News

Group Challenges Health Care Overhaul Origination

An appeal filed today by the Pacific Legal Foundation will present yet another challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the Associated Press reports. The appeal, filed in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of a small-business owner, says that the law violates the provision of the Constitution that requires tax-raising bills to originate in the House of Representatives. The foundation said the health care overhaul is expected to generate roughly $500 billion in new taxes by 2019.

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Supreme Court Rules Unanimously in Health Care Liability Act Case

The Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously determined today that the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act applies to all claims relating to the delivery of health care services by covered health care providers. This ruling comes after Nashville parents Adam and Ashley Ellithorpe claimed in 2013 that Janet Weismark, a licensed clinical social worker, treated the couple’s child without their consent. The ruling dismissed the claims because the couple failed to give a pre-suit notice or to provide a certificate of good faith as required by the Act.

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Web Series on Employee Dispute Resolution Plans

A four-part webcast series will begin Nov. 4 at noon for lawyers and mediators regarding employee dispute resolution. Courses include Creating and Managing an Employee Dispute Plan, Dispute Resolution in Health Care Settings, Proposed Collaborative Law Rule for Family Law Mediators and Interaction Between Mediators and Lawyers. The series is worth 4.5 credits of CLE.

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Supreme Court Review Possible in Birth Control Requirement Dispute

The Justice Department says the U.S. Supreme Court should review a federal appeals court decision that agreed with religious-oriented nonprofits' claims that the option to opt of out mandatory birth control provisions unjustly burdens companies. The Associated Press reports that the court in St. Louis last month became the first to agree with the religious-oriented nonprofits after seven other appellate panels sided with the Obama administration.

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Court Adds 13 Cases to October Docket

The U.S. Supreme Court today added 13 new cases to its argument docket for the term that begins Oct. 5. Issues include questions of employee free speech rights, application of U.S. anti-racketeering law overseas, use of Iranian assets in the United States to compensate victims of terrorism and one hunter’s challenge to federal regulations on moose hunting. Justices did not act on a case dealing with abortion clinic regulations and one dealing with contraceptive mandates in the Affordable Care Act.  The National Journal and the Washington Post have wrap up stories of the court's actions.

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Cooper to Lead New Nonprofit Practice Group

Former Tennessee Attorney General Bob Copper will lead Bass, Berry & Sims' new practice group focused on nonprofits, Memphis Daily News reports. “We want clients to know that we can be a one-stop shop for all the unique issues nonprofits face, whether they’re in tax, litigation, regulation – whatever it is,” Cooper said. The practice group, which will primarily focus on health care within nonprofits, will also counsel organizations on corporate governance, employment, compensation and business transactions.

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Death with Dignity Request Denied by Nashville Judge

Nashville Judge Carol McCoy ruled against terminally ill attorney John Jay Hooker's request to take his own life with the assistance of a doctor, WBIR reports. Doctors for Hooker, who is suffering from cancer, sought protection from prosecution to administer him a lethal dosage of painkillers. Hooker said he plans to appeal the ruling. 

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Judge Skahan to Preside over Shelby County Mental Health Court

General Sessions Judge Gerald Skahan will preside over Shelby County’s new mental health court, scheduled to open in January, The Commercial Appeal reports. Skahan’s mission will include preventing repeat incarcerations by providing access to medical care, housing and food. "It's cruel what happens to people suffering from mental health issues," Skahan said. "The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. I think jailing people because they're mentally ill is cruel."

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Jury Selection Could be Difficult in Discrimination Case

A Chattanooga lawsuit filed by Erlanger Hospital’s former interim CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson that includes claims of racial remarks made against Thompson could make upcoming jury selection arduous. The Times Free Press reports that Thompson claimed several high-ranking hospital officials called medicine "a white man's world.” "In this situation, a problem would arise if the defense attorney used peremptory challenges to remove all or most African-Americans as prospective jurors," said Stephen Wasby, an emeritus professor at University at Albany.

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Memphis Child to Host Ribbon Cutting for Medical Legal Partnership

An open house and ribbon cutting for the Children’s Health Law Directive with Memphis Child is planned for Sept. 22, 10:30 a.m. at the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Research Center Lobby, 50 N. Dunlap St. Memphis Child focuses on identifying legal and social issues that impact patient health through a medical legal partnership among the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Memphis Area Legal Services and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

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AG says Lawmaker Support Necessary for Medicaid Expansion

Attorney General Herbert Slatery says Gov. Bill Haslam cannot implement any form of Medicaid expansion without lawmaker approval, The Tennessean reports. The opinion comes after supporters of Insure Tennessee continued to push the governor to use federally funded health care to assist low-income residents.

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Congress Begins Planned Parenthood Hearings

The House Judiciary Committee began a series of hearings on Planned Parenthood Wednesday, Times News reports. House Republicans began investigating Planned Parenthood after the Center for Medical Progress released recordings that showed Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal tissue obtained from abortions. Planned Parenthood and some Democrats say there is no evidence of wrongdoing, but Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte, R-V.A., says the investigation is necessary since Planned Parenthood receives federal funding.

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Judge Rules Republicans' ACA Lawsuit Will Move Forward

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said congressional Republicans can proceed with parts of an Affordable Care Act (ACA) lawsuit that alleges the Obama administration illegally spent funds Congress did not appropriate for ACA’s cost-sharing provision, Modern Healthcare reports. Collyer wrote that if that allegation is true “the House has been injured in a concrete and particular way that is traceable to the secretaries and remediable in court.” The judge also ruled the House does not have standing to sue over a different allegation that claimed the administration improperly amended the healthcare law regarding an employer coverage mandate.

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Health Law Primer Offers 4 Hours of CLE

TBA’s annual Health Law Primer will provide a general health law overview and include a panel of experienced health care providers, including Elizabeth Harrell of Franklin’s Community Health Systems. The seminar, Oct. 7, 1 p.m., at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Cool Springs, addresses real life situations in the heavily regulated healthcare industry. The course offers four hours of CLE.

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GOP Lawmakers Want New Abortion Clinic Rules

Five Republican senators have asked Gov. Bill Haslam to order a series of emergency rules to govern how abortion clinics dispose of fetal remains, The Tennessean reports. In a letter to the governor, the lawmakers also asked the governor to authorize a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe into Planned Parenthood and Tennessee’s other abortion providers. Planned Parenthood Tennessee officials say neither of its clinics participate in tissue sale or donation programs. 

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6th Circuit: Hobby Lobby Case Not Applicable to Contraception ‘Accommodation’

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said today it will not strike down the Affordable Care Act’s federal contraceptive mandate despite objections from the Michigan Catholic Conference, several Tennessee Catholic nonprofits and other religious-based groups, according to the Detroit News. The organizations had argued their rights were violated under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by the so-called accommodation rule, which allows religious groups to avoid paying for contraceptive services but still requires insurance carriers to provide the services to the groups’ employees. The judges upheld an earlier decision that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby opinion does not apply in this case, but put the mandate will be on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case.

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Legislators Push for More Abortion Clinic Regulations

State legislators say the Health Department should have more authority to track how fetal tissue is disposed of after abortions, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. In a joint hearing of the Government Operations Committee, Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, expressed concern that illegal tissues sales could still be going on without health inspectors’ knowledge.

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Zachary Wins House Seat in Special Election

Jason Zachary thanked a higher power for his win in the Republican primary to represent West Knox County’s 14th District in the Tennessee House. “People would say, ‘Did God really call you to run for Congress?’ And I can say tonight, yes, tonight validates,” that, Zachary told Knoxnews. The telecommunications broker has been an outspoken opponent of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal. The Commercial Appeal looks at what the election may mean for that effort. The special election was held to replace former state Rep. Ryan Haynes who stepped down to become the chairman of the Tennessee Republican party.

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Restraining Order Lifted on Abortion Clinic Law

U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp today lifted a temporary restraining order that had stopped the state from enforcing an abortion law requiring new licensing standards for clinics, the Tennessean reports. However, Sharp left open the possibility he could revisit the order as soon as Thursday depending if several key district attorneys weigh in on whether they plan to prosecute doctors. Sharp had granted the temporary order after two clinics claimed they were unable to obtain the licenses needed to comply with the new law in time.

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2nd Circuit Upholds Contraceptive Opt-Out

The opt-out process for religious nonprofits that do not want to provide contraceptive insurance coverage for employees under the Affordable Care Act does not violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday. The challenge to the process was brought by four Catholic nonprofits, which argued it made them complicit in the delivery of contraceptive services. Six other federal appeals courts have issued similar rulings, either on the merits or by denying preliminary injunctions, the ABA Journal reports.

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Chattanooga, Hamilton County Launch Mental Health Court

The new Chattanooga-Hamilton County Mental Health Court launched yesterday, News Channel 9 reports. The mental health court aims to provide services and break down barriers to recovery for defendants with serious mental illness. The program offers judicial supervision combined with treatment services to help defendants who would otherwise be released without additional support.

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Learn More About the Post Tanco World

The outcome of the historical case Tanco v. Haslam will continue to have a significant impact on several aspects of the law. Join your colleagues on Sept. 18 for the first annual LGBT Law Forum to discuss how the case will impact family law, estate planning, real estate and health care practices. And in case you missed it, the TBA's one-hour webcast on marriage equality covers the basics of the case.

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TJC Elects New Board Officers

The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) has appointed eight new board members: Ronette Adams-Taylor, associate general counsel at Meharry Medical College; Mark Behr, professor of English Literature and Fiction Writing at Rhodes College; Marvin Berry Jr., motivational speaker and former TJC client; Nashville lawyer Robb Bigelow; Terri Lynn Casola, litigation paralegal and former TJC client; Justice Janice Holder, former chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court; Brad Morgan, associate director for the Institute for Professional Leadership at the University of Tennessee College of Law; and Jerry Taylor, attorney and partner at Burr & Forman LLP. The TJC also announced its new board chair, Mike Abelow, an attorney at Sherrard & Roe PLC.

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HHS Issues Final Regs on Hobby Lobby Ruling

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued final rules implementing the Supreme Court’s ruling that certain businesses that object to providing contraceptive coverage to employees on religious grounds will not have to do so. To be eligible for the exception, businesses must be privately held, with five or fewer individuals owning more than 50 percent of the company, and must notify HHS of the objection. For employees of these businesses, contraception will be provided by the companies’ insurance companies or third-party administrators at no additional cost. The Nashville Business Journal has the story.

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Date Set for Fungal Meningitis Criminal Trial

The 14 suspects accused of being involved in a criminal conspiracy that led to the fungal meningitis outbreak are scheduled to go to trial on April 4, 2016, the Tennessean reports. The U.S. Department of Justice has started sending notices of the trial to those victimized by the outbreak. Tennessee was one of the hardest hit states with 153 illnesses, including 16 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The trial will take place in Boston.

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