RODNEY MARRA v. BANK OF NEW YORK, TRUSTEE, AND PHILIP M. KLEINSMITH, TRUSTEE (Tenn. Ct. App. August 4, 2009)
This appeal involves a court clerk's fee for facilitating a foreclosure sale. The defendant bank held a foreclosure sale of the plaintiff's home without giving the plaintiff proper notice. The plaintiff then filed this action and the sale was set aside. The trial court ordered that the property be re-auctioned and appointed the clerk and master of the chancery court as a special commissioner to facilitate the sale. At the second sale, the plaintiff purchased the property. The trial court ordered that the clerk be awarded 5% of the purchase price as his fee for services rendered in connection with the sale. The bank objected, arguing that the clerk's fee was excessive. The trial court conducted a hearing and held that the fee to the clerk was reasonable. The bank appealed, naming the court clerk as an appellee in the notice of appeal, but failing to file a motion to add him as a party. The appeal was dismissed for lack of a final order. On remand, the court clerk filed a motion asking the trial court to confirm that he was immune from suit and that disbursement of his fee was proper. The clerk also sought Rule 11 sanctions in the form of appellate attorney's fees against the bank's attorney for naming him as a party in the notice of appeal without properly adding him. The bank filed two cross-motions for sanctions. The trial court held that the clerk was immune from suit and that disbursement of the fee to the clerk was proper. The clerk's motion for Rule 11 sanctions was granted, and the bank's two cross-motions for sanctions were denied. The bank and its attorney now appeal. We hold that the statement of the evidence filed by the appellants and not objected to by the appellees or ruled on by the trial court is deemed approved under T.R.A.P. 24. Addressing the merits, we reverse the trial court's award of appellate attorney's fees as sanctions under Rule 11. All other decisions by the trial court are affirmed.
Opinion may be found at the TBA website: