Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Westbrooks v. Westbrooks

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

October 29, 2019

SONYA LEE WESTBROOKS
v.
EARL LAVON WESTBROOKS

          Session August 20, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hamilton County No. 13D2425L. Marie Williams, Judge

         Appellant/Husband appeals the trial court's denial of his Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 59.04 motion to reopen proof in this divorce case. By his motion, Husband sought to introduce allegedly "newly discovered evidence" concerning the premarital value of his retirement account. The trial court denied the motion, finding that the evidence, which consisted of Husband's previous divorce decree, was a matter of public record and was available to Husband during discovery in the instant divorce matter. We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Husband's motion. Affirmed and remanded.

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

          Lucy C. Wright, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Earl Lavon Westbrooks.

          Pamela R. O'Dwyer, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sonya Lee Westbrooks.

          Kenny Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Charles D. Susano, Jr. and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          KENNY ARMSTRONG, JUDGE

         I. Background

         Appellant Earl Westbrooks ("Husband") and Appellee Sonya Westbrooks ("Wife") were married for twenty years. Wife filed for divorce on December 3, 2013; however, the trial did not take place until July 11, 2017. As is relevant to the instant appeal, Husband had a premarital investment account with Paine-Webber. Despite Wife's significant discovery efforts, he failed to produce documents to substantiate the premarital value of the account. Accordingly, in its final decree of divorce, which was entered on August 3, 2018, the trial court divided the 401K accounts equally between the parties.

         On August 30, 2018, within 30 days of entry of the final decree of divorce, Husband filed a "motion for clarification, correction and to amend." The motion, which was brought under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 59.04, alleges, in pertinent part, that, "There may be new evidence to support Husband's allegation that a portion of the 401k was premarital. He is currently trying to obtain this information, and if he does obtain this, he would like the opportunity to present this to the Court." By order of September 24, 2018, the trial court gave Husband two weeks (until October 1, 2018) to supply a legal basis for his Rule 59 motion to reopen proof. On October 17, 2018, Husband filed an amended Rule 59 motion, wherein he averred that he had actually obtained the new evidence. In his brief filed in support of his motion, Husband specified that the "new evidence" is a second divorce decree between him and his first wife, Dorothy. Prior to his marriage to Appellee, Husband was married to Dorothy M. Westbrooks. While Appellee knew of the first marriage to Dorothy, Husband did not disclose that he had divorced Dorothy and then remarried and divorced her a second time prior to his marriage to Appellee. Wife filed an objection to Husband's motion.

         By order of October 4, 2018, the trial court denied Husband's motion on its finding that Husband could have produced the post-trial evidence prior to trial. The trial court entered a subsequent order allowing Husband to make an offer of proof. Husband's offer of proof consisted of: (1) a financial statement, which was filed on or about July 19, 1996, in the divorce proceedings between Husband and Dorothy listing the value of "Husband's 401K" as $161, 000; (2) the September 5, 1996 final decree granting a divorce to Dorothy and Husband. The final divorce decree awards Husband his retirement account, but does not specify the value of same; (3) Husband's trial brief filed in his second divorce from Dorothy, wherein he states that, "[w]hen the parties remarried. . . [Husband's] retirement account had grown to about $115, 000 . . . ."[1] Husband appeals the trial court's denial of his Rule 59.04 motion.

         II. Issues

         Husband raises one issue for review as stated in his brief:

Did the trial court commit reversible error when it failed to consider the post-trial proof furnished by Husband, which tended to show the premarital value of the Husband's 401(k), when the failure to consider the proof resulted ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.