Assigned on Briefs October 4, 2016
from the Chancery Court for Hamilton County No. 15-G-007
Pamela A. Fleenor, Chancellor
challenges the trial court's decision authorizing the
Department of Human Services to take her husband into
protective custody pursuant to the Adult Protection Act.
Because, after the trial court's decision, the adult
taken into protective custody was released from DHS custody
and later died, we have determined that this appeal is moot.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Appeal Dismissed
R. O'Dwyer, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Andrée Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Kathryn A.
Baker, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for
the appellee, Tennessee Department of Human Services.
D. Bennett, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., and J. Steven Stafford, P.J.,
D. BENNETT, JUDGE
and Procedural Background
January 22, 2015, the Department of Human Services
("DHS") applied for and was granted a search
warrant to enter the home of Dr. Walter Peterson,
The application alleged, in part, that DHS had received a
report that Dr. Peterson was being abused or neglected by his
wife and son. DHS and law enforcement officers entered the
Peterson home on January 23, 2015. According to DHS, Dr.
Peterson consented to be removed from the home to receive
medical care; he was then hospitalized.
January 29, 2015, DHS petitioned the chancery court for
authorization to consent to protective services for Dr.
Peterson under the Tennessee Adult Protection Act, Tenn. Code
Ann. §§ 71-6-101-124. The same day, the chancery
court ordered that, pending a final hearing, DHS would have
protective custody of Dr. Peterson. The court also appointed
a temporary financial guardian, an attorney ad litem, and a
guardian ad litem. Dr. Peterson's wife, Sheila Peterson,
opposed the grant of protective custody and moved for the
dismissal of the action and the immediate release of Dr.
Peterson. Dr. Peterson was subsequently moved to a
five-day trial, the court entered an order on March 12, 2015
in which it ruled that Dr. Peterson lacked the capacity to
consent to protective services, was in imminent danger, and
was "in need of protective services for purposes of
medical treatment and to prevent neglect." The court
appointed a temporary guardian for purposes of consenting to
protective services as well as a temporary guardian for
financial purposes. On May 26, 2015, the court entered an
order ruling on several motions, including Mrs.
Peterson's motion to alter or amend the March 12, 2015
order authorizing the consent to protective services and
appointment of a temporary financial guardian for Dr.
Peterson. In its final order, the chancery court reiterated
its conclusion that Dr. Peterson lacked capacity to consent,
was in imminent danger, and needed protective services. Mrs.
upon medical evidence presented at a hearing on July 9, 2015,
the chancery court found that it was safe and in Dr.
Peterson's best interest for him to return home under the
care of his wife. In an order dated July 10, 2015, the court
decreed that Dr. Peterson be discharged from the
rehabilitation facility, that DHS be responsible for
monitoring his care on a weekly basis, and that he remain
under the protection of the court. On September 9, 2015, the