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Turner v. Gaviria

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

December 17, 2014

ELIZABETH B. TURNER
v.
SELINA C. GAVIRIA

Session November 14, 2014.

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT00572511 Robert L. Childers, Judge.

Kevin A. Snider, Germantown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Elizabeth B. Turner.

Fred M. Ridolphi, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Selina C. Gaviria.

Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Arnold B. Goldin, J., and Brandon O. Gibson, J., joined.

OPINION

KENNY ARMSTRONG, JUDGE.

I. Background

This is the second appeal of this case, which began in December 2011 when Ms. Elizabeth B. Turner ("Ms. Turner" or "Appellant") filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Shelby County against her sister, Defendant Selina C. Gaviria ("Ms. Gaviria" or "Appellee"). Turner v. Gaviria, No. W2013-01944-COA-R3-CV, 2014 WL 426663 at *1 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 3, 2014) ("Turner I").[1] In the interest of judicial economy, we restate the facts of the underlying case as they appeared in Turner I.

In her complaint, Ms. Turner alleged that, "many years ago," she agreed to loan Ms. Gaviria $64,000 to be used as a down payment on a home and for in vitro fertilization procedures. She asserted that, although the agreement was not reduced to writing, Ms. Gaviria made payments on the loan until April 2001. Ms. Turner further asserted that Ms. Gaviria "unilaterally executed a document" offering to pay Ms. Turner a total of $32,000 at the rate of $100 per month for three years, and $300 per month thereafter for seven years, to commence when Ms. Gaviria's anticipated divorce became final. Ms. Turner further asserted that Ms. Gaviria's husband made essentially the same offer, and that she neither accepted nor agreed to their offers. Ms. Turner asserted that $35,000 remained due on the loan; that, on October 10, 2011, her legal counsel sent Ms. Gaviria written demand for payment in the amount of $35,000 within 20 days; and that Ms. Gaviria had refused to pay the balance owed. She asserted claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment and prayed for compensatory damages in the amount of $50,000, reasonable attorney's fees, prejudgment interest, and costs.
Ms. Gaviria answered in March 2012. In her answer, Ms. Gaviria admitted that "monies were delivered to her" by Ms. Turner, asserted that she had repaid Ms. Turner in full "in the event there was a legal obligation to do so on her part [,]" and denied any obligation for further payments. She asserted six defenses, including unenforceability of the alleged note; that the money was a gift; novation; accord and satisfaction; and the statute of limitations.
Following discovery, the trial court heard the matter in June 2013. By order entered June 17, 2013, the trial court entered judgment in favor of Ms. Gaviria, finding her "not liable . . . for any damages" to Ms. Turner. Ms. Turner filed a motion to alter or amend on June 25, which the trial court denied on August 2, 2013.

Id.

In Turner I, we determined that the trial court failed to enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 52.01. Because this Court could not make a meaningful review of the case in the absence of Rule 52.01 findings, we remanded the case to the trial court for entry of findings of fact and conclusions of law. On May 6, 2014, the trial court issued its findings of fact and conclusions of law in favor of Ms. Gaviria which were later incorporated into the Amended Final Order of Judgment entered on May 21, 2014. Ms. Turner filed a timely notice of appeal from the May 21, 2014 Order.

II. Issues

Ms. Turner raises two issues for review as restated from her brief:

1. Whether the trial court's findings of fact and conclusions of law are contrary to the previous findings and rulings and, therefore, require reversal.
2. Whether the trial court's findings of fact and conclusions of law are not supported by the testimony and evidence presented at ...

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