenth juror, but we vacate the court’s judgment finding the
patient comparatively at fault because no material evidence was introduced at trial to
support this aspect of the jury’s verdict.
Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/27/20
Jennifer Benke Bottorff v. Christian Todd Bottorff
M2019-00676-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson
In this post-divorce custody modification action, the Davidson County Circuit Court
(“trial court”) entered a protective order requiring the return and permanent destruction of
documents, including copies, that were allegedly central to the mother’s separate
professional malpractice action against the father’s testifying expert. The trial court
subsequently denied the mother’s motion for relief from the protective order, wherein she
sought access to the documents for her use in the professional malpractice action.
Although the mother filed a motion seeking to alter or amend the trial court’s order, the
trial court also denied that motion. The mother has appealed. Following our thorough
review of the record and applicable case law, we vacate the trial court’s order denying the
mother’s motion to alter or amend as it pertains to the documents produced during
discovery. We remand this issue to the trial court for further hearing, as necessary, and
determination of the issue based upon the appropriate factors. We reverse the trial
court’s order denying the mother’s motion to alter or amend as it pertains to the trial
transcript and exhibits. We deny the father’s request for an award of attorney’s fees on
appeal.
Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/27/20
Jerry Cunningham, Executor Of The Estate Of Iva Zan Thrall v. Eastman Credit Union, Et Al.
E2019-00987-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor E. G. Moody

In this probate action, Iva Zan Thrall (“Decedent”) had named the original respondent, Marion Dodd, as a payable-on-death (“POD”) beneficiary on several of Decedent’s bank accounts.1 The petitioner, Jerry Cunningham, acting as executor of Decedent’s estate (“Executor”), initiated the instant action by filing a petition to enforce Decedent’s last will and testament in the Sullivan County Chancery Court (“trial court”). Executor named as respondents Ms. Dodd and the two financial institutions where Decedent’s accounts were maintained. Upon notice of Ms. Dodd’s death, her estate (“the Dodd Estate”) was subsequently substituted as a respondent. The two financial institutions were eventually dismissed from this action and are not participating in this appeal. Following a bench trial, the trial court determined that the Dodd Estate must provide to Executor all account funds that Ms. Dodd had received as a POD beneficiary. Following a review of Decedent’s testamentary documents, including a codicil to her last will and testament, the trial court concluded by clear and convincing evidence that Decedent intended for Ms. Dodd, who had originally been named as executrix in the last will and testament, to act in a representative capacity with regard to the account funds. The trial court held that a constructive trust be imposed regarding the funds to give effect to Decedent’s intent, which the court found to be the creation of “a resulting trust and/or implied trust” concerning the account funds. The effect of the constructive trust was that it dispossessed the account funds from the Dodd Estate and transferred those funds to Decedent’s estate via Executor. The trial court further determined that the Dodd Estate would be unjustly enriched if the trial court did not impose equitable principles. The Dodd Estate has appealed. Because we are unable to ascertain whether the trial court’s final order represents the independent judgment of the court, we vacate the order and remand for sufficient findings of facts and conclusions of law that reflect the trial court’s independent analysis and judgment.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 05/27/20
Brenda Hamblin Proctor v. Michael Owen Proctor
M2018-01757-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor David D. Wolfe

More than ten years after the final decree was entered in this divorce action, Wife filed a contempt action to enforce a provision in the marital dissolution agreement, which had been incorporated into the final decree. Husband filed a separate breach of contract action to recover amounts that he had paid on Wife’s behalf when the parties resumed living together for a five year period following the entry of the divorce decree; the matters were consolidated for the court to rule on whether the controversy should proceed as a contempt action or as a contract action. The court ruled that the action would continue as an action for contempt and, following a hearing, entered an order granting Wife judgment for the $50,000 Husband had been ordered to pay her in the final decree, subject to set-offs for the cost of an automobile, furniture, and medical and dental expenses Husband provided to Wife or paid on her behalf. Husband appeals. We hold that because Wife’s action was filed more than ten years after entry of the judgment, it is barred by the statute of limitations at Tennessee Code Annotated section 28-3-110(a)(2); accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Appeals 05/27/20
Legacy Five Leasing, LLC, et al. v. Busforsale.com, LLC
M2019-01615-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Thompson

A bus and a trailer sustained water damage when the lot where they were stored flooded following a rainstorm. The owner of the bus and trailer sued the operator of the lot, alleging negligence, gross negligence, and breach of contract. Before filing the complaint, the owner disposed of the bus and trailer. The trial court granted the lot operator’s motion to dismiss the negligence and breach of contract causes of action. The trial court then dismissed the owner’s claim for gross negligence due to spoliation of evidence. The owner appealed the dismissal of its gross negligence claim, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 05/27/20
JACOB DALTON DICUS ET AL. v. LISA GAYE SMITH
M2019-01495-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin III

This is a partition suit. The residential property at issue was purchased approximately three months before Plaintiff’s father died from a terminal condition. The deed to the property listed the owners as Plaintiff’s father and his former girlfriend, and the two of them resided together at the property for the last three months of his life. After Plaintiff’s father died, Plaintiff, his sole heir, brought this partition suit individually and as executor of his father’s estate. Plaintiff asserted that his father’s former girlfriend should not receive any of the proceeds from the sale of the home because she did not financially contribute to its purchase. The former girlfriend took the position that Plaintiff’s father gifted her a one-half interest in the home because she agreed to act as his live-in caregiver in the last three months of his life. The trial court found clear and convincing evidence to establish the elements of a gift and split the proceeds of the sale of the home equally, after accounting for some expenses paid by Plaintiff. Plaintiff appeals, arguing that the proof did not establish a gift. We affirm and remand for further proceedings.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 05/27/20
MITCHELL WHITSON ET AL. v. CITY OF LAVERGNE BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS
M2019-00384-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Darrell L. Scarlett

Property owners applied to the City of La Vergne for a building permit to install new doors on their car wash. Their purpose was to convert the car wash to a car lot. The city issued a building permit to the property owners, who proceeded to perform the work necessary to convert the property to a car lot. Months later, the city informed the property owners that they had to obtain planning commission approval of a site plan before they could operate a car lot on the property. The property owners appealed to the board of zoning appeals, which upheld the city’s decision. The plaintiffs filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the chancery court, and the court upheld the decision of the board of zoning appeals. We affirm the chancery court’s decision.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 05/27/20
Michael P. Abraham v. Carolynn Abraham
M2019-00381-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Howard W. Wilson

This is an appeal of the post-divorce modification of a parenting plan. Father ceased making regular contributions into an account for the children’s education that was established in the original parenting plan agreed upon in 2004, but was not included in a modified plan adopted by agreement seven years later. Mother sought to recover the contributions that were not made by Father after 2011 in addition to the amount Father withdrew from the college fund account without her consent. Mother also sought reimbursement for the cost of a vehicle she purchased for one of the children and for an upward adjustment to Father’s child support obligation to pay for extracurricular expenses. The court held that Father was not obligated to contribute to the college fund after 2011, but ordered Father to reimburse the fund for the amount he withdrew; the court denied Mother’s request for reimbursement of the cost of the vehicle and for an upward adjustment of child support, and granted Mother a money judgment for expenses incurred when the children moved out of Father’s home to reside with her. Mother appeals. Upon a thorough review of the record, we discern no error and affirm the judgment.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 05/27/20
Sherrie Miller Daly v. John Daly
W2017-02549-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary L. Wagner

This post-divorce appeal is the fourth appeal between the parties. This action involves the court’s holding of the mother in criminal contempt for her repeated failure to adhere to the orders of the court. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 05/26/20
June C. Horton, et al. v. Erin E. Cooley
M2019-00945-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Mark Rogers

The maternal grandparents filed this action against their daughter, seeking court-ordered visitation with her four-year-old son, after she ceased their visitation during her parenting time. The daughter insisted that the grandparents accept her new husband and cease contact with the child’s father, her ex-husband, before the grandparents could see her and the child again. The grandparents rebuffed their daughter’s request, choosing to visit with the grandchild during the ex-husband’s residential time instead. Following a trial, the trial court found, inter alia, that the daughter placed reasonable conditions on the grandparents’ visitation pending a resolution of the family dispute, that there had not been a severe reduction in the grandparents’ visitation with the child, and there was no danger of substantial harm to the child because the child continued to visit the grandparents on a regular basis. We affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 05/26/20
Gardenia Parker, et al. v. Epstein Enterprises, LLC, et al.
W2019-00311-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerry Stokes

This is an appeal from a jury trial. The defendants own and manage an apartment complex in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2010, two pit bull dogs left one of the apartments and attacked two individuals in a neighboring lot. One of the individuals died on the scene. The jury found the defendants were at fault and awarded a total jury verdict of $2.5 million. The trial judge granted the defendants’ motion for remittitur of the jury verdict and suggested remittitur of the award to $1.3 million. The plaintiff accepted the remittitur under protest. The defendants appeal, arguing that the trial court erred by denying their motion to amend their answers to assert comparative fault; denying their motion for a continuance; denying their motion for directed verdict; denying their motion for a mistrial due to comments made by plaintiff’s counsel during closing arguments; and denying their motion for new trial due to juror misconduct. In her posture as appellee, the plaintiff asserts that the trial court erred in suggesting remittitur of the jury verdict. For the following reasons, we affirm the decision of the circuit court and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 05/26/20
Mitzi Bayne Ruth, Et Al. v. Home Health Care of Middle Tennessee, LLC., Et Al.
E2019-01178-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri S. Bryant

This is a breach of contract action in which Plaintiffs sought to recover the balance of a promissory note executed to secure payment for of a deceased owner’s interest in the defendant company and to recover on a guaranty to secure the note. Defendants conceded that they did not pay the note according to its terms and counterclaimed, asserting that Plaintiffs breached a separate agreement which required the deceased owner’s estate to file amended tax returns and tender payment to the Internal Revenue Service for taxes which had been paid on behalf of the deceased owner by the company. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment; the court granted Plaintiffs’ motion, denied Defendants’ motion, and dismissed Defendants’ counterclaim. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 05/26/20
Strategic Acquisitions Group, LLC v. Premier Parking Of Tennessee, LLC
E2019-01631-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carter Scott Moore

Plaintiff lessor appeals the trial court’s decision to grant summary judgment concerning the interpretation of a lease in favor of the defendant lessee. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 05/22/20
In Re Aryana S.
E2019-01267-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney, C.J.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael S. Pemberton

Lacy B. and Quentin B. (collectively, “Petitioners”) filed a petition for adoption and to terminate the parental rights of the mother, Morgan S. (“Mother”), to the minor child, Aryana S. (“the Child”). The Trial Court found that Petitioners had proven by clear and convincing evidence that the grounds of abandonment by failure to support and severe child abuse existed for termination of Mother’s parental rights but that termination of her rights was not in the Child’s best interest. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Meigs County Court of Appeals 05/21/20
Bruce Gillam v. Destiny Ballew
E2018-01782-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Nichole Cantrell

This appeal concerns the trial court’s designation of the father as the minor children’s primary residential parent after establishing his paternity. During trial, the court granted the father’s motion in limine to exclude testimony from the mother’s expert witness. The mother appeals the trial court’s evidentiary ruling and the designation of primary residential parent. We affirm the trial court’s decision.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 05/21/20
Tennessee State Bank v. Douglas V. Mashek et al.
E2019-00591-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Moyers

This case involves a home equity line of credit (“HELOC”) extended to the co-defendant, Douglas V. Mashek, by the plaintiff, Tennessee State Bank (“the Bank”), via a promissory note secured by a deed of trust encumbering real property titled to Mr. Mashek and acquired during Mr. Mashek’s marriage to the co-defendant, Deborah A. Mashek. When the Bank subsequently attempted to foreclose on the property, Mr. Mashek objected based on alterations to the deed of trust and a notice of right of rescission that had allegedly occurred after the deed’s execution and prior to recordation. The Bank filed a complaint against the Masheks in the trial court, seeking declaratory judgment that the recorded deed of trust was valid and enforceable, or in the alternative, reformation of the executed deed of trust to conform to the recorded deed. The Bank also named the title company involved in the loan transaction as a third-party defendant, alleging the title company’s liability in the event that the trial court found the deed of trust, either as executed or as recorded, to be unenforceable.1 The Masheks, proceeding pro se, filed various pleadings in response to the complaint, including a counterclaim against the Bank, alleging, inter alia, common law fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, equitable estoppel, slander of title, statutory estoppel, wrongful foreclosure, and unclean hands. Upon the Bank’s motion for partial summary judgment and following a hearing, the trial court granted the motion as to reformation of the executed deed of trust, declaring the deed, as reformed, to be enforceable and finding that the Bank was entitled to pursue foreclosure proceedings. The trial court found in part that the Bank or its agent(s) had employed “procedurally questionable and perhaps fraudulent” methods that were “at the very least negligent and potentially criminal in nature” to correct mistakes in the executed deed of trust and to, without authorization, affix the Masheks’ initials over a change in a date of signature on the notice of right of rescission. However, having also found that the mistakes corrected were mutual and amounted to scrivener’s errors that were not intended to and did not prejudice the Masheks, the trial court granted the Bank’s request to reform the executed deed of trust. The trial court 1 The title company is not participating in this appeal. 05/21/2020 2 awarded to the Bank a monetary judgment against Mr. Mashek, as the sole debtor named in the loan documents, in the amount of $294,566.39 for unpaid principal and interest. The trial court also awarded to the Bank reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses in the amount of $8,795.84, limiting such fees to those that “would be expected in an ordinary foreclosure action.” The trial court dismissed the Masheks’ various counterclaims and subsequently denied the Bank’s motion to alter or amend language in the judgment. The Masheks have appealed, and the Bank has raised issues regarding the trial court’s denial of its request to alter the court’s findings and denial of its request for additional attorney’s fees and expenses. Having determined that the Bank or its agent(s) made a unilateral mistake in materially altering the deed of trust after the document’s execution and then recording the altered deed of trust with the unilateral mistake incorporated, we reverse the trial court’s judgment as to the reformation and enforceability of the executed deed of trust. Having also determined that the action of the Bank or its agent(s) in affixing the Masheks’ initials over the altered date on the rescission notice without authorization or notice constituted gross negligence, we reverse the trial court’s finding that no gross negligence occurred but affirm the trial court’s implied finding that the Bank could not succeed in its request to reform the effective date of the rescission notice. However, concluding that no alterations were made to the promissory note, we further determine that the trial court properly found Mr. Mashek to be liable for the unpaid principal and interest due under the terms of the note. We therefore affirm the trial court’s $294,566.39 monetary judgment against Mr. Mashek. We vacate the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees and expenses to the Bank and remand for a hearing to determine the amount of attorney’s fees and expenses incurred by the Bank solely to obtain a judgment based on the promissory note. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects, including its denial of the Bank’s request for additional attorney’s fees and expenses and its denial of the Bank’s motion to alter or amend the language of the judgment. Finally, we clarify that no evidence has been presented in this case to support a finding of the intent necessary for forgery as a cause of action against the Bank or its agent(s).

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/21/20
In Re: Ava M., Et Al.
E2019-01675-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney, C.J.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas J. Wright

This appeal concerns the termination of a mother’s parental rights. Janae M. (“Mother”) is the mother of Ava M., Camille W., and Michael W., III (“the Children”).1 Tommy G. (“Grandfather”) and Glenda G. (“Grandmother”) (“Grandparents,” collectively) are the Children’s paternal grandparents. When Mother was incarcerated in 2014, Grandparents received custody of the Children. A few years later, Grandparents filed a petition in the Circuit Court for Hamblen County (“the Trial Court”) seeking to terminate Mother’s parental rights. After a trial, the Trial Court found that the grounds of failure to support and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody were proven against Mother, and that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the Children’s best interest. Mother appeals arguing, among other things, that the Trial Court wrongly applied two different four-month periods for the ground of failure to support. Grandparents raise their own separate issue of whether the Trial Court erred in not finding the additional ground of failure to visit. We hold, inter alia, that although the Trial Court erred in applying two different four-month determinative periods for failure to support, the error was harmless in this case. We affirm.

Hamblen County Court of Appeals 05/20/20
Penny Wilson v. Weigel Stores, Inc.
E2019-00605-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis

This is a premises liability action in which the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant convenience store for personal injuries resulting from her slip and fall near the gasoline pump. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the plaintiff failed to establish that the defendant caused or created or should have discovered with reasonable diligence the condition that caused her fall. The plaintiff appeals. We reverse the trial court’s decision. We remand this case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/19/20
Deborah Christine Moore v. Larry Gene Moore
E2019-00503-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gregory S. McMillan

The parties entered into a mediated agreement, which was incorporated into their divorce judgment. Following the entry of the judgment, Husband filed a timely motion to alter or amend the parties’ agreement, alleging a mutual mistake. The trial court granted the motion and reformed the agreement to impose additional obligations on Wife. Following our review, we reverse.

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/15/20
Sandra Ann Pippin v. Christina Michelle Pippin (Dissent)
M2018-00376-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Thomas Gwin

This opinion is stuck in the past. In my opinion, Obergefell v. Hodges, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), altered the way we must interpret many statutes relating to marriage and parentage. In Obergefell, the United State Supreme Court legalized samesex marriage in the entire United States. It has met with resistance, just like Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), and other United States Supreme Court cases that required society to alter its thinking about its institutions.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 05/14/20
Sandra Ann Pippin v. Christina Michelle Pippin
M2018-00376-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Thomas Gwin

The non-biological parent of a child born by artificial insemination to a woman with whom the non-biological parent had maintained a long term relationship and who had lived with the child, holding herself out as one of the child’s parents, filed a petition to establish her parentage of the child and to set a parenting schedule; the petition was dismissed on the basis that she lacked standing; the trial court also awarded the petitioner visitation with the child. Upon our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition and vacate the order setting visitation.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 05/14/20
Tinin Contracting Company, Inc., et al v. Enviroworks, Inc.
M2019-00763-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

This is a case involving the breach of an oral contract to provide excavation work and materials for an airport construction project in Bolivar, Tennessee. The trial court awarded $128,058.09 in favor of the subcontractor against the project’s general contractor. On appeal, the general contractor argued that the oral contract existing between the parties included the subcontractor sharing in certain surveying and testing costs incurred on its scope of work on the project, that it was entitled to a credit for these costs, and that, ultimately, the trial court miscalculated its award of damages. We affirm the trial court’s finding that there was no agreement existing between the parties for the subcontractor to incur any surveying or testing costs and that, as a result, the general contractor was not entitled to a credit for these expenses against the balance of the moneys it owed the subcontractor. However, because the order contains insufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law as to why the trial court included an additional $5,593.40 in the final judgment beyond the damages sought in the complaint, we vacate that portion of the final judgment and remand the case to the trial court with instructions to reduce the judgment against the general contractor from $128,058.09 to $122,464.69.

Wayne County Court of Appeals 05/14/20
Alysia Reese McCracken Hancock v. BJR Enterprises, LLC, Et Al. - Concurring
E2019-01158-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deborah C. Stevens

I concur in the majority’s decision to affirm the Trial Court. I agree the authorization form was so insufficient as not to allow the medical providers to obtain medical records from the other providers. I, however, continue to adhere to the position as stated in my dissent in Parks v. Walker, 585 S.W.3d 895, 900 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2018) that if a medical authorization form along with other information provided to the healthcare providers is sufficient to enable them to obtain a plaintiff’s records simply by asking, then there is substantial compliance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(a)(2)(E).

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/14/20
Alysia Reese McCracken Hancock v. BJR Enterprises, LLC, Et Al.
E2019-01158-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deborah C. Stevens

This is a healthcare liability action. In her medical authorizations, the plaintiff left blank lines as to who was authorized to receive the patient’s records from the medical providers and others receiving notice. The defendants claimed that the authorizations were not HIPAA1-compliant, as required by Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26- 121(a)(2)(E). The plaintiff responded that by construing the pre-suit notice packet materials as one cohesive document, all of the elements required by the statute are present and that the defendants had at their disposal all of the information necessary to obtain the patient’s medical records. The plaintiff further asserted that the failure of the defendants to attempt to obtain the records precludes any demonstration of prejudice to them. The trial court determined that the plaintiff’s statutory notice failed to substantially comply with the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/14/20