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.

Downtown Chamber Council And Member Businesses Donate $2,000 to CSAS

The Downtown Council of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce presented a check for $1,000 to the Chattanooga School for Arts and Sciences (CSAS) at their March meeting. During the meeting, Downtown Council member businesses donated an additional $1,000 to complete the funding need of $2,000 for CSAS. "This donation enabled us to purchase 10 additional digital walkie talkies," ... (click for more)

Gas Prices Stay The Same In Chattanooga

Average retail gasoline prices in Chattanooga have not moved  in the past week, averaging $1.98 per gallon on Sunday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 gas outlets in Chattanooga. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.9 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.28 per gallon, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com. Including the ... (click for more)

Marquis Perry, 20, Killed In 3-Car Accident In Dalton On Saturday

Marquis Perry, 20, was killed in a  fatal three-vehicle crash on the South Bypass in Dalton just south of Sawgrass Drive  on Saturday  at approximately  4:30 pm . The crash happened when the driver of a black Ford Mustang traveling southbound on the bypass for some reason left its lane of travel and crossed over the center line and hit a 2004 Chevy ... (click for more)

Cedric A. Williams, 38, Arrested For Multiple Burglaries

Cedric A. Williams, 38, responsible for four business burglaries, was arrested by Chattanooga Police.  Teamwork, corroboration, and communication between three detectives working separate cases led to the arrest of the man targeting Hispanic-owned businesses in Chattanooga,, officials said. On Wednesday, March 8, Tienda Maya located at 1939 Central Ave. was burglarized. ... (click for more)

Slaxxon Regret - And Response

Back in the seventies my three oldest brothers had a buddy named Steve Slack. “Slack” was a star soccer player at Baylor and he grew up on Lookout Mountain, which is where I grew up. He and Jimmy, Henry and Bill went to the University of Virginia where they were roommates in an old, beat up house that was painted pink. Naturally, the place became known as the “Pink Palace” but lest ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: This Library Comes Alive

I am pretty positive that I haven’t stepped foot in a library in the last 50 years. Between the ever-widening Internet, with all of its search engines and infinite resources, I have got about as much use for a library as I would if I read a book about a transgender person. I have neither the time or inclination. Be like trying to teach a pig to sing – the pig always get bored. ... (click for more)