Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 10/25/2014
Format: 10/25/2014
Potter's Shopping Center, Inc. v. Joseph Szekely, et al.
M2014-00588-COA-R3-CV

Appellants appeal from the trial court’s decision to grant partial summary judgment to the Appellee. After reviewing the record, we find that the trial court failed to state the legal grounds on which it was granting summary judgment as required by Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 56.04. Consequently, this Court cannot proceed with our review and must vacate the order at issue.

Fentress County Court of Appeals 10/08/14
Roger Jamal Myrick v. State of Tennessee, et al.
M2013-02352-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a decision by the Davidson County Chancery Court dismissing inmate’s petition for declaratory judgment. Inmate was convicted of second degree murder and sought a declaratory order from the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) claiming he was eligible for parole and requesting a parole hearing date. The request was denied, so inmate filed a petition for declaratory judgment with the Davidson County Chancery Court, arguing that he was entitled to a parole hearing and mandatory parole pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 40-28-115(b)(1) and -117(b). The State filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim based on Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-501. The trial court granted the State’s motion, and this appeal followed. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/08/14
Bobby W. McEarl, et al. v. Talmo Johnson, et al.
W2014-00274-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a boundary line dispute. The parties contest the location of the common boundary line between their respective properties. Appellees argue that the boundary line lies at the center of the creek that runs between the parties’ properties. Appellants contend that the boundary lies on the creek’s east bank. Both sides proffered expert testimony to prove the boundary location. The trial court found Appellees’ expert credible. Based on the testimonies of Appellees’ expert and their predecessor in title, and the deeds submitted into evidence, the court determined that the boundary line was located along the centerline of the creek. The trial court also awarded damages to Appellees based on Appellants’ removal of timber from the disputed area. Appellants appeal. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s findings, we affirm and remand.

Chester County Court of Appeals 10/08/14
G and N Restaurant Group, Inc. d/b/a City Cafe Diner v. City of Chattanooga
E2013-02617-COA-R3-CV

This action involves the constitutionality of a city ordinance regulating beer sales by establishments operating twenty-four hours a day. In June 2006, the defendant city amended its beer ordinance, which previously had required restaurants serving beer and other alcoholic beverages to serve no alcohol between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. on weekdays and 3:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon on Sundays. Pursuant to the amended code section, no establishment remaining open for business of any type between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. is permitted to simultaneously maintain a beer permit. The plaintiff restaurant is located within a hotel in Chattanooga and serves a wide variety of food items twenty-four hours a day. Upon its opening in 2004 and subsequent reopening in April 2006, pursuant to the unamended version of the city code, the restaurant served beer during the hours allowed. The restaurant continued to serve beer until it received a letter alleging a code violation from the Chattanooga Police Department in June 2011. Following a mandatory appearance before the Chattanooga Beer Board, the restaurant surrendered its beer permit. The restaurant brought this action in the trial court, alleging that the city code subsection at issue violated the restaurant’s substantive due process rights pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and article 1, section 8 of the Tennessee Constitution. The trial court ruled in favor of the city, finding, inter alia, that the code subsection was rationally related to a legitimate government interest. The restaurant appeals. Because we determine that the code subsection is not rationally related to a legitimate government interest, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and grant the restaurant’s request for a judgment declaring the subsection to be constitutionally invalid. We remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/08/14
State of Tennessee v. Phalanda D. Falls
E2014-00350-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Phalanda D. Falls, entered a guilty plea to evading arrest, a Class D felony, and driving with a suspended license, a Class B misdemeanor, and received an effective sentence of four years. Following a hearing to determine her request for alternative sentencing, the trial court denied the motion and ordered appellant to serve her sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. This appeal follows. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/08/14
State of Tennessee v. Narceus Cox
W2014-00056-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Narceus Cox, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, Oxycodone, with intent to sell. The trial court denied the Defendant’s request for judicial diversion and sentenced him to a three-year sentence involving split confinement. The Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it denied his application for judicial diversion. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/08/14
Tommy Williams, et al. v. Adrain Armitage, et al.
E2014-01479-COA-R3-CV

This is an appeal from an order resolving the claim for damages made by the appellee, Tommy Williams, in the Original Complaint. However, the order did not resolve the counterclaim filed by the appellant, Adrian A. Armitage, and Albert L. Armitrage. Because the order appealed from does not resolve all claims raised in the proceedings below, we dismiss this appeal for lack of a final judgment.

Rhea County Court of Appeals 10/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Scott Morrell
E2013-02431-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Joseph Scott Morrell, appeals his Washington County Criminal Court jury conviction of third offense driving under the influence (“DUI”), claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the verdict of the jury was not unanimous, and that the trial court should have dismissed the indictment or declared a mistrial following the State’s improper commentary during closing argument. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/07/14
Steven B. Stubblefield v. Tennessee Department of Health, et al.
M2013-02239-COA-R3-CV

A physician was charged with failing to report a reckless driving conviction on his medical license renewal application. Following a contested case hearing before an administrative agency, the physician’s medical license was placed on probation for five years. The physician sought judicial review, arguing the agency’s sanction was disproportionate to what he represented was merely a mistake. The trial court affirmed the agency’s decision, and the physician appealed. We affirm the trial court’s decision.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/06/14
John C. Wells, III v. Tennessee Board of Probation And Parole
M2013-02613-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a decision by the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole (“the Board”) to deny inmate parole at his initial parole review hearing. Inmate was convicted of nine counts of aggravated sexual battery and was denied parole due to the seriousness of his crimes and the likelihood thathe would commit similar crimes again if released. Inmate filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, arguing that the Board exceeded its jurisdiction, was illegally comprised, and acted arbitrarily and capriciously. The trial court dismissed the petition with prejudice, and this appeal followed. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/06/14
State of Tennessee v. James Dean Wells
M2013-01145-CCA-R9-CD

The defendant was indicted for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”), DUI per se, simple possession, leaving the scene of an accident, and DUI (second offense) after his vehicle struck a utility pole and small building.  The defendant refused law enforcement’s request to test his blood in order to determine his blood alcohol content.  The defendant’s blood was taken pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406(f)(2) (2012) and without a warrant, despite his refusal to submit to testing.  The defendant moved to suppress evidence of his blood alcohol content, alleging that his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated and that Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406(f)(2) was unconstitutional.  The trial court granted the motion to suppress, concluding that the statute was unconstitutional.  The State sought and was granted permission to appeal, arguing that the blood was taken under exigent circumstances and that the implied consent law functioned to satisfy the consent exception to the warrant requirement.  After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the blood draw violated the defendant’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures because it was not conducted pursuant to an exception to the warrant requirement, and we affirm the suppression of the evidence.  We determine that, although the blood draw was taken pursuant to the statute, the statute did not dispense with the warrant requirement and is therefore not unconstitutional as applied to the defendant.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/14
Kathryn A. Duke v. Harold W. Duke, III
M2013-00624-COA-R3-CV

This case involves the modification of a parenting plan. The trial court reduced Father’s time with the parties’ children to four hours of supervised time every other weekend. The trial court so limited the Father’s parenting time as a result of his intentional interference with the children’s relationship with Mother. Father appeals the trial court’s modification of the parenting schedule. In addition, he claims the trial court erred by: (1) limiting Father’s communication with the children; (2) refusing Father’s request to retain an expert to rebut testimony by an expert Mother and Father initially agreed would provide a recommendation about parenting time; (3) excluding certain portions of his treating physician’s testimony; (4) requiring the children to continue counseling sessions with a psychologist; (5) terminating Father’s participation in educational decisions for the children; (6) instituting a permanent injunction against Father; (7) finding Father guilty of six counts of criminal contempt; (8) finding Father in civil contempt; (9) denying Father’s requests to reopen the proof to present newly discovered evidence; and (10) awarding Mother $678,933.05 in attorneys’ fees and discretionary costs. We reverse the judgment of the trial court finding Father in civil contempt. We affirm the judgment in all other respects.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 10/03/14
Vernon Motley v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01185-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Vernon Motley, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of postconviction relief from his conviction for first degree premeditated murder and his sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the State’s Brady violation rendered counsels’ assistance ineffective. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
Barry Lamont Price v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01209-CCA-R3-ECN

Appellant, Barry Lamont Price, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his 1991 guilty plea to three counts of the sale of cocaine, one count of driving on a revoked license, and one count of obtaining money by false pretenses and his effective ten-year sentence. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
David Freeman Clay v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02262-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, David Freeman Clay, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his petition for postconviction relief following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner sought post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of sexual battery and three counts of assault, based upon his assertions that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal. In his appeal Petitioner asserts that the trial court erred by ruling that trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Charles A. Kennedy
M2013-02207-CCA-R9-CD

In this interlocutory appeal by the State, the State challenges the trial court’s suppression of the results of blood alcohol testing conducted on the defendant’s blood pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406(f)(2) (Supp. 2012), claiming that the trial court erred by declaring Code section 55-10-406(f)(2) unconstitutional and by ruling that no exception to the warrant requirement existed to justify the warrantless taking of the defendant’s blood.  Because Code section 55-10-406(f)(2) does not mandate the warrantless taking of a blood sample, the trial court erred by declaring the statute unconstitutional, and that portion of the judgment is reversed.  Because no exception to the warrant requirement justified the warrantless taking of the defendant’s blood in this case, however, we affirm the trial court’s order suppressing the results of blood alcohol testing conducted on the sample.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Casey Bryant
M2013-00922-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jonathan Casey Bryant, pled guilty to promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine.  As part of the plea agreement, the Defendant reserved a certified question of law challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence resulting from his traffic stop.  However, the Defendant failed to file any document specifying the certified question presented.  Because the Defendant failed to properly reserve the certified question, the appeal is dismissed.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
Lonnie Lanorris Holland, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00124-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Lonnie Lanorris Holland, Jr., appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his 2012 guilty-pleaded conviction of second degree murder.  In the petition for post-conviction relief, the petitioner claimed that his guilty plea was unknowing or involuntary and stemmed from the ineffective assistance of his counsel.  Because the record supports the post-conviction court’s denial of relief, we affirm its order.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Andrea Kelly Jones
M2013-02720-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Andrea Kelly Jones, appeals her Class D felony, guilty-pleaded convictions of two counts of vehicular assault entered by the Dekalb County Criminal Court.  The trial court ordered that the agreed four-year sentence be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of a sentencing alternative to incarceration.  We affirm the manner of service of the sentences imposed by the trial court.

DeKalb County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Concetta Long aka Concetta Walton
M2014-00565-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant appeals the order of the Rutherford County Circuit Court revoking her probation and ordering her to serve the balance of her sentence in confinement.  In this appeal, she argues that the trial court erred by ordering her to serve the balance of her sentence.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Lamont Hall
M2013-02841-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Gregory Lamont Hall, was indicted for one count of manufacturing .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class B felony; one count of possession with intent to sell 26 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class B felony; one count of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony; and tampering with evidence, a Class C felony.  See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-16-503, -17-417, -17-1324(a).  The Defendant filed a suppression motion which the trial court denied.  The Defendant subsequently entered into a plea agreement with the State and reserved a certified question of law for appellate review pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2).  The Defendant pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to sell 26 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and received a ten-year sentence to be served consecutively to a prior sentence.  The remaining charges were dismissed.  In this appeal, the Defendant contends that there was not sufficient probable cause to justify the issuance of a warrant to search the residence in question.  Following our review, we reverse, vacate the judgment of the trial court, and dismiss the charge.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
Dana Automotive Systems Group, LLC, et al. v. Larry Evans
W2013-01960-SC-R3-WC

An employee developed carpal tunnel syndrome while working as a welder and supervisor for his employer. Prior to receiving medical treatment and unrelated to the injury, the employer gave the employee a choice to retire or potentially lose his substantial pension. The trial court held that the Medical Impairment Registry physician’s rating was incorrect and that the statutory one and one-half cap on permanent partial disability benefits did not apply. The employer appealed.  After a thorough review of the record, we reverse in part and affirm in part.

Gibson County Workers Compensation Panel 10/02/14
Russell Kyle v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company
W2013-01505-WC-R3-WC

An insurance adjuster was injured when he fell from a ladder after inspecting a roof for his employer. Consistent with a voluntary agreement with his employer, the employee received sick leave payments in lieu of temporary total disability payments. After returning to work for two months, the employee retired. In addition to the employee’s medical records, the parties introduced into evidence the deposition of a physician selected through the Medical Impairment Registry. The physician assigned an impairment of nine percent to the body as a whole. The trial court, however, awarded permanent disability benefits based on an impairment of fourteen percent and awarded additional temporary total disability benefits. The trial court also granted the employer a setoff for payments made to the employee pursuant to his accrued sick leave. The employer appealed. We conclude that the trial court erred by awarding a set-off of the payments made under the employer’s sick leave policy and by adopting an impairment rating other than that assigned by the MIR physician. We remand the case for additional proceedings and findings by the trial court.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 10/02/14
Kristen Ball v. Regions Financial Corporation, et al.
W2013-02454-SC-R3-WC

An employee fell in the bathroom at her place of employment and reported pain in her right shoulder and hip. She was treated and released by her authorized physician. Approximately five months after the fall, she developed left knee pain. Five more months later, she developed pain her left hip and lower back. The employee’s knee and back conditions ultimately required surgery, but her employer denied that the fall at work caused her conditions. The trial court disagreed and awarded benefits for the knee and back injuries. The employer appealed. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s finding that the employee sustained a permanent, work-related injury to her back. We otherwise affirm the judgment of the trial court and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 10/02/14
Ben J. Mosby v. McDowell Center for Children
W2012-02715-WC-R3-WC

The employee alleged that he sustained a compensable workers’ compensation injury to his left shoulder and knee from a fall at work. The employer denied the claim. The trial court found that the employee did not comply with the notice statute, Tenn. Code Ann. §50-6-201(a)(2008) and dismissed the claim. The employee has appealed, contending that the trial court’s notice ruling was erroneous. 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 in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We find that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s finding and affirm the judgment.

Lauderdale County Workers Compensation Panel 10/02/14