News

Court Clarifies Law on Proof of Medical Expenses in Personal Injury Cases

In Jean Dedmon v. Debbie Steelman et al., the Tennessee Supreme Court declined to change a state law that outlines what evidence can be used to prove medical expenses in cases involving personal injury. The court held that Tennessee law continues to allow plaintiffs to use full, undiscounted medical bills to prove their medical expenses instead of the discounted amounts paid by insurance companies. Justice Holly Kirby authored the unanimous opinion in the case that was originally filed in Crockett County.
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Opioid Commission Comes Out for Drug Courts

A system of nationwide drug courts would help place substance abusers into treatment rather than sending them into the prison system, a new report from the President’s Opioid Commission reported yesterday. That sweeping change was one of the boldest of the 56 recommendations made by the panel, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, LocalMemphis.com reports from CNN. "It's an ambitious recommendation but one that we think would … get help to people who need it in order to slow down recidivism, and … lower the federal prison population."

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Memphis VA Hospital Fires 2 Top Officials Amid Investigations

In the wake of multiple congressional investigations into the facility, the Memphis VA Medical Center has fired two top officials, The Commercial Appeal reports. New Director David Dunning fired the hospital’s director of anesthesiology and head of surgery for “failure to lead and act.” The investigations are looking into allegations of botched surgeries and biopsies, delays in urgent care and rising threats to patient safety. The facility is currently ranked at the bottom of the VA’s own internal rankings.
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Knoxville Lawyer Named Federal Administrative Law Judge

Knoxville attorney Benjamin Burton has been selected to serve as an administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration. He will serve at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in St. Louis. Burton worked for the Social Security Administration prior to entering private practice and is one of only 61 Board Certified Social Security Trial Specialists nationwide.
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Global & Tennessee Specific Trade & Investment Perspectives & Policies for 2018 & Beyond

 
The International Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association is sponsoring a free seminar “Global & Tennessee Specific Trade & Investment Perspectives & Policies for 2018 & Beyond” to be held on Thursday, Nov. 2 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Nashville School of Law, Appellate Courtroom, 4013 Armory Oaks Drive, Nashville, Tenn. 
 
The speakers on the panel include:
  • Terry Olsen, Chair of the TBA International Law Section, as Moderator
  • Clay Banks, Regional Director of Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development
  • James Forde, Prosperity and Economics Officer of British Consulate General, Atlanta
  • Ms. Joanne Chu, Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (New York)
  • Mr. Michael Kwan, Deputy Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (New York)
The seminar will provide an overview of the global & U.S. trade & investment landscape as it concerns Tennessee for 2018 & beyond, and both policy & legal views of the ever-changing global standard of Tennessee in the international investment environment.
 
Attendees will also have the opportunity to have direct interactive discussions with the speakers at the end of the seminar.
 
The panel discussion will last from 6pm thru 7pm, and then followed with a FAQ session for attendees, along with a light reception of beverage & desserts. 
 
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Shelby County Man Wins $140 Million Lawsuit Against Testosterone Drug Maker

Jeffrey Konrad of Collierville has been awarded more than $140 million in a lawsuit against the makers of AndroGel, a testosterone drug he claims gave him a heart attack, The Commercial Appeal reports. Konrad’s attorneys argued in federal court that drug maker AbbVie Inc., misrepresented the risks associated with the drug. Konrad had been prescribed AndroGel by his doctor for conditions attributed to low testosterone levels.
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Tennessee Justice Center to Host 2 TennCare Trainings Next Week

Next week the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) in Nashville will host two trainings aimed at explaining the legal ins-and-outs of TennCare and the Affordable Care Act. The first, on Oct. 16, will be held from noon to 4 p.m., and the second from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 17. Both will take place at St. Thomas Hospital, 4220 Hardin Pike, or via live webinar. Registration is available on the TJC website.
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East Tennessee Prosecutors Sue Big Pharma Over Opioids

The top prosecutors for five judicial districts encompassing 15 East Tennessee counties are joining their counterparts in three Upper East Tennessee districts in trying to use the legal system to hold the makers of opiate-based prescription drugs financially responsible for the state’s opioid addiction problem. The News Sentinel reports that prosecutors Charme Allen, Dave Clark, Jared Effler, Russell Johnson and Stephen Crump are suing opioid drugmakers Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt and Endo Pharmaceuticals.

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Reminder: Lunch Business Meeting for TBA Health Law Section Members

Thursday, October 5 at 11:45 a.m. CDT

Reminder: Please make plans to join the TBA Health Law Section at their Annual Lunch Business Meeting and Election of Officers, to be held in conjunction with this year's 29th Annual Health Law Forum. The TBA Health Law Section Lunch Business Meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 11:45 a.m. CDT in the Embassy Suites Franklin. More information about the hotel can be found here.
 
Please note that you do not have to be registered for the Health Law Forum to attend the Section's lunch business meeting, but lunch will only be provided for TBA Health Law Section Members who respond that they will attend this luncheon.
 
RSVP to Jarod Word, TBA Sections and Committees Coordinator, if you would like to attend this lunch business meeting. Deadline for response is Monday, Oct. 2, 12 p.m. CDT.
 
When: Oct. 5, 11:45 a.m., CDT
 
Where: Embassy Suites Franklin, Atrium Room, 2820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin, Tennessee, 37067
 
We hope to see you there!
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Tennessee Democrats Call for Special Legislative Session

The Tennessee House Democratic Caucus today called for a special session to expand Medicaid, the Nashville Port reports. Gov. Bill Haslam, however, said that while he’s “frustrated that nothing has happened” in regards to healthcare, he doesn’t believe a special session would garner any results.
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Lunch Business Meeting for TBA Health Law Section Members

Thursday, Oct. 5, 11:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time

Please make plans to join the TBA Health Law Section at their Annual Lunch Business Meeting and Election of Officers, to be held in conjunction with this year's 29th Annual Health Law Forum. The TBA Health Law Section Lunch Business Meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 11:45 a.m. Central Daylight Time in the Embassy Suites Franklin. More information about the hotel can be found here.
 
Please note that you do not have to be registered for the Health Law Forum to attend the Section's lunch business meeting, but lunch will only be provided for TBA Health Law Section Members who respond that they will attend this luncheon.
 
Please respond to Jarod Word, sections and committees coordinator if you would like to attend this lunch business meeting.
 

When: Oct. 5, 11:45 a.m., Central Daylight Time

Where: Embassy Suites Franklin, Atrium Room, 2820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin, Tennessee, 37067

 

We hope to see you there!


 

Please contact Jarod Wordsections and committees coordinator with any Legal Practice Tips or Section Connect ideas you feel will benefit other section members.

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ABA Writes Letter in Opposition to Health Reform Bill

The American Bar Association sent a letter today to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee expressing opposition to the Graham-Cassidy health reform bill, which would partially repeal the Affordable Care Act, the ABA Journal reports. The ABA specifically focuses on Medicaid, which serves “our nation’s most vulnerable populations.” It cites the impact the bill would have on seniors, as well as children with disabilities. 
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17th Annual Health Law Primer & 29th Annual Health Law Forum, October 4 - 6

The 17th Annual Health Law Primer, a TBA CLE offering four general credits, will be Oct. 4 at the Embassy Suites in Franklin. Designed for newer health law practitioners, this program provides a general health law overview and discussion of hot topics by experienced healthcare leaders. Sessions provide practical tips to identify and avoid the pitfalls of real life situations in the heavily regulated health care industry. This year’s program will address:
  • Overview of Fraud and Abuse Laws
  • Key Healthcare Issues in Transactions 
  • The Basics of HIPAA
  • Employment and Medical Staff Issues   
Now in its 17th year, this half-day introductory program will be held in conjunction with the 29th Annual Health Law Forum on October 5 and 6.
 
For your convenience, all materials will be made available online. Learn more and register here.
 

 
The 29th Annual Health Law Forum, a TBA CLE offering fifteen general credits, will be held Oct. 5 and 6 at the Embassy Suites in Franklin. Recognized as one of the premier health law programs in the country, this annual forum addresses key issues impacting our practice area. Sessions will provide insight from health law providers, practitioners, and regulators. A bonus feature this year will offer 2 alternative hours of online CLE. This will facilitate flexible planning for those who travel or have a scheduling conflict during one of the sessions. This year’s topics will focus on:
  • Updates on fraud and abuse developments
  • The status of health care reform
  • Challenges for rural providers
  • Legislative updates
  • Physician compensation
  • Fraud enforcement
  • Health care transactions
  • HIPAA updates
  • Ethics and much more
For your convenience, all materials will be made available online throughout this forum. Learn more and register here.
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Enjoy Happy Hour After Health Law CLE in Knoxville

Join the TBA for a special social hour following The Why Health Law CLE event on Thursday in Knoxville. Mingle with colleagues and law students interested in health law while enjoying cocktails and hors d'oeuvres provided by London & Amburn PC. No RSVP is required to attend. The happy hour will get started at 5 p.m. at the same location as the CLE, 607 Market Street, Suite 900. 
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Waller Adds Health Care Executive Director

Waller yesterday announced the hiring a Paula Torch, who will become the firm’s health care department executive director, the Nashville Post reports. She will work with the firm’s attorneys to grow its business in the health care practice area. Torch will take over for Morgan Ribeiro, who was promoted in March to chief business development officer.
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Before Health Law Program, Attend Health Law Primer

For newer health law practitioners, the Annual Health Law Primer program provides a general health law overview and discussion of hot topics by experienced healthcare leaders. Attend this year's program on Oct. 4 in Cool Springs and learn about fraud and abuse laws, key healthcare issues in transactions, the basics of HIPAA and employment and medical staff issues.

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Health Law Social Hour

You are invited to an upcoming CLE and social hour hosted by the Tennessee Bar Association’s Health Law Section. This will be a two-hour CLE focusing on the practice area and basics, followed by the social hour. You can register for the program or just attend the social hour. I hope you can make time for this new program and also take the opportunity to network with health law practitioners at our social hour.

August 24 in Nashville

August 31 in Knoxville

Vanderbilt Reaches Settlement Over Medicare Fraud Allegations

Vanderbilt University Medical Center will pay $6.5 million to settle Medicare fraud allegations, the Tennessean reports. The deal comes after claims from three former VUMC physicians that surgery scheduling practices from 2003 to 2011 violated Medicare billing regulations. A portion of the settlement money will go to state agencies and the whistleblowers, but under the False Claims Act, the majority of the settlement will go to Medicare. 

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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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