Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 11/26/2014
Format: 11/26/2014
American Casualty Company of Reading, Pennsylvania v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00898-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Five separate groups of Pennsylvania-domiciled insurance companies filed five separate tax refund claims in which each challenges the imposition of retaliatory insurance premium taxes by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-4-218. The central issue presented is whether Pennsylvania’s surcharges or assessments forthree Workmen’s Compensation funds are imposed upon Tennessee-domiciled insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania and, therefore, fall within Tennessee’s retaliatory insurance premium tax statute. The Tennessee Claims Commission ruled in favor of the state and all of the Pennsylvania insurance companies appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Old Republic Insurance Company, et al. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00904-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Five separate groups of Pennsylvania-domiciled insurance companies filed five separate tax refund claims in which each challenges the imposition of retaliatory insurance premium taxes by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-4-218. The central issue presented is whether Pennsylvania’s surcharges or assessments forthree Workmen’s Compensation funds are imposed upon Tennessee-domiciled insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania and, therefore, fall within Tennessee’s retaliatory insurance premium tax statute. The Tennessee Claims Commission ruled in favor of the state and all of the Pennsylvania insurance companies appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.
 

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Chartis Casualty Company et al. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00885-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Five separate groups of Pennsylvania-domiciled insurance companies filed five separate tax refund claims in which each challenges the imposition of retaliatory insurance premium taxes by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-4-218. The central issue presented is whether Pennsylvania’s surcharges or assessments forthree Workmen’s Compensation funds are imposed upon Tennessee-domiciled insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania and, therefore, fall within Tennessee’s retaliatory insurance premium tax statute. The Tennessee Claims Commission ruled in favor of the state and all of the Pennsylvania insurance companies appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
In The Matter Of: Terry S.C., Trevin S.C., Trustin S.C.
M2013-02381-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge A. Andy Myrick

This is a termination of parental rights case. Mother’s parental rights were terminated on the grounds of abandonment by willful failure to visit, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1), 36-1102(1)(A)(i); abandonment by willful failure to support, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1), 36-1-102(1)(A)(i); abandonment by failure to establish a suitable home, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1), 36-1-102(1)(A)(ii); substantial noncompliance with a permanency plan, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(2); and persistence of conditions, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1113(g)(3).  We reverse in part and we affirm in part; we affirm the termination of Mother’s parental rights.

Lincoln County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Valley Forge Insurance Company v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00897-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Five separate groups of Pennsylvania-domiciled insurance companies filed five separate tax refund claims in which each challenges the imposition of retaliatoryinsurance premium taxes by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-4-218. The central issue presented is whether Pennsylvania’s surcharges or assessments forthree Workmen’s Compensation funds are imposed upon Tennessee-domiciled insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania and, therefore, fall within Tennessee’s retaliatory insurance premium tax statute. The Tennessee Claims Commission ruled in favor of the state and all of the Pennsylvania insurance companies appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
In Re Gabriel V.
M2014-01298-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sophia Brown Crawford

Father in this juvenile court custody dispute has filed a Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 10B petition for recusal appeal seeking an interlocutory appeal as of right from the trial court’s denial of his motion for recusal. Having reviewed the petition for recusal appeal de novo as required by Rule 10B, §2.06, we summarily affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion for recusal.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
In Re Gabriel V.
M2014-01298-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sophia Brown Crawford

Father in this juvenile court custody dispute has filed a Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 10B petition for recusal appeal seeking an interlocutory appeal as of right from the trial court’s denial of his motion for recusal. Having reviewed the petition for recusal appeal de novo as required by Rule 10B, §2.06, we summarily affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion for recusal.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Valley Forge Insurance Company v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00897-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Five separate groups of Pennsylvania-domiciled insurance companies filed five separate tax refund claims inwhicheach challenges the imposition of retaliatory insurance premium taxes by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-4-218. The central issue presented is whether Pennsylvania’s surcharges or assessments forthree Workmen’s Compensation funds are imposed upon Tennessee-domiciled insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania and, therefore, fall within Tennessee’s retaliatory insurance premium tax statute. The Tennessee Claims Commission ruled in favor of the state and all of the Pennsylvania insurance companies appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
In The Matter Of: Terry S.C., Trevin S.C., Trustin S.C.
M2013-02381-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge A. Andy Myrick

This is a termination of parental rights case. Mother’s parental rights were terminated on the grounds of abandonment by willful failure to visit, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1), 36-1102(1)(A)(i); abandonment by willful failure to support, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1), 36-1-102(1)(A)(i); abandonment by failure to establish a suitable home, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1), 36-1-102(1)(A)(ii); substantial noncompliance with a permanency plan, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(2); and persistence of conditions, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1113(g)(3).  We reverse in part and we affirm in part; we affirm the termination of Mother’s parental rights.

Lincoln County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
ACE American Insurance Company, Et Al. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00930-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Five separate groups of Pennsylvania-domiciled insurance companies filed five separate tax refund claims in which each challenges the imposition of retaliatory insurance premium taxes by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-4-218. The central issue presented is whether Pennsylvania’s surcharges or assessments forthree Workmen’s Compensation funds are imposed upon Tennessee-domiciled insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania and, therefore, fall within Tennessee’s retaliatory insurance premium tax statute. The Tennessee Claims Commission ruled in favor of the state and all of the Pennsylvania insurance companies appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Zurich American Insurance Company, et al. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00872-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Claimant insurance companies challenge the state’s calculation of the retaliatory tax.  They filed claims for refunds in the claims commission. The commission ruled for the state. Claimants appealed, alleging that New York law required the charges at issue to be passed on to the policy holder, so the charges should not be included in the retaliatory tax calculation. We find that four of the charges should be included in the retaliatory tax calculation and two should not. Claimants also raise several constitutional challenges, all of which we reject.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Northern Insurance Company of NY, et al. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00874-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Claimant insurance companies challenge the state’s calculation of the retaliatory tax. They filed claims for refunds in the claims commission. The commission ruled for the state. Claimants appealed, alleging that New York law required the charges at issue to be passed on to the policy holder, so the charges should not be included in the retaliatory tax calculation. We find that four of the charges should be included in the retaliatory tax calculation and two should not. Claimants also raise several constitutional challenges, all of which we reject.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
American Home Assurance Company, Et Al v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00875-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Claimant insurance companies challenge the state’s calculation of the retaliatory tax. They filed claims for refunds in the claims commission. The commission ruled for the state. Claimants appealed, alleging that New York law required the charges at issue to be passed on to the policy holder, so the charges should not be included in the retaliatory tax calculation. We find that four of the charges should be included in the retaliatory tax calculation and two should not. Claimants also raise several constitutional challenges, all of which we reject.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Great American Insurance Company of New York v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00896-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett

Claimant insurance company challenges the state’s calculation of the retaliatory tax. It filed claims for refunds in the claims commission. The commission ruled for the state. Claimant appealed, alleging that New York law required the charges at issue to be passed on to the policy holder, so the charges should not be included in the retaliatory tax calculation. We find that four of the charges should be included in the retaliatory tax calculation and two should not. Claimant also raises several constitutional challenges, all of which we reject.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Chartis Casualty Company Et Al. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00885-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Five separate groups of Pennsylvania-domiciled insurance companies filed five separate tax refund claims in which each challenges the imposition of retaliatory insurance premium taxes by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-4-218. The central issue presented is whether Pennsylvania’s surcharges or assessments forthree Workmen’s Compensation funds are imposed upon Tennessee-domiciled insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania and, therefore, fall within Tennessee’s retaliatory insurance premium tax statute. The Tennessee Claims Commission ruled in favor of the state and all of the Pennsylvania insurance companies appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Old Republic Insurance Company, Et Al. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00904-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Five separate groups of Pennsylvania-domiciled insurance companies filed five separate tax refund claims inwhicheach challenges the imposition of retaliatory insurance premium taxes by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-4-218. The central issue presented is whether Pennsylvania’s surcharges or assessments forthree Workmen’s Compensation funds are imposed upon Tennessee-domiciled insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania and, therefore, fall within Tennessee’s retaliatory insurance premium tax statute. The Tennessee Claims Commission ruled in favor of the state and all of the Pennsylvania insurance companies appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Chubb Indemnity Insurance Company, Et Al. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00894-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Claimant insurance companies challenge the state’s calculation of the retaliatory tax.  They filed claims for refunds in the claims commission. The commission ruled for the state. Claimants appealed, alleging that New York law required the charges at issue to be passed on to the policy holder, so the charges should not be included in the retaliatory tax calculation. We find that four of the charges should be included in the retaliatory tax calculation and two should not. Claimants also raise several constitutional challenges, all of which we reject. In addition, we affirm the commission’s decision not to allow Chubb’s proposed amendment as to the 2009 tax year payment.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
American Casualty Company of Reading, Pennsylvania v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00898-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

Five separate groups of Pennsylvania-domiciled insurance companies filed five separate tax refund claims inwhicheach challenges the imposition of retaliatory insurance premium taxes by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-4-218. The central issue presented is whether Pennsylvania’s surcharges or assessments forthree Workmen’s Compensation funds are imposed upon Tennessee-domiciled insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania and, therefore, fall within Tennessee’s retaliatory insurance premium tax statute. The Tennessee Claims Commission ruled in favor of the state and all of the Pennsylvania insurance companies appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Donreil A. Borne v. Celadon Trucking Services, Inc.
W2013-01949-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert S. Weiss

Plaintiff was injured in an accident involving three tractor-trailer trucks. Plaintiff, who was riving a tractor-trailer, sued the other truck drivers and the trucking company owners of the ehicles. However, prior to trial, Plaintiff entered into an agreement with one of the trucking companies whereby Plaintiff and the agreeing defendant agreed to cooperate regarding the litigation and to work together to expose the defenses asserted by the non-agreeing defendant. The jury returned an itemized verdict of $3,705,000 for the Plaintiff against the non-agreeing defendant. The trial court denied the non-agreeing defendant’s motion for a new trial, but it suggested a remittitur of $1,605,000, for a total award of $2,100,000. Plaintiff accepted the remittitur under protest and the non-agreeing defendant appealed to this Court. For the following reasons, we affirm in part and we reverse in part. Specifically, we affirm the physical pain and mental anguish and permanent injury awards as reduced by the trial court; we reverse the trial court’s suggested remittitur of the loss of earning capacity award and we instead reinstate the jury verdict of $1,455,000; and we further reduce the loss of enjoyment of life award to $50,000. Thus, we approve a total award to Plaintiff of $2,105,000.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
In Re: Taylor, A.B., et al.
W2013-02312-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Holly M. Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Judge Martha Brasfield

This appeal involves the termination of parental rights. The appellant father was incarcerated for the murder of the mother of the children at issue in this case. The foster parents, relatives of the children’s mother, filed this petition to terminate the father’s parental rights and adopt the children. After a trial, the trial court granted the petition and terminated the father’s parental rights. The father now appeals. On appeal, he challenges only the trial court’s finding that termination of his parental rights is in the best interest of the children. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
In Re: Nicholas G., et al.
W2014-00309-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

This is a termination of parental rights case. Appellant/Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights on grounds of: (1) abandonment pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Sections 36-1-113(g)(1) as defined by Tennessee Code Annotated Sections 36-1-102(1)(A)(i) and (ii); and (2) substantial non-compliance with the permanency plans pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-1-113(g)(2). We conclude that the grounds for termination of Mother’s parental rights are met by clear and convincing evidence in the record, and that clear and convincing evidence also exists that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the children’s best interests. Affirmed and remanded.

Gibson County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Deshon Ewan, et al. v. The Hardison Law Firm, et al.
W2013-02829-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter L. Evans

Defendant appeals the trial court’s order of voluntary dismissal of Plaintiffs’ complaint. Defendant argues that Plaintiffs were not entitled to a voluntary dismissal because a motion for summary judgment was filed prior to the entry of the order on the nonsuit. We hold that a motion for summary judgment filed after a written notice of nonsuit has been filed does not preclude the plaintiff’s right to take a voluntary dismissal pursuant to Rule 41 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. We also conclude that the Defendant is not entitled to sanctions pursuant to Rule 11 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Affirmed and Remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Paul L. McMillin v. Ted Russell Ford, Inc. et al.
E2013-01782-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: E2013-01782-COA-R3-CV

In 2011, for approximately four months, Plaintiff worked as a car salesman for Ted Russell Ford (“the dealership”) in Knoxville. After he was fired in November 2011, he brought this action against the dealership and others alleging, among other things, retaliatory discharge under the common law and the Tennessee Public Protection Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1- 304 (2008 & Supp. 2013). Plaintiff alleged that his former employer fired him because he (1) refused to be involved when prospective customers test drove vehicles and (2) informed his supervisor that the dealership was breaking the law when it allowed test drives in cars that did not have dealer license plates or adequate proof of financial responsibility. The trial court granted the defendants summary judgment, holding that plaintiff did not establish a prima facie case because, in the court’s words, the plaintiff “did not engage in protected
activity by refusing to take test drives without a license plate on the vehicle or proof of registration or insurance in the vehicle.” The trial court held that these infractions did not implicate “a matter of fundamental or significant public concern, such as would overcome Tennessee’s employment-at-will doctrine.” Alternatively, the court held that the person responsible for firing plaintiff was not aware, prior to the firing, that plaintiff had refused to participate in test drives. The court held that “[t]he allegedly protected activity was not the basis of the adverse employment action taken against Plaintiff.” We affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment and its dismissal of plaintiff’s action.

Knox County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Arthur B. Roberts et al. v. Robert Bailey et al.
E2013-01950-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Frank V. Williams, III

This is the second appeal to this Court involving the instant real property dispute. At issue is a 58-acre portion (“Disputed Property”) of what was an approximately 100-acre tract acquired by N.B. Bailey and his wife, Pearl Bailey, by warranty deed in 1918. The original plaintiffs, Arthur B. and Tia Roberts, were neighboring landowners who 1 brought a boundary dispute action in March 2009 against the original defendants, Robert W. Bailey, Richard Neal Bailey, and Lisa Bailey Dishner (“the Baileys”). During the course of the boundary dispute, N.B. and Pearl Bailey’s descendants and successors in title became aware that their ownership interest in the Disputed Property could be affected by the possibility that N.B. and Pearl Bailey owned the original 100 acres as tenants in common rather than tenants by the entirety. The first appeal arose when the Baileys, proceeding as third-party plaintiffs, filed a motion to quiet title to the Disputed Property against the third-party defendants, Dale Littleton, Alice Littleton, Kimber Littleton, Mark Lee Littleton, and Charlotte Dutton (“The Littletons and Ms. Dutton”). On March 30, 2010, the trial court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the Littletons and Ms. Dutton, and the court certified its order as a final judgment pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 54.02. On appeal, this Court questioned the finality of that March 2010 order but allowed the appeal to proceed on an interlocutory basis. Roberts v. Bailey, 338 S.W.3d 540, 541 n.1 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2010), perm. denied (Tenn. Mar. 9, 2011) (“Roberts I”).

Loudon County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Warren Tywon Fowler v. Joy R. McCroskey, In Her Official Capacity As Clerk Of The Criminal Court Of Knox County
E2013-02365-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deborah C. Stevens

The plaintiff, a state prison inmate, appeals the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant criminal court clerk. The plaintiff alleges that the court clerk induced a breach of contract by assessing him with court costs he asserts the State agreed to waive in return for his pleading guilty to felony charges. The trial court found that the plaintiff could not use his affidavit to raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding an alleged oral promise made by the prosecutor when the criminal judgments and written plea agreement, taken together, unambiguously assessed court costs to the plaintiff. The court therefore found that the plaintiff was unable to prove an essential element of his claim. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 07/31/14