June 29, 2017
from the Chancery Court for Hardin County No. CH181 Carma
Dennis McGee, Chancellor
appeal results from the trial court's ruling that the
city was allowed to demolish appellant's home based on
her failure to bring the building into compliance as required
by the settlement agreement reached by the parties. Based on
appellant's failure to comply with the Tennessee Rules of
Appellate Procedure and the Rules of the Court of Appeals, we
decline to address the merits of the case and dismiss the
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Appeal Dismissed
Balentine, Savannah, Tennessee, Pro Se.
W. Plunk, Savannah, Tennessee for the appellee, City of
Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which Brandon O. Gibson, and Kenny Armstrong, JJ.,
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
STEVEN STAFFORD, JUDGE.
around December 1998, Plaintiff/Appellant Zella Balentine
undertook renovations to her home pursuant to a building
permit issued by the Defendant/Appellee City of Savannah. In
2013, however, an inspection of the property resulted in a
notice being sent to Ms. Balentine that her property was in
violation of the City's Slum Clearance Ordinance and was
unfit for human habitation. Ms. Balentine appeared at a
hearing before the Building Inspector to state her objections
on May 16, 2013. The City issued a written ruling that the
structure was unsafe for habitation on May 31, 2013. Ms.
Balentine appealed to the City of Savannah Board of
Adjustment and Appeals. After Ms. Balentine's appeal was
denied, she filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the
Hardin County Chancery Court, arguing that the City's
decision was arbitrary, capricious, and/or discriminatory.
January 5, 2016, Ms. Balentine, represented by counsel, and
the City announced in open court that they had come to an
agreement settling the issues. The agreement was accepted and
ratified by the trial court by order of June 7, 2016.
Pursuant to the agreement, the parties were to have a status
conference regarding whether Ms. Balentine properly undertook
her obligations under the agreement to either have the
structure demolished or to bring the structure into
compliance with building codes within the required time
period. At the hearing on July 16, 2016, the trial court
found that Ms. Balentine failed to demolish the structure or
bring it into compliance as required by the settlement
agreement; the trial court therefore ruled that the City had
the right to demolish the structure and assess costs against
Ms. Balentine. A written order reflecting the trial
court's ruling was entered on August 2, 2016. Ms.
Balentine thereafter appealed.
outset, we note that although Ms. Balentine was represented
by counsel in the trial court, she appears before this Court
pro se. We recognize and accept Ms. Balentine's right to
appear before this Court self-represented. The law is
well-settled in Tennessee, however, that pro se litigants
must comply with the same standards to which lawyers must
adhere. Watson v. City of Jackson, 448 S.W.3d 919,
926 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2014). As explained by this Court:
Parties who decide to represent themselves are entitled to
fair and equal treatment by the courts. The courts should
take into account that many pro se litigants have no legal
training and little familiarity with the judicial system.
However, the courts must also be mindful of the boundary
between fairness to a pro se litigant and unfairness to the
pro se litigant's adversary. Thus, the courts must not
excuse pro se litigants from ...