Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 08/05/2015
Format: 08/05/2015
The Peoples Bank v. Conrad Mark Troutman, et al.

This action involves a commercial loan in the amount of $765,000.00. Prior to closing on the loan, the lender received a commitment for title insurance requiring that a prior lien on title to the real property as collateral be released or subordinated. The lender went forward with the closing after receiving assurance from the title insurance company's agent and attorney that the prior lien had been subordinated. Thereafter, the title insurance company issued a policy that excepted the prior lien from coverage. Following default by the borrowers, the prior lienholder foreclosed on the property, causing the lender to file the present action against the title insurance company and the attorney who prepared the commitment for title insurance, as well as the attorney's law firm. The title insurance company and the attorney, together with his law firm, filed separate motions for summary judgment. The trial court denied the motion filed by the attorney and his firm. The lender subsequently took a voluntary nonsuit of its claims against those parties. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the title insurance company. The attorney, his firm, and the lender have appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the title insurance company. We dismiss the joint appeal filed by the attorney and his law firm as not justiciable.

Campbell County Court of Appeals 07/27/15
Michael Carnahan v. Jeffrey Carnahan

Money judgment was entered in suit to recover personal property which had been instituted in general sessions court. Defendant sought relief pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 more than ten days after judgment was entered and general sessions court denied relief. On appeal, the circuit court granted plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because motion for relief was not timely, as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 16-15-727. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.   

Wilson County Court of Appeals 07/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Daniel H. Jones

Defendant, Daniel H. Jones, is currently serving an effective sentence of thirty-one years for a multitude of convictions. In October 2014, Defendant filed a motion under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, alleging that his aggregate sentence is illegal because it exceeds the maximum sentence for a Range I offender convicted of a Class B felony. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion, finding that Defendant had failed to state a colorable claim. Upon our thorough review of the record, we determine that Defendant has not presented a colorable claim for relief. Therefore, we affirm the decision of the trial court in full.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/15
State of Tennessee v. John Wesley Couch

The Defendant, John Wesley Couch, was found guilty by a Bedford County Circuit Court jury of promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, a Class D felony.  See T.C.A. § 39-17-433 (2014).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to four years’ confinement, to be served consecutively to a Coffee County sentence and any other existing sentences.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and (2) his sentence is excessive and contrary to law.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/15
Leslie Ann Cremeens v. Eric Scott Cremeens

Mother challenges the modification of the parenting plan, specifically the designation of Father as the primary residential parent and the new parenting schedule. Mother contends that the trial court’s best interest determination was flawed because the trial court failed to consider the expert testimony of a psychologist who examined the child in Tennessee. She also contends the court erred by failing to require the guardian ad litem to investigate the records of a psychologist who examined the child in Georgia. Because Mother failed to provide a transcript of the evidence or a statement of the evidence, we must assume there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s factual determinations. We find no error with the investigation by the guardian ad litem because he was not required to investigate the records of every medical professional that examined the child; instead, by rule, the guardian ad litem is to “conduct an investigation to the extent that the guardian ad litem considers necessary to determine the best interests of the child. . . .” Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 40A, § 8(b)(1). Further, Mother failed to proffer a summary of the Georgia psychologist’s records or testimony; therefore, there is no factual basis for us to conclude that testimony of the Georgia psychologist would have affected the court’s decision. As for the Tennessee psychologist, the record reveals that the trial court did consider the expert’s testimony. As a result, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. We also declare this a frivolous appeal pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 27-1-122. 

White County Court of Appeals 07/24/15
Curtis D. Marvel v. Roane Transportation Services, LLC

A truck driver alleged that he sustained a heart attack in the course and scope of his employment. His employer denied the claim, asserting that the heart attack was not caused by his employment. The trial court ruled that the claim was compensable and awarded the truck driver workers' compensation benefits. The employer has appealed. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, the appeal was referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

Sevier County Workers Compensation Panel 07/23/15
In re Marcell W.

In this parental termination case, Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to the minor child at issue. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/23/15
Andrew C. Clarke v. City of Memphis

This appeal stems from a public records dispute, pursuant to the Tennessee Public Records Act, Tennessee Code Annotated
§ 10-7-101 et seq., litigated in the Shelby County Chancery Court. The trial court awarded Appellee/Cross-Appellant $3,500.00 in attorneys‘ fees and costs due to the City of Memphis‘ ("the City") failure to timely respond to Appellee/Cross-Appellant‘s open records request. The City appealed concerning the propriety of the award of attorneys‘ fees. Appellee/Cross-Appellant cross-appealed concerning the amount of the fees awarded and additionally prayed for an award of attorneys‘ fees on appeal. Although we conclude that Appellee/Cross-Appellant is entitled to attorneys‘ fees, we modify the amount awarded from $3,500.00 to $2,340.00. Further, we deny Appellee/Cross-Appellant‘s request for attorneys‘ fees on appeal.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/23/15
Jeffery G. Douglas v. Francine C.S., et al.

The trial court dismissed Appellant's petition for a writ of mandamus. Due to profound deficiencies in Appellant's brief, we dismiss this appeal.

Madison County Court of Appeals 07/23/15
State of Tennessee v. James Thomas, Jr.

Defendant, James Thomas, Jr., was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for aggravated rape and domestic assault. A jury convicted Defendant as charged. The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of 16 years and 6 months. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that: 1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for aggravated rape because Defendant was not “armed with” a weapon; 2) the trial court erred by overruling defense counsel’s objection to a detective’s testimony regarding the victim’s credibility; and 3) the prosecutor improperly commented on the victim’s credibility. Having reviewed the briefs of the parties and the entire record in this case, we conclude that although the evidence is legally sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions, the trial court should not have allowed the detective to testify regarding the victim’s credibility, and the prosecutor’s comments during closing argument constitute plain error. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is reversed and this case is remanded for a new trial.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/15
In re Serenity W. M.

This case involves a dispute regarding the custody of Serenity W.M. (the Child), the minor daughter of Matthew Ryan Martin (Father) and Natasha Amber Nichole Martin (Mother). Shortly after the Child’s birth, a state district court in the Commonwealth of Kentucky entered an order granting temporary custody of the Child to her maternal uncle, Christopher Mayo, and his wife, Natasha Cima (collectively Petitioners). Later, Petitioners filed a petition in the Tennessee trial court seeking (1) enforcement of the Kentucky order and (2) emergency custody of the Child. Following a hearing in Tennessee, the trial court granted the petition and ordered that custody would remain with Petitioners pending further proceedings in Kentucky. Father and Mother appeal. We affirm.

Campbell County Court of Appeals 07/23/15
Robert McCollum, et al. v. Darrell Peters

Robert and Kimberly McCollum (Plaintiffs) sued Darrell Peters (Defendant) for damages incurred after a garage he built partially collapsed. Their complaint alleged multiple claims for relief including breach of contract, violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (the TCPA), various forms of fraud and/or intentional misrepresentation and negligence. Following a bench trial, the court ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs. The court held that, with respect to his construction of the garage, Defendant was guilty of promissory fraud, made fraudulent misrepresentations in violation of the TCPA, and acted recklessly by consciously acting contrary to his representations. The trial court entered judgment awarding Plaintiffs a sum total of $56,103.50 including compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees. Defendant appeals. We affirm.

Washington County Court of Appeals 07/23/15
Robert Guerrero v. State of Tennessee

The petitioner, Robert Guerrero, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2008 Maury County Circuit Court jury convictions of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and aggravated assault, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel and that the post-conviction court erred by excluding witness testimony and by exhibiting bias. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/15
In re Domingo W., et al.

In this termination of parental rights case, Mother appeals the trial court's findings of incompetency and persistence of conditions as grounds for termination. Mother also appeals the trial court's conclusion that termination was in the children's best interest. We affirm the trial court's findings as to both grounds for termination. We also affirm the trial court's finding that termination is in the best interest of the children. Accordingly, we affirm the termination of Mother's parental rights.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/23/15
Yarboro Sallee v. Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility

In this appeal from attorney disciplinary proceedings, the hearing panel of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility suspended the law license of the appellant attorney for one year. The hearing panel determined that the attorney violated Rules 1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 4.4, and 8.4 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct. Its decision was based on, inter alia, the attorney’s failure to communicate with the client, excessive fees, withholding items from the client’s files after termination of her representation, and sending the clients’ new attorney emails threatening criminal prosecution of the former clients. The attorney sought judicial review of the hearing panel’s decision, and the trial court affirmed the decision of the hearing panel. The attorney now appeals to this Court. After a careful review of the record, we affirm. 

Knox County Supreme Court 07/23/15
State of Tennessee v. Anthony James Zonneville

The Defendant claims the evidence was not sufficient for the jury to convict him of possession of .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine with intent to sell or deliver within 1,000 feet of a school.  He also claims the trial court as the thirteenth juror erred in not granting his motion for new trial.  After a thorough review of the record, we conclude the evidence was sufficient and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Marika Lyn Foster

The defendant, Marika Lyn Foster, appeals the trial court’s order requiring her to serve the balance of her sentence in confinement after the revocation of her probation.  She argues that the trial court abused its discretion by not extending the length and modifying the conditions of her probation.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Russell Lee Maze

The Appellant, Russell Lee Maze, is appealing the order of the trial court denying his “Motion for Order Correcting Error in Judgment.”  The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20.  Said motion is hereby granted.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Corey Euene Huddleston

The Defendant, Corey Eugene Huddleston, pleaded guilty to escape, a Class E felony, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to four years, suspended to supervised probation.  This conviction was ordered to run consecutively to the sentence the Defendant was serving at the time of his escape from the Dickson County Jail.  A violation of probation warrant was issued for the Defendant’s arrest based upon multiple violations of probation rules.  After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation sentence and ordered service of the balance of the sentence in confinement.  The Defendant appeals, contending that the trial court’s decision to fully revoke his probation sentence was arbitrary.  After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
Barbara A. Miller v. Myron B. McClary, II

The final order from which the pro se appellant seeks to appeal was entered on April 20, 2015. The Notice of Appeal was not filed until May 22, 2015, more than thirty (30) days from the date of entry of the final order. The appellees have filed a joint motion to dismiss this appeal based upon the untimely filing of the Notice of Appeal. Because the Notice of Appeal was not timely filed, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal and grant the motion to dismiss.

Blount County Court of Appeals 07/22/15
Stacy Foster-Henderson v. Memphis Health Center, Inc.

This appeal involves a contract for employment entitling the employee to sixty days advance notice of the employer’s decision to terminate the contract and six months additional salary from the date of the termination. The employer argued that the termination was effective in May 2005 and, therefore, that the employee had been fully compensated pursuant to the contract. The trial court ruled that the termination occurred in June 2005 and awarded employee damages equivalent to two months’ salary. We conclude that the evidence preponderates in favor of finding that the employee did not receive the requisite notice of the termination of her employment until September or October 2005 at the earliest. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and award employee damages equivalent to six months’ salary, as well as partial prejudgment interest. Reversed and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/22/15
Ede Goza, et al. v. Suntrust Bank

This appeal arises from the dismissal of an action challenging the validity of and distribution of assets from a trust. The trial court held the suit was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Because the plaintiffs in this action are in privity with previous challengers of the trust for purposes of res judicata, we affirm the dismissal.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/22/15
Samantha Adkins v. Studsvik, Inc.. et al.

This action involves a dispute regarding workers’ compensation benefits. In July 2009, the plaintiff employee fell from a ladder in the course of her employment. Her employer initially provided medical care but denied that the employee sustained a compensable injury or permanent impairment. The employee filed this action on October 9, 2013. Upon a trial on the merits, the trial court found that (1) the employee did sustain a compensable, work-related injury and (2) the employee was permanently and totally disabled. The employer has appealed that ruling. On appeal, the employee also contends that the trial court erred by failing to award her the cost of unauthorized medical treatment. 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. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Carter County Workers Compensation Panel 07/21/15
Susan Lee Phillips, Executrix and Surviving Spouse of Robert Wayne Phillips, Deceased v. Gary Q. Casey, M.D., et al.

This is a health care liability action. The plaintiff's late husband died following a bilateral tonsillectomy surgery. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was angioedema. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendants exactly one year after her husband's death. The complaint did not comply with the pre-suit notice requirements for health care liability suits. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the suit without prejudice and re-filed suit. The defendants moved to dismiss, claiming that the re-filed suit was barred. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss and a subsequent motion to reconsider but granted permission to file an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. We granted permission to appeal and now affirm the decision of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 07/21/15
Haddad Family Partnership v. David Pouncey, et al.

This case involves a dispute over the boundary line between two neighboring tracts of farmland. The owner of one farm brought this action alleging that the neighbor crossed the common boundary line between the tracts and harvested or destroyed crops during three consecutive years. At trial, the parties presented conflicting surveys, each purporting to establish the correct boundary line between the properties at issue. The trial court found the appellee’s survey to be more persuasive and established the line as proposed by the appellee. The trial court also awarded damages to the appellee for the lost crops. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings, we affirm and remand for further proceedings.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 07/21/15