News

Report: Recovery Courts Yield Better Results

An evaluation of Tennessee’s recovery courts – including drug courts, mental health courts and veterans courts – shows that these settings succeed in putting defendants on the path to a more successful and rewarding future. According to the Chattanoogan, the study found that 81 percent of graduates became employed or saw improvement in their job status, 28 percent of homeless participants found their own place to live, and 14 percent completed a GED or secured an advance degree. 

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Cannabis CLE Courses Available Online

The online CLE sessions on legislation and insight into hemp, cannabis oils and medical marijuana in Tennessee are now available. Speakers include representatives from the Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee General Assembly. Each course is approved for one hour of CLE. 

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Administrative Med Mal Scheme Discussed

The Medical Malpractice Study Committee of the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee met today to consider SB507 by Sen. Jack Johnson (HB546 by Rep. Glen Casada), which moves medical malpractice claims out of the court system into a Patients’ Compensation System, relieves physicians of personal malpractice liability, and sets up an independent medical review panel of physicians and medical experts to review plaintiffs' claims. Presenting the legislation were representatives of the group Patients For Fair Compensation. Those in opposition and raising concerns included the Tennessee Medical Association and State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Company. Legislators attending today’s meeting included Sen. Jack JohnsonSen. Mark GreenSen. Reginald TateRep. Glen CasadaRep. Dennis PowersRep. Joe PittsRep. David Shepard and Rep. Kelly Keisling. Check TBAImpact for updates on this issue.

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Haslam Wants to Strengthen Laws for Abortion Providers

In a letter issued last week to state lawmakers, Gov. Bill Haslam revealed, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Department of Health recently conducted unannounced inspections of the state’s four largest abortion providers to ensure they are in compliance with all laws and regulations. It is against Tennessee law to sell fetal tissues, but there are no laws in place requiring abortion providers to report on the disposal methods. In the letter, Haslam wrote that he intends to “prevent the abhorrent activities discussed in the Planned Parenthood videos from occurring in Tennessee.” The governor also wrote he would be proposing legislation in January "to strengthen accountability and transparency for surgery centers performing abortions."

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New Health Care Consulting Group Based in Nashville

Dickinson Wright PLLC partnered with two health care veterans to launch a new corporate health care venture in Nashville – DW Franklin Consulting Group – to serve health care clients around the country. The group will provide consulting services in governmental relations, turnaround consulting and risk analysis. “In partnering with Dickinson Wright, we bridge legal and regulatory compliance guidance with operational consultancy, which is very timely for today’s market — if not overdue,” Consulting Group leader Kerry Hart said.

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Court Will Hear Another Challenge to ACA Contraceptive Mandate

The Supreme Court accepted challenges from religious nonprofit groups to the Affordable Care Act and its contraception mandate, CNN reports. It will be the fourth time the Supreme Court has heard a challenge to the legislation. In 2014, the high court ruled that for-profit companies could refuse on religious grounds to cover contraceptives in their employee insurance plans.

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Supreme Court Modifies Summary Judgment Standard

The Tennessee Supreme Court returned to a summary judgment standard consistent with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in an opinion released today in a Memphis health care liability case. The Court’s ruling in Michelle Rye v. Women's Care Center of Memphis holds that when a party moves for summary judgment, its burden can be satisfied by either negating an essential element of the other party’s claim or by demonstrating that the other party’s evidence at the summary judgment stage is insufficient to establish that party’s claim or defense. Justice Gary R. Wade authored a dissenting opinion, concluding the summary judgment standard applied during the last two decades in Tennessee -- based on the 2008 judgment in Hannan v. Alltel Publishing Co. -- is preferable to the federal standard.

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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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