News

Elderly Victims Ripped Off in Safe Scam

A Knoxville woman helped uncover a scam that sought to steal money from elderly residents with promises of millions of dollars locked in a safe, Knoxnews reports. The 75-year-old unnamed victim, who was told she won a sweepstakes, was given a safe supposedly stuffed with millions. She would be given the key to the safe only after she paid taxes on the winnings. The victim paid the scammers $43,500 before contacting the authorities. One of the conspirators in the scheme, Betty Lou Repka Myers of Texas, has been arrested but several others are still at large.
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Elder Law Forum 2018

The 2018 TBA Elder Law Forum will return to the illustrious ‘batman’ building in downtown Nashville on July 13.  This venerated forum offers top-notch programming, with essential information for both seasoned practitioners and attorneys interested in adding elder law to their practices. With topics such as succession planning, conservatorships, benefits and emerging trends in healthcare, this forum guarantees to be the must-see, must-do event for Tennessee attorneys who share this focus. Section members receive a discount to attend the program. Here are the key details:
 
• When: Friday, July 13, registration begins at 8 a.m., CDT
• Where: AT&T Building – Auditorium, 333 Commerce St., Nashville 
• CLE Credit: 4 General, 2 Dual
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Takacs, McGinnis Present Elder Care Program on WTVF

The Business of Dying

TBA Elder Law Section members Barbara McGinnis and Tim Takacs recently presented a piece titled “The Business of Dying” on WTVF – News Channel 5, Nashville. The discussion addresses death and the difficult and uncomfortable questions surrounding that topic, which make the already stressful situation even worse. You can view the presentation here.

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Share Your Thoughts on Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 6

The Supreme Court recently requested comment on proposed amendments to TSC Rule 6 that would require new attorneys to complete a Tennessee Law Course within one year of admission to the Tennessee bar. The Tennessee Bar Association has a working group on this issue and will be drafting comments in response to the court's Order for Comment. To ensure this comment best reflects members’ views and positions, the groups is looking for your feedback. Share your thoughts about the proposed amendments through this form by June 8.
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    CLE Compliance Deadline, May 31

    Deadline for establishing CLE compliance and avoiding the $200 delinquent fee is May 31. The Tennessee Bar Association offers several live programs and many online offerings to help you meet the deadline, including the Spring CLE Blast, where you can purchase live CLE programming by the hour. This May 17 program offers 11 hours of dual credit CLE programming at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville.
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    Gov. Haslam Vetoes Bill on Specialized Cancer Treament

    Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed a bill on Thursday that would have required insurance coverage of proton therapy, targeted radiation used for cancers of the brain, lung, breast and neck, for state employees, The Tennessean reports. The bill, SB0367/HB0523, was approved in the House with an 82-13 vote and a 29-1 vote in the Senate. In a statement, Haslam said the legislation "circumvents" the established process for determining employee insurance coverage. After the governor's veto, Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville and Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, who sponsored the bill, called for the legislature to reconvene for a special session to override Haslam's action.
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    Estate of Former Fox News CEO Seeks to Block Sexual Harassment Litigation

    The estate of Roger Ailes, former Chairman and CEO of Fox News, doesn't want to get dragged into ongoing sexual harassment litigation, The New York Daily News reports. On Tuesday, lawyers for Ailes' wife filed paperwork in Manhattan Supreme Court to prevent former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros pursuit of claims against his estate. A judge had ordered in March 2017 that Tantaros' allegations against Ailes and Fox News be handled in arbitration rather than court. The latest filing includes a request to stay arbitration. Ailes, who died on May 18, 2017, was involved in a number of sexual harassment lawsuits at the time of his death.
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    ‘Face the Future’ at the 2018 TBA Convention in Memphis

    Get ready to “Face the Future” at the 137th annual TBA Convention, held this year from June 13 – 16 at the historic Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Learn about our changing court system, how data will affect your practice and about the future of the legal profession. You’ll also get a chance to meet the candidates for governor at the Bench/Bar Candidate Forum, as well as improve your well-being with our annual “better right now” CLE. Book your hotel today and register now at the TBA member rate.
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    U.S. Says Bankrupt Tennessee Nursing Home Chain Must Transfer Liability

    The U.S. government has objected to a plan by Orianna Health Systems nursing home chain to protect companies that would acquire facilities through its restructuring from successor liability, Reuters reports. Filed on April 9, the motion contends that the ultimate control over the legal issues surrounding the transfer of Medicare provider agreements, not a bankruptcy court — and that Orianna cannot expect a new operator to assume control over the properties without also dealing with its existing liabilities. The Nashville based company, which operates skilled nursing facilities in seven states, with around 4,500 beds and 5,000 employees, initially revealed its bankruptcy plan last month after falling behind on rent payments to landlord Omega Healthcare Investors. 
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    Topgolf CLE: Estate Planning Tee-off

    The TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section will host the Topgolf CLE: Estate Planning Tee-off on June 26. The program will feature 2.5 hours of CLE programming, focused on information relevant to new attorneys interested in Estate Planning and lawyers who desire to add this area to their practice.
     
    The CLE package includes breakfast, lunch, plus two hours of Topgolf after the presentations. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to build your practice knowledge and fine-tune your drive game, all in one day! 
     
    When: Tuesday, June 26, 9 a.m., CDT
     
    Where: Topgolf Nashville, 500 Cowan Street, Nashville, TN, 37207
     
     
     
     
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    Metro Nashville Government to Pay $300,000 in Conservatorship Suit Involving Disbarred Attorney

    Metro Nashville government will pay $300,000 to settle a suit filed on behalf of a man who was cheated out of nearly $800,000 by a court-appointed conservator, reports The Tennessean. Former Nashville attorney John E. Clemmons was appointed as the conservator for William Link in 2003 and was placed in charge of Link’s estate following his death in 2004, with funds for the estate intended for allocation to Link's daughter, who has a disability. Clemmons would later plead guilty to stealing $1.3 million from wards and estates he had been appointed to oversee and protect in Davidson and Rutherford counties. He was disbarred in May 2014. After the crimes became public, attorney Paul Gontarek was appointed to replace him and subsequently filed suit against Metro government alleging that if the probate clerk had been monitoring Clemmons, the theft would not have occurred. "We are pleased with the settlement," Gontarek said, "and we appreciate the efforts of the Metro legal department to bring this matter to a conclusion."
     
    Metro government, however, argued that any claim against Metro should have been filed within one year of the last time Clemmons took money from the estate, which was in April 2013. Gontarek didn't file suit against Metro until 2014. Though the circuit court accepted Metro's argument, the appeals court rejected that conclusion stating "As we understand it, Metro's defense is predicated on the notion that Mr. Clemmons could have sued for the losses to the estate that stemmed from his own malfeasance. Respectfully we find such a proposition to be absurd," Justice Arnold Goldin wrote, adding that the suit filed by Gontarek was in fact "timely." The appeals court also rejected Metro's argument that it could not be held liable because a judgment already had been issued against Clemmons for the entire loss. The panel ruled that the comparative fault principle did not apply under the facts of the case stating, "Assuming liability can be established, Metro would be liable for the entire amount of damages.”
     
    A resolution authorizing the payment was approved without debate by Metro Council last week. Gontarek said that he expects the $300,000 payment to Link’s estate will be made in the near future. You can read the Court of Appeals opinion here.
     
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    Noteworthy Legislation Affecting Animal Law

    The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday will consider SB2556, which allows a tenant to be criminally convicted if the tenant pretends to have a disability-related need for an assistance animal to obtain an exception from a lease policy that prohibits pets, allowing the landlord to hold the tenant in breach of the rental agreement. The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee-passed amendment can be viewed here. The amendment as passed in the House, HB2439, can be viewed here.
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    Attorney Parke Morris Talks about Nursing Home Litigation

    In this one-hour online CLE from the Tennessee Bar Association, attorney Parke Morris reviews recent cases involving nursing home and long-term care. Other topics include prosecuting and defending cases in this area and identifying legal issues.
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    10 Essential Documents for Your Practice

    Instructions and rules for client file retention, list of current curse and copy of bank’s form for IOLTA access are three of the top 10 documents attorneys need for succession planning and practice management. Learn more in this 3-hour dual credit workshop with attorney Timothy Takacs.

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    Harper Lee’s Estate Sues Over Broadway Version of ‘Mockingbird’

    The estate of Harper Lee has filed suit in Alabama federal court over producer Scott Rudin and acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s depiction of Atticus Finch in the much-anticipated Broadway adaptation of novel To Kill A Mockingbird, reports The New York Times. The complaint asserts that Sorkin’s portrayal of the iconic Atticus Finch, the crusading lawyer who represents a black man unjustly accused of rape, presents him as a man who begins the drama as a naïve apologist for the racial status quo, a depiction at odds with his purely heroic image in the novel. 
     
    The contract the parties signed states that “the Play shall not derogate or depart in any manner from the spirit of the novel nor alter its characters.” Tonja B. Carter, the lawyer Lee appointed to run her estate, met with Rudin to express “serious concerns about the script,” specifically that Finch is depicted as “rude and selfish” as well as “more confrontational and far less dignified.” “This Atticus,” Carter wrote, “is more like an edgy sitcom dad in the 21st Century than the iconic Atticus of the novel.” The Rudin team is arguing that while the producers must listen to the estate’s view, they are the final arbiters of whether the production is faithful to the novel.
     
    "As far as Atticus and his virtue goes, this is a different take on Mockingbird than Harper Lee's or Horton Foote's," Sorkin told New York Magazine. "He becomes Atticus Finch by the end of the play, and while he's going along, he has a kind of running argument with Calpurnia, the housekeeper, which is a much bigger role in the play I just wrote. He is in denial about his neighbors and his friends and the world around him, that it is as racist as it is, that a Maycomb County jury could possibly put Tom Robinson in jail when it's so obvious what happened here. He becomes an apologist for these people” said Sorkin.
     
    This production will be the first time To Kill A Mockingbird has been performed on Broadway. The play is scheduled to open on Dec. 13. Click here to read the complaint in its entirety.
     
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    Powers of Attorney 2.0 Online CLE

    In this online video, attorney Barbara Moss will talk about financial powers of attorney. She will also discuss the durable power of attorney act, appointment of conservator, effects of death, disability or incapacity, and gifting. 
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    Children of Legendary Entertainers Push Elder Abuse Legislation

    The children of Casey Kasem, Mickey Rooney and Glen Campbell were joined by supporters to address the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, promoting legislation protecting rights of adult children aimed at preventing elder abuse according to The Detroit News. Kerri Kasem, Kelly Rooney and Travis Campbell advised the committee on the stories surrounding the final years of their parents' lives and how this legislation might have prevented the abuse and exploitation they suffered.
     
    Kerri Kasem was involved in several contentious court battles against her stepmother, Jean Thompson Kasem, for the right to see her father, the "American Top 40" host who died in 2014 of complications of Lewy Body Dementia. Since the death of her father, Kasem has made it a priority to guarantee that family members can visit ill or incompetent relatives through measures such as those being considered in Michigan. "What it would allow the judge to do is to just rule on visitation. It would put the burden of proof on the caretaker," said Kasem. "If they're not allowing visitation, they have to prove why instead of hearsay."
     
    Travis Campbell said he was limited in his ability to see his father when the musician began experiencing his decline into Alzheimer's disease. Campbell had concerns about his father's health due to the 151 shows the musician was made to perform over three years, even though the entertainer felt he could not perform that many concerts. Travis was instrumental in getting lawmakers in Tennessee to pass the "Falk Act" in 2016. He said toward the end of his father's life, he was only allowed to see him for four hours twice a month. "(The bill) is not just for us, it's for everybody," said Campbell.
     
    Kelly Rooney describes her isolation from her father as "slow ... gradual." Rooney maintains that her father had complained of emotional and other forms of abuse prior to his death in 2014. She became emotional when speaking about not seeing her dad for nearly two years before he died. "They withheld medication and withheld food from him," Rooney said of her father's caretakers.
     
    The group, along with the Kasem Cares Foundation, plan to continue the mission in hopes that more states adopt similar legislation to protect vulnerable seniors.
     
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    The Protest Movement as a Tool for Social Change: Fifty Years Post-King

    The Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association presents a dynamic day of programming in recognition of 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis. This program explores the protest that brought Dr. King to Memphis in 1968 and the legacy that his untimely death has left on the fabric of the city. The event will focus on the protest movement in its current state as well as provide updated information on the law surrounding assembly, protest and municipal responsibility.
     
    The program features local historical figures who worked with Dr. King, representatives of the media, City of Memphis, local activists, attorneys and judges.
     
    Speakers and producers include:
    • Barbara Arnwine, Esq., CEO and Founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition, Washington, D.C. 
    • Judge Earnestine Hunt Dorse, Municipal Court Judge, Memphis
    • Bill Cody, Burch, Porter and Johnson, Memphis
    • Earle Schwartz, Memphis Bar Association President, Memphis
    • Judge Bernice Bouie Donald, United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Memphis
    When: Feb. 23, 9 a.m. CST
     
    Where: Fogleman Business Center, First Floor Amphitheater, 330 Innovation Dr., Memphis, Tennessee 38152
     
    Contact Florence Johnson by email or call her at 901-725-7520 for more information.
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    TBA Gears Up for 2018 Mock Trial Tournament

    The Tennessee Bar Association will host the upcoming Tennessee High School Mock Trial Tournament on March 23 and 24 in Nashville. The Mock Trial is a two-day, single-elimination bracket-style competition where 16 high schools face-off against each other in the Davidson County Courthouse. Each team is scored on their trial preparation and skills. 

    We need TBA volunteers to help be bailiffs and jurors (scorers) for the event. After signing up, we will send you a Volunteer Memo with all the information you need for competition including; parking, hotel, downtown map, courthouse rules, and reimbursement information. Come be a part of the Young Lawyers Divisions’ March Madness! Feel free to contact YLD Director Stephanie Vonnahme with any questions.

    To volunteer for this event, click here.

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    Lawsuit Claims Memphis Nursing Home Drugged Patients

    A lawsuit unsealed in federal court claims that a Memphis nursing home gave heavy anti-psychotic drugs to residents to keep them “docile,” The Commercial Appeal reports. The complaint was filed against Raleigh-based Spring Gate Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, alleging Medicaid and Medicare fraud, claims that the company prescribed the drugs “despite the fact that there was never a medically accepted indication justifying such heavy-duty medication.” Now the company must pay a $500,000 settlement and has entered into an agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services to prevent such conduct in the future.
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    Advanced Elder Law Online CLEs

    Catch up on elder law rules, laws and practice points in this CLE package. Topics include estate planning, nursing home law developments, special needs trusts and legislative updates.
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    New TBJ: Adverse Legal Authority, #MeToo, a Lewie Donelson Tribute and More

    The February Tennessee Bar Journal has a lot packed into it, including an article by Nashville lawyer David Hudson Jr. about the duty to disclose adverse legal authority. Chattanooga lawyer Russell Fowler details the life of Tennessee lawyer and American President James K. Polk and Knoxville lawyers Edward Phillips and Brandon Morrow take an employment law look at the Faragher-Ellerth framework in the #MeToo Era. Learn from Knoxville lawyer Monica Franklin what it takes to be an elder law attorney, read a book review by Jackson attorney Mary Jo Middlebrooks of The Fight to Vote, as well as a touching tribute to Lewie Donelson, by Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom.

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    Access to Justice Commission Seeking Feedback

    The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission is seeking input from the legal community to help in planning efforts as it develops a new strategic plan in March. A brief survey is available for all who wish to share thoughts and feedback. The survey will remain open through Feb. 7. Please contact Anne-Louise Wirthlin at the Administrative Office of the Courts with questions or for more information. 

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    Estate Planning & Probate Forum Happy Hour

    Join us for a happy hour immediately following the Estate Planning & Probate Forum on Feb. 23. Don't miss this opportunity to unwind while you mix and mingle with attorneys and professionals of a similar focus. Attendance at the forum is not required to attend the happy hour. TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section members will receive a drink on us! Stay tuned for more info.
     
    When: Friday, Feb. 23, 4 p.m., CST
    Where: Embassy Suites Hotel, 820 Crescent Center Dr., Franklin, TN 37067
     
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    Meet Your Section Chair

    James (Jay) Barry is this year's chair of the Tennessee Bar Association's Elder Law Section. He is the owner and founder of Elder Law of Middle Tennessee. His legal practice areas include life care planning, estate planning including, trusts, Medicaid, veteran's benefits and probate.  
     
    Prior to the development of Elder Law of Middle Tennessee, Barry worked in trademark and intellectual property law, as well as mediation. Through these experiences, he was able to use his specific attention to detail to draw upon when analyzing his client's needs.
     
    His background is quite varied and includes not only being an attorney but also a commercial airline pilot with American Airlines for more than 24 years, entrepreneur, U. S. Air Force instructor pilot, aerospace engineer, and Air Force Reserve Lt. Colonel with the Defense Intelligence Agency.
     
    Barry holds degrees from the University of Tennessee, Trinity University and Pepperdine School of Law. He can be reached by email or by phone at 615-444-3568.
     
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