Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/24/2019
Format: 08/24/2019
Earl Gene Davis v. Civil Service Commission Of The Metropolitan Government Of Nashville And Davidson County, Et Al.
M2018-01130-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William E. Young

This appeal arises from the Metropolitan Government of Nashville Civil Service Commission’s decision to suspend and demote Appellant, a police officer with Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. The department’s decision to suspend Appellant was affirmed by the administrative law judge, but the administrative law judge reversed the demotion. The Commission then reviewed the administrative law judge’s order and upheld the suspension but reinstated the demotion. On appeal to the Davidson County Chancery Court, the Commission’s decision was affirmed. Finding no error, we affirm the decision of the Chancery Court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/21/19
April R. Burchfield v. D. Ryan Burchfield
M2017-01326-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy V. Hollars

Mother filed a petition for modification of the residential parenting schedule in a permanent parenting plan. Father filed a
counter-petition for modification of the permanent parenting plan seeking designation as the primary residential parent of the parties’ two children. After a hearing, the trial court granted Mother’s petition and reduced Father’s parenting time by thirty-seven days based on conduct by Father that necessitated limiting his residential parenting time. Father appealed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all respects.

Overton County Court of Appeals 05/21/19
Lisa Marie Paterson (Potter) v. Scott Paterson
E2018-00599-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge John C. Rambo

This appeal involves a request for, inter alia, the modification of child support. Because the trial court failed to provide sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law, we are unable to effectively review the issues raised on appeal. Therefore, we vacate the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.

Johnson County Court of Appeals 05/21/19
Jasmine Desiree Wightman v. Joshua Charles Wightman
E2018-01663-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry Michael Warner

In this appeal, the father challenges the trial court’s determination of the residential parenting schedule as it relates to visitation during the school term. Upon our review, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.

Cumberland County Court of Appeals 05/21/19
In Re Raeshad B. - Concurring
M2018-00238-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Louis W. Oliver III

I concur in the result reached in this very difficult case.

Our holding that the record does not clearly and convincingly establish the grounds for termination means that we do not reach the question of what is in Raeshad’s best interest. The dismissal of the termination proceeding means that Mother and Raeshad retain the parent-child relationship and does not compel his return to her custody. Neither does it necessarily lead to the lack of involvement by the Guardians in his life; it is clear that Raeshad and the Guardians, along with their other children, have formed familial bonds.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 05/20/19
In Re Raeshad B.
M2018-00238-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Louis W. Oliver

Nearly three years after a child was placed with them by an unlicensed child placing agency, the child’s guardians petitioned to terminate the parental rights of the child’s parents. The chancery court found two statutory grounds for termination: abandonment by willful failure to visit and abandonment by willful failure to support. The court also found that termination of parental rights was in the child’s best interest. Only the child’s mother appeals. We conclude that the evidence was less than clear and convincing as to each of the alleged statutory grounds. So we reverse the termination of mother’s parental rights.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 05/20/19
Josiah Manual Davis v. Akira Hayes
M2019-00243-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

The father has filed a notice of appeal from a final judgment entered on January 7, 2019. Because the father did not file his notice of appeal within thirty days after entry of the judgment as required by Tenn. R. App. P. 4(a), we dismiss the appeal.

Franklin County Court of Appeals 05/20/19
Dialysis Clinic, Inc. Et Al. v. Kevin Medley, Et Al.
M2018-00399-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

The owner of four contiguous properties filed unlawful detainer actions against the entities that were occupying the properties. The owner did not name as defendants the individual who signed the lease or his company. A year and a half after the cases were filed, the lessee moved to intervene, claiming that it was entitled to intervene pursuant to Tenn. Rs. Civ. P. 24.01 and/or 24.02 and that it was a necessary party pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 19.01. The trial court denied the lessee’s motion on the grounds of prior suit pending and timeliness. The lessee appealed. Because the court failed to address the lessee’s claim that it was a necessary party, we are unable to address that argument on appeal. We vacate the trial court’s judgment and remand the case for further proceedings. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/20/19
Charles Stinson, Et Al. v. David E. Mensel, Et Al.
M2017-02497-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Deanna Johnson

Charles Stinson and Glenda Stinson (“the Stinsons”) appeal the November 17, 2017 order of the Chancery Court for Hickman County (“the Trial Court”) expanding the injunctive relief granted in our Opinion in Stinson v. Mensel, No. M2016-00624-COA-R3-CV, 2017 WL 2972219 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 12, 2017), no appl. perm. appeal filed. We find and hold that the Trial Court lacked the authority to modify or revise the injunction entered by this Court in the first appeal of this case. We, therefore, vacate the portion of the Trial Court’s November 17, 2017 order modifying the injunction.

Hickman County Court of Appeals 05/17/19
Shane Maddox Bruce v. Carolyn Marsh Jackson Et Al.
E2018-01997-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis

The petitioner commenced this action in the Knox County Circuit Court (“trial court”), naming as respondents his mother, his brother, and a purported family trust. He alleged, inter alia, that his mother and brother had “brought about” the wrongful death of his father and had mishandled trust funds. Additionally, the petitioner requested “financial separation” from familial assets, a money judgment, and injunctive relief to freeze familial assets. Following a hearing, the trial court entered an order dismissing this action with prejudice upon finding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction because all parties involved in the matter resided in Campbell County and all acts forming the basis for the petitioner’s claims had occurred in Campbell County. The petitioner has appealed. We determine that although the trial court correctly found that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction, the court erred by dismissing this action with prejudice. We further determine that, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 16-1-116 (2009), this matter should be transferred to the court wherein jurisdiction lies. We therefore vacate the portion of the trial court’s judgment dismissing the case with prejudice and remand for entry of an order transferring this action to the Campbell County Circuit Court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 05/17/19
Stephen Simpson Et Al. v. William B. Simpson
E2018-01686-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Frank V. Williams, III

Siblings appeal the trial court’s refusal to set aside a deed conveying real property from their decedent father to their brother. The siblings also appeal the trial court’s denial of their post-trial motion to consider purported newly discovered evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Loudon County Court of Appeals 05/17/19
Ronald R. Lemonte, Jr. v. Elke Lemonte, Et Al.
M2018-02193-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. Hicks

The day before a hearing on a motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution was held, Plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal. Plaintiff did not appear at the hearing the following day. As such, the trial court granted the motion to dismiss and dismissed the case with prejudice. We reverse and remand for the entry of an order of dismissal without prejudice pursuant to Rule 41.01 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 05/17/19
William Michael Grissom v. Nicole Xiomara Grissom
W2018-01570-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor George R. Ellis

The trial court designated Father primary residential parent of the parties’ minor child, and adopted Father’s proposed parenting plan. Mother appeals. Because we conclude that the trial court’s order regarding the designation of the child’s primary residential parent does not contain sufficient findings of fact such that meaningful appellate review is possible, we vacate the order of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.

Crockett County Court of Appeals 05/17/19
John Vergos v. Randall Swaney
W2018-01063-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerry Stokes

A private citizen initiated a proceeding in Shelby County Environmental Court to remove a billboard; the environmental court denied the petition, and the citizen appealed to Circuit Court. That court held that the citizen did not have standing to initiate the action and granted summary judgment to the billboard’s owner. The citizen appeals, contending that he has standing. The undisputed facts show that the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Construction Code Enforcement issued a citation to the billboard’s owner indicating that the billboard violated the Uniform Development Code, and initiated a proceeding in Shelby County General Sessions Court against the billboard owner, which was dismissed and no appeal was taken. We conclude that the fact that a proceeding to remove the billboard was initiated by the City deprives the citizen of standing to enforce the pertinent provisions of the Code himself. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 05/17/19
Diane Drain Shackelford v. Jerry Robert Shackelford
M2018-01178-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry R. Tidwell

In a case involving a long-term marriage, the trial court found that the husband performed most of the household duties and the wife earned most of the income. Moreover, the husband’s earning capacity was substantially less than that of the wife at the time of the divorce. The trial court denied the husband’s request for alimony, and the husband appealed. We conclude that the trial court erred in failing to award the husband alimony and reverse and remand that part of the trial court’s decision.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 05/16/19
Jennifer Ann Spergl v. Stephen Phillip Spergl
M2018-00934-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff


In this divorce action, Wife appeals the trial court’s action in classifying as Husband’s separate property the appreciation in value of shares of stock, arguing that the appreciation in value was marital property. Upon our review of the record, we conclude that the evidence does not show that Wife substantially contributed to the preservation and appreciation in value of the stock; accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 05/16/19
Andrea Renea Hopwood v. Corey Daniel Hopwood
M2018-00446-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Joseph A. Woodruff

This is another appeal arising from the divorce of Corey Daniel Hopwood (“Father”) and Andrea Renea Hopwood (“Mother”). In a previous opinion, we remanded for a new determination concerning the duration and amount of an award to Mother of rehabilitative alimony and the calculation of an award to Mother of attorney’s fees attributable only to child custody and child support issues. The Chancery Court for Williamson County (“the Remand Court”) addressed these two issues on remand. Father appeals to this Court, arguing in large part that he simply cannot afford to pay what the Remand Court ordered him to pay. Discerning no abuse of discretion, we affirm the Remand Court’s rulings with respect to rehabilitative alimony and attorney’s fees attributable to child support and child custody. However, we modify the Remand Court’s judgment to reduce the amount of life insurance Father is required to carry to secure his alimony obligation in light of the reduction of his alimony obligation. We further modify the Remand Court’s judgment to eliminate $750 in attorney’s fees assessed against Father for filing an improperly-styled motion when he was acting pro se. The judgment of the Remand Court is affirmed as modified.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 05/14/19
In Re: Kaden W.
E2018-00983-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brian J. Hunt

This is a termination of parental rights case involving the parental rights of the mother, Tora W. (“Mother”), to her minor child, Kaden W. (“the Child”), who was eleven years old at the time of trial. On January 19, 2017, the Anderson County Juvenile Court (“trial court”) found that the Child was dependent and neglected and entered an order removing the Child from Mother’s custody and placing the Child into the temporary legal custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”). The Child was immediately placed in foster care, where he remained at the time of trial. On December 20, 2017, DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Mother.1 Following a bench trial, the trial court terminated Mother’s parental rights to the Child upon determining by clear and convincing evidence that (1) Mother had abandoned the Child by failing to provide a suitable home for him, (2) Mother had not substantially complied with the reasonable requirements of the permanency plans, and (3) the conditions leading to the Child’s removal from Mother’s custody persisted. The trial court further found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the best interest of the Child. Mother has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 05/13/19
John and Donna Cavin v. Independent Asset Group, Et Al.
M2019-00509-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Thompson

The appellees have moved the court to dismiss this appeal as premature. Because multiple motions remain pending in the trial court, we dismiss the appeal for lack of a final judgment.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 05/13/19
Howard White, Et Al. v. Walter C. Grimes
M2018-00880-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella l. Hargrove

This case involves an alleged contract for the sale of real property. The proposed buyers, who were originally lessees of the property, brought suit to enforce the alleged agreement, seeking specific performance and damages. After a trial, the Maury County Chancery Court held that a contract for the sale of the property did exist and that specific performance of the contract should be awarded. Certain monetary damages were also awarded to the former lessees. Having reviewed the record transmitted to us on appeal, we affirm in part and reverse in part. Although we affirm the chancery court’s decision that a valid contract exists and that the contract is properly subject to specific performance, we reverse the award of damages that is challenged on appeal for the reasons stated herein.

Maury County Court of Appeals 05/13/19
April H. v. Scott H.
M2018-00759-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Howard W. Wilson

This is a divorce case. Wife filed for divorce in February 2017 after twelve years of marriage. Following a three-day trial, the trial court ordered Husband to pay $1000 in transitional alimony to Wife for six months and $500 per month for the following six months. The trial court also entered a permanent parenting plan for the parties’ two minor children naming Husband primary residential parent. Husband received 233 days of parenting time, and Wife received 132 days. Wife appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 05/13/19
Milcrofton Utility District Of Williamson County, Tennessee v. Non Potable Well Water, Inc. Et Al. - Dissenting In Part
M2018-01431-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

While I agree with the majority’s decision regarding the timeliness of Milcrofton’s action, I must respectfully dissent from the majority’s decision that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over this case. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/10/19
Milcrofton Utility District Of Williamson County, Tennessee v. Non Potable Well Water, Inc. Et Al.
M2018-01431-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

Appellant, a public utility, appeals the Davidson County Chancery Court’s dismissal of its complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Appellant argues that it has an exclusive right to provide water service under Tennessee Code Annotated section 7-82-301 and that Appellee is usurping its exclusive right by providing water to residents of a subdivision within Appellant’s service area. Because the gravamen of Appellant’s complaint is to maintain its exclusive franchise by the grant of injunctive relief prohibiting Appellee from providing water service, the case does not fall within the purview of Tennessee Code Annotated section 4-5-225. As such, we affirm the trial court’s conclusion that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case.  

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/10/19
Matthew Lange, et al. v. Betty Jo Sullivan, et al.
W2018-01218-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Carma Dennis McGee

Appellee’s father, decedent, died testate. Decedent’s will devised real property to Appellee in fee simple but also gave Appellants the right to use the house and curtilage for so long as Appellants’ did not abandon the property for a period of ninety consecutive days. The trial court held that decedent’s will gave Appellants a “license” to use the property—a holding that the parties do not appeal. On Appellee’s complaint for declaratory judgment, the trial court ordered Appellants to pay the mortgage debt, real estate taxes, maintenance, and insurance on the property. Appellants appeal raising the sole question of whether they should be responsible for the mortgage on the property. We hold that, as licensees, Appellants cannot be charged with the mortgage debt. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s order as to its holding that Appellants are responsible for the mortgage payments. The trial court’s order is otherwise affirmed.

Carroll County Court of Appeals 05/08/19
Jerry R. Clark, v. James M. Owens, Et Al.
M2018-01418-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

This is an easement case. Appellant, the dominant land owner, appeals the trial court’s order fixing the width of the easement at 15 feet and limiting the use of the easement to residential and emergency ingress, egress, and utilities. The appellate record contains no transcript or statement of the evidence for our review as required by the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. Accordingly, we conclude that there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s findings. Affirmed and remanded.

Sequatchie County Court of Appeals 05/08/19