News

D.C. Pastors Sue Coca-Cola Over Health Concerns

Two Washington, D.C.-based pastors have filed suit against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association (ABA), claiming soda makers knowingly deceived customers about the health risks of their products, The Washington Post reports. The complaint, which was filed last week, alleges that Coke and the ABA ran an intentional campaign to confuse consumers about the causes of obesity. “We’re losing more people to sweets than to the streets,” said Pastor Delman Coates, one of the complainants.
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Memphis Law Review Calls for Papers on Opioid Epidemic

The University of Memphis Law Review requests manuscripts for its presentation at its March 2018 symposium, "The American Addiction: A Pathways Approach to Addressing the Opioid Epidemic," and for publication in an upcoming edition. Manuscripts should be submitted for consideration to Symposium Editor Rachel Barenie at memphislawarticles@gmail.com no later than Dec. 1. Read more about the subject matter and guidelines here.
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Item of Interest

Below is an article that was published in the the Disability Section Connect. We thought it had information that would be of interest to those of you in this section as well.  

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Disability Rights TN Conducting Survey on Needs and Resources

Disability Rights Tennessee is conducting a survey to gather information from people with disabilities, family members, service providers and professionals to help shape the work of the organization. Attorneys working in the disability rights field are asked to contribute their thoughts. Others are asked to share the survey with friends and colleagues in the disability rights field, so an accurate picture of the needs of those with disabilities can be compiled. The deadline to respond is July 15. For more information contact DRT at (800) 342-1660 or gethelp@disabilityrightstn.org.

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TSC: HIPAA-compliant Authorization Not Required When Pre-Suit Notice Sent to Single Healthcare Provider

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a prospective plaintiff who provides pre-suit notice of a healthcare liability claim to a single healthcare provider is not required to provide a medical authorization compliant with HIPAA. In the case of Bray v. Khuri, Deborah Bray sent a pre-suit notice to Dr. Radwan R. Khuri advising him of a potential claim for the wrongful death of her husband, and she later filed suit. Khuri moved to dismiss on grounds that the medical authorization in the notice was not in compliance with HIPAA. The trial court and Court of Appeals granted Khuri’s motion, but in a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the lower court decisions.
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Middle Tennessee U.S. Attorney Secures $2.7 Million False Claims Settlement

The acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee reached a settlement with Innovative Therapies and its parent company, Cardinal Health, in a $2.7 million False Claims Act case, the Nashville Post reports. The company was accused by a whistleblower of marketing and billing a product as “durable medical equipment,” even though the product did not meet standards for a durable device. The whistleblower in the case will receive $488,700 under the terms of the False Claims Act.
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Senate Health Care Bill Offers $2 Billion to Fight Opioid Crisis

The U.S. Senate health care bill, revealed today, includes $2 billion to help address the opioid crisis, USA Today reports. The amount would fall short of the $45 billion some Republican senators had sought over 10 years. The funds would go to provide grants to states to support treatment and recovery services for 2018, but does not reference continuing funds beyond.
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Nashville’s Judge Blackburn Profiled for Mental Health Court Work

The Tennessean profiled Judge Melissa Blackburn this week for her work in the mental health court. Blackburn was inspired to take up the work after the death of her daughter, who died from a heart attack shortly after beginning to take anti-depressants. “It’s important because it’s part of who I am, and it’s in my fabric,” Blackburn said. “It’s affected how I make decisions, my thought process. It’s how as a judge I come to who I am.”
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Memphis Lawyer’s Nonprofit Featured in Vogue

Former Shelby County juvenile court judicial magistrate Claudia Haltom’s A Step Ahead Foundation was among several women’s health organizations profiled in Vogue magazine this month. Haltom’s group was hailed as “innovative” for its work helping women in need. The organization even provides free rides to those it serves so they can obtain health services.
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AG Slatery Announces Investigation into Opioid Crisis

After a lawsuit was filed in Sullivan County against drug makers earlier this week, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced he is leading a coalition of Attorneys General from across the country in comprehensive investigations into the roots of the opioid epidemic, the Nashville Post reports. The announcement did not name any specific drug makers or targets, but the group will examine the role “parties involved in the manufacture and distribution of opioids may have played in creating or prolonging this problem.”
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Nonprofit Sues Community Health Systems Over Indigent Care

A Washington state-based nonprofit filed suit against Community Health Systems yesterday for failing to provide sufficient indigent care at two CHS hospitals in Eastern Washington, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Empire Health Foundation accused the Franklin-based hospital operator of breach of contract and breach of implied duty of good faith and fair dealing. Washington state law requires hospitals in the state to provide charity care for patients below the federal poverty line.
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Northeast Tennessee Attorneys General File Suit Against Opioid Manufacturers

The district attorneys general of Tennessee’s First, Second and Third Judicial Districts jointly filed a lawsuit today in Sullivan County Circuit Court against prescription opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma and its related companies, Mallinckrodt PLC and Endo Pharmaceuticals. The suit alleges that Purdue and the related companies worked to mislead doctors and the public about the need for, and addictive nature of, opioid drugs. It also claims that schools, hospitals, police departments, taxpayers and other public and private entities will bear the financial burden of Purdue’s campaign for decades to come.
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Tate Honored for Service to Centerstone, Mental Health Initiatives

Deborah Taylor Tate was honored recently for her work on the Centerstone of Tennessee Board, where she has served since 2002. Tate was instrumental in the creation and implementation of a Mental Health Commission culminating in the passage of Title 33, which was a comprehensive mental health law for Tennessee, including a chapter on children and youth. In her 15 years on the board, Tate saw Centerstone grow to become the largest behavioral health community provider in the U.S.

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Shelby County May Sue Pharma Companies for Opioid Crisis

Shelby County attorneys are exploring a suit against big pharmaceutical companies to recover costs from fighting the county’s opioid epidemic, The Commercial Appeal reports. The attorneys could have a recommendation sometime this month. The states of Ohio and Mississippi have already filed similar lawsuits, and Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, recently asked state Attorney General Herbert Slatery to join them
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Haslam Signs Law Punishing Any Healthcare Worker Testing Positive for Drugs

Governor Bill Haslam signed into law a bill that requires any healthcare worker who tests positive for drugs  — or even refuses to take a test — to report to a substance abuse treatment program, WJHL reports. The law allows those who complete treatment to return to work, and those who don’t will face suspension of their licenses. The legislation goes into effect on July 1.
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Make Plans to Attend Annual Health Law CLEs

Recognized as one of the premier health law programs in the country, TBA's annual Health Law Primer, on October 4 and the Health Law Forum, held October 5-6, will address key issues impacting health law attorneys. Register early to avoid missing out on this popular program!

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Harwell Asks State AG to Join Suit Against Drug Companies

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, has asked Attorney General Herbert Slatery to join a lawsuit filed by the Ohio attorney general against drug companies over the opioid crisis, the Nashville Post reports. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine sued five drug makers Wednesday, accusing them of intentionally misleading patients about the dangers of painkillers. The companies sued were Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson and Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan. Mississippi is currently the only other state that has joined the suit. 
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Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.

How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines at http://www.tba.org/submit-an-article, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.

If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Commission on CLE & Specialization at http://www.cletn.com/.

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Program Will Train Attorneys to Represent TennCare Enrollees

A free program in Chattanooga will train pro bono attorneys to represent TennCare enrollees in enrollment and medical service appeals and contested case hearings. The program, called “Making a Difference for Families in Need,” will be led by Chris Coleman, a staff attorney with the Tennessee Justice Center. It will be held May 18 from noon to 1 p.m. at 832 Georgia Ave #1200, Chattanooga, 37402. Find more information and register here.
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Tennessee AG Files Suit Against Network of Pain Management Clinics

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III has filed a lawsuit against a network of pain management clinics, alleging $7 million in fraudulent TennCare claims. The suit was filed in Williamson County Circuit Court against MMi Pain Clinics, owner Michael Kestner and business partner Dr. Lisabeth Williams, who operate 18 clinics across the state. According to the suit, the defendants regularly subjected patients to unnecessary medical procedures. Read the full complaint here.

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Tennessee AG Files Suit Against Network of Pain Management Clinics

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III has filed a lawsuit against a network of pain management clinics, alleging $7 million in fraudulent TennCare claims. The suit was filed in Williamson County Circuit Court against MMi Pain Clinics, owner Michael Kestner and business partner Dr. Lisabeth Williams, who operate 18 clinics across the state. According to the suit, the defendants regularly subjected patients to unnecessary medical procedures. Read the full complaint here.

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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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Crider Named Chair of Baker Health Care Litigation Group

Christy Tosh Crider, a shareholder in Baker Donelson’s Nashville office, has been named chair of its Health Care Litigation Group, the Tennessee Ledger reports. She will continue to serve as chair of the firm’s Long Term Care Group, as well as the Woman’s Initiative. Crider’s practice is concentrated in the long-term care and behavioral health industries, managing the litigation of numerous long term care facilities around the country.
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Sit-In Demonstrators Arrested at State Capitol

Two of 11 demonstrators sitting in at the governor’s office yesterday were arrested by state troopers, the Tennessean reports. The demonstrators were there to call for the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, and sang songs and prayed in the office until the arrests occurred. The two who were arrested were charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct, while nine others were cited with trespassing and released.
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