News

Judge Rules Former Titans Player to Pay in Lawsuit

A judge has ruled against former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright in a lawsuit filed by Fantex, which sued him over back payments. The Nashville Post reports that Wright must pay the company, which sells shares in professional athletes against their future earnings, a total of more than $386,000, including damages and attorney fees. Wright was one of 10 professional athletes who served as “tracking stocks” for the company when it filed for an initial public offering in 2015.
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Purdue Pharma Asks Judge to Toss Tennessee Opioid Lawsuit

Purdue Pharma has asked a Knox County judge to toss Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s lawsuit against the firm that blames it in part for the opioid crisis, Knoxnews reports. Slatery’s lawsuit focuses on high-pressure sales tactics Purdue staffers utilized towards under-skilled doctors to push OxyContin prescriptions. Purdue blames the problem on “doctors who wrote improper prescriptions” that the company "has no control over.” 
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Woman Owned, Minority Firm Opens Nashville Office

A Memphis-based law firm, McCullough Law, PLLC, recently opened a Nashville office, The Tennessee Tribune reports. This woman-owned boutique firm is also a minority business; it employs 14 women in various roles from attorney to administrator. Carlee McCullough, founder of the firm, served as the legal advisor of the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission as well as the Memphis and Shelby County Film & Television Commission. The firm concentrates in a variety of legal areas including business, entertainment and many others. Christian West-Coleman is heading up the Nashville office.

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Rep. Chris Collins Charged with Insider Trading

Republican Rep. Christopher Collins of New York has been charged with insider trading, stemming from an incident that took place on the White House lawn during the annual congressional picnic in June 2017, The New York Times reports. Members of his family sold their stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics within days of the delivery of a private email from the head of the company, revealing the failure of the company’s only product in a clinical trial. Collins called his son within minutes of the email; the sale of the stock over the next couple days saved his son over $570,000 in losses. His son then passed the tip to his fiancée and her father. Collins’ son and his fiancée’s father have also been charged with insider trading and lying to investigators. Collins pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and was released after agreeing to produce a $500,000 bond within two weeks.

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Tesla Subpoenaed by S.E.C. Following Elon Musk Tweet

Tesla has been served with a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission just days after an Aug. 7 tweet from its chief executive, Elon Musk, The New York Times reports. In the tweet, Musk stated he was considering taking Tesla private and that the financing for this possible conversion was "secured." However, neither Tesla nor Musk have actually secured financing beyond initial conversations with investors. Prior to the tweet, the S.E.C. had already begun inquiring about issues at Tesla related to Martin Tripp, a former Tesla engineer who filed a whistle-blower complaint against the company, accusing them of deceiving investors about particular production figures. Tesla has secured a law firm to handle the committee’s investigation; however, the scope of the investigation is unclear at this time.

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Section Seeks Your Opinions on Upcoming Law Office Technology Forum

To help build programming for its upcoming Law Tech Forum, the TBA Law Office Technology and Management Executive Council is asking your opinions. Completing this brief web form will assist in ensuring the forum remains timely, relevant and on the cutting edge. Comments can be related to subject matter, length and location of the event. Please respond by Sept. 7. 

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New U.S. Law Targets Tech Giants

President Trump on Monday signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act into law, effectively banning U.S. governmental agencies from purchasing or using certain telecommunications and surveillance products, according to Mashable. Two specific Chinese technology companies — ZTE and Huawei — were named in the bill. ZTE is the U.S.’s fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer. Contractors and companies using communication devices with a “substantial or essential component” manufactured by the specified companies will need to replace the technology if they wish to conduct business with the government. National security concerns about both companies have been previously expressed by U.S. intelligence officials. Huawei has expressed disdain and concern about the legislation. This bill will go into effect over the next two years.
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Judge Overturns $19 Million Award to Nashville-based Company

A Nashville-based physician services company will not receive $19 million in damages from a rival company after a Tennessee Court of Appeals judge overturned a 2016 ruling, The Nashville Post reports. Nashville's SpecialtyCare sued Pennsylvania-based Medsurant in 2015 over Medsurant's alleged interference in SpecialtyCare's takeover of a smaller company. Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy cited Medsurant repeatedly for not cooperating in the discovery process, and eventually ruled against them on the basis of intentionally destroying evidence to avoid liability. Medsurant's attorneys - Brant Phillips, Russell Stair and Matt Sinback of Bass Berry & Sims; Bob Mendes of Waypoint Law and Richard Simins of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads - appealed, arguing that the chancellor had made numerous mistakes, the punitive damages were excessive and their clients had overall not received a fair hearing. Judge Kenny Armstrong agreed. "From the totality of the circumstances, we conclude that the grant of default judgment as a sanction for discovery abuses was error," Armstrong wrote.

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Put TBA UPS to Work

Have you enrolled in TBA’s UPS account for members? Visit UPS's TBA page and save up to 34 percent on UPS’s broad portfolio. Shipping services include next day air, international, ground and express.
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Transactional Practice 2018

The Transactional Practice program will be held at the Tennessee Bar Center on Sept. 28. This program will provide lawyers with the information, tools and tips needed to successfully handle transactional, traditional business and probate matters. Learn practical approaches to real estate transactions, wills & trusts, probate and bankruptcy matters, and issues specific to health care transactions. The day will wrap up with a presentation about ethics in the practice of law. Earn up to six hours of CLE.
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Law Office Management Tips on Shipping

If your law office uses shipping services, your TBA membership team can help you compare those costs to TBA’s UPS member benefit. Your firm office manager can work directly with TBA staff and UPS services to enroll or transfer shipping accounts. Members can save up to 34 percent on UPS’s broad portfolio of shipping services, including next day air, international, ground and express.
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Cyber-attack Concerns Leads TVA to Boost Security Efforts

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is investing heavily in monitoring systems and equipment for its recently opened Cybersecurity Operations Center in Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The TVA sees tens of thousands of attempts daily to hack into the company’s networks, the report says. With recent concerns of attacks using these means, including new evidence of attempted Russian cyber-attacks against American power utilities, the TVA is employing a staff of 38 TVA employees and another 20 to 30 contract workers devoted solely to cyber-security. The TVA is the nation's largest government-owned power utility, with 29 power-generating dams, seven nuclear reactors and multiple connections to the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons production arsenal.

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Chattanooga Women Sue Uber Over Driver’s Sexual Misconduct

Two women have filed suit against Uber, claiming that a Chattanooga driver sexually assaulted one of them and exposed himself to the other, Chattanoogan.com reports. John Kyle Lane was eventually indicted by the Hamilton County Grand Jury, charged with sexual battery in connection with a July 22, 2017, incident and another incident 15 days later. The lawsuit said Uber "acted with deliberate disregard for the safety of the public" in allowing Lane to continue as one of its drivers. 
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How Blockchain Technology Can Save Healthcare

Forbes takes an in-depth look at how blockchain technology can help the healthcare industry. Medical records, consent management and micropayments are three areas that could benefit from this technology. Data integrity still remains a big question around new technology, but opportunities exist to move the industry into a new age.

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LegalZoom Gains $2 Billion Valuation

LegalZoom.com raised $500 million at a $2 billion valuation to help pay out some investors, Bloomberg reports. The deal signals LegalZoom's progress since a 2012 initial public offering was aborted. The company is increasing revenue at about 20 percent a year with profit margins above 20 percent, according to its CEO.
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Destination CLE Survey

Let's take a trip! The TBA CLE Committee would like your feedback on destination CLE events. Taking a moment to complete this brief survey will greatly assist us in developing the best CLE experience for you. Please complete this survey by Aug. 10. We greatly appreciate your help with this endeavor.
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Tax Law Forum 2018

The annual Tax Law Forum will be held at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville on Sept. 17. Sessions will focus on the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Topics include the new pass-through entity tax law, an overview of the changes to international tax law, corporate and other business tax changes as well as non-profit law changes.

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Prosecutors Speak Out On Pilot Flying J Official's Attempt at New Trial

Federal prosecutors are speaking out against former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood’s motion for a new trial in his case, in which he was convicted in a scheme to rip off smaller trucking companies, Knoxnews reports. “Hazelwood was fairly tried, and his motion for new trial should be soundly rejected,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Trey Hamilton and David Lewen wrote in a response filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court.
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State AGs Allowed Purdue Pharma to Police Itself, Records Show

Amidst an ongoing lawsuit in which Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s office is suing opioid maker Purdue Pharmaceuticals for its role in the opioid epidemic, newly revealed records show that the drug maker cut a deal with the attorneys general for 27 states, in which it would police itself using guidelines set by a group funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Knoxnews reports that it would be years after the deal before the Tennessee attorney general’s office would look into the matter, leading to the accusation that Purdue deliberately deceived the AGs and the U.S. Justice Department.
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Judge Denies Injunction in Dental Services Duel

A Davidson County chancellor denied Nashville orthodontics startup SmileDirectClub an injunction against Align Technology, its competitor, supplier and investor, the Nashville Post reports. Arbitration between the two companies is expected to take place by the end of the year. SmileDirect sued Align in April after the latter company upped its stake in SmileDirect to 19 percent ownership. SmileDirect argued that Align was violating an agreement by investing in the company and simultaneously seeking to launch a store similar to SmileDirect’s.
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Ownership of State’s First Hemp Dispensary in Litigation

Just a month after Tennessee’s first hemp dispensary opened its doors, the business is in litigation over ownership, the Daily News Journal reports. Jason Chambers and Josh Henrick declared themselves the sole owners of the company in a statement yesterday. The litigation is against a “former associate that has falsely claimed to be the CEO and owner of our company.”
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Bridgestone, IBM Agree to Settle in Nashville Federal Court

Bridgestone America and IBM have jointly requested dismissal of their lawsuits in federal court in Nashville, the Nashville Post reports. The legal battle has been ongoing since 2013, when Bridgestone filed a suit claiming IBM delivered a “defective” product during a $78 million overhaul of Bridgestone’s IT system. The company claimed IBM’s mistake resulted in more than $200 million in lost revenue. 
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Former Pilot Flying J President Blames Judge, Prosecutors, Attorney for Conviction

In a motion for a new trial filed yesterday, the new defense team for former Pilot Flying J president Mark Hazelwood blames his former attorney, a judge and federal prosecutors for his conviction in a fraud scheme, Knoxnews reports. Among other accusations, the motion blames U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier for allowing prosecutors to air recordings of Hazelwood using racial slurs and singing a racist song. Hazelwood is currently awaiting sentencing in the scheme, in which Pilot Flying J employees schemed to defraud smaller trucking companies.
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U.S. Supreme Court Rules for Amex in Antitrust Case

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday that American Express can continue contractually forbidding merchants from encouraging customers to use other credit cards with lower fees, CBS News reports. The case dates to 2010 when the Obama administration and more than a dozen states sued American Express, Visa and MasterCard for anti-steering rules. Visa and MasterCard have since changed their practices. “In this case, we must decide whether Amex’s antisteering provisions violate federal antitrust law. We conclude they do not,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the 5-4 majority opinion. 
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