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Moss v. Heerdink

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

December 28, 2017

DAWN MOSS
v.
GREGORY HEERDINK

          Session December 7, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 13-177 Franklin L. Russell, Judge

         Worker commenced this action in the general sessions court seeking compensation for miscellaneous work performed at defendant's residence. When the plaintiff prevailed in the general sessions court, the defendant filed a timely notice of appeal to the circuit court. After the circuit court set the case for trial on April 20, 2017, the parties entered an agreed order to continue the trial to allow the parties to mediate the claim. The agreed order also reset the trial for June 8, 2017. The parties agreed to a mediator and date and time for the mediation but neither the defendant nor her attorney attended. When the case came on for trial, neither the defendant nor her attorney appeared, and the trial proceeded. After the plaintiff presented his evidence, the court awarded the plaintiff a judgment for $24, 952.91. The defendant appeals without identifying a specific issue. It appears that the defendant is contending that the trial court erred by proceeding with the trial in her absence. She also appears to be contending that she had been in a romantic relationship with plaintiff and that all of the work he did around her house was gratuitous. We find no abuse of discretion with the trial court's decision to proceed with the trial. Because there is neither a transcript of the evidence nor a statement of the evidence, we must assume that the record, had it been preserved, would have contained sufficient evidence to support the trial court's factual findings at trial. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Dawn A. Moss, Belle Buckle, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          S. Todd Bobo, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Gregory Heerdink.

          Andy D. Bennett, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Richard H. Dinkins and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          ANDY D. BENNETT, JUDGE.

         Gregory Heerdink ("Plaintiff") filed a general sessions civil warrant on November 22, 2016, in which he sued Dawn Moss ("Defendant") for breach of contract and unpaid work/labor in the amount of $20, 855.00. He claims to be owed this amount for various services he allegedly rendered for the benefit of Defendant at her residence in Marshall County from 2012 through 2016. The general sessions court ruled in favor of Plaintiff on December 6, 2016 and awarded damages in the amount of $24, 952.91.

         On December 16, 2016, Defendant timely appealed to the circuit court. Shortly thereafter, attorney Christopher Westmoreland made an appearance on behalf of Defendant and filed a response asserting, in pertinent part, that "the existence of the contract and an obligation for any sum is denied, and . . . the parties are neighbors, have been for all periods related to this dispute, have had a relationship of a personal nature."

         Pursuant to an order entered on February 13, 2017, the circuit court set a trial date of April 20, 2017. On April 7, 2017, counsel for Plaintiff filed a motion to continue in which it was represented to the court "[t]hat the parties agreed to set this matter immediately for a hearing on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. . . . [and] that the parties have taken party depositions and recently received the deposition transcripts." The continuance was for the parties to mediate the case. The motion was granted pursuant to an agreed order, and the case was reset for trial on June 8, 2017.

         Although mediation with Don Ray of Tullahoma was set by agreement for May 10, 2017, neither Defendant nor her attorney attended the mediation. In oral argument, Plaintiff's attorney stated that Defendant's attorney indicated that he forgot about the mediation.

         When the case came on for trial on June 8, 2017, neither Defendant nor her attorney appeared or gave notice that they could not attend.[2] With the permission of the court, Plaintiff moved forward with the hearing and presented evidence to support his claim. At the conclusion of the trial, the court awarded him damages in the amount of $24, 952.91. The relevant portion of the final judgment reads:

1. The Plaintiff, GREGORY HEERDINK, and the Defendant, DAWN MOSS (now OSBORNE), entered into a verbal contract which allowed the Plaintiff to perform several ...

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