Legal Aid Honors Attorneys at Knoxville Pro Bono Night

Legal Aid of East Tennessee hosted its Knoxville Pro Bono Celebration Tuesday honoring local attorneys who have donated at least 25 hours of their time and legal services during the past year to aid those who otherwise could not afford an attorney. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of three annual Pro Bono Project Awards. Ryan Gardner was recognized as the Donald F. Paine Law Student Volunteer of the Year, Richard L. Duncan was given the Pro Bono Advocacy Award for his donation of almost 100 hours of service and Paine, Tarwater, and Bickers, LLP was named the Law Firm of the Year.

Today's Opinions

Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format.

00 - TN Supreme Court
02 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
00 - TN Court of Appeals
00 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
03 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
00 - TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders









You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer.


TN Workers Comp Appeals

DAN A. CONATSER v. FENTRESS FARMERS COOPERATIVE AND SENTRY INSURANCE A MUTUAL COMPANY

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Lee Anne Murray and Shea M. Brakefield, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Fentress Farmers Cooperative and Sentry Insurance A Mutual Company.

Michael Anthony Walker, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Dan A. Conatser.

Judge: HARRIS

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee sustained multiple injuries in a workrelated incident in April 2005, when approximately 1,500 pounds of stockade gates fell on him. The employee later returned to work for the employer in his previous position as a truck driver. The parties settled the employee’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits based upon a 34.5% permanent partial disability to the body as a whole, plus future medical benefits. The employee continued having bilateral shoulder pain as a result of his injuries and in August 2008 had surgery on his left shoulder to repair a torn rotator cuff. After the surgery, however, he developed an infection and required a second surgery, which revealed the failure of the rotator cuff repair. Because of the poor result of those surgeries, the employee declined the recommended surgery on his right shoulder. In February 2011, the employee filed a complaint seeking reconsideration of his previous award, alleging that he had ceased working for the employer in January 2010 because he could no longer physically perform his duties due to his earlier compensable injuries. The trial court found that the employee was entitled to reconsideration and awarded additional permanent partial disability benefits (with credit for the benefits previously paid). The employer has appealed. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. We affirm the trial court’s finding that the employee is entitled to reconsideration but reverse its finding as to permanent partial disability.


BETTY NORTON v. WHIRLPOOL CORP.

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

David T. Hooper, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, Whirlpool Corporation.

Russell D. Hedges, Tullhoma, Tennessee, for the appellee, Betty Norton.

Judge: HARRIS

In this workers’ compensation action, the employee alleged that she sustained permanent disability from a work-related injury to her right shoulder. Her employer denied that the injury caused a permanent disability. The trial court found that the employee was permanently and totally disabled as a result of her work injury and entered a judgment to that effect. The employer has appealed, contending that the trial court erred by finding permanent and total disability. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Municipality’s Extraterritorial Power to Require Plumbing Permits

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-07-22

Opinion Number: 56


Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Act

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-07-22

Opinion Number: 57


Constitutionality of Annexation by Ordinance

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2013-07-22

Opinion Number: 58


TBA Comments on Student Loan Default Rule

The TBA today filed a comment with the Tennessee Supreme Court on a proposal to establish a show cause procedure to suspend lawyers who become seriously delinquent or in default in payment of their federally-insured student loan obligations. In it's comment, the TBA points out that it fought legislation to encourage the establishment of such sanctions for such unrelated activities. In the comment the TBA presses for more thorough due process protections if the Court moves forward to adopting the rule.


Tenn. Black Caucus Calls for Review of 'Stand Your Ground' Law

In response to the not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the state legislature’s Black Caucus last week called for a review of the so-called “stand your ground” statute Tennessee has on the books. "Over the next few months, we will work with our fellow Representatives to review Tennessee’s ‘stand-your-ground’ law to determine whether portions of the law need to be repealed or replaced in order to ensure the safety of all Tennessee residents,” Rep. Larry Miller, a Democrat from Memphis and chairman of the Black Caucus, said in a July 17 statement. The Murfreesboro Post has the story.


Appeals Court: For-Profit Companies Do Not Have Religious Rights

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that for-profit companies do not have religious rights, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports. The ruling departs from a decision in June by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which ruled that craft chain Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Christian bookstore chain Mardel Inc. have the right to challenge a part of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul — namely, the requirement that employee health benefit insurance plans include free contraceptive coverage.


Panel of Federal Judges Weigh in on Pilot Lawsuits

The federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued no ruling yesterday in a fight over lawsuits filed against Pilot Flying J, Knoxnews reports. The hearing before the panel centered on the question of whether suits filed against the company in various judicial districts should be consolidated. Last week, Pilot reached a settlement with eight plaintiffs in connection with an alleged rebate fraud scheme by the Knoxville-based chain of truck stops. Other plaintiffs have not joined the settlement, though, and they are pushing to consolidate the cases in a different location. 


Halliburton to Plead Guilty in Gulf Spill

Oilfield services giant Halliburton will plead guilty to destroying computer test results that had been sought as evidence in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, WCYB reports. Company officials threw out test results that showed "little difference" between the number of devices Halliburton said was needed to center the cement casing in the well at the heart of the disaster and the number well owner BP installed, according to court papers. Halliburton has agreed to pay the maximum fines available, be put on probation for three years and cooperate with federal agencies that are still investigating the spill, the Justice Department said in a statement announcing Thursday's agreement. Halliburton is the last of the three major players to admit criminal wrongdoing in the 2010 blowout and resulting oil spill. BP has admitted to manslaughter and 13 other criminal counts and agreed to pay $4 billion in fines, while Transocean admitted to violating the Clean Water Act and paid $1.4 billion in civil and criminal penalties.


Players Ready to Sue Over Jock Tax

Pro athletes say they are ready to go to court over Tennessee’s tax on hockey and basketball players, Nashville Public Radio reports. At a hearing Thursday, lawmakers listened to arguments for and against repealing the state’s so-called “jock tax,” which is the highest in the nation by most measures. Twenty states tax professional athlete salaries, but most use a percentage. Tennessee’s levy is a straight fee – $2,500 per game with a cap of $7,500. That goes for both home and visiting teams. According to the NHL Players Association, 43 percent of athletes don’t even make $2,500 per game. The money has effectively gone to the respective team ownership groups, which have management organizations to run their city-owned arenas. The funding is supposed to go toward attracting concerts to the facilities through subsidies, though lawmakers note there is very little public accountability for how the money gets spent.


Chattanooga Planning Family Justice Center

The City of Chattanooga recently received a $240,000 state grant for the research and planning of a Family Justice Center, a resource center for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.  “Mayor (Andy) Berke made it clear that public safety is his number one issue and a part of that is domestic violence,” spokeswoman Lacie Stone said. “It’s a critical part of his agenda ... it is very important to Berke.”


Commissioner of Children’s Services Visits Jackson

The state’s new Commissioner of Children’s Services Jim Henry visited Jackson at the invitation of Madison County Juvenile Court Judge Christy Little. Henry was introduced to a number of Madison County Juvenile Court programs that are conducted in conjunction with the Department of Children’s Services and met with children and teens who highlighted the successes they have achieved through the programs.


Ginsburg Says Push for Voter ID Laws is Predictable

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she is not surprised that Southern states have pushed ahead with tough voter identification laws and other measures since the Supreme Court freed them from strict federal oversight of their elections. In an interview with The Associated Press, Ginsburg said that Texas' decision to implement its voter ID law hours after the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act last month was powerful evidence of an ongoing need to keep states with a history of voting discrimination from making changes in the way they hold elections without getting advance approval from Washington. “The notion that because the Voting Rights Act had been so tremendously effective we had to stop it didn't make any sense to me," Ginsburg said in a wide-ranging interview late Wednesday in her office at the court. "And one really could have predicted what was going to happen."


Knox County Mayor Approached about Senate Run

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett told WATE News 6 that state conservatives approached him to challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander in his 2014 reelection bid. Burchett says the possibility is flattering and a run in 2014 is something to look at. But he adds that he has no immediate plans to challenge Alexander in next year's election.


 
 

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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.


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