August 28, 2007

Puffing does not negligent misrepresentation make, even in the new home construction context

O. HOGAN HARRISON, ET AL. v. AVALON PROPERTIES, LLC, ET AL. (Tenn.Ct.App. August 27, 2007).

Hogan Harrison and Sally D. Harrison ("Plaintiffs") sued Avalon Properties, LLC ("Avalon Properties"), Avalon Golf Properties, LLC ("Avalon Golf"), and Usonia Homes, Inc. ("Usonia") for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation, among other things, in connection with the construction of Plaintiffs' house. Plaintiffs were granted a default judgment against Usonia for its failure to answer the complaint. After a bench trial, the Trial Court entered an order of involuntary dismissal pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 41.02 as to Avalon Properties. The Trial Court also entered a Final Judgment incorporating by reference the Trial Court's Opinion finding and holding, inter alia, that Avalon Golf made representations to Plaintiffs through its agent that Usonia was qualified to build the house and implicitly vouched that Usonia had the ability to fund the work; that the representations were made with the intent to induce Plaintiffs to rely on them; that Plaintiffs did rely on the representations to their detriment and were damaged; and that Avalon Golf was negligent in the selection of Usonia as the exclusive builder. The Trial Court awarded Plaintiffs a judgment of $164,065.87. Avalon Golf appeals to this Court. We reverse that portion of the Trial Court's judgment holding Avalon Golf liable for negligent misrepresentation and negligent selection, and affirm as to the other defendants.

Opinion can be found at TBA website:

August 27, 2007

Once the Department of Transportation completes a project, claims against it relating to the project may be moot.


During construction involving Hillsboro Road in Davidson County, the Department of Transportation discovered three Native American Indian graves. The Department of Transportation eventually reinterred the graves and encapsulated the graves in concrete. The Department of Transportation later determined, after the fact, that simply encapsulating the graves in concrete did not comply with relevant statutory law. A first lawsuit was filed challenging the Department's alleged policy of encapsulating graves. While the first lawsuit was pending, the construction project was completed. On appeal in the first lawsuit, this Court determined that the plaintiffs' claims were moot and none of the applicable exceptions to the mootness doctrine applied. The present case involves the same claims as the first lawsuit, with the only exception being that this lawsuit initially was filed pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, Tenn. Code Ann. section 4-5-101, et seq. The Trial Court dismissed this lawsuit after finding that the same claims raised by the plaintiffs in this case were held to be moot in the first appeal. We affirm.

Opinion may be found at:

Lack of use of an easement obtained by adverse possession does not revoke the easement


In this action to have an easement established across defendants' property, the Trial Court held there was clear and convincing evidence that plaintiffs were entitled to an easement by adverse use. We affirm.

Opinion may be found at:

August 23, 2007

Attorney fees available for plaintiffs suing for breach of covenant against encumbrances

CHARLES AND ANN HALFORD v. HAROLD R. GUNN (Tenn.Ct.App. Aug. 22, 2007)

The plaintiff-buyers entered into an installment sales contract in 1991 in which they agreed to purchase real property owned by the defendant-seller. The contract provided that upon the plaintiffs' payment of the purchase price, the defendant would provide a deed conveying the property to them free of encumbrances. In 2002, a general sessions judgment was entered against the defendant in an unrelated case, and the defendant appealed that judgment to the circuit court, where that case currently remains pending. The judgment was filed as a lien on the real property in 2002.

In late 2004 or early 2005, the plaintiffs had made all necessary payments on the real property, and the defendant conveyed the property to them by warranty deed. While attempting to sell the real property in 2005, the plaintiffs discovered the existence of the 2002 judgment lien on the property, and they placed funds in escrow in order to satisfy their intended purchaser that the lien would be removed or paid. The plaintiffs filed a warrant in general sessions court against the defendant, alleging that he was liable for breach of the covenant against encumbrances contained in the warranty deed. The general sessions court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, and the defendant appealed to the circuit court. The plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment and sought an award of reasonable attorney's fees. The circuit court granted the motion for summary judgment, but denied the plaintiffs' request for attorney's fees. On appeal, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for a determination of reasonable attorney's fees incurred below and on appeal.

Opinion may be found at:

August 17, 2007

Boundary dispute over easements

CRAIG GREEN v. MORGAN HINES (Tenn.Ct.App. May 29, 2007)

Appellant and cross-plaintiff appeals the trial court's order which, among other things, granted an easement across the appellant's property. The record contains no statement of the evidence or transcript of the proceedings; therefore, the trial court's findings of fact are presumed to be correct. We affirm.

Opinion may be found at: