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Sumner County v. Small-Hammer

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 30, 2018

SUMNER COUNTY, TENNESSEE
v.
SUSAN SMALL-HAMMER

          Session April 10, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sumner County No. 2016-CV-957 Joe Thompson, Judge

         The defendant appeals the imposition of a security interest in her home. The defendant's home, which was destroyed by floods in May of 2010, was demolished and reconstructed with funds the defendant applied for through the HOME Program administered by Sumner County. In applying for the financing, the defendant agreed to "comply with the HOME Program rules and regulations if assistance is approved, " one of which was that she must sign a note and deed of trust to secure the repayment obligation. After the defendant repeatedly refused to sign a note and deed of trust, Sumner County filed this action. Sumner County subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment that was properly supported by a statement of undisputed facts pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56. Because the defendant did not file a response to the motion or the statement of undisputed facts, and the undisputed facts established that Sumner County was entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the trial court granted Sumner County's motion for summary judgment. This appeal followed. We affirm.

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

          SuSan Small-Hammer, Bethpage, Tennessee, pro se.

          A. Scott Derrick, Nashville, Tennessee, and Leah Mead May Dennen, Gallatin, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sumner County, Tennessee.

          Frank G. Clement Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Richard R. Dinkins and Thomas R. Frierson II, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          FRANK G. CLEMENT JR., P.J., M.S.

         SuSan Small-Hammer ("Defendant") was the owner of a home in Sumner County, Tennessee (the "County") when it sustained catastrophic damage in the floods that devastated large portions of Middle Tennessee in May of 2010. Due to the severe damage to her home, Defendant applied to the Home Program, [1] which provides funds for low-income individuals to rehabilitate their homes.

         A requirement of the Home Program is that the applicant agrees to "comply with the HOME Program rules and regulations if assistance is approved." The Home Program grants are forgiven by a declining repayment obligation over a period of time provided the homeowner continues to reside in the home.[2] One of the rules and regulations of the Home Program is that the program participant, in this case, Defendant, must sign a note and deed of trust to secure the declining repayment obligation.

         After Defendant applied to the Home Program, a Home Program inspector inspected Defendant's home and advised the County that the home was not safe or affordable to rehabilitate. Defendant's home was then approved for reconstruction, meaning the damaged structure would be demolished and a new home would be constructed on her property.

         Although there were delays in the completion of the home, Defendant took possession of her reconstructed home on or about January 3, 2016. The Tennessee Housing Development Agency approved the project for closure, with the exception of some small items and site work, for which $5, 000 was withheld from the contractor. From the time Defendant occupied the home to July 2016, the parties held multiple meetings to reach a final agreement as to the site work, signing of paperwork, and closing out the project. The essential paperwork to be completed included signing the note and deed of trust.

         An agreement was never reached, and due to Defendant's noncompliance, the County filed this action on August 31, 2016, in the Circuit Court for Sumner County, Tennessee. On September 15, 2017, the County filed a motion for summary judgment and a memorandum in support, which was properly supported by the Declaration of Kim Ark, the Grant Administrator for Sumner County, and a statement of undisputed material facts. Defendant did not file a response to the motion for summary judgment and did not respond in the manner required by Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56 to the County's statement of undisputed facts. Instead, on September 15, 2015, Defendant filed her "Dispositive

          Motion" arguing that the County's complaint should be dismissed.[3] Defendant's Dispositive Motion was not accompanied by any declaration or ...


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