News

Computer Forensics for Lawyers

On Aug. 2, Lars Daniel with Guardian Digital Forensics in Raleigh will present a special CLE webcast on computer forensics. He will use real life examples to show how forensic artifacts recovered from computers are used in legal cases. Other topics will include best practices in data collection, understanding deleted data, challenging digital evidence and expert testimony. If you cannot join the webcast live, the program will be available on the website for up to one year. Learn more or register here.

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UT Facing Costs of $3M for Title IX Suit

The University of Tennessee will spend roughly $3 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that the school allowed a “hostile sexual environment” and violated Title IX in its response to sexual assault cases, especially those accusing student athletes. The amount includes a $2.48 million payment to eight plaintiffs and legal fees to their lawyers, and more than $500,000 to the Nashville law firm Neal & Harwell, which represented the university in the matter, Knoxnews reports. The settlement was announced July 5.

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'Pokemon Go' Raising Thorny Legal Issues

Pokemon Go is taking the country by storm. But with imaginary characters waiting to be “caught” on both public and private property, the game is “raising legal issues and public safety concerns.” Press headlines indicate people are injuring themselves and others in pursuit of the game, while private property owners are dealing with players swarming their land. The game’s terms of service disclaim liability for property damage, personal injury or death occurring while playing but thorny legal issues no doubt await. The ABA Journal has links to several legal articles on the issue.

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Court: Bankruptcy No Shield for GM Ignition Switch Claims

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals today struck down bankruptcy decisions that shielded General Motors from liability related to ignition switch defects, Reuters reports. The court found that a 2009 sale of the automakers’ assets, which provided the company with legal cover, violated potential victims’ rights to due process. The ruling effectively rebuffs GM’s attempts to block hundreds of customer lawsuits over faulty ignition switches that led to criminal charges and prompted the recall of 2.6 million vehicles in 2014.

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Court Adopts New Standard for Shareholder Lawsuits

In a case involving claims between siblings who were shareholders in a closely held family corporation, the Tennessee Supreme Court today adopted a new standard for when a shareholder can file a direct lawsuit on claims that concern the corporation. The decision overturned a ruling by the Court of Appeals and set aside Tennessee’s prior standard. In its place, the court adopted a standard used in Delaware that “is clear and easily understood” and “should facilitate consistent and predictable outcomes in disputes involving shareholder claims.” Chattannoogan.com has the story.

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New Litigation Courses Now Available Online

Online CLE programs offering insight into a range of litigation matters are now available online. Sessions cover med-mal updates, third party reviews, the ethical use of social media and effective deposition strategies. Check these courses out at the links above.

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Federal Judge Extends Volkswagen's Settlement Deadline

A federal judge in San Francisco is extending the deadline for attorneys for Volkswagen to reach a final settlement proposal, citing the “highly technical nature” of the proposed settlements. Bloomberg News reports that the new deadline, June 28, will deny Volkswagen the opportunity to present a conclusion to investors at its annual shareholders meeting on June 22. Without the settlement, the German carmaker’s efforts to navigate out of the crisis remain incomplete nine months after admitting to rigging the exhaust systems in some 11 million vehicles worldwide.

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Former UT Football Player Sues SEC, NCAA

The Tennessean reports that former University of Tennessee football player O.J. Owens is suing the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA in an effort to recoup unspecified damages for the effects of head trauma he experienced during his college career. His suit is one of 10 filed in the past two months by Chicago-based law firm Edelson on behalf of former college football players. UT is not named as a defendant in the suit. 

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June TBJ Features Technology-Assisted Review

Lawyers need to be familiar with technology-assisted review when dealing with documents in data-intensive cases. In the June issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal, out today, Dr. Joel Henry and Michael Pasque explain what you need to know and how technology can be used to help your case. Also, Scott D. Weiss examines condominium smoking regulations -- are they legal? Bill Harbison pens his last column as Tennessee Bar Association president, looking at the "last lines" of many great works of literature. In one of his own great last lines he writes, "Our bar association is a wonderful bridge between past and future, bringing together lawyers from so many perspectives who help to shape our profession. … We should all have lots of optimism for the future of our profession." Read the June issue online.

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Wearable Tech May Aid in Personal Injury Claims

“In the world of personal injury law wearable tech may become a pivotal element in bringing justice to those who have become victims,” according to Law Technology Today. The article explores the use of items like Smartwatches when making a personal injury claim, along with the possible issues that could arise from misusing the technology.  

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Plaintiff in Uber Suit Challenges $100M Settlement

The ABA Journal reports one of the first drivers to file what has become a class action against Uber Technologies made a filing Monday in opposition to a $100 million settlement. Drivers in the suit, first filed in 2013, contend they were misclassified as independent contractors when they were actually employees, and Uber doesn’t pay them enough for mileage and expenses. Plaintiff Douglas O’Connor, one of the first to file, said he felt “utterly betrayed” by class counsel Shannon Liss-Riordan and that the settlement is not in the best interest of Uber drivers. 

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School Board Approves Settlement Following Leaked Student Information

The Williamson County School Board approved last night a $36,500 counter settlement to a pending lawsuit, The Tennessean reports. The counter settlement came in response to the threat of a lawsuit that alleges a special needs student suffered from leaked student information and the board's reaction to a school fight.

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UT Law Student: If Mozart Were a Trial Lawyer

What would composer Wolfgang Mozart do with a closing argument? University of Tennessee College Law Student Melissa Joy Baxter, a classically trained pianist, explains how principles of artistic performance can be applied to craft every aspect of a closing argument. “The Mozartian framework is emotionally appealing, sterling in clarity, consistent in structure, and brilliantly simple — everything a closing argument should be,” she writes. 

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Phillips to Lead Bass, Berry & Sims Litigation Group

Bass, Berry & Sims PLC announced that W. Brantley Phillips Jr. was appointed to serve as chair of the firm’s litigation and dispute resolution practice group, the Nashville Post reports. Phillips will oversee more than 100 attorneys and staff working in Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis and Washington, D.C. Phillips joined Bass in 1998 and has been serving as co-chair of the firm’s securities and shareholder litigation practice group.

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Confidential Settlement Reached in Erin Andrews Case

Television personality Erin Andrews reached a settlement today in her lawsuit against West End Hotel Partners and Windsor Capital Group, the hotel owner and operator that allowed a stalker to secretly record her naked though a peephole. The Tennessean reports the terms of the agreement are confidential. A Nashville jury awarded Andrews $55 million in March and said Andrews’ stalker, Michael David Barrett, was responsible for $28 million of that. Attorney Randall Kinnard, who represented Andrews, had asked the judge to hold the hotel responsible for the full $55 million. 

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Register Today for the 135th Annual TBA Convention

Join us on June 15-18 in Nashville for the 135th Annual Convention! Registration for the 2016 TBA Convention includes:

  • free access to all TBA CLE programming;
  • the Opening Reception;
  • the Bench Bar Programming and Luncheon;
  • Law School and general breakfasts;
  • the Lawyers Luncheon;
  • the Thursday evening Joint (TBA/TLAW/TABL) Reception;
  • the Thursday night dinner and entertainment at the George Jones Museum;
  • and the Friday night Dance Party.

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PD Group Seeks to Fill Retiring Executive Director Position

The Tennessee Public Defender’s Conference announces an upcoming vacancy for executive director. The position is currently held by Jeff Henry, who in February announced his retirement effective at the end of his current term in June. Interested parties should address resumes and any other documents to search committee chair Tom Marshall at 127 N. Main Street, Clinton, TN 37716, and to conference president Jeff Harmon at P.O. Box 220, Jasper, TN 37347. The deadline to apply is April 22.

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LAET Names Director of Litigation and Advocacy

Russell Fowler was named director of litigation and advocacy for the Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Fowler teaches constitutional law at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and writes the “History’s Verdict” column for the Tennessee Bar Journal. He is a member of the executive council of the TBA Litigation Law Section.

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Old Hickory Neighbors File Suit to Block Rock Quarry

The Tennessean reports a group of Old Hickory residents filed a lawsuit yesterday in an effort to stop Metro government from issuing future permits for a limestone rock quarry project. The suit points to legislation the Metro Council passed in November that created new buffer zones to prevent mineral extraction activity immediately near residential homes in Nashville. The suit also names Industrial Land Developers as a defendant.

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$10M Suit Filed Against Bus Driver Charged With Rape

A $10 million lawsuit was filed Thursday against a Hamilton County bus driver charged with the 2015 rape of a teenage student, the Times Free Press reports. The teen’s guardians are seeking the amount in punitive and compensatory damages and have requested a jury trial.

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Depositions, Workers' Comp Claims Court in March Issue

Depositions are a basic tool for many trials, but are you using them in the most effective way possible? Dan Berexa looks at best practices for depositions in this issue of the Journal. Judge Kenneth Switzer and Jane Pribek Salem explain what you need to know about Tennessee’s Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims. For instance, at the trial level an average of 52 days pass from the time a mediator certifies a dispute until a workers’ compensation judge issues an order. Judge Pamela B. Johnson tells you the do's and don'ts of how to practice in the relatively new court. Read these stories and more in the March Journal.

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Complaints for Relief from Elavon Due Feb. 27

Eligible Tennesseans who seek relief from Elavon Inc., following a settlement between the global credit card transaction processor and Attorney General Herbert Slatery, must file a complaint by Feb. 27. The settlement, reached November 2015, resolved allegations that the company was misrepresenting its cancellation policy and other items. Complaints may be filed online or by phone at (615) 741-4737.

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In This Issue: Retaliatory Discharge, Advanced Care Planning and Dale Bumpers

This month the Tennessee Bar Journal's employment law column by Edward Phillips and Brandon Morrow covers retaliatory discharge in "Badges and Blown Whistles: Recent Retaliatory Discharge Actions in Tennessee." Monica Franklin collaborates with Dr. Gregory Phelps in her elder law column, "Advanced Care Planning: When Law and Medicine Intersect."  Humor columnist Bill Haltom writes about the late Dale Bumpers, the small-town lawyer who defended Bill Clinton before the Senate in the 1999 impeachment trial. Read these and the rest of the February issue.

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Nashville Attorney Joins Steering Committee in Volkswagen Suit

Nashville attorney Gerard Stranch IV, a partner in Branstetter Stranch & Jennings, was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee that will coordinate the multidistrict litigation against Volkswagen. The automaker is facing more than 175 class actions in 32 states, including Tennessee, after the company admitted to installing “defeat devices” in certain vehicles in order to pass emission tests. Stranch joins 22 attorneys on the steering committee appointed by Judge Charles R. Breyer of California’s Northern District Court.

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BlueCross BlueShield to Appeal Breach of Contract Ruling

The Tennessean reports BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is appealing a recent decision by the Chancery Court for Tennessee's 20th Judicial District that says BCBST breached a contract with a general insurance agent. The court recently awarded James Walker, the president and owner of Individual Healthcare Specialists, $2.1 million after BCBST was found to have breached a commissions contract. BCBST argued that changes to the contract and commission structure on renewals were due to the Affordable Care Act.

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