Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 06/20/2018
Format: 06/20/2018
Nathaniel Walker v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00923-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Nathaniel Walker, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were unknowingly and involuntarily entered. Following our review, we affirm the summary denial of the petition.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/18
Board of Professional Responsibility Of The Supreme Court of Tennessee v. Charles Edward Daniel
E2017-01170-SC-R3-BP

This direct appeal arises from a disciplinary proceeding against a Knoxville attorney. A hearing panel (“Hearing Panel”) of the Board of Professional Responsibility (“Board”) found that the attorney had violated Rule 8.4(b) and (c) of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct (“RPC”) by misappropriating funds from his law partnership in a manner intended to conceal his actions from his law partners. The Hearing Panel suspended him from the practice of law for three years but ordered the entire suspension served on probation. We conclude that the Hearing Panel did not abuse its discretion by suspending rather than disbarring the lawyer but did abuse its discretion by probating the entire suspension. Accordingly, we modify the Hearing Panel’s judgment to include one year of active suspension. In all other respects, the Hearing Panel’s judgment is affirmed.

Knox County Supreme Court 06/08/18
Athlon Sports Communications, Inc. v. Stephen C. Duggan, et al
M2015-02222-SC-R11-CV

We granted permission to appeal in this case to address the methods by which a trial court may determine the “fair value” of the shares of a dissenting shareholder under Tennessee’s dissenters’ rights statutes, Tennessee Code Annotated sections 48-23-101, et seq. In doing so, we overrule Blasingame v. American Materials, Inc., 654 S.W.2d 659 (Tenn. 1983), to the extent that Blasingame implicitly mandates use of the Delaware Block method for determining the fair value of a dissenting shareholder’s stock. We adopt the more open approach espoused in Weinberger v. UOP, Inc., 457 A.2d 701, 712-13 (Del. 1983), in which the Delaware Supreme Court departed from the Delaware Block method and permitted trial courts to determine fair value by using any technique or method that is generally acceptable in the financial community and admissible in court. This approach allows trial courts to utilize valuation methods that incorporate projections of future value, so long as they are susceptible of proof as of the date of the corporate action and not the product of speculation. In this dissenters’ rights case, the defendant minority shareholders were forced out of the corporation as a result of a merger, and the corporation petitioned the trial court to determine the fair value of the minority shareholders’ stock. Both parties presented expert testimony regarding the valuation of the dissenting shareholders’ stock, and both experts assumed that Blasingame required use of the Delaware Block method to value the stock. However, both experts also valued the dissenting shareholders’ stock under more modern approaches, such as the discounted cash flow method. After a bench trial, the trial court discredited the testimony of the dissenting shareholders’ expert and credited the testimony of the corporation’s expert. The trial court’s order indicates that it may have based its decision on the premise that Blasingame compelled use of the Delaware Block method to determine stock value. Consequently, we remand to the trial court to reconsider its determination on valuation in light of our decision to partially overrule Blasingame

Davidson County Supreme Court 06/08/18
State of Tennessee v. Wesley Lynn Hatmaker
E2017-01370-CCA-R3-CD

Wesley Lynn Hatmaker (“the Defendant”) pled guilty to two counts of theft of property valued between $10,000 and $60,000 (Counts 1 and 6) and four counts of theft of property valued between $60,000 and $250,000 (Counts 2, 3, 4, and 5). The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of three years and six months for Counts 1 and 6, and concurrent sentences of ten years and six months for Counts 2, 3, 4, and 5, with Counts 1 and 2 to be served consecutively and all others concurrently, for an effective sentence of fourteen years in the Department of Correction with a release eligibility of thirty percent. The Defendant asserts that the trial court improperly applied sentencing factors, improperly imposed consecutive sentences, and improperly denied alternative sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/08/18
Earl Vantrease, Jr. v. Tennessee Board of Parole, Et Al.
M2016-01384-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from an order dismissing one of several defendants. Because the order does not dispose of the plaintiff’s claims against all of the defendants and because the trial court has not yet ruled on the plaintiff’s Tenn. R. Civ. P. 59 motion to alter or amend, we dismiss the appeal for lack of a final judgment.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/08/18
Sisouphahn Thysavathdy v. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations Et Al
M2017-01575-SC-WCM-WC

Sisouphahn Thysavathdy (“Employee”) alleged that he sustained a compensable injury to his left shoulder on July 15, 2014. He was referred to a physician by his employer, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (“Employer”). That doctor opined that Employee’s shoulder condition was not work-related, and Employer denied the claim. After a compensation hearing, the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims denied Employee’s claim. Employee appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, which affirmed the trial court’s decision. Employee has appealed that ruling. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

Workers Compensation Panel 06/08/18
State of Tennessee v. Donaven Brown
W2017-02532-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Donaven Brown, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. After careful consideration, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/08/18
State of Tennessee v. Bobby McKinley
W2017-01017-CCA-R3-CD

The pro se Defendant, Bobby McKinley, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his motion to vacate his judgments for aggravated robbery, arguing that the uniform judgment forms were not properly entered because the “file-stamp” was not on the face of the judgments and the judgments contained other clerical errors. Following our review, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/08/18
State of Tennessee v. Marquel Stewart
W2017-00299-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Marquel Stewart, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated robbery, see T.C.A. § 39-13-402, for which he received a sentence of eight years. In this appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in (1) conditioning his motion to continue the trial upon revocation of his bond, (2) admitting a shirt and bandana into evidence without proper authentication or chain of custody, and (3) admitting the Defendant’s jail phone calls into evidence. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/08/18
Harold R. Gunn v. First Baptist Church, et al.
W2017-02382-COA-R3-CV

Appellant, a member of First Baptist Church of Humboldt, appeals the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellees, the church, its pastor, and chairman of the deacons. Appellant challenged the vote to change the name of the church to “The Church at Sugar Creek.” Finding that the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine acted as a jurisdictional bar, the trial court granted summary judgment. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Gibson County Court of Appeals 06/07/18
Gretelle Brashell Ingram v. Joey Evi Ingram
W2017-00640-COA-R3-CV

In this divorce case, the trial court awarded Wife alimony in futuro and partial attorney’s fees as alimony in solido. The trial court additionally awarded Wife the marital home despite the fact that Wife was unable to refinance the home to remove Husband from the mortgage. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment in all respects.

Madison County Court of Appeals 06/07/18
Thomas F. Greenwood v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01314-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Thomas F. Greenwood, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his convictions of felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect, reckless homicide, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated child neglect. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to retain an expert, present certain witnesses, and properly prepare the Petitioner for trial. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/07/18
State of Tennessee v. Bobbie Sue Maddle
M2017-01707-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Bobbie Sue Maddle, pleaded guilty to five counts of sale of less than .5 grams of methamphetamine, a Class C felony, and two counts of sale of more than .5 grams of methamphetamine, a Class B felony. The trial court imposed an effective fifteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it enhanced her sentences and when it denied her request for a sentence of split confinement with Community Corrections. The Defendant also contends that current sentencing law effectively denied appellate review on these issues. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/07/18
Susan Walton Ex Rel. James Walton v. Tullahoma HMA, LLC
M2017-01366-COA-R3-CV

This is a case of healthcare liability and wrongful death. After the decedent’s death at a Tullahoma hospital, his surviving spouse filed suit seeking damages for his injuries and death. The case was eventually tried before a jury, and a verdict was returned in favor of the Plaintiff. Although the jury determined that the total damages were $300,000, the trial court suggested an additur of over $1,000,000. An amended final judgment was subsequently entered after the trial court determined that the Defendant had accepted the additur under protest. Because we are of the opinion that the trial court’s additur destroyed the jury’s verdict, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand the case for a new trial.

Coffee County Court of Appeals 06/07/18
State of Tennessee v. Brian C. Frelix
M2017-00388-CCA-R3-CD

A Williamson County jury convicted the Defendant, Brian C. Frelix, of four counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of theft of property valued at one thousand dollars or more, but less than ten thousand dollars. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of thirty-eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court improperly: (1) denied his motion to suppress; (2) allowed Special Agent Andrew Vallee to testify based upon unreliable phone records; (3) admitted letters and testimony constituting hearsay; (4) admitted the victim’s stolen credit cards; (5) admitted information from a co-defendant’s Facebook page; and (6) imposed consecutive sentences. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/18
Michael D. Williams v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01765-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Michael D. Williams, appeals from the post-conviction court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner argues, for the first time on appeal, that summary dismissal was improper because principles of due process require due process tolling. Upon review, we conclude that the Petitioner has waived his due process claim and affirm summary dismissal.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/18
Tiffinne Wendalyn Gail Runions, Et Al. v. Jackson -Madison County General Hospital District, Et Al.
W2016-00901-SC-R11-CV

The Tennessee Health Care Liability Act, Tennessee Code Annotated section 29 26 121(a)(1) (2012 & Supp. 2017), requires a person who asserts a potential health care liability claim to give written pre-suit notice of the claim to each health care provider that will be named a defendant at least sixty days before the complaint is filed. The question we address is whether the trial court erred by allowing the plaintiff to amend her complaint, after the expiration of the statute of limitations, to substitute as a defendant a health care provider to which the plaintiff had not sent pre-suit notice. The health care provider the plaintiff sought to substitute had knowledge of the claim based on pre-suit notice the plaintiff had mistakenly sent to another potential defendant. We hold that the plaintiff did not comply with the mandatory pre-suit notice provision of Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(a)(1) because she did not give written pre suit notice of the potential claim to the health care provider she later sought to substitute as a defendant after the expiration of the statute of limitations. Although the health care provider learned about the claim based on the pre-suit notice the plaintiff sent to another potential defendant, this form of notification did not comply with the notice requirement of section 29-26-121(a)(1). Because the plaintiff did not comply with Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(a)(1), the 120-day filing extension under Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c) is not applicable. Under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 15.03, the filing date of the proposed amended complaint may relate back to the filing date of the original complaint. The plaintiff, however, filed the original complaint after the expiration of the statute of limitations. As a result, the plaintiff’s motion to substitute the health care provider is futile because the amended suit would be subject to dismissal based on the expiration of the one-year statute of limitations. The trial court erred by allowing the plaintiff to amend her complaint. We reverse the trial court and the Court of Appeals and remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings. 

Madison County Supreme Court 06/06/18
Jermaine Rashad Carpenter v. Tamara Ford, Warden
W2017-01383-CCA-R3-HC

The pro se Petitioner, Jermaine Rashad Carpenter, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Following our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/18
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Orlando Lyles
W2017-00292-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Christopher Orlando Lyles, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of first degree felony murder; second degree murder, a Class A felony; two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, Class A felonies; three counts of attempted aggravated robbery, Class C felonies; and aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to an effective term of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in granting the State two continuances and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/18
State of Tennessee v. Cameo Antoinette Edwards
W2015-01398-CCA-R3-CD

Following a bench trial, the Defendant, Cameo Antoinette Edwards, was convicted in the Haywood County Circuit Court of assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, both Class A misdemeanors. The trial court subsequently sentenced her to concurrent terms of eleven months, twenty-nine days for each conviction, suspended to supervised probation following service of thirty days in the county jail. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain her convictions and that the trial court erred by not granting her full probation. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Haywood County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/18
State of Tennessee v. Richard Lebron Madden, Sr.
E2017-01281-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Richmond Lebron Madden, Sr., was convicted by a jury of one count of possession of 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the trial court erred in allowing a witness to testify about the Defendant’s relationship with his co-defendant and his living arrangements; (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress, which challenged the legality of the stop resulting in the Defendant’s arrest; and (4) the trial court abused its discretion by denying the Defendant an alternative sentence and sentencing him to nine years and six months of incarceration. Following our review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed and remanded for entry of a corrected judgment.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/18
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Wayne Tidwell
M2017-00642-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Timothy Wayne Tidwell, was indicted by the Bedford County Grand Jury for one count of arson. Defendant was convicted as charged by a jury and sentenced by the trial court as a Range III offender to 15 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his conviction and that his sentence was excessive. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/18
State of Tennessee v. Ernesto Delgadilo Rodriquez
E2017-00369-CCA-R3-CD

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Ernesto Delgadilo Rodriguez, of resisting arrest and assault. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to six months for the resisting arrest conviction and to eleven months and twenty-nine days for the assault conviction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges (1) a jury instruction of the definition of “arrest”; (2) the sufficiency of the evidence; and (3) the admissibility of evidence regarding alcohol and drug use. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/18
In Re Avery B.
W2016-02542-COA-R3-JV

This appeal arises from a modification of a permanent parenting plan established in 2010 in which Mother was designated as the primary residential parent. In December of 2012, Father filed a petition to modify the parenting plan alleging that Mother’s mental health impeded her ability to properly care for their child. He also alleged that Mother alienated the child from Father due to numerous false allegations that Father abused the child, which resulted in temporary but substantial decreases in his parenting time. Although no evidence was produced indicating that Father abused the child, Mother continued to accuse Father of abuse and to take the child for repeated evaluations and physical exams. Following a three-day trial, the trial court designated Father as the primary residential parent, established a temporary parenting plan, and ordered Mother to attend counseling until the court was satisfied with her mental health so that it could issue a permanent parenting plan. Mother appealed that order; however, we dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the order appealed from was not a final judgment. On remand, following an assessment of Mother’s compliance with the court-ordered intensive therapy, the trial court entered a final judgment that included a permanent parenting plan from which Mother appeals. Mother contends the trial court erred in holding, inter alia, that there was a substantial and material change in circumstances requiring a modification of the parties’ permanent parenting plan. She also contends the court erred in holding that it was in the child’s best interest to change the primary residential parent to Father due, in part, to the fact the court failed to consider factors added to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-106 pursuant to the 2014 amendment that became law on July 1, 2014. Finding no error, we affirm.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 06/04/18
Ovalla Jobe v. Goodwill Industries Of Middle Tennessee, Inc., Et Al.
M2017-02299-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a premises liability suit filed by a customer of a Goodwill store after the customer sat on an item of furniture that was for sale and it collapsed. The trial court granted summary judgment to Goodwill, finding no genuine issue of material fact and concluding that Goodwill did not create or have actual or constructive knowledge of any alleged defect. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.     

Davidson County Court of Appeals 06/04/18