Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 09/23/2014
Format: 09/23/2014
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
State of Tennessee v. Daryl Bobo
W2013-02008-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant stands convicted of possession with intent to sell 0.5 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone, a Class A felony, and possession with intent to sell 0.5 ounce or more of marijuana in a drug-free school zone, a Class D felony. The trial court sentenced appellant as a Range III, persistent offender to sixty years for his cocaine conviction and twelve years for his marijuana conviction, to be served concurrently. On appeal, appellant argues that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Cortez Chrystak
W2013-01219-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Kevin Cortez Chrystak, appeals from the Madison County Circuit Court’s order affirming his conviction for violation of the implied consent statute. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-406. In the trial court, the Defendant raised a statutory interpretation argument concerning the mandatory blood draw provision of the implied consent law. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the mandatory provision is unconstitutional, violating his Fourth Amendment Rights, and that he did not violate the implied consent law when he presented for the mandatory blood draw. The Defendant has waived his constitutional argument on appeal. However, pursuant to principles of statutory construction, we agree with the Defendant that he did not violate the implied consent law when his blood was obtained via the mandatory provisions. Following our review, we reverse the order of the trial court upholding the implied consent violation and dismiss the charge.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Quincey Bernard Dotson
W2013-02058-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Quincey Bernard Dotson, was convicted by a Madison County Criminal Court jury of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and sentenced to a term of ten years as a Range II offender in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and the trial court’s failure to apply any mitigating factors in determining his sentence. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
Milburn L. Edwards v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01886-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Milburn L. Edwards, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his second pro se petition for post-conviction relief. After reviewing the record in this case, we conclude that the summary dismissal of the petition was proper and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
Charles Orlando Fields v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02516-CCA-R3-PC

The pro se petitioner, Charles Orlando Fields, appeals the denial of his motion to reopen his post-conviction petition. Because he failed to comply with the statutory requirements for seeking review of a dismissal of a motion to reopen a post-conviction petition, we dismiss the appeal.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Phillip Harris
W2013-01028-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Phillip Harris, was indicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court Grand Jury for six counts of attempted second degree murder and one count of unlawful employment of a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony. Following a jury trial, Harris was convicted of one count of attempted second degree murder (count two), five counts of misdemeanor reckless endangerment (counts one, three, four, five, and six), and one count of unlawful employment of a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony (count seven). The trial court sentenced Harris to twelve years for the attempted second degree murder conviction and to a mandatory consecutive sentence of six years for the unlawful employment of a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony. The court also imposed sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days for each of the reckless endangerment convictions and ordered these sentences served concurrently with the sentence for attempted second degree murder. On appeal, Harris argues: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions, and (2) his sentence is excessive. Upon review, we affirm the convictions and remand for resentencing as to the conviction for attempted second degree murder.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Rodriquez Jones
W2014-00193-CCA-R3-CD

Appellant, Rodriquez Jones, was convicted of aggravated sexual battery and sentenced to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the assistant district attorney general committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court; however, we must remand this matter to the trial court to correct the judgment form.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
State of Tennessee v. David Morrow
W2014-00338-CCA-R3-CO

Appellant pleaded guilty to failure to appear and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver. Appellant later filed a Motion to Correct Illegal Sentences pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, which the trial court summarily dismissed. On appeal, appellant argues that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing his motion without appointing counsel after he had stated a colorable claim for relief. The State concedes that this case should be remanded to the trial court because appellant stated a colorable claim for relief pursuant to Rule 36.1. Following our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
Joe Ross v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02555-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, Joe Ross, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner entered guilty pleas to five counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, and one count of aggravated rape, for which he received an effective sentence of 25 years confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that his sentence is illegal on the face of the judgment because it does not include mandatory supervision for life. Because the Petitioner’s judgment does not reflect the statutory requirement of mandatory lifetime community supervision, we conclude that the judgment for aggravated rape is illegal and void. We vacate the Petitioner’s sentence for aggravated rape and remand to the habeas court for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the illegal sentence was a bargained-for element of the Petitioner’s plea agreement.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Michael Smith
W2013-01190-CCA-R3-CD

A Shelby County jury found the Defendant, Michael Smith, guilty of aggravated assault and evading arrest. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to ten years for the aggravated assault conviction and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the evading arrest conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences to run consecutively. The Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court committed plain error by failing to compel an election in count one; (2) the indictment for aggravated assault fails to state an offense; (3) the trial court improperly allowed the victim to testify about the Defendant’s prior bad acts; (4) the trial court improperly denied the Defendant’s request for a mistrial after the State explored the Defendant’s conviction and defense in an unrelated case; (5) the trial court committed plain error when it failed to compel the State to provide the trial court an audio recording of the victim’s statement; (6) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on flight; (7) the trial court improperly ruled that the Defendant’s prior convictions could be used for impeachment purposes should he testify at trial; (8) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for evading arrest; (9) the trial court abused its discretion when it denied the Defendant’s request to sit at counsel table; and (10) his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/14
Richard W. Gibbs, Et Al. v. Clint Gilleland, et al.
M2014-00275-COA-r3-CV

Plaintiffs brought this action against Rutherford County when the county prohibited them from building a home on undeveloped property because the property was below the Base Flood Elevation requirements established by the county. Plaintiffs contend the county had an affirmative duty under Article XIX, Section 19, of the Rutherford County Zoning Resolution to notify them, prior to their purchase of the property, that the property was below the Base Flood Elevation requirements, and the county breached that duty. In response to the complaint, the county filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim based on the immunity provisions under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, specifically Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-20-205(1), (3)-(4). The trial court granted the county’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim based on governmental immunity. Having determined that the county’s alleged acts or omissions were discretionary, not operational, the county has immunity; thus, we affirm the dismissal of this action.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 08/13/14