News

Suit Claims Company Duped Tennessee Businesses

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Division of Consumer Affairs Director Cynthia Wiel filed suit today against three individuals for violating the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, Humphrey on the Hill reports. The government alleges that the three, who have been doing business in the state as the Division of Corporate Services or Annual Business Services, have been duping businesses into buying services by making solicitations that appear to be from the secretary of state’s office. Multiple businesses have reported receiving such communications, which offer to create an annual report of corporate meeting minutes or an “annual records statement.” Neither of these forms are legitimate or required by state officials. Any such solicitations should be reported to the Division of Consumer Affairs. 

read more »

‘Presnell on Privileges’ Also Named Top Blog

It turns out two Tennessee lawyers were named to the ABA Journal’s Top 100 Blawg listing for 2016. In addition to “Herston on Tennessee Family Law” by Knoxville lawyer K.O. Herston, Nashville litigator Todd Presnell’s blog “Presnell on Privileges” made this year’s list. Presnell's blog offers facts and analyses about rulings from federal and state courts around the country on attorney-client privilege issues. It also covers privilege-related lawsuits, legislation and op-eds. The ABA Journal has been identifying the best blogs for lawyers for the past 10 years through its ABA Blawg 100. Other law blogs from Tennessee attorneys can be found on the TBA.org website

read more »

Court Tackles Vehicular Homicides, Malpractice, Liquor Store Fees

The Tennessee Supreme Court has agreed to hear four East Tennessee cases, including a Claiborne County vehicular homicide case in which a lower appellate court set the admittedly guilty driver free. Another vehicular homicide case looks at whether a police officer should have sought a warrant before seeking a hospital blood draw from the defendant. The third case looks at whether a legal malpractice claim should have been dismissed for being filed too long after the alleged wrongdoing. And the fourth case explores whether the city of Morristown overcharged liquor stores with fees totaling a half-million dollars. Knoxnews reviews each case.

read more »

Future Unclear for Dodd-Frank’s Many Banking Changes

Throughout the course of the 2016 presidential campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised to rescind the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The 2010 law placed new regulations on banks and restricted the ways they can trade or speculate. It also created the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, amended legal protections for corporate whistleblowers and established new guidelines for corporate governance. Trump has argued the law has allowed big banks to get bigger, while putting community banks out of business. Some legal observers question whether the act can be repealed in its entirety given its scope. Several share their observations and predictions about the act’s future with the ABA Journal.

read more »

Tax Law Updates Now Available as Online Video

A number of CLE programs on current tax law issues are now available as online video. Programming includes sessions on the Tennessee Sales and Use Tax, including a discussion of technologies that impact tax policy; repeal of the Hall Income Tax and update on the Tennessee Tax Regulation Project; tax deferred exchanges under Section 1031 of the tax code; and proposed regulations under Section 385 dealing with inversions. Register for and watch these course at the links above.

read more »

Judge Blocks Obama Overtime Pay Rule

A federal judge today granted an emergency injunction against an Obama administration rule that would require mandatory overtime pay for more than four million workers, the Hill reports. U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant in Texas agreed with 21 states and a coalition of business groups that the rule, which was set to take effect Dec. 1, likely contradicted Congress-passed labor laws. The rule would have doubled to $47,500 the amount a worker must earn to be exempt from overtime pay.

read more »

Judge Rejects Cope’s Insider Trading Plea Deal

U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger yesterday rejected a plea deal agreed to by Murfreesboro lawyer and former Pinnacle Financial Partners board member James Cope. Trauger said the fine was too low compared to how much Cope is worth, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Under the deal, Cope was to pay a $55,000 penalty and serve two years of probation. He pleaded guilty in October to buying shares of Avenue Financial Holdings shortly before the Nashville-based bank announced its merger with Pinnacle, making more than $56,000 in the process. “What seems more appropriate to me is $200,000,” Trauger said about the penalty.

read more »

Report Looks at Trump’s International Businesses, Possible Conflicts

The Washington Post has prepared a list of President-elect Donald Trump’s global business dealings with respect to potential conflicts of interest as well as potential targets for attacks. At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East, the paper reports. There is no law that specifically requires a commander in chief to remove himself from his business interests, but presidents traditionally put their assets in a “blind trust” to avoid problems. So far, Trump has refused calls to sell or turn over his business interests to an independent manager. 

read more »

Deposition Date Set for Jimmy Haslam

Jimmy Haslam, CEO of Pilot Flying J, will sit down for a videotaped deposition on Dec. 13 in a variety of lawsuits brought by trucking companies that did not settle with Pilot as part of a nationwide settlement, Knoxnews reports. The remaining companies argue that Pilot conspired to shortchange customers on promised diesel fuel rebates. The suits follow a federal criminal investigation that led to charges against 18 Pilot employees, 10 of whom pleaded guilty and eight of whom still face trial. Pilot’s board of directors has admitted legal responsibility for the fraud but Haslam has maintained that he did not know anything about the scheme. Pilot paid $92 million to settle with the U.S. Department of Justice and $85 million to settle the class-action suit.

read more »

Implicit Bias Conference Draws 150+ in Memphis

The University of Memphis School of Law played host to more than 150 attendees today for a program called “Implicit (Unconscious) Bias: A New Look at an Old Problem.” Panelists explored the social science of implicit bias; examined the manifestations of bias in education, law enforcement, the media and business; and offered thoughts on a way forward. For more on the program visit the school's website.

read more »

CoreCivic Shares Rebound with Trump Win

Donald Trump’s presidential win yielded a strong rally for embattled prison operator CoreCivic, the Nashville-based company formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America. The Tennessean reports that company shares rose 43 percent Wednesday, halting several weeks of steep declines that had followed the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to stop using private prison operators. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had said that she would end federal contracts with private prisons and immigration detention centers. In the first presidential debate, she also said states should end their use of private operators as well.

read more »

Judge Merges AT&T, Comcast Lawsuits

U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp has granted Metro Nashville’s request to merge two lawsuits it is facing from AT&T and Comcast, and given the city until Monday to respond to the complaints, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The city was sued by the two companies after approving One Touch Make Ready, a utility-poll access policy that had been pushed by Google Fiber to speed up its local rollout.

read more »

UT Law Professor Authors Book on Digital Economy

Harvard University Press has published a new book by University of Tennessee College of Law Professor Maurice Stucke. The book, "Virtual Competition: The Promise and Perils of the Algorithm-Driven Economy," is co-authored by Ariel Ezrachi, a University of Oxford law professor. The book looks at today’s “app-assisted paradise of digital shopping” where big data and algorithmic pricing threaten antitrust laws, and analyzes whether the benefits to consumers outweigh the risks to competition, democratic ideals and economic well-being.

read more »

Info Session Friday for Patent Pro Bono Program

The TBA will host an information session and happy hour this Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. for those interested in learning more about Legal Assistance Volunteers for Patent Applicants (LAVPA), a program that helps under-resourced inventors and small businesses with their patent legal needs. The event is part of the TIPLA CLE and is sponsored by Patterson Intellectual Property. It will be held at Patterson’s office at 1600 Division St. # 500 in Nashville. For more information about the program, contact LAVPA Coordinator J. Scott “Skip” Rudsenske, 615-277-3207.

read more »

State to Share in $41M Fuel Economy Settlement

Tennessee will receive more than $965,000 as part of a $41.2 million multi-state settlement with Hyundai and Kia, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced today. The agreement resolves claims that the automakers misrepresented mileage and fuel economy ratings for some 2011, 2012 and 2013 model vehicles. The settlement, reached between attorneys general in 33 states and the District of Columbia and the Hyundai Motor Company, Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors Corporation and Kia Motors America, concludes a multi-state investigation into the fuel economy estimates during a period of especially high gasoline prices.

read more »

Judge Approves $15B Volkswagen Settlement

A federal judge has approved one of the largest consumer settlements in U.S. history, a nearly $15 billion deal that sets in motion a massive vehicle buyback program and environmental remediation effort. According to the Tennessean, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer approved the sweeping agreement between consumers, the government, California regulators and the German automaker Volkswagen. The settlement comes about a year after the company admitted rigging 11 million vehicles worldwide with software designed to evade emissions standards. The company is still facing investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and German prosecutors, which could lead to additional financial penalties and criminal indictments. Those impacted can visit VWCourtSettlement.com for more information.

read more »

Comcast Sues Nashville over Utility Pole Ordinance

Comcast is suing Metro Nashville over its “One Touch Make Ready” ordinance, which is aimed at helping Google Fiber expand its gigabit Internet to the city. The law passed last month allows companies that need to attach to utility poles to move competitors’ equipment. AT&T also sued over the law last month. Both companies say the city does not have the authority to regulate utility poles in the way it is trying to do. The Nashville Business Journal reports on the development.

read more »

High Court to Review Business Court Docket

The Tennessee Supreme Court is celebrating the success of its pilot Business Court, which has been operating as part of the Davidson County Chancery Court since last year. According to the Administrative Office of the Courts, more than 100 cases have been considered for transfer to the Business Court, with 87 of those being granted. The Supreme Court now says it will stop accepting new cases after Oct. 31 so it can conduct a review of the program and make any refinements necessary to move toward statewide implementation. Comments about the business docket can be submitted to the court via email.

read more »

Case Studies in Captive Insurance

Did you miss the TBA CLE course on captive insurance earlier this month? If so, you can watch a webcast of the session for up to a year. Watch as Andrew Rhea and Benjamin Whitehouse provide a brief overview of the field of captive insurance and use real life examples to illustrate how businesses conduct feasibility studies to determine how to structure a captive.

read more »

Learn More about New FAA Drone Rules

Did you miss the Oct. 6 TBA CLE webcast with James Mackler talking about new drone laws set by the FAA? Good news! The video is available for one year on the TBA website. The session covers the use of drones in business, government and by hobbyists, as well as the unique regulatory environment related to each. The course also looks at state laws, privacy and trespass issues, liability and insurance issues and current litigation.

read more »

Transactional Practice CLE Set for Nashville

A CLE on transactional practice will be held Oct. 14 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Sessions will provide lawyers with the information, tools and tips needed to successfully handle transactional and traditional business matters. Speakers will cover probate matters, mergers and acquisitions, corporate and LLC formations and real estate transactions. Learn more or register online.

read more »

AG Announces $133M Settlement with USA Discounters

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III and attorneys general from 49 other states and the District of Columbia today announced a settlement with retailer USA Discounters, also doing business as USA Living and Fletcher’s Jewelers. The settlement resolves claims that the company engaged in unfair, abusive, false and deceptive acts and practices. USA Discounters sold consumer products, including furniture, appliances, televisions, computers and jewelry, principally on credit, and typically marketed to members of the military and veterans. The total value to consumers is estimated at $95.9 million, which will primarily benefit active service members and veterans. Read more from the attorney general's office.

read more »

HHS Prohibits Forced Arbitration by Nursing Homes

The federal Department of Health and Human Services today issued a new rule that will prohibit long-term care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid from forcing residents into arbitration. Nursing homes and patients can still enter into arbitration if they choose, but contracts may not be written to automatically compel both parties into arbitration. The rule is part of a major revamp of consumer protections at long-term care facilities, Consumerist reports. The rule will go into effect Nov. 28 and have no effect on the “enforceability of existing pre-dispute arbitration agreements” according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

read more »

CCA Announces Nashville Layoffs

Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) plans to cut between 50 and 55 jobs at its headquarters as part of a restructuring and cost-reduction plan, the company announced today. The decision follows a rough stretch for CCA, whose stock price plummeted last month after the Justice Department announced it would stop using private prisons like the ones the company owns and operates. The Nashville Business Journal has more on the company’s restructuring plans.

read more »

Suit Challenges New Overtime Rules

More than 50 business groups and 21 states have filed suit in the Eastern District of Texas to stop new overtime rules imposed by the Department of Labor. The suit alleges that the department unconstitutionally overstepped its authority when it established a federal minimum salary level for white collar workers. The rule, set to go into effect Dec. 1, doubles the salary threshold under which workers qualify for overtime pay, from $455 per week to $913 per week. The Labor Department estimates the rule will impact an additional 4.2 million workers. KIII-TV 3 of South Texas has the story.

read more »