Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 02/12/2016
Format: 02/12/2016
Marvin Dewayne Echols v. Elke Monika Echols
M2014-01856-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. Hicks

This appeal arises from a divorce involving a challenge to the validity of the marriage. Marvin Dewayne Echols (“Husband”) filed suit for divorce against his wife Elke Monika Echols (“Wife”) in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County (“the Trial Court”). Husband later alleged that his marriage to Wife was void. Husband and Wife had married shortly after a German court had pronounced Wife divorced, and Husband’s position is that Wife’s divorce was not yet legally binding under German law when they married in Kentucky. The Trial Court, among other things, found the marriage valid and granted the parties a divorce. Husband raises several issues on appeal, chief among them the issue of the validity of the marriage in the first place. We hold that Husband failed to prove that his marriage to Wife was invalid. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court in its entirety.      

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 09/29/15
Frances E. Miller Ex Rel. Arnold Edward Miller, Sr. v. Cookeville Regional Medical Center, et al.
M2014-01917-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy V. Hollars

Plaintiff filed this medical malpractice action on September 8, 2011, pursuant to the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act (“the TMMA”) against Cookeville Regional Medical Center, which is a governmental entity subject to the Governmental Tort Liability Act (“the GTLA”). The Medical Center filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, relying upon the Supreme Court’s decision in Cunningham v. Williamson Cnty. Hosp. Dist., 405 S.W.3d 41 (Tenn. 2013), to support its assertion that Plaintiff’s suit was untimely filed because it was not filed within the one-year statute of limitations set forth in the GTLA, Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-305(b) (2012). Plaintiff responded contending that the Cunningham decision should be applied prospectively only, so as to preserve Plaintiff’s claim as timely. The trial court found the decision in Cunningham controlling and dismissed the complaint as untimely filed. We affirm.

Putnam County Court of Appeals 09/29/15
In re Malina W., et al.
M2015-00326-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Deanna B. Johnson

In this termination of parental rights case, the father appeals the trial court’s termination of his parental rights to his two daughters on the grounds of abandonment by failure to visit and support the children in the four consecutive months preceding his incarceration and conduct prior to his incarceration that exhibited a wanton disregard for the welfare of the children. The father also asserts the court erred in finding that termination was in the children’s best interest. We fail to find clear and convincing evidence to support the trial court’s conclusion that the father abandoned the children by failing to visit or support them in the four months preceding his incarceration; however, we affirm the trial court’s finding that father engaged in conduct prior to his incarceration that exhibited a wanton disregard for the welfare of the children. Likewise, we affirm the court’s best interest determination. The trial court’s finding that father’s parental rights should be terminated is affirmed.

Lewis County Court of Appeals 09/29/15
Historic Sylvan Park, Inc., et al. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, et al
M2014-02254-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman

Residents of the Sylvan Park neighborhood of Nashville filed a petition for writ of certiorari, seeking review of a decision by the Metropolitan Planning Commission to recommend that the Metropolitan Council disapprove an ordinance which would expand the historic conservation overlay district in the neighborhood. The Planning Commission moved to dismiss the petition, asserting that the Planning Commission’s decision “was only a recommendation and not a ‘final order’ from which an appeal may be taken with a writ of certiorari.” The court granted the motion, holding that the decision by the Planning Commission was not a final order, and thus the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Residents appeal. Because the Metropolitan Council must take further action on the Planning Commission’s recommendation before the zoning ordinance is enacted, the decision of the Planning Commission is not a final order or judgment for purposes of judicial review; accordingly, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.      

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/29/15
Jordan Leanne (Parker) Roland v. Ryan Lee Roland
M2014-02032-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Robert E. Burch

Mother and Father are the parents of two minor children. Mother and Father each filed a complaint for divorce and sought to be named the primary residential parent. The trial court designated Father the primary residential parent and created a permanent parenting plan that was materially different from the plan proposed by either party. The court also entered a child support order. Mother appealed the trial court’s judgment, arguing that the trial court erred by (1) designating Father the primary residential parent; (2) setting up the residential schedule and parenting plan based entirely on Father’s work schedule, with the result that Mother has the children only one day at a time; and (3) imputing a higher income to her for child support purposes than is warranted by the evidence. We affirm the trial court’s designation of Father as the primary residential parent, but we vacate the trial court’s residential plan and child support order and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

Cheatham County Court of Appeals 09/29/15
Ewin B. Jenkins et al v. Big City Remodeling et al. - Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part
E2014-01612-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone
CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., C.J., concurring in part and dissenting in part.
 
What was the proximate cause of the fire and explosion that led to this lawsuit? That was the central question before the trial court. The plaintiffs' theory on this subject is correctly set forth in the majority's opinion:
 
. . . [the plaintiffs] asserted that Flooring Subcontractors [(the subcontractors)] allowed flammable rags to remain on or near the exterior deck and also smoked cigarettes in the area. As claimed by [the plaintiffs], the improper disposal of cigarette butts resulted in the stain-soaked rags igniting, thereby causing the fire.
 
The subcontractors were on the construction site to “stain[ ] . . . the hardwood floors.”
In my judgment, the problem in this case is an absence of evidence showing a nexus between the subcontractors' conduct – negligent as it certainly was – and the fire.
 
Sevier County Court of Appeals 09/29/15
Ewin B. Jenkins et al v. Big City Remodeling et al.
E2014-01612-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

The plaintiffs filed this action to recover damages they incurred when, during construction, their home was completely destroyed by fire. The plaintiffs sued the project's general contractor as well as various subcontractors employed by the general contractor. The complaint included allegations of negligence, based in part on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, and breach of contract. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of all defendants. The plaintiffs have appealed. We affirm the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the general contractor regarding claims based upon the general contractor's own negligence and res ipsa loquitur, but we reverse the trial court's grant of summary judgment regarding the negligence of the flooring subcontractors. We also reverse the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the general contractor regarding the plaintiffs' breach of contract claim. Finally, we remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 09/29/15
Libertad Claborn v. Bobby L. Claborn
E2014-01683-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jacqueline S. Bolton

In 2013, Libertad Claborn (Wife) obtained a “default judgment for dissolution of marriage” from a trial court in Illinois. Wife had resided in Illinois since 2011. The Illinois court ordered the sale of the marital residence in Chattanooga and directed Bobby L. Claborn (Husband) to “cooperate fully” in the sale. The Illinois judgment also ordered Husband to pay child support and educational expenses for the parties’ children. Wife properly enrolled the judgment in Tennessee and sought its enforcement. The trial court in Tennessee accorded full faith and credit to the Illinois judgment. Husband appeals, arguing that (1) the Illinois court did not have jurisdiction to order the sale of the marital residence; (2) the foreign judgment contains provisions at odds with Tennessee public policy; (3) the trial court improperly declined to transfer the matter to chancery court; and (4) the trial court entered a “default” judgment without allowing him to present defenses. We affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 09/29/15
Darryl F. Bryant, Sr. v. Darryl F. Bryant, Jr.
M2014-02379-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman

Owner of real property conveyed, by quitclaim deed, an interest to herself and her son as joint tenants, with the right of survivorship. Owner then conveyed her interest to her grandson by quitclaim deed a year later. In the deed to her grandson, Owner expressly referenced the earlier deed to her son, the grandson’s father. After Owner died, the son filed a declaratory judgment in which he asked the court to rule that he owns the property in fee simple. The son filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The grandson appealed the trial court’s judgment. We affirm. Owner transferred her right of survivorship to her grandson; but this right would come into play only if her son predeceased her. Because Owner died first, the son exercised his right of survivorship and became the sole owner in fee of the property.
 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/28/15
Kathleen N. Barrett, et al v. Thomas M. Chesney, MD
W2014-01921-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss

This interlocutory appeal arises from a health care liability action and concerns the question of proper venue. Plaintiff filed her original lawsuit in Shelby County against the Appellants, a pathology group located in Shelby County. Appellants answered the complaint and raised, as an affirmative defense, the comparative negligence of Appellees, plaintiff's primary care physician and his employer, who are residents of Sumner County. Plaintiff then moved, under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 20-1-119, for leave to amend her complaint to add the Sumner County residents to the lawsuit. Leave was granted, and plaintiff filed an amended complaint under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 15.01. Appellees answered the complaint and averred that venue was improper in Shelby County under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 20-4-101(b). Appellees asked for dismissal of the lawsuit; however, rather than dismissing the lawsuit, the Shelby County court transferred the case to Sumner County. Appellants appeal. We affirm and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 09/28/15
Mickel G. Hoback v. City of Chattanooga
E2014-01678-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jeffrey M. Atherton

This case involves the 2009 termination of a city police officer's employment on grounds of unfitness for duty due to post-traumatic stress disorder suffered as a result of the officer's active military service while on leave from his employment. Following an administrative hearing in November 2009, the city council originally upheld the police chief''s termination of the officer's employment. The officer commenced this action in state court by filing a petition for writ of certiorari with the trial court. Upon hearing, the trial court found, inter alia, that the city council had incorrectly applied a statute, Tennessee Code Annotated § 38-8-106, which had been overruled by an agreed consent order previously entered into between the United States and the State of Tennessee. See United States v. Tennessee, Civil Action No. 1:98-1357. The trial court therefore reversed the city council's decision and ordered the officer's reinstatement with back pay. The city appealed to this Court. In a 2012 decision, this Court affirmed the trial court's finding regarding the incorrect application of Tennessee Code Annotated § 38-8-106 and remanded the case, directing the trial court to instruct the city council regarding the appropriate legal standard. See Hoback v. City of Chattanooga, No. E2011-00484-COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 2974762 at *6 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 20, 2012). Following remand, the city council conducted a second hearing and again voted to uphold the prior termination of the officer's employment.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 09/28/15
Wayne Holtsclaw et al v. Darrell Johnson et al.
E2015-00081-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor John C. Rambo

This is a dispute over a narrow strip of real property adjacent to the boundary line of tracts of land owned by plaintiffs Wayne Holtsclaw and Willie Holtsclaw and defendants Darrell Johnson and Brenda Johnson. The Holtsclaws brought this action seeking ejectment and a declaration that they owned the disputed property. The Johnsons asserted, among other things, that they were entitled to the property because of their many years of adverse possession. The Holtsclaws responded by arguing that Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-2-110 (2000 & Supp. 2015) bars the Johnsons' adverse possession claim because, for more than twenty years, the Johnsons had not paid property taxes on the disputed property. The Johnsons responded that the Supreme Court's opinion in Cumulus Broadcasting, Inc. v. Shim, 226 S.W.3d 366, 381 (Tenn. 2007), which held that § 28-2-110 is not applicable “when the tracts are contiguous, a relatively small area is at issue, and the adjacent owners making claims of ownership have paid their respective real estate taxes,” applied in this case. The trial court ruled that the Johnsons established ownership by adverse possession and that the “Cumulus exception” applies. We affirm.

Carter County Court of Appeals 09/28/15
Margie Hunt et al v. Sudha Nair M.D. et al.
E2014-01261-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Harold Wimberly

This interlocutory appeal involves a health care liability action. The plaintiffs, Margie Hunt and husband, Rickey Hunt, claim that Mrs. Hunt suffered injuries proximately caused by the conduct of the defendants with respect to two surgeries. Prior to filing their complaint, the plaintiffs gave timely written notice of their claim to potential defendants. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121(c) (Supp. 2013). Each of the three defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. Their separate motions were predicated on their assertion that the plaintiffs' pre-suit notice failed to comply with the requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-121, part of the Tennessee's Health Care Liability Act. Specifically, the defendants argue that the plaintiffs failed to provide a HIPAA-compliant medical authorization with their pre-suit notice. They also contend that the plaintiffs failed to attach to the complaint the medical authorization and also the pre-suit notice served upon the defendants. The defendant Dr. Nitin J. Rangnekar also relies upon the ground of insufficiency of service of process. The trial court denied each defendant's motion. On the defendants' further motions, the court granted them permission to pursue an interlocutory appeal pursuant to the provisions of Tenn. R. App. P. 9. We likewise granted the defendants permission to file a Rule 9 appeal. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 09/25/15
In re Estate of Vida Mae McCartt
E2014-02185-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Frank V. Williams, III

This case involves an agreement among most of the heirs of Vida Mae McCartt (Decedent) regarding the distribution of the assets of her estate. After Decedent’s will was admitted to probate, five of her grandchildren filed an action to contest its validity. Following mediation, the grandchildren and Decedent’s three living children entered into a settlement agreement, which the trial court approved and incorporated into an agreed order distributing the assets of the estate. Thereafter, Sara Shannon Armes, the daughter of Decedent’s deceased son, J.D. McCartt, Sr., brought this action alleging that she was entitled to a share of the estate under the terms of the agreed order. Armes, who was not a party to the settlement agreement, also alleged that her siblings perpetrated a fraud by representing to the court that J.D. McCartt, Sr. had only three children and heirs at law when he actually had four, including Armes. The trial court granted the defendants’ Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. We vacate the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.

Morgan County Court of Appeals 09/25/15
In re E.T. P.
E2015-00298-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

In this parental termination case, A.J.S.P. (Mother) appeals the termination of her rights to her minor son, E.T.P. (the Child). After the Child was placed in state custody and adjudicated dependent and neglected, custody was awarded to a non-relative. Subsequently, physical custody was returned to the Department of Children’s Services (DCS). At that time, both parents were incarcerated. As to Mother, DCS filed a petition to terminate her rights to the child based on her wanton disregard for the Child’s welfare. After a trial, the court granted the petition based on its findings, said to be made by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) grounds for termination exist and (2) termination is in the best interest of the Child. On appeal, Mother challenges only the court’s best interest determination. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 09/25/15
Jodi Lynn Jenkins v. Steven Louis Jenkins
E2014-02234-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor E.G. Moody

The plaintiff, Jodi Lynn Jenkins (“Wife”), filed this divorce action against the defendant, Steven Louis Jenkins (“Husband”), on March 20, 2014. Prior to trial, the parties reached an agreement regarding certain issues, including an equitable division of their marital property, a permanent parenting plan, and child support. The trial court conducted a hearing on September 10, 2014, regarding the remaining issues of alimony and attorney's fees. Following the hearing, the trial court entered an order awarding Wife alimony in futuro in the amount of $3,500 per month until Husband's child support obligation terminated and $4,500 per month thereafter. The court also awarded Wife $5,000 in attorney's fees.1 Husband timely appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial court's judgment. We remand this action to the trial court for a determination regarding the issue of a reasonable award of attorney's fees to Wife incurred in defending this appeal.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 09/25/15
Shemeka Ibrahim v. Vlada V. Melekhin
M2014-00885-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Mark Rogers

Plaintiff filed a health care liability action against defendant doctor but did not file the certificate of good faith required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-16-122. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss; the motion was granted by the trial court. Plaintiff appeals the dismissal of her complaint. Finding no error, we affirm. 

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 09/24/15
Michael R. Adams v. Johnnie B. Watson, et al.
W2015-00325-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Childers

Plaintiff/Appellant appeals the trial court's dismissal of his complaint on the ground that it was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Specifically, Appellant argues that a prior dismissal on the basis of the expiration of the statute of limitations was not an adjudication on the merits. Because dismissals on statute of limitations grounds generally operate as adjudications on the merits, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 09/24/15
817 Partnership v. James Goins & Carpenter, P.C. et al.
E2014-01521-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Jeffrey Hollingsworth

In 2009, James Goins & Carpenter, P.C. (JGC) leased office space from 817 Partnership (817). JGC later decided to expand its law practice. It leased additional space in the same building from 817. Thereafter, a bank that had occupied the ground floor of the building moved out. Beginning in February 2011, Stuart F. James, an attorney with JGC, began raising concerns about security in the building. Over the course of the next few months, Mr. James repeatedly emailed 817's representatives about security, the heating and air conditioning system, JGC's financial problems, the need for a rent reduction, and a host of other issues. These emails eventually stopped; but in March 2013, Mr. James responded to a notice from 817 that JGC had missed rent payments. At that point, JGC's security issues resurfaced in a series of emails Mr. James sent from March to May of 2013. Ultimately, Mr. James informed 817 that JGC was dissolving and would be vacating the premises well before its lease expired. As a result, 817 filed a detainer action in general sessions court against JGC and Mr. James (collectively the Defendants). The general sessions court granted 817 a judgment. The Defendants filed a “motion to reconsider,” which was denied.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 09/24/15
Robert George Russell, Jr. v. City of Knoxville et al.
E2014-01806-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Daryl R. Fansler

Robert George Russell, Jr., a Knoxville Fire Department captain, brought this action challenging the decision of Fire Chief Stan Sharp to promote others to the position of assistant fire chief. In 2013, Chief Sharp selected three fire officers to fill vacancies in the position of assistant chief. Russell filed an employment grievance with the Civil Service Merit Board (the CSMB or the Board), alleging that, in making his selections, Chief Sharp violated the applicable rules and regulations when he used, among other things, a mathematical formula that had not been approved by the Board. Russell also asserted that Chief Sharp violated the rules by not considering his ranking, according to the eligibility roster listing of the candidates eligible for promotion. The Board's administrative hearing officer denied the grievance, and the trial court affirmed. We hold that Chief Sharp did not violate the Board's rules and regulations and did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in exercising his discretion to make promotions. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

Knox County Court of Appeals 09/24/15
In re Joseph E., et al.
M2014-00138-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Philip E. Smith

Mother and Father were divorced in 2009; the final divorce decree incorporated a permanent parenting plan designating Mother as primary parent. On May 17, 2010, Mother filed a petition in Davidson County Juvenile Court to have two of the parties’ children declared dependent and neglected based on Father’s alleged physical abuse of the children in two incidents in Davidson County on May 12. At the time of the incidents neither party nor the children were residents of Davidson County. Following a hearing in Juvenile Court, a trial de novo was held in Circuit Court; the court held that the evidence did not support a finding that the children were dependent and neglected and dismissed the petition. Mother appeals, asserting that the court erred in limiting proof to the events which occurred in Davidson County and in excluding the testimony of certain expert witnesses; Mother also argues that the evidence supports a finding that the children were dependent and neglected. Determining that the court did not abuse its discretion in the admission of evidence and that the evidence does not clearly and convincingly show that the children were dependent and neglected, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/23/15
Holly Theresa Self v. Jason Wayne Self
M2014-02295-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor J. B. Cox

The paramount issue in this parental relocation action arises from a contractual provision in the parenting plan that reads: “If either party should relocate from Lincoln County, Tennessee, the children shall reside primarily with the party remaining so as to keep the children in the Lincoln County School System.” The parties were divorced in 2009 at which time Mother was designated the primary residential parent. In 2014, Mother notified Father that she intended to relocate to Brentwood, Tennessee, because her husband accepted a job there. Father filed a petition opposing relocation relying, in part, on a contractual provision in the parenting plan. Because the parents were exercising substantially equal parenting time, the relocation issue was to be decided pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-108(c), which states that no presumption in favor of or against relocation with the child shall arise and that “the court shall determine whether or not to permit relocation of the child based upon the best interests of the child.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-108(c). Following a full evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied Mother’s request to relocate. The sole basis for the ruling was that Mother was estopped to relocate with the children based on the parenting plan. Having decided the case based on estoppel, the court stated it was not necessary to conduct a best interest analysis. Mother filed a Motion to Alter or Amend insisting the trial court was required to conduct a best interest analysis pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-108(c). The court then conducted the required analysis and additionally found that relocation was not in the children’s best interests. The court modified its order stating that it was denying relocation on the basis of estoppel and its best interest findings. We have determined that the trial court erred in finding Mother was estopped to relocate based upon the parenting plan because the parties contractual agreement merged into the final decree, and the trial court retained jurisdiction on issues concerning the care, custody, and control of the minor children. Nevertheless, we affirm the decision to deny relocation based upon the trial court’s finding that relocation was not in the children’s best interests. Mother also filed a petition to hold Father in civil contempt for failing to pay a debt for which they were jointly liable. The court ruled that Father was not in civil contempt because he had cured his contemptuous conduct and we find no error with the contempt ruling. 

Lincoln County Court of Appeals 09/23/15
Jim Hicks et al. v. Debbie Seitz et al.
E2014-02225-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

This is a contract action involving an alleged oral contract between the plaintiffs, landlords Jim Hicks and Betty Hicks (“Landlords”), a married couple who own the rental property at issue, and the co-defendant, Duane Seitz, who located and paid the first month's rent on the property on behalf of his former wife, Debbie Seitz. Ms. Seitz, also originally named as a co-defendant, resided in the home on the property with her adult daughter, her adult daughter's boyfriend, and the daughter's two small children (collectively, “Tenants”). Following several months during which the rent was paid late, partially, or not at all and upon discovery of unkempt conditions in the home, Landlords served Tenants with a notice of eviction. After Tenants had moved from the home, Landlords filed a civil warrant in the Sevier County General Sessions Court against the defendants, Ms. Seitz and Mr. Seitz, alleging unpaid rent and vandalism. Upon hearing, the General Sessions Court entered a judgment in favor of Landlords and against both defendants in the amount of $7,000 plus 5.25% interest and court costs. The defendants appealed to the Circuit Court. Following a bench trial, the Circuit Court entered a judgment in favor of Landlords and against only Mr. Seitz in the amount of $6,285 in damages, plus 5.25% interest and court costs, based upon breach of an oral contract. Having found that Mr. Seitz had entered an oral contract with Landlords but that Ms. Seitz had not, the Circuit Court dismissed Ms. Seitz from the action. Mr. Seitz appeals, contending that the trial court erred by (1) finding an enforceable oral contract between Mr. Hicks and Mr. Seitz and (2) dismissing Ms. Seitz from the action. Because Ms. Seitz was never served with notice of this appeal, we conclude that this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the issue of her dismissal from this matter. As to the trial court's judgment in favor of Landlords, we discern no error and affirm.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 09/23/15
State of Tennessee Ex Rel Judy Johnson v. Harold Newman, Jr.
E2014-02510-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Frank V. Williams, III

In this child support arrearage case Harold Newman, Jr. (“Respondent”) appeals the December 23, 2014 order of the Chancery Court for Roane County (“the Trial Court”) finding Respondent in civil contempt and ordering that Respondent be incarcerated in the Roane County Jail until he pays a purge amount of $150.00. We find and hold that no evidence was produced showing that Respondent had the present ability to pay $150.00, or any amount, and, therefore, the order finding Respondent in contempt and sentencing him to incarceration was in error. We reverse that portion of the Trial Court's December 23, 2014 order finding Respondent in civil contempt and sentencing Respondent to indefinite incarceration in the Roane County Jail with the ability to purge himself of contempt by making a $150.00 purge payment and remand this case to the Trial Court for further proceedings.

Roane County Court of Appeals 09/23/15
State of Tennessee Ex Rel Rebecca Robinson v. Harold Newman, Jr.
E2014-02537-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Frank V. Williams, III

In this child support arrearage case Harold Newman, Jr. (“Respondent”) appeals the December 23, 2014 order of the Circuit Court for Roane County (“the Trial Court”) finding Respondent in civil contempt and ordering that Respondent be incarcerated in the Roane County Jail until he pays a purge amount of $150.00. We find and hold that no evidence was produced showing that Respondent had the present ability to pay $150.00, or any amount, and, therefore, the order finding Respondent in contempt and sentencing him to incarceration was in error. We reverse that portion of the Trial Court's December 23, 2014 order finding Respondent in civil contempt and sentencing Respondent to indefinite incarceration in the Roane County Jail with the ability to purge himself of contempt by making a $150.00 purge payment and remand this case to the Trial Court for further proceedings.

Roane County Court of Appeals 09/23/15