TN Court of Appeals

JOYCE STOCKTON, ET AL. v. FORD MOTOR COMPANY

With Concurring and Dissenting Opinions

This is a jury case. Automobile mechanic and his wife, Appellees, filed suit against Appellant Ford Motor Company for negligence in relation to wife’s diagnosis of mesothelioma. Appellees allege that Ford’s brake products, which contained asbestos, were unreasonably dangerous or defective such that Ford owed a duty to warn Mr. Stockton so that he, in turn, could protect his wife from exposure to air-borne asbestos fibers. The jury returned a verdict against Ford for $3.4 million. Ford appeals. Because the jury verdict form is defective, in that it omits two necessary questions in products liability cases, i.e., that the product at issue was unreasonably dangerous or defective and that the plaintiff’s injuries were reasonably foreseeable, we vacate the judgment and remand.

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Attorney 1: 

Stephen A. Marcum, Huntsville, Tennessee; Jonathan D. Hacker and Brad N. Garcia, pro hac vice, Washington, D.C., for the appellant, Ford Motor Company.

Attorney 2: 

Harry Douglas Nichol, Knoxville, Tennessee; Jonathan Ruckdeschel, pro hac vice, Ellicott City, Maryland; Robert Shuttlesworth and Ross Stomel, pro hac vice, Houston, Texas, for the appellees, Joyce Stockton and Ronnie Stockton.

Judge: 
ARMSTRONG

WONDIMU BORENA v. JASON JACOCKS, ET AL.

This is a mechanic’s lien case. Appellee/auto repair shop agreed to repair Appellant’s vehicle for $5,267.30. Appellant paid this amount, but Appellee raised the estimate to $9,489.30. Appellant did not pay the additional costs. Under a purported mechanic’s lien, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 66-19-103, Appellee sold Appellant’s vehicle for $4,500.00. Appellant filed a complaint, seeking damages for conversion and for violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The trial court dismissed Appellant’s Tennessee Consumer Protection Act claim. Concerning the conversion claim, the trial court held that Appellee did not have a valid mechanic’s lien and had converted the property. The trial court awarded $10,000.00 in damages to Appellant. Appellant appeals, arguing that the damage award is insufficient. Discerning no error, we affirm.

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Attorney 1: 

Wondimu Borena, Nashville, Tennessee, appellant, Pro Se.

Attorney 2: 

Renard Astaire Hirsh, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Jason Jacocks and Greenleaf Collision, Inc.

Judge: 
ARMSTRONG

J. ALEXANDER’S HOLDINGS, LLC v. REPUBLIC SERVICES, INC.

A Tennessee company brought an action in the Davidson County General Sessions Court against an Arizona company for breach of contract and negligence, seeking recovery for damage to plaintiff’s restaurant, which was located in Michigan. The case was dismissed on the ground of improper venue. Plaintiff appealed to the circuit court, which granted summary judgment to defendants on the basis of improper venue, lack of personal jurisdiction, and forum non conveniens. Plaintiff appeals. We reverse the holdings that the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant and that venue was improper; we affirm the dismissal on the ground of forum non conveniens and vacate the denial of the motion to amend the complaint.

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Attorney 1: 

Timothy L. Warnock and D. Andrew Curtis, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, J. Alexander’s Holdings, LLC.

Attorney 2: 

Marc H. Harwell, Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Jordan T. Puryear, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Republic Services, Inc.

Judge: 
DINKINS

IN RE SYDNEY B.

In this termination of parental rights case, prospective adoptive parents appeal the trial court’s dismissal of their petition after finding that father did not willfully fail to pay support for the child. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

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Attorney 1: 

Michelle Blaylock-Howser, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellants, Emery S. and Joseph S.

Attorney 2: 

Jeremy W. Parham, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellee, Chance B.

Judge: 
STAFFORD

IN RE: WESLEY P.

This is the second appeal regarding the termination of Father’s parental rights with respect to this child. On October 22, 2014, the trial court entered an order terminating both Mother’s and Father’s rights to their son based on a finding of severe abuse and a determination that it was in the child’s best interest that both parents’ rights be terminated. Mother and Father appealed that determination to this Court. On May 29, 2015, this Court issued an opinion, In re Wesley P., No. W2014-02246-COA-R3-PT, 2015 WL 3430090 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 29, 2015), affirming the trial court’s finding of severe abuse but reversing the termination of parental rights on the basis that it was not in the best interest of the child to do so at that time. On January 12, 2016, DCS filed another petition to terminate Mother’s and Father’s parental rights, alleging several grounds for termination. Mother subsequently surrendered her parental rights to the child voluntarily, and her rights are not subject to this appeal. After a full hearing, the chancery court found by clear and convincing evidence that all grounds for termination alleged against Father existed and that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the best interest of the child. Father appeals. We affirm.

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Attorney 1: 

Anthony L. Clark, Paris, Tennessee, for the appellant, Father.

Attorney 2: 

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter, and Ellison M. Berryhill, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Judge: 
GIBSON

KIM L. HIGGS V . JOHN C. GREEN

This appeal arises from a two-car accident. In her complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the collision occurred because Defendant violated several statutory rules of the road by failing to yield the right of way and making a turn across traffic without confirming it was safe to do so. Defendant denied any negligence and claimed that Plaintiff was more than 50% at fault. Following a trial, the jury found that Plaintiff was 75% at fault; as a result, judgment was entered for Defendant. On appeal Plaintiff contends she is entitled to a new trial for two reasons. She contends the trial court abused its discretion by limiting the testimony of the investigating police officer to what the parties told him at the scene and to matters that are reflected in his accident report. She also contends she is entitled to a new trial due to jury misconduct. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm.

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Attorney 1: 

Rocky McElhaney and Justin Hight, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kim L. Higgs.

Attorney 2: 

J. Bart Pickett and Julie Bhattacharya Peak, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, John C. Green.

Judge: 
CLEMENT

CHASE HOME FINANCE, LLC v. JO ANN STREET

Appellant appeals from the trial court’s decision granting a judgment of possession to the Appellee bank. Because of profound deficiencies in Appellant’s brief, we hold that her arguments are waived. Accordingly, the trial court’s judgment is affirmed.

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Attorney 1: 

Jo Ann Street, Memphis, Tennessee, Pro se.

Attorney 2: 

Jerry Morgan, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Chase Home Finance, LLC.

Judge: 
STAFFORD

TRACY DARRELL ADKINS V. RHONDA FORLAW ADKINS

After the trial court denied Wife’s motion to set aside the mediated Marital Dissolution Agreement and Permanent Parenting Plan and entered its order declaring the parties divorced, Wife filed a motion seeking recusal of the trial judge. The judge denied the motion, and Wife timely filed her petition for recusal appeal seeking an interlocutory appeal as of right pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B from the trial court’s denial of her motion. We affirm the trial court’s decision to deny the motion for recusal.

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Attorney 1: 

Russ Heldman and Joanie Abernathy, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rhonda Forlaw Adkins.

Attorney 2: 

Larry Hayes, Jr. and Rachel M. Thomas, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tracy Darrell Adkins.

Judge: 
CLEMENT

SHERRA ROBINSON WRIGHT v. THE ESTATE OF LORENZEN VERN- GAGNE WRIGHT, ET AL.

This case involves a divorced party’s request to recover unpaid child support and alimony. The petitioner filed her lawsuit in the Shelby County Circuit Court, which denied her request for relief. Although the petitioner appeals, we conclude that the trial court was without subject matter jurisdiction over the petitioner’s claims. Because the petitioner’s ex-husband is deceased and the claims at issue are against the ex-husband’s estate, the petitioner was required to file her claims against the estate in the Shelby County Probate Court.

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Attorney 1: 

Christopher F. Donovan, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sherra Robinson Wright.

Attorney 2: 

Ruby R. Wharton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, The Estate of Lorenzen Verne-Gagne Wright, Herbert Wright, Executor.

Judge: 
GOLDIN

MICHAEL TODD SANSOM v. AMANDA JANE SANSOM

This is a post-divorce child custody and parental relocation case. Father petitioned the trial court to modify the parties’ parenting plan to designate him as the minor child’s primary residential parent and to allow him to relocate the child from Tennessee to Virginia. Mother opposed Father’s petition and filed a counter-petition requesting the court modify the residential parenting schedule to reflect Father’s move to Virginia.

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Attorney 1: 

Demeka Kay Church, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Todd Michael Sansom.

Attorney 2: 

Joanie Lucie Abernathy, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Amanda Jane Sansom.

Judge: 
GIBSON