Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 09/01/2014
Format: 09/01/2014
Mark Alan Deakins v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02122-CCA-R3-HC

The petitioner, Mark Alan Deakins, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, asserting that he had “flattened” his sentences for his convictions of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, and statutory rape.  He alleged that the Tennessee Department of Correction improperly calculated his pretrial jail credits and sentencing credits.  The habeas corpus court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/07/14
Anil Construction, Inc. v. Patrick D. McCollum, Individually and d/b/a Pat's Custom Cabinets
W2013-01447-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves an alleged breach of a construction contract. The plaintiff general contractor hired the defendant subcontractor to build cabinetry for a new movie theater. The work was to be completed by the time the movie theater opened. At the time of the opening, some items regarding the cabinets remained undone, and the contractor refused to pay until the work was completed. The general contractor filed this lawsuit for breach of contract for failure to complete the project in a timely manner and for defective work, and the defendant subcontractor filed a counterclaim for breach of contract for failure to pay under the contract. The trial court held in favor of the subcontractor and awarded damages. The general contractor now appeals. We vacate the trial court’s judgment and remand the matter for findings of fact and conclusions of law as required under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 52.01.

Madison County Court of Appeals 08/07/14
John M. Reitz v. Trinet HR Corporation et al.
M2013-01483-WC-R3-WC

In this case, the employee alleged tha he sustained a compensable aggravation of preexisting arthritis in his knee as a result of a fall at work. His employer denied that he had a permanent disability as a result of the event.  The trial court awarded benefits, and the employer has appealed. 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.   

Wilson County Workers Compensation Panel 08/07/14
State of Tennessee v. June Loudermilk
W2013-01613-CCA-R3-CD

June Loudermilk (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence (“DUI”), fourth offense. After a hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to two years in the workhouse, suspended to supervised probation after seven months in confinement. In this direct appeal, the Defendant attacks the validity of his indictment and also contends that the trial court’s jury charge was so defective as to entitle him to a reversal of the jury’s determination that he was a multiple DUI offender. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we modify the trial court’s judgment of conviction and remand this matter for resentencing.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/06/14
Tennison Brothers, Inc. v. William H. Thomas, Jr.
W2013-01835-COA-R3-CV

After a default judgment was entered against Appellee and in favor of Appellants on claims of intentional interference with business relationships, common law and statutory inducement to breach a contract and intentional interference with a contract, and breach of contract, a writ of inquiry hearing was held to determine the appropriate amount of damages to which the Appellants were entitled. Therein, the trial court went outside the pleadings to  consider the issue of liability. We conclude that the trial court erred in considering the issue of liability because the well-pled facts contained in the Appellants’ respective complaints were dispositive on that question upon the grant of default judgment. Our review of the complaints leads us to conclude that the Appellants have set forth sufficient facts to prove the prima facie elements of their causes of action. Accordingly, Appellants are entitled to damages, and the trial court erred in denying them. Therefore, we reverse the trial court’s order, and remand for a determination of damages. Reversed and remanded.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/06/14
State of Tennessee v. Elmer Herbert Simpson
E2013-02336-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Elmer Herbert Simpson, appeals his Hawkins County Criminal Court jury convictions of possession of a Schedule III drug with intent to deliver, see T.C.A. § 39-17- 417(a)(4), (d)(1), and maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances are kept or sold, see id. § 53-11-401(a)(5), both Class D felonies. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the propriety of his effective three-year sentence. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Michael Kent Walker
M2012-01134-CCA-R3-CD

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant, Michael Kent Walker, pleaded guilty to selling Schedule I and Schedule II controlled substances in a drug-free zone.  The plea agreement provided that the Defendant would receive concurrent Range I sentences for one Class B felony and one Class C felony, with the trial court to determine his sentences.  Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of twelve years of incarceration.  The Defendant asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering an effective twelve-year sentence.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Leslie Warren Blevins
M2013-01725-CCA-R3-CD

The Fentress County Grand Jury indicted Appellant, Leslie Warren Blevins, with three counts of aggravated assault.  After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of one count of aggravated assault and two counts of assault.  As a result, he was sentenced to an effective sentence of five years in confinement.  Appellant appeals, challenging both the sufficiency of the evidence and his sentence.  After a review of the record and the applicable authorities, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Appellant.  Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Fentress County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/05/14
In Re Lauren S.
W2013-02760-COA-R3-JV

Father petitioned the trial court to, inter alia, modify the residential parenting schedule set forth in the permanent parenting plan. By a preponderance of the evidence, the trial court found that there was no material change in circumstances that would justify a change in the residential parenting schedule and, accordingly, dismissed Father’s petition. We reverse and remand.

Dyer County Court of Appeals 08/05/14
Ricardo Torres v. Precision Industries, P.I., d/b/a Precision Industries, Terry Hedrick and Vicki Hedrick
W2014-00032-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves whether an unauthorized alien has standing to bring a retaliatory discharge claim. The appellant employee, an undocumented worker, alleged that the appellee employer terminated his employment as a direct result of the employee asserting a workers’ compensation claim. The employer moved for summary judgment, arguing that the employee could not bring a claim for retaliatory discharge because he was not legally authorized to work in Tennessee or capable of performing the job from which he was fired. The trial court granted summary judgment based solely on the illegal status of the employee, concluding he was incapable of employment, and therefore, could not assert a claim for retaliatory discharge. We reverse, holding that the undocumented employee does have standing to bring a retaliatory discharge claim and remand for further proceedings.

Hardeman County Court of Appeals 08/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Travis Wilson
E2013-00371-CCA-R3-CD

A Sullivan County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Travis Wilson, of driving under the influence (DUI), second offense; unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon; possession of drug paraphernalia; and possession of a handgun while under the influence. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the appellant to eleven months and twenty-nine days for each conviction, with release eligibility after service of seventy-five percent of the sentences. The trial court ordered that the appellant serve the DUI sentence in confinement and the remaining sentences on probation. The court further ordered that the sentences for possession of drug paraphernalia and DUI, second offense, be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to the remainder of the sentences. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by allowing two Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) agents to testify as experts about the effects of drugs on human performance; that the trial court erred by failing to exclude his blood test results; that the trial court erred by failing to require the State to refer to “bath salts” by their chemical name; that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; and that the trial court erred in sentencing. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/04/14
Timothy W. Hudson v. Delilah M. Grunloh, et al.
E2014-00585-COA-R3-CV

This appeal is from a Final Default Judgment entered against the Defendant, Northridge Package Store, LLC (“Northridge”). In the order granting judgment against Northridge, the trial court also accepted the voluntary dismissal without prejudice of all claims filed by the Plaintiff, Timothy W. Hudson (“Hudson”), against the Defendant, Delilah M. Grunloh (“Grunloh”). Because only Grunloh has appealed from the judgment and the judgment is not adverse to her, we grant Hudson’s motion to dismiss this case for lack of jurisdiction.

Washington County Court of Appeals 08/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Tony Demarcus Williams
E2013-00513-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Tony Demarcus Williams, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury for possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine within a school zone with the intent to sell and possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine within a school zone with intent to deliver. A petit jury convicted Defendant as charged, and the trial court merged the two convictions. The trial court sentenced Defendant to 15 years in confinement. Defendant asserts on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the search warrant; that accomplice testimony was not sufficiently corroborated; and that the trial court erred by not allowing Defendant to make a proffer of evidence at the hearing on the motion for new trial regarding alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/04/14
Mike Settle a/k/a Michael Dewayne Settle v. Jerry Lester, Warden, State of Tennessee
W2013-02609-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, Mike Settle a/k/a Michael Dewayne Settle, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner contends that, because his sentence is illegal because it was ordered to run concurrently with a federal sentence he had received in another case rather than consecutively, the habeas corpus court erred when it dismissed his petition. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the habeas corpus court properly dismissed the petition. Accordingly, the judgment of the habeas corpus court is affirmed.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/04/14
Anthony Boyland v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01226-CCA-MR3-PC

The Petitioner, Anthony Boyland, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree felony murder, aggravated assault, and aggravated burglary and his effective life sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/04/14
In Re: Jackson G. Et Al
M2013-02577-COA-R3-PT

The father of two minor children appeals the trial court’s decision to terminate his parental rights. The trial court terminated the father’s parental rights upon finding two grounds of abandonment, failure to visit and failure to support, and finding that terminating the father’s parental rights would be in the children’s best interests. We affirm.

Hickman County Court of Appeals 08/04/14
In Re: Aaron E.
M2014-00125-COA-R3-PT

Angela E. (“Mother”) appeals the termination of parental rights to her minor child, Aaron E. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) placed the child in protective custody based upon evidence of physical abuse.  The abuse occurred while the child was in the care of Mother’s boyfriend. The Juvenile Court later made a finding that the child was dependent and neglected and granted temporary custody to DCS. DCS ultimately filed a petition to terminate Mother’s and the father’s parental rights. The Juvenile Court terminated the father’s parental rights at a separate hearing, and the matter proceeded to trial against Mother only. Following the trial, the Juvenile Court entered an order also terminating Mother’s parental rights, relying on the grounds of abandonment and persistence of conditions. We have determined that the record contains clear and convincing evidence to support terminating Mother’s parental rights on one of the two grounds relied upon by the Juvenile Court and to support the court’s conclusion that terminating Mother’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest.

Maury County Court of Appeals 08/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Kwaku Aryel Okraku
M2013-01379-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Kwaku Aryel Okraku, was convicted of one count of aggravated child neglect where the neglect caused serious bodily injury to the child, a Class A felony, one count of aggravated child neglect where a controlled substance was used to accomplish the neglect, a Class A felony, and one count of reckless homicide, a Class D felony.  He received a sentence of sixty years for each conviction of aggravated child neglect and a twelve-year sentence for reckless homicide, all to be served concurrently, for an effective sentence of sixty years.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal because the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; the trial court erred in permitting the jury to hear testimony regarding a prior incident involving drugs; and the trial court erred in permitting testimony about the defendant’s statements about selling cocaine.  After reviewing the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand the case for entry of a corrected judgment sheet that reflects the merger of the aggravated child neglect convictions, with aggravated child neglect through the use of a controlled substance remaining as the sole conviction for aggravated child neglect.      

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/01/14
Donriel A. Borne v. Celadon Trucking Services, Inc. - Dissenting In Part
W2013-01949-COA-R3-CV

I concur with the majority Opinion’s rulings with regard to the procedural issues in this case, as well as its reversal of the trial court’s remittitur of the loss of earning capacity damages. However, because I disagree with the majority’s procedure in further remitting the jury’s verdict with regard to loss of enjoyment of life damages, I must respectfully dissent, in part, from the majority Opinion.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/01/14
Warren Tywon Fowler v. Joy R. McCroskey, In Her Official Capacity As Clerk Of The Criminal Court Of Knox County
E2013-02365-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff, a state prison inmate, appeals the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant criminal court clerk. The plaintiff alleges that the court clerk induced a breach of contract by assessing him with court costs he asserts the State agreed to waive in return for his pleading guilty to felony charges. The trial court found that the plaintiff could not use his affidavit to raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding an alleged oral promise made by the prosecutor when the criminal judgments and written plea agreement, taken together, unambiguously assessed court costs to the plaintiff. The court therefore found that the plaintiff was unable to prove an essential element of his claim. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Eric Vislosky v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01117-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Eric Vislosky, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel and that his guilty plea to Class B sexual exploitation of a minor was therefore unknowing and involuntary. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Aliscia Caldwell - RE: Jenkins Bonding Company
M2013-01368-CCA-R3-CD

Jenkins Bonding Company executed as a surety an appearance bond for the Defendant, Aliscia Caldwell, on several cases as detailed below.  The Defendant failed to appear, and the general sessions court forfeited the bond and issued a scire facias and a capias for the Defendant’s arrest.  The bonding company physically surrendered the Defendant to the trial court and rquested that it be relieved as surety.  The trial court denied the surrender and released the Defendant on the same bond.  Subsequently, the Defendant failed to appear at another court hearing.  The trial court entered a final forfeiture judgment against the bonding company.  The bonding company filed a motion to alter or amend the forfeiture judgment against it, saying that it should be exonerated of the bond because it lawfully surrendered the Defendant.  The trial court denied the motion.  On appeal, the bonding company argues that the trial court did not have the authority to deny the surrender and release the Defendant over the surety’s objection.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we reverse the trial court’s judgment, and we remand the case for entry of an order releasing Jenkins Bonding as surety in this case.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Kevin R. Beasley
M2013-01424-CCA-R3-CD

A Davidson County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Kevin R. Beasley, for attempted first degree premeditated murder.  The trial court ordered that the Defendant undergo a forensic evaluation, after which it found the Defendant was competent to stand trial.  The Defendant filed a motion to suppress his statement to police, which the trial court granted.  The case was dismissed, and the State filed a notice of appeal.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion when it granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress.  As such, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand this case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/14
Eric Johnson et al. v. Parkwest Medical Center
E2013-01228-COA-R3-CV

Eric Johnson, acting individually and as next of kin of the decedent, Jana Lanell Johnson, and the Estate of Jana Lanelle Johnson (“Plaintiffs”), filed the instant action on April 27, 2010, regarding Ms. Johnson’s death. The action alleged health care liability claims pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-115, as well as other claims, including ordinary negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. An agreed order granting partial summary judgment to Parkwest Medical Center (“Parkwest”) was entered with regard to Plaintiffs’ non-medical claims. Parkwest subsequently filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that Plaintiffs failed to comply with all of the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121 regarding the health care liability claim. Upon hearing, the trial court granted the motion. Plaintiffs filed additional motions regarding newly discovered evidence, including a motion seeking to set aside the prior order granting partial summary judgment or to amend the complaint, a motion to amend the certificate of good faith, and a motion seeking sanctions. The trial court denied Plaintiffs’ motion seeking to set aside the prior order granting partial summary judgment or to amend the complaint, as well as Plaintiffs’ motion to amend the certificate of good faith. The trial court failed to rule on Plaintiffs’ motion seeking sanctions. Plaintiffs have appealed to this Court. We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ health care liability claim based on Plaintiffs’ failure to substantially comply with the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121. We vacate the trial court’s rulings with regard to Plaintiffs’ motions to amend and motion to set aside the partial summary judgment order. We remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Appeals 07/31/14
Ricardo Davidson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01645-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Ricardo Davidson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  The petitioner was convicted by a jury of possession with intent to sell 300 grams or more of cocaine within a Drug Free School Zone, conspiracy to possess with intent to sell or deliver over 300 grams or more of cocaine within a Drug Free School Zone, possession with intent to sell or deliver ten pounds or more of marijuana within a Drug Free School Zone, conspiracy to possess with intent to sell or deliver over ten pounds of marijuana in a Drug Free School Zone, and possession of unlawful drug paraphernalia.  He was subsequently sentenced to an effective term of fifteen years in the Department of Correction.  Following the denial of his direct appeal, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel.  On appeal, he specifically contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to adequately argue the motion to suppress; (2) failing to argue the issue of the racial makeup of the jury on the Motion for Acquittal or New Trial; and (3) failing to make an argument for and request a jury instruction under the natural and probable consequence rule.  The petitioner further alleges that both trial and appellate counsel were ineffective in failing to adequately communicate with him during their respective representations.  Following review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/14