Ethics Opinion: Fees Sharing OK in Some Cases

Can a lawyer working in a jurisdiction that has adopted the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct share fees with lawyers who aren’t bound by the no-fee-sharing restriction? In some cases, the answer is yes, according to an ABA ethics opinion. “Where there is a single billing to a client in such situations,” Formal Opinion 464 says, “a lawyer subject to the Model Rules may divide a legal fee with a lawyer or law firm in the other jurisdiction, even if the other lawyer or law firm might eventually distribute some portion of the fee to a nonlawyer, provided that there is no interference with the lawyer’s independent professional judgment.” has more.

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

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TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Aubrey T. Givens and John Clark, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellant, Aubrey E. Givens, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Jessica E. Givens, Deceased.

J. Eric Miles and Michael F. Jameson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee, Hardie V. Sorrels, III, M.D.

Judge: KIRBY

This is an appeal from a jury verdict. The plaintiff filed this lawsuit against the defendant physician, claiming that his medical malpractice caused the death of the decedent. The trial court conducted an eight-day jury trial on the plaintiff’s claims. The jury ultimately rendered a verdict in favor of the defendant physician. The plaintiff now appeals, asking this Court to reverse the trial court’s judgment on the verdict on the basis of numerous alleged errors. After careful review of the record, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Emeterio R. Hernando, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lettitia S.1

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Derek C. Jumper, Assistant Attorney General, Mary Byrd Ferrar, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.

Trisha A. Bohlen, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for Kaitlyn B.S. and Mackenzie L.S.


The Bedford County Juvenile Court terminated the parental rights of the mother of two children on the grounds of failure to support, substantial noncompliance with the permanency plans, and persistence of conditions, and upon the determination that termination of mother’s rights was in the best interests of the children. The father executed a voluntary surrender of parental rights to the children. Mother appeals. Finding the evidence clear and convincing, we affirm.

Today's News

Court: Farm Music Festivals Not Really Farming

The state Supreme Court has ruled that "agritourism" is not the sort of activity the legislature was trying to protect in exempting farmers from nuisance complaints, Knoxnews reports. The court was deciding if a farmer hosting a music festival was protected under the Right to Farm Act, or if his neighbor's complaint that it was a noisy nuisance was valid.  “We find it significant that the General Assembly chose to use the word ‘production’ alone in its definition of ‘farm operation,’” Justice William Koch wrote in the opinion. “It did not include ‘marketing,’ as other states have done in similar contexts. Marketing activities are not mentioned elsewhere in the Tennessee Right to Farm Act, and we have found no reference to marketing in the legislative history of the Act or any of its amendments.”

Attorney for Vandy Football Player Says DA Has Been Fair

"The DA's office has been fair and truthful in its dealings with us throughout its dealings in this case," Roger May told the media Wednesday. Boyd is representing Vanderbilt student Chris Boyd, who is charged as an accessory after the fact and accused of taking part in an attempted cover-up of the sexual assault by helping one of the defendants indicted on the rape charges. May said he was "setting the record straight" after Boyd's father earlier this week made claims that the Metro District Attorney’s Office had done "irreparable damage to his son's character and integrity, and that the indictment was unnecessary." The Tennessean has the story and video.

Sheriff Threatens to 'Stack Violators Like Cordwood' After ICE Decision

Immigrant-advocacy groups in Knox County are not happy with their sheriff, Jimmy “J.J.” Jones, after he responded to the news that the 287(g) immigration enforcement program has been rejected by federal officials. The government "used sequestration as a smokescreen to shirk its responsibilities for providing safety and security to its citizens," he wrote on his website. " I will continue to enforce these federal immigration violations with or without the help of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If need be, I will stack these violators like cordwood in the Knox County Jail until the appropriate federal agency responds."  Rev. John Gill, representing more than 20 congregations and the Interfaith Worker Justice of East Tennessee says Jones takes a "very human issue and moral issue … and turns it into what appears to be a political issue for him." WBIR has the story

Biggers Named to 'Smart on Crime' Team

Federal prosecutor C. David Biggers Jr. has been appointed local coordinator of prevention and re-entry as part of the government’s recently announced “Smart on Crime” initiative. Under the new program, Biggers will oversee efforts on crime prevention and on felons’ successful re-entry into society after being released from prison. The “Smart on Crime” plan to modernize the federal criminal justice system was announced recently by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a speech to the American Bar Association. The Commercial Appeal reported the news.

Assets Frozen of HRC Owners' Wives

Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Amanda McClendon has agreed with prosecutors that the wives of the men running HRC Medical, the former hormone replacement company based in Nashville, were in on the efforts to divert more than a million dollars from the company. Bonnie Hale and Dixie Hale, married to Dan and Don Hale, are now also embroiled in the state of Tennessee's lawsuit against HRC. A judge has ordered that both women's assets be frozen.  Last fall, the attorney general sued HRC alleging the company had put thousands of patients' lives in danger by failing to warn them about the risks and side effects of their so-called bio-identical hormone therapy. Learn more from the Attorney General's office.

Blount Co. Youth Court Seeks Volunteers

Friday is the deadline to apply to be on the Blount County Youth Court, which hopes to be up and running October, The Daily Times reports. The group is looking for about 30 jurors -- Blount County residents in grades 9 through 12 "with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives." Learn more and download the application.

Last Set of Nixon Tapes Released

The last batch of tapes from President Richard Nixon have been released by the National Archives, CNN reports. The 340 hours of recordings are the last installment of a record that has kept historians busy for four decades. They run from April 1973 through that July, when the microphones were turned off after a probing Congress learned of their existence. This set includes calls of support from two future presidents following the April 30 speech: Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Bush, then the Republican Party's chairman, told Nixon, "I was really proud of you, and my golly, I know it was tough, and I just wanted to tell you that." Nixon replied, "Well, good for you, George."


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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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