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Suntrust Bank v. Burke

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

February 2, 2015

SUNTRUST BANK
v.
WALTER JOSEPH BURKE A/K/A WALTER JOSEPH BURKE, JR.

Assigned on Briefs December 04, 2014

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT00547810 Karen R. Williams, Judge

Roger Stone and Lisa N. Stanley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant Crye-Leike, Inc.

John R. Cheadle, Jr. and Mary K. Barnard, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, SunTrust Bank.

Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Arnold B. Goldin, J., joined.

OPINION

KENNY ARMSTRONG, JUDGE

I. Background

On August 10, 1999, Walter Burke signed a note in favor of National Bank of Commerce evidencing a $50, 000 loan. National Bank of Commerce later merged with SunTrust Bank ("SunTrust" or "Appellee"), making SunTrust the successor in interest on this note. Mr. Burke eventually defaulted on his obligation, and SunTrust obtained a default judgment against him in the amount of $57, 508.25 on November 1, 2011.

Mr. Burke worked as a realtor with Crye-Leike, Inc. ("Crye-Leike" or "Appellant"). On December 7, 2011, Appellee filed a garnishment against Mr. Burke's wages with Crye-Leike. Crye-Leike answered the garnishment in a letter dated December 27, 2011, stating that Mr. Burke was not a salaried employee, but rather an independent contractor. Crye-Leike further answered that it owed no funds to Mr. Burke at the time it received the garnishment. On January 3, 2012, Mr. Burke moved the trial court for permission to make installment payments in lieu of garnishment, but the trial court denied the motion. Crye-Leike then moved to set aside the garnishment on February 14, 2012, arguing that it could not be continuously garnished because Mr. Burke is not a Crye-Leike employee. The trial court denied Crye-Leike's motion on July 6, 2012, and SunTrust then moved to enforce the garnishment on November 5, 2012. Crye-Leike moved to quash the enforcement on December 6, 2012. SunTrust filed a motion for judgment against Crye-Leike on May 3, 2013. The trial court entered an order dated June 19, 2014, granting the enforcement of the garnishment and set a hearing date to determine the amount of the garnishment payments that should have been withheld. The trial court concluded that Crye-Leike was subject to a six-month, continuous garnishment under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 26-2-214. On July 22, 2014, the trial court entered a final judgment against Crye-Leike in the amount of $2, 667.81, representing a portion of the commissions Crye-Leike paid to Mr. Burke over the six-month period from the initial date of the garnishment. Crye-Leike appeals.

II. Issues

Crye-Leike presents three issues for review:

I. Whether the trial court erred in holding that Crye-Leike is subject to a six- month, continuous garnishment under Tennessee Code Annotated § 26-2-214.

II. Whether the trial court erred when it did not determine whether Mr. Burke is an employee of Crye-Leike ...


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