News

Tennessee and Federal Tax Law Annual Forum 2017

Make plan now to join us for this year’s tax forum. It will focus on both Tennessee and federal tax issues. We will have representatives from the Department of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service to provide in-person updates on current topics. Topics to be covered during the forum include an introduction to international tax issues, tax issues in hiring family members, lien subordination issues, and licensing and taxing issues in a multi-state practice. Click here to sign up today.

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‘Architect’ of Pilot Flying J Scam, 3 Others Plead Guilty

The man called the “architect” of the Pilot Flying J diesel fuel rebate scam and three other ex-employees of the company have struck a deal with authorities to plead guilty and cooperate in the ongoing investigation, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Ringleader John “Stick” Freeman, John Spiewak, Vicki Borden and Katy Bibee signed plea agreements today admitting to their involvement in the multi-million dollar scam in which smaller trucking companies were promised certain rebates but were paid much less.
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Item of Interest

Below is an article that was published in the the Disability Section Connect. We thought it had information that would be of interest to those of you in this section as well.  

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Business Law Section to Meet at TBA Convention

Please make plans to join the TBA Business Law Section for a business meeting that will be held in conjunction with 2017 Tennessee Bar Association Convention. The TBA Tax Law Section meeting is scheduled as follows:

Date/Time:

Friday, June 16, 2017
 2 – 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time

Location:

Meadowview Marriott
, 1901 Meadowview Parkway, Kingsport, TN 37660
 (423) 578-6600

Room Location – Holston-Watauga Room

A conference call will be available for those unable to join us in person. The following are the instructions for joining the call:

You will dial in on the following number: 1-855-795-9620

You will then be prompted to enter the following conference ID number, followed by the pound (#) sign: 4424167#

 

Items for discussion include:

  1. Ideas for CLE programming and webcasts
  2. Pro Bono Opportunities
  3. What items would you like to see in your inbox?  Getting the most out of your Section Connects.
  4. Networking and Mentoring within the Section
     

Advance registration for the TBA Convention is now closed, however, you can still register at the event.

You do not have to be registered for convention to attend this cection meeting. We hope to see you there!

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Shelby County May Sue Pharma Companies for Opioid Crisis

Shelby County attorneys are exploring a suit against big pharmaceutical companies to recover costs from fighting the county’s opioid epidemic, The Commercial Appeal reports. The attorneys could have a recommendation sometime this month. The states of Ohio and Mississippi have already filed similar lawsuits, and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, recently asked state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to join them
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First Tennessee v. Pinnacle Financial to Head to Trial

A legal battle between First Tennessee Bank and Pinnacle Financial Partners over the latter’s entry into the Memphis market is set for a jury trial, the Memphis Daily News reports. Shelby County Chancellor Jim Kyle yesterday denied a motion for partial summary judgment made by First Tennessee. The action was first brought in 2015 originally only against Damon Bell, the First Tennessee executive vice president recruited by Pinnacle to serve as its Memphis president. The recruitment was a culmination of secret efforts to recruit Bell and others while they were still employed by First Tennessee, the 2016 amended complaint alleges.
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Judge Rejects Pilot Execs Account of Federal Agents as ‘Storm Troopers’

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton has rejected the portrait drawn by former Pilot Flying J executives of federal agents as scary “storm troopers” who bullied them into talking, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. “The court finds that nothing about the ongoing execution of the search warrant transformed the familiar office location into an environment that a reasonable person would deem to be hostile,” Guyton wrote. Attorney for former Pilot Flying J executives wanted to keep jurors from hearing anything they said to agents during a 2013 Tax Day raid on the company’s headquarters.
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Suit Filed Over Pinnacle Acquisition Deal

Tennessee-based Pinnacle Bank has hit a snag in its attempt to acquire North Carolina-based BNC Bancorp – a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the BNC Bancorp shareholders, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The suit alleges that BNC’s board of directors "failed to disclose certain material information that is necessary for shareholders to properly assess the fairness of the proposed merger, thereby rendering certain statements in the proxy incomplete and misleading."
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SCOTUS Ruling on Printer Cartridges Has Major Retail Ramifications

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on printer toner cartridges this week protects a consumer’s “right to tinker,” The Washington Post reports. The Court found that in Impression Products v. Lexmark, Lexmark’s patent rights on their toner cartridges were not violated by Impression Products refilling Lexmark cartridges at a cheaper price. The decision has implications for companies that try to use patent law to restrict what consumers can do with their products after purchase. 
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Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.

How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines at http://www.tba.org/submit-an-article, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.

If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Commission on CLE & Specialization at http://www.cletn.com/.

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Tips for Utilizing Phase 2 of Business Court Pilot Project

With Phase 2 of the Supreme Court’s innovative Business Court Docket Pilot Project now underway, Nashville attorney Stephen Zralek of Bone McAllester Norton offers several takeaways for Tennessee attorneys interested in using the court. Zralek's blog post talks about what sizes and types of claims will be considered in the new phase of the pilot and when they needed to be filed to be considered. The initial phase of the pilot project drew praise from Gov. Bill Haslam, as well as legislative leaders, economic development officers and business leaders across Tennessee. “Phase 1 proved to be a great success,” said Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins. “I am very confident that Phase 2 will be even more successful.”

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TBA Convention in Kingsport is Just Around the Corner

Registration is open for the 2017 TBA Annual Convention. This years programming offers plenty of opportunities to make new friends and renew acquaintances with colleagues from across the state. The highlight comes Thursday night with the Kingsport Karnival at the downtown Farmers Market. Along with fabulous food and drink, there will be live music from two bands, an aerialist, juggler, magician, body and face painters, caricaturist and more. Plus, you'll have access to the fabulous Kingsport Carousel, the delightful project of community artisans. Special thanks to Eastman for support of this event! 

This years convention also offers 12 hours of CLE programming, highlighted by sessions on the Hatfields and McCoys, The Neuroscience of Decision-Making, and the popular Better Right Now wellness program. It is all set at the beautiful MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center. To receive the TBA $129 room rate, you must book your reservation by May 23. Book your room online now or call 423-578-6600.

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Call For Submissions — Law Practice Pointers

One of the benefits of being a TBA Section Member is having access to information from experienced practitioners to assist in your day-to-day practice. The sharing of this information amongst colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession. It is also a way of helping each other to maneuver the evolving legal market and strengthen your legal practice.

How can you help your fellow Section Members?  If you have some Law Practice Pointers you would like to share with your fellow section members, write an article between 300-500 words and submit it to the Section Coordinator for review and approval. These Law Practice Pointers can be related to a court opinion, piece of legislation, or current event or industry trend that affects the practice of law as it relates to the specific Section. The main requirement is to make sure the article gives lawyers practical tips, based on experience, to include in their day-to-day practice.

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TBA Limited Partnership Bill Adopted By Legislature

The TBA’s Tennessee Uniform Limited Partnership Act (TULPA) was adopted by unanimous vote of the House this week, clearing its last legislative hurdle. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton), modernizes and harmonizes provisions of the limited partnership law with other forms of business organization. The 110th General Assembly adjourned today and will reconvene on Jan. 9, 2018. 
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Former Legislator Convicted in Financial Scheme

Former state legislator and CEO Larry Bates has been convicted alongside his two sons and daughter-in-law in a financial scheme involving the buying and selling of gold and silver coins, the Commercial Appeal reports. The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee said today that Bates and his family members were convicted on counts of mail and wire fraud and conspiracy. 
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TBA Limited Partnership Bill Recommended for Passage

The TBA’s Tennessee Uniform Limited Partnership Act (TULPA) cleared its last major Senate hurdle today when the Senate Finance Committee recommended it for passage. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton), modernizes and harmonizes the provisions of the limited partnership law with other forms of business organization. The bill had to win Finance Committee approval because of a small fiscal note associated with filing fees. With the Finance Committees in both houses appearing to be close to wrapping up the budget, the General Assembly is expected to adjourn for the year early next week.

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Third-Party Litigation Trend Growing

Commercial third-party litigation financing has grown from an uncommon occurrence in the 90’s — estimated at maybe $100 million worth of funding — to a $4 billion industry with at least 30 dedicated funders in 2017, the Memphis Daily News reports. This type of litigation is seen by funders as a way to diversify their investments, but it has drawn criticism from some, who suggest the financing helps “unmeritorious cases" move ahead because it spreads risk across a broad portfolio of litigation. Memphis attorney Lucian Pera offered a counterpoint, noting “Nobody puts $1 million into a $10 million claim if they’re not convinced there’s some merit there.”
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Committees Move Campaign Finance Bill, Asset Forfeiture, Probate Clean Up

Tennessee House and Senate committees both moved forward with legislation that would double the number of campaign finance audits, the Tennessean reports. Also at the legislature, the asset forfeiture bill, as amended in the House, was recommended for adoption in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The TBA-backed probate clean up legislation, sponsored by Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntington), cleared a Senate committee with minor changes.
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TBA Members Pleased with Business Court Pilot Project

TBA members say they are pleased with the Business Court pilot project, which is just completing its first phase. “We have heard nothing but positive feedback from our members who have used the program,” said TBA President Jason Long. “We look forward to the implementation of Phase II.” Since its inception, nearly 90 business cases have been transferred to the docket. Here’s a look at what will take place in Phase 2.
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Business Court Pilot Project Moves to Phase 2

The Tennessee Supreme Court is launching Phase 2 of the Tennessee Business Court Docket Pilot Project, following the success of the initial phase of the program, which began in 2015. Since its inception, nearly 90 business cases have been transferred to the docket. “In addition to assisting businesses by providing a specialized docket to address complex business disputes, it also helps cases involving citizens of our states by speeding up other dockets,” Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins says of the program. Tennessee is one of 29 states with a specialized court for complex business issues.
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CLE Outlines How to Change Your Practice to Meet Market Demands

The fourth and final CLE in the “Modern Law Practice Series” will explore emerging trends in the delivery of legal services and how focusing on consumer behavior could benefit your law firm. This session will examine the ways in which consumer-facing companies like Avvo and LegalZoom have capitalized on tailoring services to the needs of the modern legal client and how you can adjust your practice to meet those same demands. The program will be held April 13, and will be available in person and on-demand.

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Energy Investment Business Fined $170K for Fraud

A former Nashville-based energy investment business was fined $170,000 for selling securities that were not registered; selling securities without being registered as a broker-dealer or an investment adviser; and engaging in a scheme to defraud investors, the Nashville Post reports. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Securities Division announced the punishment for Royal Energy of Tennessee and its operator, John G. Westine, today. Westine currently resides in a federal penitentiary due to federal criminal prosecution in Kentucky.
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Uniform Limited Partnership Bill Passes Committee

The Tennessee Uniform Limited Partnership Act of 2017, drafted by a joint committee of the Tennessee Bar Association’s business and tax law sections, passed its first committee today with unanimous support in the House Business and Utilities Subcommittee. This legislation coordinates the limited partnership statute with those governing corporations and limited liability companies, updates the law for limited partnerships to operate in the modern business environment while allowing current limited partnerships to operate under existing law. This bill is the first of the TBA’s legislative package to be on a legislative calendar and is sponsored by Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, in the House and Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Brentwood, in the Senate. You can learn more and show your support via TBAImpact.

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Resolution to Retaliate Against California Clears Senate Panel

A resolution to condemn California’s ban on state-funded travel to Tennessee has passed a state Senate panel, the Times Free Press reports. The resolution requests Gov. Bill Haslam and the legislature to retaliate in kind. California instituted the state-funded travel ban against states with laws that were deemed discriminatory towards LGBT persons. The Tennessee resolution, sponsored by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, received criticism from fellow Republicans for what it could mean for economic development with the Golden State, which boasts the world's seventh largest economy.
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Next Week: Corporate Counsel Forum

Join your colleagues March 3 for the 2017 Corporate Counsel Forum, with topics ranging from technology's influence on the modern law practice to recent developments in employment law. Speakers will address cyber security and privacy, as well as productivity tools for the present-day corporate counsel. Another session covers the EEOC's new rules on what incentives employers may provide to employees who provide medical information as part of a wellness program under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
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