News

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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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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AG: Submit Claims for Pharmaceutical Settlement

Tennesseans who paid for the brand-name drug Provigil or its generic Modafinil from June 2006 to March 2012 are being encouraged by Attorney General Herbert Slatery to submit claims, after a court decision last year found the drug’s creator to be a part of an anticompetitive scheme. Originally, the deadline for consumers to file claims was April 13, 2017, but it has recently been extended to June 25, 2017.
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Memphis Lawmaker Goes After Drug Lobbyists

In a state House committee this week, Memphis Rep. Joe Towns (D-Memphis) railed against drug lobbyists when a bill designed to make oral chemotherapy medication more affordable got held up over a financial reporting amendment, the Memphis Daily News reports. The outburst occurred when Rep. Bill Beck (D-Nashville) proposed a reporting transparency amendment to the bill, which reportedly received blowback from drug lobbyists who threatened to kill the bill. “What chapped me is these damn lobbyists, these pharmaceutical people and the people that think they run this building – and nobody’s voted for them,” Towns said.
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SCOTUS Strikes Down Texas Death Penalty Mental Standards

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas state standards used to determine whether someone is mentally fit to receive the death penalty, the ABA Journal Reports. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the 5-3 majority decision, saying that “adjudications of intellectual disability should be informed by the views of medical experts,” while in the case in question, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals relied on seven evidentiary factors that did not cite “any authority, medical or judicial.” 
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West Virginia Counties Sue Drug Companies Over Opioid Crisis

Attorneys representing several counties in West Virginia have filed federal lawsuits against drug companies and distributors, seeking billions in reimbursements for the devastation opioids have caused in the state, the Washington Post reports. Companies named include McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, Walgreens and CVS, among others. The suits are among the first of their kind in the nation and represent a new front in the fight against the opioid crisis. Other states hit hard by the epidemic are reportedly considering similar action.
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Bathroom Bill, Medical Marijuana Nixed for the Year

The so-called “bathroom bill” and a bill to legalize medical marijuana, two much-discussed pieces of legislation, are officially dead for the year in the General Assembly, the Tennessean reports. The bathroom bill, which would require students in public schools to use the bathroom corresponding with the sex listed on their birth certificate, failed to receive a motion in the Senate Education Committee today, killing the bill. Likewise, House sponsor Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, said yesterday that while a medical marijuana bill had support in his chamber, it couldn’t get the necessary support in the Senate. A task force will study the issue over the summer.
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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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Tennessee Justice Center Fights for Affordable Care Act

The Tennessee Ledger profiles the Tennessee Justice Center’s fight to protect Tennessean’s access to health care. For 21 years the TJC has been working for all Tennesseans to have access to health care, and now that Congress is considering repealing or replace the Affordable Care Act, the TJC sees this as a time in which many people could soon be without care. “When you get sick and go to the hospital, you’re not a Democrat, you’re not a Republican,” said TJC co-founder Gordon Bonnyman. “You’re a person who needs care.”
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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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