Nashville at law: Cannon, lawyer seek funds from alleged victim's estate

Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 11:47pm
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An attorney for Kelley Cannon is ready to settle up with the estate of the husband she is accused of killing, and the bill comes to nearly $243,000. Meanwhile, Cannon herself wants to borrow another $132,000 from the estate.

Andrew M. Cate of Nashville has asked the Davidson County Probate Court to approve payment from health care finance entrepreneur James M. Cannon's estate of the fees and expenses that have accumulated since he began representing Kelley Cannon, shortly after her husband was found dead on June 23, 2008.

The legal costs relate only to estate-related matters and do not cover her defense against the charge of first-degree murder that she faces. A hearing on the fee request is set for this week.

The Cannon probate case has been complicated and contentious. On behalf of Kelley Cannon, Cate has gone to court over matters ranging from access to the family home on Bowling Avenue (where Jim Cannon's body was discovered), possession of personal property and financial assets, and even who gets to keep the family dog, a Bichon Frisé named "Sugar."

Cate also petitioned successfully to have the court disqualify Nashville attorney C.K. McLemore from representing Kelley Cannon's sister-in-law, on the grounds that McLemore's prior representation of Jim Cannon made him ineligible to act as counsel in the case. And he represented her interests as the estate sold its share of Medical Reimbursements of America, the Franklin-based health care collections firm led by the late Jim Cannon, for $5.2 million last year.

In addition to those proceeds, an estate inventory has showed other assets totaling almost $1.9 million. If Kelley Cannon is convicted of her husband's murder, state law would prevent her from inheriting any of his property.

Meanwhile, she is trying to find out the status of and gain access to some of that property. Another lawyer, David Heller of Drescher & Sharp P.C., last week sought court approval for the estate to loan Kelley Cannon $132,000.

Last month, Heller obtained a court order requiring Equitable Trust Co. to turn over a full accounting of a Cannon family trust that it administers. Equitable has refused to provide information on the trust, citing the potential that Kelley Cannon will be barred from inheriting its funds. Equitable, saying it had no knowledge that Cannon was seeking such an order until after it was issued, has asked Probate Judge Randy Kennedy to rescind it.

Cannon was free on bond for several months after her arrest, but Judge Cheryl Blackburn ordered her jailed in late March after she allegedly violated the terms of her release by removing an electronic tracking device that she wore as a condition of her bond. According to the Web sites of the Davidson County Sheriff's Office and Criminal Court Clerk, Cannon remains incarcerated awaiting a trial set to begin July 8.

Attorney Peter Strianse of Tune, Entrekin & White P.C. represents her in the criminal case.

United States District Court

William H. Kraus v. City of Oak Hill et al. Filed May 11. Kraus, the former city manager of Oak Hill, claims the city and three of its officials violated his civil rights. Kraus, who had helped navigate Oak Hill through a series of controversial issues — including the highly scrutinized "Bredesen bunker," the underground ballroom at the Executive Residence of the governor — was forced to leave his position with the city last summer after the discovery that he had been convicted of felony fraud years earlier and had potentially violated state law and the Oak Hill charter by supporting the re-election campaign of a city commissioner.

Kraus says in the lawsuit that he wrote but never submitted a letter of resignation and, after reconsidering, sought to remain in his post. After an angry confrontation with one of the commissioners at City Hall, he was given two hours to remove his personal items and leave the building. His claims include violation of his First Amendment right to support a political candidate, breach of contract and libel. Plaintiff's attorney: John E. Herbison.

Capital Confirmation Inc. v. AuditConfirmations LLC
. Filed May 8. Brentwood-based Capital Confirmation, which provides business auditors with online verification of financial data, accuses an upstart rival of "unfair competition" and "intentional interference with business relationships." AuditConfirmations is an outgrowth of a Denver accounting firm, Linford & Co., whose Web site says it started the company at the end of 2008. The lawsuit accuses AuditConfirmations of falsely claiming to have certain major banks as clients, when they were really clients of Capital Confirmation. It also asserts that the Denver firm has badmouthed Capital Confirmation in various ways while trying to woo its customers.

Newel Linford, one of the principals of AuditConfirmations, offered this statement to The City Paper: "It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the matter in any specific detail. However, we are confident that we have not violated any laws. If the courts determine there has been any wrongdoing, we will correct the problem."

Plaintiff's attorney: Edward D. Lanquist of Waddey & Patterson P.C.

Note: Solidus Co., an investor in Capital Confirmation, is also an investor in SouthComm, the parent company of The City Paper.

Jennifer Hudson v. 12th Avenue South Ventures Inc. and Village Real Estate Services
. Filed May 7. This lawsuit from an unhappy purchaser of a condo in The Gulch's Icon tower is the latest of several filed against Nashville-area developers under the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act. Hudson says the builders' failure to comply with that federal law means she can walk away from the deal. She also claims someone at 12th Avenue South Ventures, an affiliate of Bristol Development Group, forged her signature to a contract extension. She wants Village, as escrow agent, to give back her money. Plaintiff's attorney: Nader Baydoun of Baydoun & Knight PLLC.

Shawn A. Venezia v. 12th and Division Properties LLC et al.
Filed May 13. Nashville salon owner Venezia lodges his own Land Act grievance against the developers of the Terrazzo, the condo tower across 12th from Icon. Venezia's 18-page complaint tries to counter arguments that developers have made in defending other local cases, to the effect that their projects are exempt from the Land Act's buyer-protection requirements. Plaintiff's attorney: Gerald A. Smith Jr. of Smith-Pitts PLC in Brentwood.

— Staff writers Nate Rau and Kyle Swenson contributed to this report.

Filed under: City News