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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Mar 14, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

W. Michael Morgan, Clarksville, Tennessee, for Plaintiff/Appellant Mary Ann Pereira Brown

Attorneys 2:

Patricia A. Rust, Clarksville, Tennessee, for Defendant/Appellee Dwain Allen Brown

Judge(s): KIRBY

This appeal involves the grant of a Rule 60.02 motion to modify a default divorce decree entered nearly eight years prior. The husband filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 motion seeking relief from the parties’ divorce decree; he argued primarily that the provision pertaining to his retirement benefits was inequitable. The trial court initially denied the motion, and the husband filed a timely notice of appeal. Almost two years later, the husband voluntarily dismissed his appeal. The trial court then entered an order setting aside its prior denial of the husband’s Rule 60.02 motion, held an evidentiary hearing on the motion, and eventually entered an order granting the husband’s Rule 60.02 motion. The wife now appeals. We hold that the effect of the dismissal of the earlier appeal was to affirm the trial court’s denial of the husband’s Rule 60.02 motion, so the trial court was precluded under the law of the case doctrine from reconsidering its earlier denial of the Rule 60.02 motion. Consequently, we vacate the trial court’s order setting aside its prior denial of the husband’s Rule 60.02 motion, as well as the order granting the husband the relief requested.