Venezuela Sued Over Unpaid Bonds

Florida-based firm Casa Express Corp. filed suit in New York federal court yesterday against Venezuela for unpaid debt, Reuters reports. The firm via a trust of the same name represents bondholders who are demanding payment on over $34 million of unpaid principal and interest. This may be the first legal action taken by creditors since the nation defaulted on its debt. The article notes that "the government of President Nicolas Maduro stopped making payments on nearly all bonds issued by Venezuela and state oil company PDVSA this year and has accumulated some $8 billion in pending interest and principal." Last month, a group of creditors demanded payment on a $1.5 billion defaulted bond, but no claims have been taken to court. 

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Court Solicits Comments on Rule Change for Professional Privilege Tax Payments

The Tennessee Supreme Court is soliciting comments on a proposed rule change that would make delinquent professional privilege tax fees payable via an online portal and remove the requirement of a Privilege Tax Delinquency Notice to be sent via mail, requiring only an email notice. The deadline for submitting written comments is Feb. 4. Written comments may be emailed to or mailed to James M. Hivner, Clerk, Re: Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 9, section 26 Tennessee Appellate Courts, 100 Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Avenue North, Nashville, Tennessee 37219-1407.
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Creditors Demand Payment on Defaulted Venezuelan Bond

A group of five investment funds have filed an acceleration request after Venezuela failed to pay the principal and about $140 million in outstanding interest on a bond, Reuters reports. No claim has been filed in New York courts, but an acceleration request was submitted to both the fiscal agent of the bond, Bank of New York Mellon, and the law firm representing Venezuela.  The article notes that “the government and state-owned companies owe nearly $8 billion in unpaid interest and principal following this year’s default on bonds amid a hyperinflationary collapse of the country’s once-wealthy sociality economy.” Over 1 million Venezuelans are expected to have left the country by the end of the year to escape the economic peril.

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Missed the Creditors Practice Forum? Never Fear ... Online Videos are Here!

If you missed the section’s annual forum back in September, check out the online videos that are now available to purchase on the TBA website: 

The CLE deadline is quickly approaching, and TBA’s vast catalog of online videos provide the much-needed flexibility to work around a busy schedule. 

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Join Us Today: LAW TECH

Today's the day! Discover the newest technology for your law practice and law office at this year's Law Tech Blast at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville!

The flexible open house format allows you to create your own schedule. You can attend CLE sessions, enter to win prizes, network with attendees, visit with sponsors and interact with speakers. Take as many or as few CLE hours as you need. Only those seeking to be awarded CLE Credit will be charged. The registration desk will be open all day, so you can come and go for the hours you need when it is convenient for you. Attendees can earn up to 6.5 hours of Dual CLE credit.

  • GDPR, Cloud and Technological Competency
  • The Bill and Phil Tech Show 2019: BEAT THE CLOCK
  • Best Practices: Information Security for Firms
  • Judicial Panel: Technology in the Courtroom
  • Know When to Hold 'Em
  • Digital Evidence – A Technical Life Raft for the Legal Mind
  • Make it Rain: Ethics Guidelines and Practice Essentials

ATTEND TO WIN: Attendees will have a chance to win prizes, including an iPad Pro. The tech prize drawing will be held at the 10:30 a.m. break. Must be present to win.

TAKE A LYFT: TBA has partnered with Lyft to offer attendees a discounted ride.

  • New to Lyft?: Get $5 off 2 rides at or download the app and enter code LAWTECH5
  • Already Have Lyft?: Save 10% off 2 rides to or from Law Tech Blast with code LAWTECH



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Give the Gift of TBA Membership

Give yourself (or a friend) the gift that keeps giving — one-year of unlimited access to professional development opportunities and a number of programs and services designed to help you become a better practitioner. Founded in 1881, the Tennessee Bar Association is dedicated to enhancing fellowship among members of the state's legal community. Oh, and did we mention some of the benefits? Earn three pre-paid credits to use on any live or online course featured in the 12-days of CLE. Join now!

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Bankrupt Crypto Mining Firm Giga Watt Owes Millions to Creditors

Chapter 11 bankruptcy court documents filed last week by U.S.-based bitcoin mining firm Giga Watt revealed millions are still owed to creditors, CoinDesk reports. Nearly $7 million is owed to its biggest 20 unsecured creditors, including a utility provider and an electricity provider. The court documents also revealed that Giga Watt’s assets are estimated at less than $50,000 while the estimated liabilities are somewhere between $10­ and $50 million. Minutes from a special meeting of the firm’s shareholders indicate the belief that the creditors and corporation would best be served by reorganization under Chapter 11.

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Bloomberg: Puerto Rico Set to Reduce Development Bank’s Debt

Puerto Rico is set to make its first debt exchange since collapsing into bankruptcy in 2017, Bloomberg reports. Government Development Bank will exchange its bonds for $2.6 billion of new securities and around $4 billion of the bank’s debt will be restructured under the transaction. The article notes that Puerto Rico will likely have to make several exchanges in order to reduce the $74 billion of debt sold by various arms of the island. The government-sponsored bank, which also served as the island’s fiscal adviser, extended loans meant to deal with operating deficits experienced by the commonwealth and its agencies. The economy continued to shrink, and these loans contributed to its over-borrowing. Although the exchange is aimed at resolving the island’s debt crisis, the bond document notes the risks and uncertainty associated with the restructuring.

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Sears Secures Additional Bankruptcy Financing

Sears secured a $350 million bankruptcy financing deal with Cyrus Capital Partners LP, Reuters reports. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved the deal on Tuesday. This will allow the retailer to continue operating during the crucial holiday time while the company continues to reorganize. Sears has secured a total of $650 million in financing since filing for bankruptcy protection in October.  

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Board of Law Examiners Holds Deans' Summit in Nashville

Law school deans from across the state recently gathered in Nashville for the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners’ 2018 Deans’ Summit. The summit, which included deans from most of Tennessee's law schools, featured presentations and discussions on a range of topics, from law student wellness, to innovations at Tennessee law schools, to the state’s recent adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam. Other parts of the program took the form of an open discussion between members of the board and the deans. 
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December CLE in 6 Cities

TBA offers CLE in six locations during December. See offerings in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, Johnson City and Jackson. Find last-minute by the hour through Dec. 31 or take any of the TBA's online CLE packages.
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Creditors Practice Middle Tennessee Delegate on Short List for Davidson Co. Chancellor

The Trial Court Vacancy Commission will consider six applicants for a seat on the 20th Judicial District Chancery Court serving Davidson County. There is an impending vacancy on the court due to the Hon. Claudia C. Bonnyman's plan to retire effective Jan. 1. Applicants for the position include the newest member of the TBA Creditors Practice Executive Council, David Michael Anthony. As part of its meeting, the commission will hold a public hearing on Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. in the Cordell Hull Building's Senate Hearing Room 2. The commission is expected to vote immediately following the interviews and forward three names to Gov. Bill Haslam for his consideration.

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Retreat to the Mountains

The 16th Annual Tennessee Bar Association Bankruptcy Forum is quickly approaching! Don't miss out on this informative, unique retreat at the Hilton Garden Inn in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on April 5-7, 2019. This weekend program will offer attendees the chance to earn ten hours of CLE credit, including 3 hours of ethics. Friday's sessions will include a presentation highlighting bankruptcy case law updates and a panel of practitioners who will discuss important differences in bankruptcy practice across the three Grand Divisions of the state. Included in the cost of the program is a Friday evening dinner and networking reception at The Park Grill in Gatlinburg. On Saturday, attendees will be organized into small groups with a discussion leader drawn from a faculty of prominent bankruptcy judges. These small group discussions will focus on case problems that bring into focus recent developments in the law and real world problems that bankruptcy practitioners face. The judges will encourage the participants to analyze, discuss and argue different approaches to the case studies. There will be an optional group hike planned for Saturday afternoon. The program closes on Sunday with a three-hour session devoted to the ethical issues that arise in bankruptcy.

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Severance Fund Created for Former Toys R Us Workers

The private equity firms KKR and Bain Capital, which owned Toys R Us before the company declared bankruptcy, have each pledged $10 million to establish the TRU Financial Assistance Fund, CNBC reports. The firms said the fund is being established to try to provide some financial relief for former employees. The article notes that this is an unusual move by the firms since this is not a requirement under bankruptcy law. Former employees must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for payments, including being employed by Toys R Us for at least a year, having an annual income between $5,000 and $110,000 and meeting the termination and employment guidelines in the Toys R Us plan. Interested parties will be able to comment on the terms and conditions of the plan during a two-week period. Following the evaluation of comments, the final terms and conditions will be outlined. The claims process is expected to begin on Dec. 15 with the goal of completing payments by April 30, 2019.

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David’s Bridal Files for Bankruptcy

David’s Bridal Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, Bloomberg reports. The company signed a restructuring support agreement with its main stakeholders before heading to court. Most of the reorganized equity will be given to senior lenders under the agreement. The company plans to keep stores open during the reorganization and hopes to emerge from bankruptcy by early January. 

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Need a Hotel for a Visiting Guest?

The Tennessee Bar Association Travel Discount Program offers travel discount service to TBA members. Savings average 10-20 percent below-market on all hotels and car rental suppliers around the world. Save time and money. To access this service, make sure you are logged in to your TBA member account first, then explore any hotel, any car, anywhere, anytime.

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Mark Your Calendars!

ABA Seeks Help to Curb FDCPA Lawsuits, CFPB Rules Targeting Attorneys

The American Bar Association recently sent a Legislative Action Alert to state and local bar leaders asking them to encourage their members of Congress to support for H.R. 5082, the "Practice of Law Technical Clarification Act." The bipartisan legislation, approved by the House Financial Services Committee last March, would "help restore traditional state court regulation and oversight of the legal profession by exempting creditor attorneys engaged in litigation from liability under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and from burdensome Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations." Read more in the ABA's Bar Leader Weekly.
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CFPB Fines Tennessee Payday Lender for 'Abusive' Practices

Payday lender Cash Express LLC was fined last week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the agency found several of the firm's debt-collection practices to be in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, The Wall Street Journal reports. The bureau said the Cookeville-based company would deceive customers by threatening legal action over debts that were past the statute of limitations.  Additionally, the bureau said the company told customers it was sending negative information about them to credit-reporting firms, even though it did not send this type of report. The bureau labeled one practice as “abusive,” claiming the company would withhold money from a check-cashing transaction to pay down an outstanding debt, without telling the customer. The company was ordered to pay a $200,000 civil penalty and to return $32,000 to affected customers.

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LAET to Host Debt Relief Legal Advice Clinic Nov. 3

Legal Aid of East Tennessee is partnering with the Knoxville Bar Association's Bankruptcy Section to host a Debt Relief Legal Advice Clinic for pre-screened individuals on Nov. 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The clinic will be held at the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office, 1101 Liberty St. Those who wish to volunteer should contact LAET’s Knoxville office at 865-637-0484.
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AG Slatery Urges Continued Lending Protections for Military Servicemembers

Attorney General Herbert Slatery III last week joined a coalition of 33 attorneys general calling on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Acting Director Mick Mulvaney to continue protecting military servicemembers against predatory lenders under the Military Lending Act (MLA). “We urge the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to do its part while this office continues its commitment to pursue any person or business who acts deceptively toward our state’s military members and their families," said Slatery. The MLA, enacted in 2006, protects military servicemembers and their families against exploitative lenders and loans so that servicemembers aren’t overburdened with debt.
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UTK Law Named Best Value School for 2018

The University of Tennessee School of Law has been ranked by Prelaw Magazine as a “Best Value Law School” for 2018. UTK Law came in at number 13. The magazine’s methodology relies on information provided by the American Bar Association. Rankings are calculated using a formula of ultimate bar pass ratings and two-year pass rates; employment rate; tuition; cost of living; and average indebtedness upon graduation.
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Creditors Threaten Suit Following Nine West Deal

An official committee of unsecured creditors seek to file a $1 billion lawsuit against Sycamore Partners LLC for its role in the Nine West 2014 leveraged buyout, Bloomberg reports. They claim the buyout left the retailer unable to pay its debt. Following the committee’s reiteration of their intent to sue, a Nine West reorganization plan was filed which included a proposal to pay $105 million to the creditors to settle the allegations. Next month, a U.S. bankruptcy judge will decide if the plan and settlement should be sent to the creditors for a vote.

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Basic Tech Checklist for Firms

Law firms attempting to stay competitive and state-of-the-art need to consistently evaluate their use of technology. In addition to staying competitive, technological competency is required. In 2017, the Tennessee Supreme Court amended Rule 8 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility to include this obligation. Above the Law presents a simple and straightforward tech checklist for law firms or lawyers seeking guidance in this area.   

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ABA Issues Formal Opinion on Lawyers' Duty in Case of Cyber Attack

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released a formal opinion this week that reaffirms the duty of lawyers to notify clients of a data breach and details reasonable steps to be taken to meet obligations set forth in model rules. “When a breach of protected client information is either suspected or detected, Rule 1.1 requires that the lawyer act reasonably and promptly to stop the breach and mitigate damage resulting from the breach,” Formal Opinion 483 says. “Lawyers should consider proactively developing an incident response plan with specific plans and procedures for responding to a data breach. The decision whether to adopt a plan, the content of any plan and actions taken to train and prepare for implementation of the plan should be made before a lawyer is swept up in an actual breach.” Read more here.
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