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Graham v. Crye-Leike Realty Corp.

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

December 29, 2014

BETTY GRAHAM
v.
CRYE-LEIKE REALTY CORPORATION ET AL.

Session August 26, 2014

Appeal from the Chancery Court for Hamilton County No. 13-0299 Jeffrey M. Atherton, Chancellor.

Betty Graham, Jasper, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

Jonathan Guthrie and McKinley S. Lundy, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Ellie Hill and Patrick, Beard, Schulman & Jacoway, P.C.

B. Thomas Hickey, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Ginny Hall and Crye-Leike Realty Corporation.

Kevin B. Wilson, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, S&J Southeast Investments, LLC.

Charles D. Susano, Jr., C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which John W. McClarty and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ., joined.

OPINION

CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., CHIEF JUDGE

I.

In 2008, Lake Park Condominium, doing business as Signal View Condominium Association ("LPC"), sued Graham to collect homeowners' association dues, fees, assessments, and other charges resulting from Graham's ownership of several condominium units. That lawsuit resulted in a judgment against Graham for $17, 662.66. On August 3, 2009, LPC again sued Graham.[1] Chancellor W. Frank Brown, III, acting sua sponte, appointed attorney Ellie Hill as Graham's guardian ad litem to defend LPC's second lawsuit because he had concerns about Graham's mental capacity to proceed pro se. Following a trial, the court entered judgment in favor of LPC in the amount of $29, 455.75, consisting of $14, 268.75 owed as a result of Graham's ownership of three condo units and $15, 187 in attorney's fees incurred by LPC. The trial court also awarded Hill a guardian ad litem fee in the amount of $14, 768.45.

On July 13, 2011, Graham filed a complaint against Hill, S&J Southeast Investments, LLC, Crye-Leike Realty Corporation, and real estate agent Hall. All of the defendants except Hill filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The trial court granted the motion, stating as follows:

The relevant facts are as follows. On July 14, 2010, Plaintiff met with Defendant Elizabeth Hill ("Hill"), who was appointed her guardian ad litem in a pending lawsuit (No. 09-0592). Graham had been given a Purchase and Sale Agreement form between the Plaintiff, the potential seller, and S&J, the potential buyer, concerning a tract of land known as 900 Mountain Creek Road, Unit 225 (the "Real Property"). Prior to Plaintiff's meeting with Hill, Crye-Leike had forwarded S&J's offer (the proposed "Agreement") to Plaintiff and/or Hill, whereby S&J made an offer to purchase from Plaintiff the Real Property for $35, 000. . . . The express terms of the Agreement provided for a "Time Limit of Offer" that allowed S&J (as the potential buyer) to withdraw their offer at any time before acceptance with notice. The deadline for acceptance was July 14, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.
On July 14, 2010, according to Plaintiff, she appeared at Hill's office to accept the offer and to execute the Agreement. Plaintiff says Hill agreed to act as an agent for Plaintiff and to forward the signed Agreement to Crye-Leike pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Agreement before 6:00 p.m. that day. Apparently at some point that day, Plaintiff signed the Agreement purporting to be accepting the offer to purchase made by S&J and Plaintiff left Hill's office "knowing that the sale had been completed and relying upon Defendant to notify Buyer." Based upon these facts, Plaintiff has filed this
"Negligence" claim and argued that "Defendant either failed to Notify Buyer of Plaintiff's Acceptance or, Buyer was notified and is in Breach of Contract and Defendant has committed fraud against Plaintiff by ...

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