News

2017 Trial Date Set for Pilot Fraud Case

The Times Free Press reports a new trial date for former Pilot employees charged with fraud in a fuel rebate scheme has been set for Oct. 24, 2017. The trial was originally scheduled for April, but attorneys for the former Pilot employees asked a federal magistrate for more time to prepare, including sifting through a reported five terabytes of data collected by the government.

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Apple's Appeal Over Electronic Books Rejected

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal from Apple in a case where the company is charged with creating an illegal conspiracy with publishers to raise electronic book prices. The 2010 price hike was in an effort to compete with Amazon.com. Apple has agreed to pay $400 million to be distributed to consumers and $50 million for attorney fees and payments to states who brought the lawsuit, the Associated Press reports.

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Nashville Fashion Brands Gain National Attention

WPLN highlights the emerging fashion industry in Nashville, which includes nationally-recognized brand Elizabeth Suzann. "Developing and sustaining talented designers will take more than boot camps and favorable press mentions," reporter Abby White said. The TBA has taken note of the growing fashion brands in Nashville with its upcoming CLE, Tennessee Fashion Law: Protecting Brands, planned for March 31 at the Tennessee Bar Center.

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Pilot Employees Seek Delay in Fraud Trial

WATE reports eight former Pilot employees charged with fraud and witness tampering filed a motion to delay their April trial due to the “complex nature of the case.” Indictments against the employees, including the company’s former president, claim the employees were involved in a multi-million-dollar fuel rebate scheme. A status conference for the trial is scheduled tomorrow.

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Class Action Suit Filed Against Pilot for Fraudulent Behavior

Two class action suits filed against Pilot in Jefferson and Sevier counties accuse the filling station chain of allegedly breaching contract with customers and committing fraud by concealing information, WATE reports. The plaintiffs claim authorized messages appeared on card-readers for the amount they believed they had paid at the pump. The company, however, placed “holds” on their credit cards between $100-$500. Pilot Flying J said it has not received documentation of the lawsuit.

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Fantasy Sports Regulation Bill Advances

A Senate panel signed off Wednesday on a bill that would create an advisory task force to oversee fantasy sports websites, such as FanDuel and Draft Kings. The two major fantasy sports companies were accused last year of insider trading. The proposed nine-member force would be able to recommend any necessary statutory revisions to the state’s consumer protection laws, The Tennessean reports. The bill, presented by Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, now heads to the the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

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Guilty Pleas in Patient-Referral Kickback Schemes

Dr. Bruce Rubinowicz, who formally operated several sleep labs in Middle Tennessee, faces five years in prison and a $25,000 fine after pleading guilty Friday to taking cash kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals. Rubinowicz admitted to agreeing to receive cash kickbacks in exchange for referring patients to Nashville-based Air Affiliates, a medical supplier. Bradley Sensing, owner of Air Affiliates, and Lane Wilkinson, owner of a Columbia-based medical equipment supply company, also pleaded guilty to federal charges in the schemes. Read more from the Brentwood Home Page.

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Liquor Retailer Argues Bill is Anti-Trade

A Republican-backed bill that would create a two-store beer and liquor retailer limit has drawn criticism from a Maryland-based stored hoping to expand in Tennessee. Total Wine & More argues the bill (HB 2586 / SB 2094), sponsored by Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, and Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, is an effort to bar competition. Sponsors say the bill's main aim is to the allow supermarkets to stock up before a law allowing grocery stores to sell wine goes into effect July 1, the Associated Press reports.

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Tennessee Fashion Law: Protecting Brands and More

The TBA will offer a first-of-its-kind Tennessee Fashion Law CLE on March 31 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Topics include protecting fashion brands through copyright, regulations that govern merchandize labeling and disclosure, and employment issues unique to fashion law. The course, scheduled from 1 to 4:15 p.m., is approved for three CLE credits.

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Tennessee Oncology Files Lawsuit Over Cancer Drug

Nashville-based Tennessee Oncology is suing Genentech for false representation in the packaging of its cancer drug Herceptin, The Tennessean reports. Tennessee Oncology, represented by Bass Berry & Sims, claims the label on the drug misrepresents the amount of product after following the approved preparation instructions for the freeze-dried powder. Similar lawsuits are pending in six other states.

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Former Pilot President Arraigned on Fraud Charges

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports Former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood was arraigned today on charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud following a three-year investigation. Hazelwood joins seven others accused in a diesel fuel rebate fraud. Ten former Pilot employees have already pleaded guilty.

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Ethics Programs Planned Across Tennessee

Live programs in The Business of Lawyering Series and other ethics credits programs are planned this month in Memphis, Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville. The programs offer three hours of dual credit. Sessions include managing yourself and your support staff, engaging clients, ending the client relationship ethically and using social media to advertise. Online courses are also available on accounting basics, the state Department of Revenue and popular financial issues.

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AG Announces Settlement with Mortgage Lender

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced a $470 million joint state-federal settlement with HSBC, a mortgage lender and servicer. The settlement, which includes 48 other states and the District of Columbia, requires the company to provide 2,600 Tennessee borrowers with loan modifications or other relief. It also requires HSBC to change how it services mortgage loans, handles foreclosures and ensures the accuracy of information provided in federal bankruptcy court.

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Attorney, Distillery Owner to Speak About Entrepreneurship

Health care attorney and distillery owner Heath Clark will share “The Pitfalls of First-Year Entrepreneurship” on Feb. 5 at Williamson County’s First Friday breakfast program. Clark, a shareholder at Clark Business & Health Law, is the owner of H. Clark Distillery located in Thompson’s Station. According to Brentwood Home Page, the free program will be held from 7:30-9 a.m. at E|SPACES, 1550 West McEwen Drive, Suite 300 in Franklin. Register online.

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$6M Lawsuit Filed Against Former Miller Energy CEO

Deloy and Sharon Miller, founder of Miller Energy Resources, filed a lawsuit against former president and CEO Scott M. Boruff. The couple claims Boruff borrowed $6 million from them and has not repaid it. The company, formerly of Knoxville but now based in Houston, is going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in Alaska. Read more form the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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Court Rules Relief Offer Does Not Moot Class-Action Suits

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that businesses cannot stop a class-action lawsuit by offering to pay the full amount sought by the original plaintiff, The Hill reports. The 6-3 decision stems from a suit in which Jose Gomez said Detroit-based Campbell Ewald Co. violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act when it sent messages to young adults about the U.S. Navy. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a dissenting opinion.

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Crowdfunding Article, Forum Tackle Trends in Early-Stage Capital Raising

This story from Law Practice Today lays out the potential growth of capital development through crowdfunding. "As each country develops and implements regulations around this new industry and general awareness grows," the magazine reports, "estimates from a variety of sources indicate that the yearly total market potential of the crowdfunding industry could average around $300 billion by 2025."

The TBA Business Law Section will cover recent trends and related legal issues in early-stage capital raising at its upcoming Business Law Forum on May 20 in Nashville.

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Lawsuit Claims Logan's Roadhouse Stiffed Employees

At least half a dozen Chattanooga-area current and former employees of Logan’s Roadhouse have joined a class-action lawsuit against the Nashville-based restaurant chain. The employees, along with more than 3,000 nationwide, say Logan’s stiffed them by having them spend more than 20 percent of their time doing non-tipped side work while clocked in as tipped employees. The employees say they were only paid $2.13 an hour and claim the company forced them to falsely report “phantom tips” to make it look like they were being paid the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Logan’s denies the lawsuit’s allegations, the Times Free Press reports

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Ethical Campaign Courses Online

Ethical campaign courses are now available online from the Tennessee Bar Association. The TBA CLE programs offer guidance for state and local lawmakers, judges, candidates for executive, judicial or legislative positions, and campaign chairs and their counsel. Topics include finance compliance, election law and ethics.

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ABA Business Law Section Hosts Student Writing Contest

The 2016 Mendes Hershman Student Writing Contest, hosted by the American Bar Association Business Law Section, is accepting entries. Authors must be a student enrolled at an ABA-accredited law school at the time of submission and papers must have been written in the 2015-2016 or current academic year. Submissions are due Jan. 15, 2016. Prizes include up to $2,500 and an all-expense paid trip to attend the ABA Business Law Section Spring Meeting in Montreal, Canada.

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Opinion Explains When Out-of-Sate Businesses Can be Sued in Tennessee

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an opinion on Dec. 14 explaining when out-of-state businesses may be sued in Tennessee. The unanimous opinion follows First Community Bank suing several in-state and out-of-state financial service providers after the bank lost millions of dollars in investments. The court found that First Community was unable to establish that Tennessee courts have jurisdiction over certain out-of-state providers. However, it sent the case back to trial court for First Community to conduct additional discovery under new guidelines outlined in the opinion. Read more from the court.

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Columns: Evolving Legal Markets, Robin Williams, Banking and Fred Thompson

In this issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal, TBA President Bill Harbison writes about the "disruptive changes" that are occurring in the delivery of legal services. Columnist Eddy Smith details the genius of Robin Williams' estate plan and Kathryn Reed Edge covers banking and the U.S. Supreme Court. In his column, Bill Haltom remembers Sen. Fred Thompson and his tremendous contributions to the law and history.

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Business Court Shares Results at 6-Month Mark

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s business litigation pilot project granted review to 28 cases in the program’s first six months. The business court, located in Davidson County, also achieved expedited results: six cases were resolved and the time to finalize them ranged from between 30 days to just 164 days. In Georgia, the average time of resolution is 608 days. “Although it’s still early in the process, these preliminary reports underscore that this specialized docket is meeting the litigation needs of the business and legal community and that our case management plan is working,” Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee said. "We appreciate Davidson County Chancery Court being willing to serve as the pilot for this innovation in our ongoing efforts to streamline the judiciary."

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Bloomberg Write-On Competition Accepting Articles

The 2016 Bloomberg Law Write-On Competition is open for submissions on topics impacting the legal landscape. Ten winners will have their articles published in a national Bloomberg BNA Law Report and receive $2,500. Submissions must be received by Feb. 17.

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New For-Profit Benefit Corporation Act, 3 Hours of CLE

Learn about Tennessee's new For-Profit Benefit Corporation Act, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016, at a CLE on Dec. 7. Hear from a panel of TBA members who drafted the legislation at a live program or via a live webcast. The course is approved for three CLE credits.

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