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.


Walker County Business Conference Sponsored By SouthCrest Bank Will Be Held Sept. 26

The Walker County Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Business Conference on Tuesday, Sept. 26. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Walker County Civic Center. The keynote speaker is Vincent Phipps, an award-winning international speaker, author, trainer, and CEO of Communication VIP Training and Coaching. “Amplify Your Attitude!” combines what Mr. Phipps calls the ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Chamber Calendar Of Events Aug. 21-25

MON/21 Ribbon Cutting for Chicken Salad Chick 10-10:30 a.m. Chicken Salad Chick: 975 E. 3rd St., Ste. 122   TUES/22 YPAC Meetup 7:30-9 a.m. + coffee: 818 Georgia Ave., Ste. 102 Whether you take your coffee hot or cold, you can do it with the best of company.  YP is kicking off a monthly coffee meet-up for YP members only. YP Meet Ups are open to current YPC ... (click for more)

City Seeks To Be Removed As Trustee Of Confederate Cemetery

Mayor Andy Berke on Friday said he has asked City Attorney Wade Hinton, on behalf of the city of Chattanooga, to file the necessary paperwork "to confirm the city is no longer listed as a trustee of a Confederate Cemetery on East Third Street." Mayor Berke said, “Our action today makes it clear that the city of Chattanooga condemns white supremacy in every way, shape and ... (click for more)

Judy Kay Peer, 69, Killed When Train Hits Her Car At Hamill Road Crossing In Hixson

Judy Kay Peer, 69, was killed on Friday night when a train struck her car in Hixson on Friday night. Ms. Peer, a Hixson resident, was driving a 2015 Hyundai Sonata. Police said she  was traveling west on Hamill Road and had stopped at the railroad crossing. The gates were extended with flashing lights and a sounding bell. A train that was traveling northbound on ... (click for more)

Mayor Invites Civil War II - And Response (12)

I just received an email from the Mayor stating that he filed paperwork to remove the city of Chattanooga as the trustee for the Confederate Cemetery on Third Street. I understand the Mayor's intent was to distance the city from it's racist past and subsequent hate, but I feel like this is an interesting move without much thought of the consequences. The Mayor prefaced his ... (click for more)

Berke Plan To Solve Discrimination Is To Kick Dead Veterans To The Curb

Racism and discrimination is wrong. What is the best way for a parent to teach a child the evils of discrimination? Should the parent demonstrate and repetitively incentivize the proper behavior? Or, would it be more productive to badger the child over and over again for the sins of the child's g-g-g-grandfather who died 150 years ago? Would burning the personal effects of the grandfather ... (click for more)