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Estate of Quinn v. Henderson

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

November 13, 2014

The Estate of Cheryl Lynn Quinn, by Personal Representative, WILLIAM PAUL QUINN
v.
THOMAS HENDERSON et al.

Session Date: August 28, 2014

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Blount County No. L-17653 David R. Duggan, Judge

Kevin W. Shepherd, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Estate of Cheryl Lynn Quinn.

Russell W. Adkins, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Blount County Fire Protection District.

Courtney Epps Read, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Emergency Communications District of Blount County.

This is an appeal from a grant of summary judgment to the defendant governmental entities. The decedent, Cheryl Lynn Quinn, died from smoke inhalation following a house fire allegedly set by her ex-boyfriend. Her estate filed a wrongful death action against the exboyfriend as well as the Blount County Sheriff’s Department (“Sheriff’s Department”), the Blount County 911 Communication Center (“911”)[1] and the Blount County 1 Fire Protection District (“Fire Department”). The claims against the alleged arsonist and the Sheriff’s Department were nonsuited, and the trial court granted summary judgment to 911 and the Fire Department. Plaintiff has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm

Thomas R. Frierson, II, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Charles D. Susano, Jr., C.J., and D. Michael Swiney, J., joined.

OPINION

THOMAS R. FRIERSON, II, JUDGE

I. Factual and Procedural Background

William Paul Quinn, as personal representative and beneficiary of the estate of Cheryl Lynn Quinn ("Plaintiff"), filed the instant action on October 14, 2011, asserting a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate. The original defendants were Thomas Henderson (the alleged arsonist), the Sheriff's Department, 911, and the Fire Department. Ms. Quinn, a resident of Blount County, telephoned 911 at approximately 8:22 p.m. on October 14, 2010. The call was received by dispatcher Heather Murphy. The exchange between Ms. Quinn and Ms. Murphy was as follows:

Dispatcher: 911. Where's your emergency?
Quinn: My ex-boyfriend is out in my garage and he's setting fire to my garage and could you send someone out here immediately?
Dispatcher: What's your address?
Quinn: 3806 Fox Creek Farm.
Dispatcher: 3806 . . .
Quinn: 3806 Fox Creek Farm.
Dispatcher: Thompson Farms?
Quinn: Fox Creek Farm.
Dispatcher: Fox Creek. Is that Fox Creek Road?
Quinn: Fox Creek Road.
Dispatcher: Okay. You said your ex-boyfriend was there?
Quinn: Yes.
Dispatcher: Okay. What's his name?
Quinn: Thomas Henderson.
Dispatcher: Is he outside?
Quinn: Yes.
Dispatcher: And what did he do to your car?
Quinn: No. My garage. He set fire to it.
Dispatcher: Is your garage still on fire?
Quinn: Yes. I don't want to go out there.
Dispatcher: Okay. Are you in the house?
Quinn: Yes. I'm in the house.
Dispatcher: So, is your garage on fire?
Quinn: Ah, he set some things on fire. His family's coming over here and they've been very physically aggressive . .
Dispatcher: Okay.
Quinn: [Unintelligible.] So I'm really concerned.
Dispatcher: Is the garage attached to the house?
Quinn: Yes.
Dispatcher: And you're not gonna go outside?
Quinn: Huh? Well, no, I'm inside, and I just want somebody on the way and I will try to turn it off.
Dispatcher: But, is the garage on fire?
Quinn: No. He set some things on fire.
Dispatcher: So the garage is not on fire. What did ...

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