Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 08/29/2014
Format: 08/29/2014
Madia Dia v. Imports Collision Center, Inc.
M2013-01496-WC-R3-WC

Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation 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.  Employee filed a request for reconsideration pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-241(d)(1)(B), which Employer opposed on the ground that Employee’s loss of employment was due to Employee’s voluntary resignation and/or his employment-related misconduct.  The trial court ruled that Employer failed to carry its burden of proof as to either of the asserted grounds for denying reconsideration.  The trial court therefore granted Employee’s request for reconsideration and awarded increased benefits.  Based on our review of the entire record, we reverse the trial court’s judgment.
 

Davidson County Workers Compensation Panel 08/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Stevie Gibson
W2013-02015-CCA-R3-CD

Stevie Gibson (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of two counts of second degree murder and one count of aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the two murder convictions and sentenced the Defendant to serve an effective term of thirty-seven years’ incarceration. In this direct appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and his sentence. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/19/14
State of Tennessee v. Emmett Lamon Roseman
M2013-02150-CCA-R3-CD

The appellant, Emmett Lamon Roseman, pled guilty to possession of marijuana, the sale of crack cocaine, the delivery of crack cocaine, and three counts of failure to appear.  The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the appellant challenges the length of the sentences and the imposition of consecutive sentencing.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/19/14
Joseph Kindred v. Jerry Lester, Warden
W2014-00066-CCA-R3-HC

In 2010, the Petitioner, Joseph Kindred, pleaded guilty to multiple counts involving conspiracy to sell drugs within a school zone, and the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to sixteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In 2013, the Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus relief, which was summarily dismissed by the habeas corpus court. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that the habeas corpus court erred when it dismissed his petition, contending that the trial court did not have the jurisdiction or authority to sentence him for the conspiracy convictions because he was not indicted for conspiracy. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the habeas court’s judgment.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/19/14
Daniel Cohen v. Julie Didier (Cohen)
M2013-01370-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves the execution of documents in furtherance of the property division in a divorce decree. The parties were divorced many years ago. To carry out the property division, the final decree of divorce ordered the parties to execute copyright assignments. Twenty-five years later, the ex-husband filed this action to compel the ex-wife to execute the copyright assignments. The ex-wife argued that the action was barred by the ten-year statute of limitations applicable to an action on a judgment. Relying on Jordan v. Jordan, 147 S.W.3d 255 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2004), the trial court held that execution of the documents was a ministerial act to effectuate the property division in the divorce decree and was not execution on a judgment, so the action was not barred by the statute of limitations. After the ex-wife still failed to execute the copyright assignment documents, the trial court designated the clerk of the court to act for the ex-wife to execute them, pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 70. The ex-wife appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/19/14
Ram Tool & Supply Co., Inc. Et Al. v. HD Supply Construction Supply, LTD. d/b/a Whit Cap Construction Supply, Robert Maples and Tim Pruitt
M2016-02264-COA-R3-CV

The parties in this case are competitors. The defendant company opened a branch in Nashville and began competing with the plaintiff; the defendant company hired employees away from the plaintiff and it allegedly worked with a now-former employee of the plaintiff to obtain plaintiff’s confidential information.  The plaintiff filed suit alleging, among other things, breach of the fiduciary duty of loyalty by unlawfully recruiting, aiding and abetting such breach,and conspiracyto unlawfully recruit. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants,finding the plaintiff’s claims preempted by the Tennessee Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“TUTSA”). We affirm in part and reverse in part and we remand for further proceedings. Specifically, we find preempted by TUTSA, Ram Tool’s common law breach of fiduciary duty/loyalty claim–and its derivative claims–insofar as they are based upon the misappropriation of trade secrets. However, we find Ram Tool’s common law breach of fiduciary duty/loyalty claim–and its derivative claims–insofar as they are not grounded in the misappropriation of trade secrets, are not preempted by TUTSA; summary judgment was improperly granted as to these claims.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/19/14
Mack Phillips, Et Al. v. Montgomery County, Tennessee, Et Al.
M2012-00737-SC-R11-CV

We granted permission to appeal to determine whether article I, section 21 of the Tennessee Constitution requires a government to compensate a property owner for a regulatory taking of private property. We hold that article I, section 21 encompasses regulatory takings in the same manner as the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals dismissing the property owners’ complaint alleging a state constitutional regulatory takings claim and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this decision.

Montgomery County Supreme Court 08/18/14
R. Sadler Bailey v. Board of Professional Responsibility
W2013-01979-SC-R3-BP

The Board of Professional Responsibility instituted a lawyer disciplinary proceeding against an attorney based on complaints it received from a judge and opposing counsel regarding the attorney’s disruptive behavior during trial proceedings. A hearing panel found that the attorney had violated several Rules of Professional Conduct and suspended him from the practice of law for sixty days. On appeal, the Chancery Court for Shelby County affirmed the hearing panel’s finding that the attorney had violated several ethical rules but reversed the suspension, instead recommending a public censure. The Board of Professional Responsibility appealed to this Court. We reverse the Chancery Court’s reduction of discipline and reinstate the hearing panel’s imposition of a sixty-day suspension.

Shelby County Supreme Court 08/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Demarcus Ant-Juan Nelson
E2013-01414-CCA-R3-CD

Demarcus Ant-Juan Nelson (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine within 1000 feet of a school. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to twenty years’ incarceration. The plea agreement provided for reservation of a certified question of law as to whether the Defendant’s seizure was lawful. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the Defendant is entitled to no relief. However, we remand this matter to the trial court for entry of corrected judgment orders indicating that count two was dismissed. In all other respects, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Jimmy Dale Qualls
W2013-01440-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Jimmy Dale Qualls, was convicted by a Hardeman County Circuit Court jury of thirty-seven counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, Class C felonies. See T.C.A. § 39-13-527 (2010). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to five years for each conviction and ordered partial consecutive sentences. The thirty-seven counts were separated into seven groups for sentencing purposes. Group A contained counts 1 through 6, Group B contained Counts 7 and 8, Group C contained Counts 9 through 14, Group D contained Counts 15 though 20, Group E contained Counts 21 through 26, Group F contained Counts 27 through 32, and Group G contained Counts 33 to 37. The court ordered each group to run consecutively to each other, for an effective thirty-five-year sentence. The court further ordered the effective thirty-five-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that the State failed to make a proper election of the offenses and that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We conclude that the State failed to make an adequate election of the offenses, and we reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand the case for a new trial.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Phillip Smith
W2013-02280-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Phillip Smith, was convicted by a Chester County jury for rape of a child, for which he received a sentence of 25 years to be served in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction and that he is entitled to a new trial due to prosecutorial misconduct. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Chester County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/18/14
In Re: Joel B.
M2012-00590-COA-R3-JV

Juvenile court entered a default order against mother of minor child declaring the parentage of father and ordering a permanent parenting plan. We have determined that this order is void due to improper notice. We have further determined that the juvenile court erred in ordering the attachment of the minor child, who was living with mother in California.

Maury County Court of Appeals 08/18/14
United Parcel Service, Inc., et al. v. Kenneth Cameron
E2013-02001-SC-R3-WC

The employee was injured in a motor vehicle accident while at work. He claimed permanent injury to his left elbow and left shoulder. The trial court found that his left elbow was permanently injured but that his left shoulder was not permanently injured. The employee has appealed, contending that the trial court erred by not finding that the left shoulder was permanently injured, by not awarding additional temporary disability benefits, and by failing to order surgery for his left shoulder. 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 trial court.

Hamilton County Workers Compensation Panel 08/15/14
Karen R. Woods v. ACE-American Insurance, Et Al.
E2013-01916-SC-R3-WC

The employee fell at work and suffered a lower back injury. She received medical treatment, including two back surgeries, over a period of years. The trial court awarded permanent disability benefits based on the employee’s back injury and a bladder and bowel dysfunction that developed during her subsequent treatment. Her employer’s insurer has appealed, asserting that the trial court erred by adopting one medical expert’s disability rating over
another, by finding that the bladder and bowel dysfunction was caused by the work-related injury, and by awarding benefits in excess of the one and one-half times impairment cap because the employee voluntarily resigned. 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 affirm the
judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Workers Compensation Panel 08/15/14
Rhonda Jo Elfin v. Steven C. Loveday
E2014-00669-COA-R3-CV

The appellant (“Mother”) appeals from an order of the trial court entered on February 24, 2014, which partially granted the Petition and Amended Petition to Modify filed by the appellee (“Father”) in this post-dissolution proceeding. The February 24, 2014 order stated that “any other issues not addressed in this Agreed Order are reserved for further hearing upon motion of either party, including but not limited to, whether or not Father owes retroactive child support.” It is clear that the order appealed from does not resolve all issues raised in the proceedings below. The Notice of Appeal also was filed more than thirty (30) days from the date of entry of the February 24, 2014 order. As a result of these jurisdictional defects, we have no jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Fred Arnold McMahan
E2013-02800-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Fred Arnold McMahan, pled guilty to multiple felony drug offenses, and the trial court sentenced him to a fifteen-year Community Corrections sentence, consecutive to a ten-year prison sentence in another criminal case. In July 2013, the Defendant’s Community Corrections officer filed an affidavit alleging that the Defendant had violated his Community Corrections sentence by failing to report for intake, and, after a hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it revoked his Community Corrections sentence because there was insufficient evidence presented to support the revocation. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court did not err when it revoked the Defendant’s Community Corrections sentence, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/14
William E. Kantz, Jr. v. Herman C. Bell et al.
M2013-00582-COA-R3-CV

This dispute concerns a contract for the sale of real property. Believing the seller was impairing the buyer’s ability to close on time in order to sell the property under contract to someone else, the buyer filed this action to enjoin the seller from transferring the property to another and to require the seller to provide documentation necessary to close. The buyer also asserted claims for specific performance of the contract, breach of contract, and conspiracy against the seller, as well as claims for tortious interference with the contract and conspiracy against another defendant. The trial court found that the seller’s discussions with another potential buyer were merely to have a “back-up plan” in the event the buyer did not close; nevertheless, the court granted injunctive relief by extending the deadline to close the sale by thirty days and enjoined the seller from selling the property to another in the interim. One week later, the sale closed. The plaintiff then amended its complaint to limit its claims to breach of contract against the seller, and tortious interference with a contract and conspiracy against the seller and the party alleged to have tortiously interfered with the contract. The defendants filed motions to dismiss for failure to state claims for which relief could be granted pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6). The trial court found that the seller did not breach the contract because the property was conveyed to the plaintiff pursuant to the terms of the contract and the delay in closing was not a breach of the contract. The court dismissed all other claims but for the conspiracy claims and declared the order a final appealable judgment pursuant to Tenn. R. App. P. 54.02. The plaintiff appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/15/14
John Wesley Green v. Champs-Elysees, Inc., et al.
M2013-00951-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a post-judgment discovery dispute. While the plaintiff’s prior appeal from the trial court’s judgment was pending in this court, the plaintiff made a discovery request in the trial court seeking to obtain alleged ex parte communications pertaining to the plaintiff’s attorney, the plaintiff, or the case. The trial court conducted a hearing and entered an order denying the discovery request; this appeal followed.  We have determined that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to rule on the plaintiff’s discovery requests; therefore, the order at issue in this appeal is void. Further, this court’s ruling in the prior appeal, which resolved all issues in the underlying case, is now a final judgment. The underlying case is concluded and, thus, no further proceedings are available other than the assessment and collection of costs.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/15/14
Newgate Recovery, LLC v. Holrob-Harvey Road, LLC, et al
E2013-01899-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns a garnishment. Newgate Recovery, LLC (“Newgate”) brought a garnishment action in the Chancery Court for McMinn County (“the Trial Court”) against Manreet Singh (“Singh”) through Singh’s former employer R & R Group, Inc., d/b/a The Deerfield Inn (“Garnishee”). After Garnishee failed to respond to the garnishment, the Trial Court entered judgment against Garnishee in the amount of $1,283,066. Garnishee moved for relief from the judgment on the basis of insufficient service. The Trial Court granted Garnishee’s Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 motion and set aside the final judgment on the basis of excusable negligence and ineffective service of process. Newgate appeals, arguing, among other things, that Garnishee waived the issue of service of process and that Garnishee’s employees had colluded to avoid a valid judgment. We find and hold that the Trial Court did not abuse its discretion in granting Garnishee’s motion for relief from judgment. We, therefore, affirm the Trial Court.

McMinn County Court of Appeals 08/14/14
Gene S. Rucker v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00405-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Gene S. Rucker, was convicted of aggravated arson and criminally negligent homicide, for which he was sentenced to an effective sentence of twenty-two years. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed his convictions and sentence. State v. Gene Shelton Rucker, Jr., No. E2002-02101-CCA-CCA-R3-CD, 2004 WL 2827004 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Dec. 9, 2004), perm. app. denied (Tenn. March 21, 2005). Subsequently the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was denied on the grounds that it was time barred. This Court affirmed the post-conviction court’s judgment denying relief. Gene S. Rucker v. State, No. E2007-00380-CCA-R3-PC, 2007 WL 2405133 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Aug. 24, 2007) no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 app. filed. On February 18, 2013, the Petitioner filed a motion to reopen his petition for post-conviction relief. The postconviction court denied the motion to reopen, and the Petitioner appeals that decision. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/14/14
Jenica Deboer Hall v. Jeffrey Glen Hall
E2013-01984-COA-R3-CV

This post-divorce matter presents the primary issue of whether the trial court properly calculated, for child support purposes, the obligor parent’s income from self-employment. The trial court held that mortgage payments made by the obligor’s business with respect to a commercial building solely owned by the obligor should not be added to the obligor’s other income for the purpose of calculating child support. The obligee parent appeals that ruling to this Court. We affirm on that issue, concluding that such payments were already included in the obligor parent’s income calculation. We reverse the trial court’s finding concerning the obligor’s income, however, due to insufficient evidence regarding the nature of the depreciation deduction taken with respect to the commercial building. We remand for further proof regarding the depreciation deduction. The obligee parent also appeals the trial court’s failure to award attorney’s fees. Having concluded that the trial court must reconsider its determination of the obligor’s income, we also remand for the trial court to determine whether an award of attorney’s fees to the obligee parent is appropriate. We conclude that this is not an appropriate case for an award of attorney’s fees on appeal.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 08/14/14
James Glenn Collins, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01940-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, James Glenn Collins, Jr., appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by dismissing his petition for having been untimely filed. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/14/14
State of Tennessee v. Micheal Lynn Horn
M2013-01469-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Michael Lynn Horn, was found guilty of attempted second-degree murder, reckless endangerment, and felony evading arrest.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve twenty years for the attempted second-degree murder conviction, four years for the felony evading arrest conviction, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the reckless endangerment conviction, for a total effective sentence of twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  The Defendant appeals asserting that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for attempted second degree murder and felony evading arrest; (2) his sentence is excessive; (3) the trial court improperly denied access to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation personnel records for the two victims; and (4) the trial court erred when it denied his motion to have a new attorney appointed for his appeal.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.    

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Danny Ray Smith
E2012-02587-CCA-R3-CD

A Cumberland County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Danny Ray Smith, of one count of rape of a child, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-five years to be served at 100%. On appeal, the appellant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction; (2) the trial court erred by refusing to suppress his statement to police; (3) the trial court erred by allowing evidence of other sexual acts; (4) the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce into evidence drawings made by the victim before trial; (5) the trial court erred by allowing the State to lead the victim on direct examination; (6) the trial court erred by not forcing the State to give the defense a complete copy of the victim’s Department of Children’s Services records; and (7) the prosecutors’ closing arguments were improper. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the appellant’s conviction must be reversed because the trial court improperly allowed the State to present evidence of other sexual acts, the trial court improperly allowed the State to introduce into evidence drawings made by the victim, and the prosecutors gave improper closing arguments. Therefore, the case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
John R. Wills, Jr. v. The City of Memphis, et al.
W2013-01861-COA-R3-CV

Landowner filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court of Shelby County, seeking review of the City of Memphis City Council’s decision to deny the landowner’s petition to subdivide his Belle Meade Subdivision lot into two lots. The trial court reversed the City Council’s decision, finding that the landowner had satisfied the requirements for subdivision under the Uniform Development Code, and remanded the case for rehearing before the City Council. On remand, the City Council’s review was limited to the record established at the previous hearing. For the reasons discussed herein, we affirm in part and vacate in part, and remand to the trial court with instructions to remand to the City Council for reconsideration.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/13/14