Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/25/2014
Format: 07/25/2014
Winfred Errol Ankton v. Chandranita Michelle Ankton
W2013-02152-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kenny W. Armstrong

The parties to this action were divorced in Shelby County, Tennessee in 2002. The parties had one child together during the marriage. Pursuant to the original parenting plan, Mother had primary custody of the child. Father remarried and moved to Arkansas in 2003. In 2003, Father brought an action in the trial court charging Mother with contempt and petitioning the court to award him custody of the child. The trial court granted Father’s petition, and the child moved to Arkansas to live with Father. In 2012, Father was granted permission by the court to relocate to Texas with the child. In 2013, Mother brought this action in the trial court charging Father with contempt and petitioning the court to award her custody of the child once again. The trial court dismissed Mother’s petitions, ruling that Tennessee no longer had exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over custody issues related to the child. On appeal, we affirm the trial court’s ruling.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 05/27/14
Griffith Services Drilling, LLC, et al. v. Arrow Gas & Oil, Inc.
E2013-01349-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge

Griffith Services Drilling, LLC (“Griffith”) and Lexington Insurance Company, Griffith’s insurance company, sued Arrow Gas & Oil, Inc. (“Arrow”) for property damage caused by a fire that occurred while Arrow was refueling a drilling rig operated by Griffith in Anderson County, Tennessee (“the Drilling Site”). Arrow answered the complaint and counterclaimed for breach of contract based upon Griffith’s refusal to pay for the fuel delivered by Arrow on the day of the fire. Arrow also filed a motion to dismiss for spoliation, which the Circuit Court for Anderson County (“the Trial Court”) granted dismissing Griffith’s claims against Arrow. Arrow then filed a motion for summary judgment on its counterclaim, which the Trial Court granted in part. Griffith appeals to this Court raising issues regarding the dismissal of their claims and the grant of summary judgment to Arrow. We find and hold that both Griffith and Arrow were guilty of spoliation, and, therefore, that dismissal of Griffith’s claims was not an appropriate sanction. We vacate the dismissal of Griffith’s claims against Arrow and reinstate them. Because the Trial Court granted Arrow summary judgment based upon its decision on the issue of spoliation, and we have vacated the Trial Court’s decision on the issue of spoliation, we also vacate the grant of summary judgment to Arrow.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 05/27/14
Donald Lester Benedict v. Gretchen Michelle Benedict
E2013-00978-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Frank Brown, III

This appeal concerns numerous post-divorce issues. Donald Lester Benedict (“Husband”) filed a petition to modify his child support obligation against his former wife Gretchen Michelle Benedict (“Wife”) in the Chancery Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”). The parties eventually raised a host of issues about money, which were referred to a Special Master. Wife objected to certain of the Master’s findings. Ultimately, the Trial Court sustained certain of Wife’s objections to the Master’s report and denied others. The Trial Court found, inter alia, that Husband was willfully or voluntarily underemployed. Husband appeals, and both parties raise several issues. We reverse the Trial Court as to its finding that Husband is willfully or voluntarily underemployed and those issues related to this finding. We remand for the Trial Court to make new determinations on these issues in light of our holdings that Husband was not willfully or voluntarily underemployed, and that Husband’s income for purposes of child support is $75,000 per year as found by the Master. Otherwise, we affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 05/27/14
Summer Ann-Michelle MIller v. Richard Anthony McFarland
M2013-00381-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

In this post-divorce modification of alimony case,Husband contends that the trial court erred in concluding that his alimony obligation was not subject to modification. We reverse the trial court’s judgment and conclude that Husband’s alimony obligation constitutes transitional alimony that is subject to modification pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-5-121(g)(2). Reversed and remanded.
 

Robertson County Court of Appeals 05/23/14
Ashley Purdy v. Matthew C. Smith
M2012-02463-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Y. Ross

This case involves the difficult issue of disestablishment of paternity and its effect on child support arrears. Over a year after the trial court entered an order requiring the respondent to pay child support, he requested Rule 60 relief on the grounds that he was not the biological father of the child. Based upon the statutory prohibition against the retroactive modification of child support and the related caselaw, we must affirm the trial court’s decision denying the respondent Rule 60 relief for any time period prior to the filing of his petition.

Wayne County Court of Appeals 05/23/14
David Allan Fogle, Sr. v. Mardonna Shawn Fogle
E2013-00997-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor John S. McLellan, III

In this divorce action, the trial court granted Wife a divorce, divided the marital assets, and awarded Wife alimony of $700 per month for 48 months. Wife appeals. We modify the trial court’s judgment to reflect an award of periodic alimony in the amount of $1,000 per month.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 05/22/14
In Re: Serenity B.
M2013-02685-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

In this termination of parental rights proceeding, both Mother and Father maintain that the trial court erred in finding clear and convincing evidence that they willfully abandoned the child by failure to visit within the four months preceding the filing of the termination petition. Mother additionally claims that the trial court erred in finding clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interest of the child to terminate Mother’s parental rights. We affirm the trial court’s findings that both parents abandoned the child by willfully failing to visit and that the termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Consequently, we affirm the trial court’s decision to terminate the parental rights of both parents.

Maury County Court of Appeals 05/21/14
In Re: Kaitlynne D
M2013-00546-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Jduge Vanessa Agee Jackson

The circuit court adjudicated the child dependent and neglected on the ground of severe child abuse by her father. The father appeals contending the evidence is insufficient to sustain a finding of severe child abuse. Finding the evidence clear and convincing, we affirm.

Coffee County Court of Appeals 05/21/14
Barbara G. Lovejoy v. Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
M2014-00210-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Frank G. Clement
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

This is an appeal from an order dismissing a petition for judicial review of a decision of the Tennessee Civil Service Commission. Because the appellant did not file her notice of appeal with the trial court clerk within the time permitted by Tenn. R. App. P. 4, we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/21/14
Scott McIllwain, et al. v. Michael Scott Hoover, et al.
M2013-01277-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle

Former revenue enforcement officer challenges her termination from the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Because substantial and material evidence supports the Civil Service Commission’s decision, we affirm the chancery court’s judgment.
 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/19/14
Arlena Tippie v. Tennessee Department of Revenue, Et Al
M2013-00199-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell T. Perkins

Former revenue enforcement officer challenges her termination from the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Because substantial and material evidence supports the Civil Service Commission’s decision, we affirm the chancery court’s judgment.
 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 05/19/14
Gerald Rogers, Next of Kin of Vicki L. Rogers v. Paul Jackson, M. D., Et Al
M2013-02357-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

Defendants in a health care liability action appeal the denial of their motions to strike the allegations of comparative fault raised in the amended answer of other defendants and their motions to dismiss the amended complaint. Finding no error, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 05/19/14
Jerry Wynn v. Dana Wynn
W2014-00079-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: George R. Ellis

The order appealed is not a final judgment and therefore, we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Gibson County Court of Appeals 05/19/14