CHARLES STINSON, ET AL.
DAVID E. MENSEL, ET AL.
Session April 3, 2019
from the Chancery Court for Hickman County No. 12-CV-4872
Deanna Johnson, Chancellor
Stinson and Glenda Stinson ("the Stinsons") appeal
the November 17, 2017 order of the Chancery Court for Hickman
County ("the Trial Court") expanding the injunctive
relief granted in our Opinion in Stinson v. Mensel,
No. M2016-00624-COA-R3-CV, 2017 WL 2972219 (Tenn. Ct. App.
July 12, 2017), no appl. perm. appeal filed. We find
and hold that the Trial Court lacked the authority to modify
or revise the injunction entered by this Court in the first
appeal of this case. We, therefore, vacate the portion of the
Trial Court's November 17, 2017 order modifying the
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Vacated, in part; Affirmed, in part; Case
E.Covington Johnston, Jr., Franklin, Tennessee, for the
appellants, Charles Stinson and Glenda Stinson.
Allston Vander Horst, Centerville, Tennessee, for the
appellees, David E. Mensel, Mary Ford (Anne) Mensel, Michael
Sabol, and Christine A. Sabol.
D.MICHAEL SWINEY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which RICHARD H. DINKINS and W. NEAL MCBRAYER, JJ.,
MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE
the second time this case has been before us on appeal. This
Court issued its Opinion in the first appeal in July of 2017.
Stinson v. Mensel, No. M2016-00624-COA-R3-CV, 2017
WL 2972219 (Tenn. Ct. App. July 12, 2017), no appl. perm.
appeal filed ("Stinson I"). By way of
background, we quote liberally from our Opinion in
Appellants, Charles Stinson and his wife, Glenda Stinson
(collectively "the Stinsons") initiated this
litigation against their neighbors, Appellees, David E.
Mensel and his wife Mary F. Mensel (collectively "the
Mensels") and Michael Sabol and his wife, Christine
Sabol (collectively "the Sabols") on October 25,
2012. The Stinsons own land in Hickman County, Tennessee and
have a home on that land. The Stinsons' land is subject
to an easement, which is a 50-foot non-exclusive easement for
utilities and for ingress and egress to certain neighboring
properties (the "Easement"). The deed attached to
the Stinsons' complaint indicates that the Stinsons'
property line is the center line of the Easement. The Mensels
and the Sabols live on land accessed by the Easement and use
a road built on the Easement as the driveway to their homes.
This road/driveway within the Easement is known as Captain
Spence Ridge Road. The Stinsons do not actually use Captain
Spence Ridge Road as the driveway to their home. Captain
Spence Ridge Road was built so that it is in the center of
the Easement. The original width of Captain Spence Ridge Road
was approximately eight feet wide, but it has been widened
over the years. The widened road is still within the
boundaries of the Easement. Many of the landowners who use
the Easement are parties to a certain contract that governs
their respective responsibilities regarding the maintenance
and improvements to the road within the Easement (the
"Driveway Maintenance Agreement"). The Stinsons and
their predecessors in interest chose not to enter into the
Driveway Maintenance Agreement.
The controversy in this case appears to have begun in
December 2008, when Mr. Stinson came to believe that the
Sabols had stolen some of his chickens that wandered over to
the Sabol property. Mrs. Sabol received a handwritten letter
from Mr. Stinson in her mailbox stating the following:
Your [sic] a theft [sic]. My checken [sic] have made it over
to your house. You never came and told me so you caught them
and keep [sic] them now I'm pisst [sic]. Your [sic] not a
good neighbor and your [sic] on my [s-t] list.
Apparently angry over the chicken incident, the Stinsons
thereafter began to harass the Sabols and the Mensels. The
Stinsons' behavior that followed ranged from petty to
outright dangerous. Mr. Stinson began to constantly put
things in or around Captain Spence Ridge Road and otherwise
within the Easement. He placed debris in the Easement on
several occasions, as well as fence posts that were
apparently designed to keep people from driving on the
Easement. When the Mensels attempted to put survey tape on
the posts to warn their houseguests of the presence of the
posts, Mr. Stinson promptly removed the tape. Mr. Stinson
also dug a ditch in the roadway that required drivers to
drive more on the Sabols' side of the road. Then, when a
flood came in May 2010, the ditch forced unusually high water
and mud down the driveway, resulting in a considerable amount
There were also numerous altercations and screaming matches
between the Stinsons and the Defendants. The police were
called on several occasions. When the Mensels went to speak
with Mr. Stinson about removing the fence posts, Mr. Stinson
said that he had been to the courthouse and had taken steps
to reduce the size of the Easement. This was not true. During
the discussion, Mr. Stinson became loud, threatening and
intimidating. Mr. Stinson was often described during the
trial as aggressive and hostile. In 2009, Mr. Sabol was
clearing weeds on Captain Spence Ridge Road when Mr. Stinson
became angry and told him he could not remove the weeds. Mr.
Stinson then cut brush and left the brush on Captain Spence
Ridge Road. He subsequently erected a sign telling the Sabols
to stay on their side of the Easement. Those passing through
the Easement would routinely have to drive around the brush
put in place by Mr. Stinson in order to prevent it from
scraping their vehicles. Mr. Sabol frequently removed the
brush, and Mr. Stinson would replace it. On one occasion, Mr.
Mensel was working on the Easement when Mr. Stinson attempted
to call out to him and talk to him. Mr. Mensel was wearing
protective earmuffs and could not hear Mr. Stinson. Mr.
Stinson apparently thought Mr. Mensel was intentionally
ignoring him, so Mr. Stinson picked up a large rock and began
following Mr. Mensel down the road. The situation was
eventually diffused when Mr. Sabol stepped out into the road
so that Mr. Stinson could note his presence. Shortly
thereafter, Mrs. Stinson arrived at the Sabols' home and
began to verbally accost Mrs. Sabol.
More chaos followed. Mr. Stinson continued his antics of
throwing brush onto the Easement, and at one point Mrs.
Stinson went so far as to throw her body in front of a
bulldozer that the Mensels had hired to grade the Easement.
The police were called again and again. These theatrics
culminated in a lawsuit filed by the Stinsons against the
Mensels and Sabols. On October 25, 2012, the Stinsons filed a
complaint against the Mensels and Sabols claiming that they
had caused the easement to be graded and bulldozed,
encroached onto the Stinsons' property, and made verbal
threats and used intimidation in order to prevent the
Stinsons from coming onto or using the easement. The Mensels
and Sabols filed an answer and counter-complaint on December
19, 2012. They denied making any threats or intimidating the
Stinsons and alleged that the opposite was actually true.
The case was tried before a judge sitting without a jury on
August 10 and 11, 2015. On January 6, 2016, the trial court
entered an extensive memorandum and order dismissing all of
the Stinsons' claims against the Sabols and Mensels and
holding the Stinsons liable to the Sabols and Mensels for
nuisance, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. The court further enjoined the Stinsons
from forever "using, driving on, damaging, or
interfering with Captain Spence Ridge Road, or the
maintenance of the same," and from harassing the Mensels
and Sabols. On February 5, 2016, the Stinsons filed a motion
to alter or amend the trial court's judgment, alleging
error in some of the court's factual and legal
conclusions, as well as asserting that the trial court was
"without authority to virtually divest the Plaintiffs
from the ability to use or be upon their property that is
part of the subject easement." The Mensels and Sabols
also filed a post-judgment motion to clarify and amend the
trial court's January 6, 2016 order, but only to
generally correct a misspelling and some other inadvertent
errors. On February 25, 2016, the trial court approved the
corrections suggested by the ...