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In re Estate of Letsinger

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

November 29, 2016

In re ESTATE OF DAVID LARRY LETSINGER

          Assigned on Briefs Date: June 2, 2016

          Appeal from the General Sessions Court for Loudon County No. 4801 Rex A. Dale, Judge

          After her husband passed away in 2013, Rose Letsinger filed a petition in the trial court seeking letters of administration for his estate. First Choice Community Credit Union filed a claim against the estate for an unpaid credit card balance. Letsinger[1] excepted to the claim and filed a motion to dismiss the claim, asserting that the Credit Union had failed to comply with Tenn. Code Ann. § 30-2-307 (Supp. 2012) by failing to attach an itemized statement of its claim. The trial court agreed. It held that the Credit Union had failed to include an itemized statement. Accordingly, it dismissed the claim. The Credit Union filed a motion to alter or amend, arguing that it had filed with its claim what appears to be the deceased's last monthly statement. It contended that its filing satisfied the itemized statement requirement. The trial court denied the motion. The Credit Union appealed. Later, it filed a motion to dismiss its appeal. We granted the motion. Following this, Letsinger filed a motion seeking to compel the Credit Union to disburse to the estate the funds in the deceased's account with the Credit Union. The trial court granted the motion. The Credit Union appeals. We affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the General Sessions Court Affirmed; Case Remanded

          John T. Roper, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, First Choice Community Credit Union.

          Mary K. Longworth, Loudon, Tennessee, for the appellee, Rose Mary Letsinger.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter, and M. Cameron Himes, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children's Services.

          Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Richard H. Dinkins and Arnold B. Goldin, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE

         I.

         Mr. Letsinger passed away on August 30, 2013. He did not leave a will. On February 10, 2014, Letsinger filed a petition for letters of administration. On February 19, 2014, the trial court issued letters of administration to the widow. Notice was subsequently sent to the deceased's potential creditors. On March 21, 2014, the Credit Union filed a claim against the deceased's estate pertaining to an unpaid credit card balance of $2, 773.78. Attached to the claim were (1) apparently the last monthly credit card statement and (2) a credit card application signed by the deceased on January 14, 1991. On April 7, 2014, Letsinger filed an exception to the Credit Union's claim, contending that the claim was deficient and not in compliance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 30-2-307 and § 30-2-310.

         On July 10, 2014, the trial court held a hearing regarding Letsinger's exception. In an order entered the same day, the trial court dismissed the Credit Union's claim after noting that it had not filed an itemized statement as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 30-2-307(b). On August 8, 2014, the Credit Union filed a motion to alter or amend the trial court's judgment, asserting that it had provided the deceased's monthly billing statement as an itemized statement. On January 7, 2015, the trial court entered an order denying the Credit Union's motion to alter or amend. In the order, the court held that "the single statement filed by the [Credit Union] by itself does not constitute the itemized statement as required by [Tenn. Code Ann. §] 30-2-307(b)."

         The Credit Union filed a notice of appeal on February 5, 2015. However, after the Credit Union failed to pay the required litigation tax, this Court dismissed its appeal in an order entered on April 6, 2015. The Credit Union subsequently filed a petition on April 9, 2015, to reinstate its appeal, contending that it had paid the requisite litigation tax by sending $13.75 to the "Appellate Court Cost Center" in Nashville. On April 17, 2015, this Court entered an order reinstating the appeal. Later, the Credit Union moved to dismiss its appeal. An order was entered dismissing the appeal.

         Some three months later, Letsinger filed a motion in the trial court to compel the Credit Union to release all funds the deceased had on deposit. In response, the Credit Union asserted the following, as taken verbatim from its motion:

1. The [trial court] lacks personal jurisdiction over [the] Credit Union because it has not been sued and served with process and a formal complaint, as [Letsinger's] Motion to Compel is procedurally improper.
2. The [trial court] lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the funds sought by [Letsinger] have passed outside the [deceased's] estate by virtue of the contractual setoff set forth in the member agreement[2] which mirrors the statutory setoff in Tenn. Code Ann. ยง 45-4-609 and [the Credit Union] has setoff said funds ...

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