Supreme Court Reaffirms Validity Of Court Orders

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that an insurance company properly relied upon a juvenile court order prior to paying a claim to the financial guardian of a minor beneficiary. 

In 2002, David Ray Hood purchased a $100,000 life insurance policy from The Old Line Life Insurance Company of America. After Hood died in 2007, his 16-year-old son, Erik, who was the sole beneficiary, requested payment of the proceeds from Old Line. An independent insurance agent in Knoxville helped Erik and his 26-year-old half-sister, Casey Jenkins, obtain the necessary paperwork, which included the establishment of financial guardianship. No attorneys were involved in the process. At Casey’s request, the Juvenile Judge for Grainger County appointed her as guardian for her brother, but initially failed to specify that the guardianship was for financial purposes.

The Old Line insurance representative asked the juvenile court to clarify the financial nature of the guardianship and verify that the order had been validly entered. After receiving written assurances from the juvenile court clerk and judge, the representative issued a check for $100,854.88 to Casey for the benefit of Erik. 

When the entire amount was depleted eight months later, Erik filed a lawsuit against both his sister and Old Line, claiming that Casey had spent most of the money for her own benefit and that Old Line should have ensured that the juvenile judge had considered all legal requirements pertaining to the guardianship, such as a management plan and a bond, before sending Casey the check. 

The trial court agreed and entered judgments against Casey and Old Line. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment against Old Line, holding that the order entered by the juvenile judge was “woefully deficient” and that Old Line had not acted in good faith. 

While acknowledging that the juvenile judge had failed to address some legal requirements for the creation of a financial guardianship, the Supreme Court reversed, holding that the order had been signed and entered by a court with authority in the case, and that Old Line was entitled to rely upon a “facially valid” judgment. Citing the rule that all citizens should ordinarily be able to rely upon the integrity of a court order, the state’s high court also held that Old Line had conducted a good faith investigation before paying the claim and that the loss, in this instance, should be the sole responsibility of the guardian. 

To read the Erik Hood v. Casey Jenkins et al. opinion authored by Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.

Alexander: Army Corps Of Engineers Is Federal Government’s Most Popular Agency

United States Senator Lamar Alexander Wednesday said in a hearing to review the President’s FY2018 budget request for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that based on appropriations requests, “the Corps of Engineers is the federal government’s most popular agency.”  Senator Alexander, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Wednesday ... (click for more)

Donna Christian Lowe Chosen To Emcee And Facilitate Causeway Challenge Kickoff

Donna Christian Lowe, senior vice president and COO of MSi Workforce Solutions has been chosen to be the emcee and facilitator at the Causeway Challenge Kickoff “Reclaiming Civic Engagement”. This year the Causeway Challenge is about empowering individuals to solve problems in their own communities through creative ventures.   Ms. Lowe was selected to facilitate this event ... (click for more)

Young Woman Suffers Serious Injuries In 30-Foot Fall At Quarry At Greenway Farms

A young woman was seriously injured on Wednesday night  when she fell approximately 30 feet from a bluff at the the Greenway Farms quarry in Hixson.   Some kayakers were paddling in the quarry shortly after  8 p.m. when they saw the woman fall to the ground below. They immediately went over to the victim and called 911. The Chattanooga Fire Department ... (click for more)

Walker County Taking Out Another Loan To Deal With Debts Left By Bebe Heiskell Administration

Walker County officials said they are having to take out another loan to deal with debts left by the Bebe Heiskell administration. Commissioner Shannon Whitfield has called a special meeting for Thursday at 2 p.m. at the commissioner's office in Lafayette. The agenda includes a $4 million tax anticipation note from Lafayette Bank, which stepped in to help the new administration ... (click for more)

CPS Should Have A Manned 24/7 Presence In Every County

This week something became abundantly clear to me. The Department of Child Protective Services in the state of Tennessee, or at least in Hamilton County, are asleep at the wheel.   Early yesterday afternoon local news stations broke the news: "Animals Removed from Soddy Daisy Home."  What the news station either didn't know, or didn't report, was that the children of ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Heroes Gather On July 14

Oliver North, whose journey as American patriot has not been an easy one, never lost hope. He once admitted he lied to Congress under oath, was found guilty of three felony counts after he followed the direct orders of his superiors, and then endured the wrath of the ignorant before the ACLU – of all sources – had the charges vacated. The former Lt. Colonel in the Marine Corps ... (click for more)