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Downs v. Hall

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

August 29, 2017

DENNIS DOWNS D/B/A KNOXVILLE LIFESTYLE
v.
STEVE HALL D/B/A GREATER TENNESSEE FLOORING

          February 27, 2017 Session

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Knox County No. 178756-3 Michael W. Moyers, Chancellor

         After the trial court entered a final judgment awarding plaintiff damages and attorney's fees, defendant filed a timely motion requesting additional findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court then entered a second judgment incorporating the requested findings of fact and conclusions of law. After entry of the second judgment, plaintiff filed a motion for an award of additional attorney's fees, which the trial court treated as a motion to alter or amend. The plaintiff later withdrew his motion for additional attorney's fees, and the trial court entered an order authorizing the withdrawal. Later, in response to a motion to quash a garnishment, the trial court entered a third judgment, which granted the motion but otherwise incorporated by reference the court's previous rulings. Defendant filed a notice of appeal within thirty days after entry of the third judgment but more than thirty days after the order granting plaintiff leave to withdraw his motion for additional attorney's fees. Because we conclude the notice of appeal was untimely, we dismiss the appeal.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Appeal Dismissed

          Billy J. Stokes, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steve Hall.

          Thomas M. Leveille, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Dennis Downs.

          W. Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J, and Thomas R. Frierson, II, J., joined.

          OPINION

          W. NEAL McBrayer, JUDGE

         I.

         Dennis Downs d/b/a Knoxville Lifestyle and Steve Hall d/b/a Greater Tennessee Flooring entered into a written agreement for the purchase of advertisement space in a publication known as "Knoxville Lifestyle." For the two page advertisement, Mr. Downs agreed to pay $7, 000.00. The words "½ cash ½ trade" were handwritten above the total amount due. The agreement further provided that $3, 500 would be paid upon execution of the agreement and that the balance would be payable "with final ad layout and within Knoxville Lifestyle's specified production deadline."

         The parties acknowledge that Mr. Hall paid $3, 500 in cash under their agreement, but a dispute arose over satisfaction of the balance. Mr. Hall was under the impression that the balance would be satisfied by "providing material and labor to carpet Downs' office." Mr. Downs, on the other hand, was under the impression that he was not limited to a specific type of flooring material or space. Mr. Downs wanted "$3, 500 worth of ceramic tile for [his] bathroom."

         On September 20, 2010, Mr. Downs filed a complaint for breach of contract against Mr. Hall in the Chancery Court for Knox County, Tennessee. After years of litigation, the case proceeded to trial in July 2014. At trial, Mr. Hall orally agreed to a monetary judgment in the amount of $3, 500.00 with the issue of Mr. Downs's request for attorney's fees reserved for a later date.

         On August 1, 2014, the trial court entered a judgment reflecting the parties' agreement. The judgment awarded Mr. Downs $3, 500.00 and ordered Mr. Hall to pay that amount within 45 days from the entry of the judgment. If the judgment was not paid within 45 days, the unpaid amount would accrue "interest at the statutory maximum." With respect to attorney's fees, the judgment provided as follows:

That Plaintiff seeks a judgment for his attorney's fees, which is included in the contract at issue herein as a remedy in the event of breach, incurred in this lawsuit. Plaintiff's counsel shall submit his line itemized billing in regards to the time he has billed his client in this lawsuit to Defendant's counsel no later than fifteen days from the entry date of this Judgment. Counsel will confer with each other to see if an agreement can be reached on ...

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