News

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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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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Filing Deadline Changed for Certain State Tax Returns

The due date for certain Tennessee franchise and excise tax returns, business tax returns and Hall income tax returns will be April 18, instead of April 15, to be consistent with the Internal Revenue Service federal income tax filing deadline, the state Department of Revenue says. For more information, please see the department's website.

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Pilot Flying J Informant Claims Company Cheated Feds

The Pilot Flying J diesel rebate fraud scheme cheated not just trucking companies across the U.S. but also the federal government, according to a former Morgan Stanley broker who claims he helped the FBI in the original case. Knownews reports that John Verble, who is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a request for federal whistleblower protection, alleges that Pilot Flying J swindled the U.S. Postal Service out of large sums in promised fuel rebates. Pilot’s attorney said the accusation is not true.
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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
 
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
 
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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State Faces Legal Challenge Over Online Sales Tax

Tennessee is facing a legal challenge to the state requirement that online vendors collect state and local sales tax, according to comments from Gov. Bill Haslam reported by the Times Free Press. Haslam said that the legal challenge was a welcome opportunity to bring the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court. Details surrounding the proceeds are secret, with a Haslam official citing state confidentiality laws regarding taxpayer information.

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Settlement Requires Western Union to Develop Anti-Fraud Program

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced today a multistate settlement with the Western Union Company, following an investigation which focused on complaints from consumers who used Western Union’s services to send money to third parties involved in schemes to defraud consumers. The settlement requires Western Union to develop and put into action an anti-fraud program. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia participated in this settlement. Read more here.
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Firm Names New Memphis Managing Partner

Bass Berry and Sims announced that John Golwen, who has been with the firm since 2004, has been appointed managing partner at the firm's Memphis office, according to the Nashville Post. Golwen has had a more than 25 year legal career, during which he worked on business litigation and related disputes. He also chairs the firm’s business disputes practices group.
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ABA Section of Antitrust Law Releases Presidential Transition Report

The American Bar Association Section of Antitrust Law released its Presidential Transition Report today, outlining current state and federal antitrust and consumer protection law and policy, as well as recommendations for ways the Trump administration might consider strengthening policy and enforcement. The report includes calls for more transparency and consistency in investigations, concern about the competitive effects of emerging financial regulations, criticism of civil-penalty assessments and support for the importance of international engagement. 
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Price Fixing Milk Suit Means Cash for Tennesseans

If you bought milk in Tennessee or one of 15 other states in the past 13 years, you might be eligible for part of a settlement from a class-action suit alleging dairy co-ops conspired to reduce the size of their herds to raise the price of milk. A $52 million pool will be divided among lawyers and consumers who sign up at www.boughtmilk.com. The deadline to register is Jan. 31, WJHL reports.

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Takata Workers Indicted Over Air Bag Defects

A federal grand jury in Detroit has indicted three former employees of Takata Corp., charging them with concealing deadly defects in the Japanese company’s automotive air bag inflators, the Associated Press reports. The indictments on six counts of conspiracy and wire fraud were unsealed Friday, just hours ahead of a Justice Department news conference to announce a corporate penalty against the company. The FBI has been investigating allegations that the company deceived federal regulators and tried to cover up the air bag problems.

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VW Reaches $4.3 Billion Deal to Settle Civil, Criminal Charges

Volkswagen has agreed to a $4.3 billion settlement to resolve civil and criminal investigations into the German automaker's diesel emissions cheating, Reuters reports this afternoon. U.S. prosecutors also charged six Volkswagen executives and employees for their roles in the nearly 10-year conspiracy to mislead regulators and customers about diesel emissions from VW cars. Volkswagen had previously agreed to spend up to $17.5 billion in the United States to resolve claims by U.S. regulators, owners and dealers and offered to buy back nearly 500,000 polluting vehicles.

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International Law CLE Set for Jan. 19

TBA’s International Law Section is hosting its annual CLE on Jan. 19. This year’s program will address new changes in international law and the evolving landscape of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Lawyers can attend in person or tune in via live webcast.

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Report: Hagerty to be Named Ambassador to Japan

Nashville businessman Bill Hagerty is reportedly President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be ambassador to Japan, according to multiple sources. As commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Hagerty helped bridge multiple business deals with Japanese companies, including Bridgestone Americas. He also spent three years in Tokyo while working with the Boston Consulting Group. He currently works in private equity and has been helping the Trump transition team with presidential appointments. His own appointment is expected to be announced today, the Tennessean reports.

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