Session June 6, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Rutherford County No. 70757 Howard
W. Wilson, Judge
trial court granted a default judgment against the appellant
for claims of conversion, unjust enrichment, and malicious
prosecution. Immediately after granting the default judgment,
the trial court awarded the appellee damages without hearing
proof. The appellant filed a motion to set aside the default
judgment. The trial court denied the appellant's motion.
We affirm the trial court's decision in all regards
except for its award of damages. The case is remanded for a
hearing on damages.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed in Part and Vacated and Remanded in Part
Mitchell Edward Shannon, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the
Brandon Thompson. David Brent Whelan, Murfreesboro,
Tennessee, for the appellee, Judith Husk.
D. Bennett, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and Richard H. Dinkins,
D. BENNETT, JUDGE
Factual and Procedural Background
Husk ("Ms. Husk") and Brandon Thompson ("Mr.
Thompson") were involved in a romantic relationship that
culminated in the parties' decision to cohabitate. In
February 2015, the parties entered into a lease to share an
apartment in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The parties'
relationship ended abruptly on September 9, 2015, when police
arrested Ms. Husk and charged her with domestic assault
against Mr. Thompson. Ms. Husk's bond contained a
condition that prohibited contact between the parties. As a
result of this bond condition, Ms. Husk could not return to
the parties' apartment. Mr. Thompson requested that the
criminal court modify the bond condition to allow contact
with Ms. Husk; however, Ms. Husk objected, so the no-contact
condition remained in place.
October 29, 2015, Ms. Husk entered an agreed order in the
criminal court that also contained a no-contact condition.
Nevertheless, the court granted Ms. Husk permission to have
her father, Michael Husk ("Mr. Husk"), make
arrangements with Mr. Thompson for Ms. Husk to retrieve her
personal property from the parties' apartment. Mr. Husk
retrieved some of Ms. Husk's belongings on November 9,
2015. When Mr. Husk returned the following week with Ms. Husk
to retrieve her remaining personal property, Mr. Thompson was
present at the apartment. Shortly thereafter, the police
arrived at the apartment and arrested Mr. Husk for criminal
trespass. A few days later, the police arrested Ms.
Husk on a warrant sworn against her by Mr. Thompson for
criminal contempt based upon her violation of the no-contact
the no-contact condition prohibited the parties from sharing
the apartment, Mr. Thompson refused either to pay the full
rental amount or to vacate the apartment so Ms. Husk could
take occupancy and pay the full rental amount. Ms. Husk
continued to pay her portion of the rent in September,
October, and November 2015 despite the fact she could no
longer reside at the apartment. When Mr. Thompson failed to
pay his portion of the rent for December 2015 and January
2016, Ms. Husk paid the full rental amount. Both parties
chose not to renew the lease, and Mr. Thompson placed all of
Ms. Husk's remaining personal property in a storage unit.
January 8, 2016, Ms. Husk filed a complaint against Mr.
Thompson alleging conversion, unjust enrichment, and
malicious prosecution. After the Rutherford County
Sheriff's Office notified Mr. Thompson of the lawsuit, he
went to the sheriff's office on January 13, 2016, where
he was served with the summons and complaint. Mr. Thompson
failed to file an answer to the complaint within thirty days
of service. Consequently, Ms. Husk filed a motion for default
judgment on February 23, 2016 (forty days after service of
the summons and complaint).
trial court heard Ms. Husk's motion on March 15, 2016.
Because Mr. Thompson failed to appear at the hearing on the
motion and to answer the complaint within thirty days of
service, the trial court entered an order granting Ms. Husk a
default judgment and awarding her damages in the amount of
$15, 577.16. After receiving the trial court's order via
mail, Mr. Thompson filed a motion to set aside the default
judgment as well as an answer to the ...