Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 12/08/2019
Format: 12/08/2019
Jeffrey Paul Roller v. Anna Marie Roller
E2011-00153-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William E. Lantrip

The order from which the appellant Anna Marie Roller seeks to appeal was entered on Wednesday, December 15, 2010. A notice of appeal was filed by the appellant on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, the 34th day following the entry of the trial court’s order. Because the notice of appeal was not timely filed, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal. Accordingly, the motion of the appellee to dismiss is granted. This appeal is dismissed.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 03/14/11
Curtis Robin Russsell, et al. v. Anderson County, et al.
E2010-00189-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

This is the second appeal of this wrongful death action, arising from a pedestrian versus motor vehicle collision that fatally injured a seven-year-old child at a downtown Clinton intersection. The action was filed pursuant to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (“GTLA”), Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-101 et seq., against the City of Clinton (“the City”) by plaintiffs Curtis Robin Russell (“Mr. Russell”) and Dorothy Louise Russell (“Mrs. Russell”) (collectively “the Russells”) as next of kin of the decedent, their son Curtis Tyler Russell (“Curtis”). The Russells settled with the driver of the vehicle, Ladislav Misek (“Mr. Misek”), who was subsequently dismissed as a party-defendant from the lawsuit. The trial court in the first trial entered judgment after a nonjury trial, apportioning equivalent liability to Mrs. Russell and the City. On appeal, this court held that: (1) the trial court committed reversible error when it failed to rule on the fault to be attributed to Mr. Misek; and (2) material evidence existed for the culpability and fault to be assigned to Mr. Misek. On remand, the trial court altered its judgment, attributing 45% of the fault each to Mrs. Russell and the City and 10% to Mr. Misek. The City appealed. We affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 02/11/11
In Re Estate of Billy Joe Walls
E2010-00758-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William E. Lantrip

This appeal arises out of a challenge to the trial court's subject matter jurisdiction. Upon the death of the testator, Billy Joe Walls, wills executed by him were submitted for probate in different states. Patricia Pemberton was appointed personal representative under a 2009 will admitted to probate in the trial court. Barbara Brown is the appointed personal representative under a 2007 will admitted to probate in the Circuit Court of Morgan County, Alabama. Brown initiated these proceedings by filing a complaint in the trial court 1 to contest the will submitted by Pemberton. Subsequently, Brown sought summary judgment, asserting that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Alternatively, Brown moved to transfer the case to Alabama under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The trial court dismissed Pemberton's petition on both grounds. She appeals. We affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 11/29/10
Anne S. Phillips vs. Anderson County, Tennessee
E2009-01883-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

This appeal involves a retaliatory discharge claim. Employee claims that she was discharged after reporting her supervisor's unlawful activities. Employer denied that employee was discharged, claimed that she quit, and demonstrated that the State terminated the grant funding the program overseen by employee. A jury trial commenced, and at the close of all proof, employer moved for a directed verdict. The trial court granted the motion for directed verdict and found that employee failed to prove a causal link between her discharge and her decision to engage in a protected activity. Employee appeals. We affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 11/10/10
Clarence E. Miller vs. Marian N. Miller
E2010-00492-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William E. Lantrip

Husband filed for divorce after twenty-five years of marriage alleging inappropriate marital conduct as grounds for divorce. Wife filed a counter-claim for divorce also alleging inappropriate marital conduct. After a bench trial, the court found that the parties had lived separately for at least 10 years; awarded a divorce to Husband; and awarded alimony in futuro to Wife. Wife appeals challenging the trial court's award of a divorce to Husband, the division of the marital property, and the award of alimony. Upon review of the record, we affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 11/09/10
Roger A. Miller vs.Kimberly Summers Welch
E2009-01942-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge April Meldrum

Kimberly Summers Welch ("Mother") gave birth to Aaron A. (the "Child") on July 14, 2004. Prior to the birth, Roger A. Miller ("Father") filed a petition seeking to establish paternity. After the Child was born and a DNA test established that Father was the biological father, Father was ordered to pay $235 per month in child support. This amount was specifically held not to be presumptively correct and Mother was allowed additional time to pursue her claim that Father's income was such that he should pay more child support. The trial court eventually found that Father was capable of earning or presently was earning $40,000 annually. Father also was ordered to pay 10% of Mother's attorney fees. Father appeals both determinations. Mother requests an award of attorney fees incurred on appeal. We affirm the judgment of the trial court and award Mother her attorney fees incurred in this appeal.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 10/12/10
Gary Cooper vs. Clinton Utilities Board
E2009-01734-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Herschel Pickens Franks
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge

Plaintiff brought this action, charging defendant utility breached its contract with plaintiff to construct a line and deliver electricity to his property. Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and the trial judge held that there was no meeting of the minds between the parties and defendant was not obligated to construct a line to deliver electricity to plaintiff's dwelling. On appeal, we affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 07/23/10
In Re Tristyn K.
E2010-00109-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William E. Lantrip

This parental rights termination case was filed by Christopher W. ("Father") and Sara R. ("Stepmother") seeking to terminate the parental rights of Linsie K. ("Mother") to her daughter Tristyn K. ("the Child"). Stepmother also seeks to adopt the Child, who currently is four years old. Following a trial, the trial court terminated Mother's parental rights after finding various grounds had been proven by clear and convincing evidence and that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the Child's best interest. For the reasons discussed in this Opinion, we vacate the trial court's judgment finding grounds to terminate Mother's parental rights, and we remand this case for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 07/22/10
In Re Tristyn K. - Concurring
E2010-00109-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William E. Lantrip

I agree with the majority that the absence of any evidence of the requirements of the permanency plan[s] sounds the “death knell” for the trial court’s finding that Mother failed to comply with those requirements. If we do not know what the requirements were – and we clearly do not – we cannot intelligently determine whether those requirements were satisfied or not. I completely concur in the majority’s decision to vacate the trial court’s judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights to the extent that decision is based upon a finding that she failed to substantially comply with the requirements of the plan(s).

Anderson County Court of Appeals 07/22/10
Baird Tree Company, Inc. vs. City of Oak Ridge, et al
E2009-01094-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge

In 2004, Baird Tree Company, Inc. ("Baird Tree") unsuccessfully bid on a tree trimming and removal project with the City of Oak Ridge ("Oak Ridge"). Baird Tree filed a lawsuit claiming, inter alia, that Oak Ridge's bidding process violated the Tennessee Trade Practices Act, Tenn. Code Ann. _ 47-25-101. We affirmed the Trial Court's grant of summary judgment to the defendants because the contract at issue was a contract for services, not goods, and, therefore, the Tennessee Trade Practices Act did not apply. We also concluded that Baird Tree could not challenge the bidding process because it had failed to submit a valid bid in the first place. See Baird Tree Co., Inc. v. City of Oak Ridge, No. E2007-01933-COA-R3-CV, 2008 WL 2510581 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 24, 2008). When the same project came up for bid in 2007, Baird Tree again submitted a fatally defective bid. When it was not awarded the contract, Baird Tree filed the present lawsuit raising various challenges to Oak Ridge's bidding process. The Trial Court granted summary judgment to all defendants. We, again, conclude that Baird Tree does not have standing to challenge the bidding process because it submitted a fatally defective "bid" in the first place. The judgment of the Trial Court is, therefore, affirmed.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 04/26/10
Danny J. Phillips vs. William T. Mullins
E2009-01930-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge

Danny J. Phillips ("Plaintiff") sued William T. Mullins ("Defendant") after a truck driven by Defendant struck and injured Plaintiff who was riding a bicycle. Defendant moved for summary judgment. After a hearing, the Trial Court entered an order granting Defendant summary judgment. Plaintiff appeals to this Court. We reverse the grant of summary judgment finding that there are disputed issues of material fact which preclude summary judgment.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 04/26/10
In Re IMP: a Child Under the Age of Eighteen Years, J.J.A., Petitioner/Appellant, v. M.P., et al.
E2008-02695-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Herschel P. Franks
Trial Court Judge: Judge April Meldrum

Petitioner brought this action in Juvenile Court to establish paternity and set co-parenting time with the child. The mother answered and, as an affirmative defense, averred that the father had signed a waiver of his parental right and cited the statutes stating that a waiver of parental rights could not be revoked. The Trial Court appointed a guardian ad litem, and the sole issue tried by the Trial Court was whether the waiver should be voided on the grounds that the father had signed the waiver under duress and undue pressure. The Trial Judge found that the father failed to carry the burden of proof to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he signed the waiver of interest and notice due to fraud, duress or intentional misrepresentation. On appeal, we affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 03/08/10
Estate of Jeffrey Mauro Cusatis vs. Robert R. Casey, M.D.
E2008-01786-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge

In this appeal, plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of defendant. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 10/28/09