Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 09/04/2015
Format: 09/04/2015
State of Tennessee v. Allen Anthony Hammett
E2014-01947-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Allen Anthony Hammett, entered best interest guilty pleas in case number 18648 to aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and in case number 18930 to violating the sex offender registry, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-504 (2014), 40-39-208 (2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of ten years for the aggravated sexual battery conviction and two years for the registry violation. Following the guilty plea hearing, the Defendant sought to withdraw his pleas alleging that they were involuntarily and unknowingly entered and that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied relief. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to withdraw his best interest guilty pleas. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/15
Julian Hinson, D/B/A Trivia Time v. Thom O'Rourke
M2014-00361-COA-R3-CV

Plaintiff, a sole proprietor of an entertainment business featuring trivia and bingo games, filed this action to enforce an Independent Contractor Agreement, a Noncompetition Agreement, and a Contractor Confidentiality Agreement and for violation of the Tennessee Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The defendant asserted that the covenant not to compete was unenforceable and that none of the information provided to him by Plaintiff constituted trade secrets or confidential information. The trial court dismissed all claims finding the covenant not to compete was unenforceable and that none of the information qualified as a trade secret. Following the dismissal of the claims, the defendant filed a motion for attorney’s fees pursuant to the Trade Secrets Act. The trial court denied the motion finding that the claim under the Trade Secrets Act was not brought in bad faith. Both parties appeal. We affirm the trial court in all respects. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/25/15
Royal Properties, Inc. v. The City of Knoxville et al.
E2014-01937-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from a judgment in a certiorari review action. The petitioner sought approval for the construction of a surface parking lot as a use permitted on review in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Metropolitan Planning Commission denied the application. The petitioner appealed the denial to the Knoxville City Council, which failed to vote on the matter. The trial court upheld the de facto denial, holding that the Knoxville City Council had not exceeded its jurisdiction, followed an unlawful procedure, acted illegally, arbitrarily, or fraudulently, or acted without material evidence to support its decision. The petitioner appeals. For the reasons discussed herein, we reverse and remand this case to the trial court with instructions to remand to the Knoxville City Council for a definitive ruling on whether the requested surface parking lot is permissible as a use permitted on review.

Knox County Court of Appeals 08/25/15
Ronald Christopher v. East Tennessee Spine and Orthopaedic Specialists, P.C.
E2014-02552-COA-R3-CV

This consolidated appeal involves the denial of two motions to alter or amend the court's dismissal of a complaint requesting corporate dissolution of a medical practice and a shareholder derivative suit involving the same medical practice. We affirm.

Hamblen County Court of Appeals 08/25/15
Nicholas Grimaldi, D.O. et al v. Ronald Christopher, M.D.
E2014-02556-COA-R3-CV

This consolidated appeal involves the denial of two motions to alter or amend the court's dismissal of a complaint requesting corporate dissolution of a medical practice and a shareholder derivative suit involving the same medical practice. We affirm.

Hamblen County Court of Appeals 08/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Deon Jarnigan
E2015-00061-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Marcus Deon Jarnigan, challenged his guilty-pleaded convictions for robbery, simple possession of a controlled substance, and being a felon in possession of a handgun by filing a motion in the trial court seeking to correct his allegedly illegal sentences. The trial court summarily denied the motion, concluding that the judgments were facially valid. On appeal, he raises for the first time the applicability of Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 as a basis for relief. Following our review, we discern that appellant has failed to state a colorable claim for relief and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Robert Townsend
W2014-00992-CCA-R3-CD

A Shelby County jury found the Defendant, Robert Townsend, guilty of first degree premeditated murder. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence against him. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court‟s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Fredrick Sledge
W2014-02305-CCA-R3-CD

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Fredrick Sledge, of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, and it imposed a sentence of death for the first degree felony murder conviction. The trial court imposed a consecutive twenty-year sentence for the especially aggravated robbery conviction. The Defendant appealed his convictions and sentences, and we affirmed his conviction and sentence for the especially aggravated robbery conviction. We also affirmed his conviction for first degree felony murder but concluded that errors during the sentencing phase required reversal of the death sentence. We remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing for the first degree felony murder conviction. See State v. Fredrick Sledge, No. 02C01-9405-CR-00089, 1997 WL 730245, at  (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Nov. 25, 1997). On remand, the Defendant was sentenced to life for the first degree murder conviction to be served consecutively to his twenty-year sentence for the especially aggravated robbery conviction. State v. Fredrick Sledge, No. W2001-02402-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 57313, at  (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Jan. 6, 2003). The Defendant’s sentence was affirmed by this court. Id. In 2014, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 36.1 seeking to correct an illegal sentence. The trial court summarily denied the Defendant’s motion. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/15
State of Tennessee v. John A. Snider
W2014-01848-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, John A. Snider, pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Madison County to three counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell, simple possession of a controlled substance, possession of synthetic cannabinoid, and possession of drug paraphernalia. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417 (Supp. 2012) (amended 2014) (possession of psilocybin, marijuana, diazepam, alprazolam with intent to sell), 39-17-418 (2010) (amended 2014) (simple possession of oxycodone), 39-17-425 (2014) (possession of drug paraphernalia), 39-17-438 (Supp. 2012) (amended 2013, 2014, 2015) (possession of synthetic cannabinoids). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective ten years, ordered him to serve eleven months, twenty-nine days in confinement, and ordered him to serve the remainder on community corrections. On appeal, the Defendant presents a certified question of law regarding the legality of the warrantless entry into the Defendant’s home and the seizure of the Defendant from his doorway. We dismiss the appeal because the certified question is not dispositive of the case.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/15
Shon Quintel Blanks v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01342-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Shon Quintel Blanks, filed a petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, a Class B felony, and possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, a Class E felony, and the accompanying ten-year sentence. The petitioner alleged that his counsel was ineffective and that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Antoneo Williams
E2014-01076-CCA-R3-CD

A Knox County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Antoneo Williams, of attempted second degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and reckless endangerment. The jury also found him to be a criminal gang member who committed criminal gang offenses, resulting in enhanced punishment for his attempted murder and aggravated assault convictions, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of fifty-three years in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his audio-recorded conversation with a fellow jail inmate, who was acting as a government agent; and that the trial court erred by using his juvenile criminal history to enhance his offender classification. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/15
Open Lake Sporting Club v. Lauderdale Haywood Angling Club
W2014-00436-COA-R3-CV

At issue in this case is the interpretation of an agreement that, inter alia, provides for a lease for the use of Open Lake in Lauderdale County by Lauderdale Haywood Angling Club. Following summary judgment proceedings, the trial court determined that the parties' agreement had terminated on two grounds. After declaring that all rights under the agreement had ended, it later required one of the parties to post a bond in order to continue using certain duck blinds for the remainder of the 2013-2014 duck hunting season. Although we conclude that one of the grounds relied upon by the trial court in declaring that the agreement was terminated was in error, we affirm the entry of summary judgment on the other ground. We also affirm the propriety and amount of the bond ordered by the trial court.

Lauderdale County Court of Appeals 08/25/15
Freddie Odell Norris v. Susan Marguriete Norris
E2014-02353-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a divorce. Freddie Odell Norris (“Husband”) sued Susan Marguriete Norris (“Wife”) for divorce in the Probate and Family Court for Cumberland County (“the Trial Court”). The Trial Court granted a divorce to Husband on the ground of irreconcilable differences and ordered him to pay transitional alimony. Wife appeals to this Court, raising a number of issues. We amend the divorce decree to modify the grounds for divorce, modify the alimony type from transitional to in futuro, and remand this case for a calculation of reasonable attorney's fees for Wife. The judgment of the Trial Court is modified and this matter is remanded to the Trial Court for further proceedings.

Cumberland County Court of Appeals 08/24/15
In re Christopher M.
W2014-02520-COA-R3-PT

This appeal involves the termination of a mother's parental rights to her eleven-year-old son. In 2004, the son was adjudicated dependent and neglected due to his mother's substance abuse and was placed in the custody of his maternal grandmother and step-grandfather. In 2012, these same grandparents filed a petition, as prospective adoptive parents, seeking to terminate the mother's parental rights on the statutory ground of persistent conditions. The trial court found that the ground of persistent conditions had not been proven by clear and convincing evidence. The grandparents appeal. We affirm.

Madison County Court of Appeals 08/24/15
State of Tennessee v. Roger James Lee Arnold
E2014-01165-CCA-R3-CD

A Sullivan County Criminal Court Jury found the appellant, Roger James Lee Arnold, guilty of burglary of an automobile; theft of property valued over $1,000; and vandalism of property valued over $1,000. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of eighteen years. On appeal, the appellant contends that the indictment failed to provide sufficient notice that the State was proceeding under a theory of criminal responsibility and challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/24/15
Stasha B. Taylor, et al. v. Melvinie E. Seymore, MD, et al.
W2015-01272-COA-T10B-CV

This accelerated interlocutory appeal arises from the trial court‘s denial of motions for recusal in two separate health care liability cases. We have consolidated the cases on appeal because they contain common facts and questions of law. Having reviewed the motions under the de novo standard of review required by Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, we affirm the trial court‘s decision to deny both motions.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/24/15
Mattress Firm, Inc., et al v. Deanna Mudryk
W2014-01017-SC-R3-WC

The employee was the manager on duty at the employer’s store. After two persons posing as customers stole her purse from the store, the employee pursued the assailants into the employer’s parking lot. The employee sustained physical injuries in the encounter, and was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the incident. The employee sought workers’ compensation benefits for her injuries. At the ensuing trial, only the employee’s psychological injuries were at issue. The trial court held the psychological injuries were compensable, citing the street risk doctrine. However, the trial court limited the employee’s damages to 1.5 times her impairment rating, based on the statutory cap contained in Tennessee Code Annotated § 50-6-241(d)(1)(A). After a careful review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s conclusion that the injuries are compensable under the street risk doctrine but reverse its application of the statutory cap to the employee’s injuries.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/24/15
RCR Building Corporation v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01555-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns the construction of a welcome center along I-65 North in Ardmore, Tennessee. The State entered into an agreement with a contractor to construct the welcome center and the adjacent roadways and parking lots. As construction progressed, the contractor submitted requests for several changes to the scope of the project, which were denied; the State also denied several pay requests for work the contractor or its subcontractors had already completed. The contractor filed suit against the State alleging nine separate claims for damages. The Claims Commission ruled in favor of the contractor on all claims. The State appeals four of the claims, asserting that the Commission erred in awarding damages. Concluding that the evidence does not preponderate against the Commission’s findings of fact, we affirm the Commissioner in all respects.

Court of Appeals 08/24/15
James R. Vandergriff et al. v. Parkridge East Hospital et al.
E2014-02253-COA-R3-CV

The parents of a minor child filed a pro se complaint asserting claims on behalf of their daughter and individual claims by each parent. The complaint alleges that the daughter was born with brain injuries and remains severely disabled due to the failure of health care providers to treat her mother for a severe womb infection during two hospitalizations preceding birth. Plaintiffs also allege that the complaint was filed timely, although it was filed ten years after birth, because the defendants fraudulently concealed the fact that the mother was not treated for the infection. The complaint states that the parents learned of the infection in 2012 when they obtained medical records that included a previously-undisclosed placenta pathology report. The defendants responded to the complaint by filing Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) motions to dismiss the parents’ individual claims pursuant to the one-year statute of limitations, Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-116(a)(1)-(2), and the daughter’s claims based upon the three-year statute of repose, Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-26-116(a)(3).

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 08/21/15
Estate of Walter Bradley by Next of Kin, Irene King et al v. Hamilton County
E2014-02215-COA-R3-CV

Following his conviction, Mr. Bradley was placed at the Hamilton County Jail in March 2012. Over the next seven months, Mr. Bradley spent several weeks in and out of Erlanger Medical Center and Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute due to his poor health. In October 2012, he passed away from tuberculosis. His sister brought this action for wrongful death and negligence under Tennessee's Governmental Tort Liability Act against Hamilton County. She later amended the complaint in order to add a claim for severe emotional distress she personally suffered as a result of her brother's alleged mistreatment. Hamilton County filed a motion to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment. The trial court consolidated the two motions together and dismissed the complaint in its entirety. The sister appeals. We affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 08/21/15
Valorie K. Stapleton v. Glen A. Stapleton
E2014-02014-COA-R3-CV

In this post-divorce matter, the appellant challenges an award of attorney fees to his former wife in the amount of $15,591.43. We affirm the ruling of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 08/21/15
Pam Hayes, et al v. City of Memphis, et al.
W2014-01962-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a dispute stemming from a resolution adopted by the Memphis City Council renaming three public parks. Several organizations and individuals filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the resolution. The Shelby County Chancery Court dismissed the lawsuit, holding that the allegations in the plaintiffs’ complaint were insufficient to establish their standing. On appeal, we hold that the allegations of the complaint are sufficient to establish standing as to one of the organizations, Sons of Confederate Veterans Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp #215. We therefore reverse the trial court’s dismissal as to that organization. We affirm dismissal of the remaining plaintiffs’ claims for lack of standing.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/21/15
Kighwaunda M. Yardley v. Hospital Housekeeping Systems, LLC.
M2014-01723-SC-R23-CV

We accepted a question of law certified by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee to determine whether a job applicant has a cause of action under the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act against a prospective employer for failure to hire if the prospective employer failed to hire the job applicant because that applicant had filed, or is likely to file, a workers’ compensation claim against a previous employer, and if such a cause of action exists, what standard should apply. We hold that there is no cause of action for failure to hire under the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act.

Supreme Court 08/21/15
State of Tennessee v. Steven Troy Wilburn
E2014-01866-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Steven Roy Wilburn, appeals his conviction for DUI, pursuant to a certified question of law, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the arresting officer was not authorized to arrest Defendant outside of his municipal jurisdiction. Because the arresting officer was authorized to stop and arrest Defendant under Tennessee’s arrest by a private person statute, the decision of the trial court is affirmed.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/15
Darlene Webb v. General Motors Company
W2014-00975-SC-R3-WC

The employee sustained an injury to her arm in the course of her employment. Her authorized treating physicians diagnosed her with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and assigned a permanent impairment rating. At trial, the employer presented testimony from evaluating physicians who opined that she did not meet the criteria for the assigned impairment rating and that the treating physicians had misapplied the American Medical Association guidelines for the evaluation of permanent impairment. The trial court credited the testimony of the treating physicians and found that the employee suffered from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It awarded the employee permanent disability benefits. The employer appeals. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, the appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel. We affirm.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/21/15