Assigned on Briefs December 10, 2014
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Cumberland County No. CC12013CV5715 John J. Maddux, Jr., Judge
W. I. Howell Acuff, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lisa Denise Church.
Kelly A. Tollett and Brett A. York, Crossville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Shannon Wayne Brown.
D. Michael Swiney, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which John W. McClarty and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ., joined.
D. MICHAEL SWINEY, JUDGE
In 2008, Plaintiff and Defendant executed a Marital Dissolution Agreement ("the MDA"). The parties acknowledged in the MDA complete disclosure of all marital and separate property. The parties agreed that Plaintiff would be divested of any interest she had in a business called Cumberland Components, Inc. Any interest in this business Plaintiff had would vest in Defendant. In August 2008, the Probate and Family Court for Cumberland County ("the Probate Court") granted the parties an absolute divorce incorporating the MDA by reference.
In November 2010, Plaintiff petitioned the Probate Court to revisit several issues concerning the MDA. Plaintiff simultaneously filed a motion in the Probate Court pursuant to Rule 60.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure to allow discovery on the issue of the valuation of Cumberland Components, Inc. Plaintiff alleged that she had entered the MDA under the belief that the business interest was of no positive value. Plaintiff alleged that she had now come to understand that the business interest had a value in the vicinity of $800, 000. In January 2011, the Probate Court held, among other things, that Plaintiff's Rule 60.02 motion was "not well taken and is hereby denied."
Plaintiff appealed this decision of the Probate Court to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. In our opinion Brown v. Brown, No. E2011-00421-COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 1267872, at *13 (Tenn. Ct. App. April 13, 2012), Rule 11 perm. app. denied August 15, 2012, this Court in affirming the Probate Court stated: "[W]e find no evidence of record to support the assertions of [Plaintiff] as to the improper valuation of [Defendant's] company or that she was fraudulently induced to sign the MDA."
In September 2012, Plaintiff filed an amended motion based on Rule 60 in the Probate Court yet again attempting to revisit these issues. In June 2013, Plaintiff filed the complaint in the Trial Court that is the origin of this appeal. Plaintiff alleged fraud and sought monetary damages. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. In March 2014, a hearing was conducted on Defendant's motion. In April 2014, the Trial Court entered an order granting Defendant's motion for summary judgment. In relevant part, the Trial Court stated:
Based upon the record, it appears to the Court that the issue of fraud raised by the Plaintiff has been or could have been litigated by these same parties in the prior proceedings of the Probate and Family Court of Cumberland County, Tennessee, the Tennessee Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Tennessee, which have all rendered final judgments as to the subject matter at hand. The Plaintiff's claim of fraud is, therefore, barred under the doctrine of res judicata.
Further, the Court finds that the issue of fraud as alleged by the Plaintiff, if fraud indeed existed, would take the form of intrinsic fraud, as it would be within the subject matter already litigated. Based upon current law and precedent, in order for this Court to sustain a claim of fraud in the current matter, the Plaintiff would have to make a claim of extrinsic fraud. The Plaintiff has failed to make a claim as to matters not at issue in prior litigation which ...