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Stalker v. Nutter

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

August 21, 2014

WILLIAM D. STALKER, ET AL.
v.
DAVID R. NUTTER, ET AL.

Session May 23, 2014

Appeal from the Chancery Court for Sumner County No. 2008C1 Tom E. Gray, Chancellor.

Stephen E. Grauberger, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, for the appellants, William D. Stalker and Stephen L. Young.

John R. Phillips, Jr. and Brandon R. Meredith, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellees, David R. Nutter and Tamara D. Nutter.

Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Andy D. Bennett and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.

MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

RICHARD H. DINKINS, JUDGE

This case, wherein William Stalker and Stephen Young, builders of a home ("Plaintiffs") which David and Tamara Nutter ("Defendants") had contracted to purchase, sued Defendants for breach of contract, is before the court for the second time. The facts underlying the case and procedural history are found at Stalker v. Nutter, No. M2012-00170- COA-R3-CV, 2013 WL 1716747 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 19, 2013). In the first appeal, we affirmed the trial court's decision to allow Defendants to amend their answer to assert a counterclaim and vacated the judgments ordering Plaintiffs to return Defendants' earnest money deposit and awarding Defendants their attorney fees and costs. The case was remanded for the court to make detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tenn. R. Civ. P. 41.02(2) and 52.01 relative to the determination that Plaintiffs breached the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

Pursuant to the order of remand, the trial court issued a Memorandum on August 29, 2013, making findings of fact and conclusions of law; the court subsequently entered a Final Order and Judgment dismissing Plaintiffs' claim, holding that Defendants were entitled to the return of their earnest money, and holding that Defendants were entitled to their reasonable attorney fees and expenses.[2] Plaintiffs appeal, asserting the following issues:

1. Whether the trial Court erred in finding the Plaintiffs failed to prove a breach of contract by Defendants.
2. Whether the trial Court erred in finding that Plaintiffs breached the contract.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

Our scope of review for factual findings made by a trial court sitting without a jury is de novo, accompanied by a presumption of correctness, unless the preponderance of the evidence is otherwise. Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d); Kaplan v. Bugalla, 188 S.W.3d 632, 635 (Tenn. 2006). If the trial court made no specific findings of fact, then we must look to the record to "determine where the preponderance of the evidence lies." Forrest Construction Co., LLC v. Laughlin, 337 S.W.3d 211, 220 (Tenn. Ct. App. ...


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