News

St. Thomas Clinic Wants Meningitis Lawsuits Consolidated

Attorneys for St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center, where dozens of patients were injected with a meningitis-tainted steroid, filed a motion in Davidson County Circuit Court asking that the presiding judge assign the current and future lawsuits to a single circuit or chancery court judge, the Tennessean reports. The motion was filed on behalf of the Howell Allen Clinic, a codefendant in the two recent suits. The move for consolidation follows recent action merging cases in federal court stemming from the same fungal meningitis outbreak, which caused 14 deaths among Tennessee patients and sickened more than 700 people nationwide.

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Widower of Meningitis Victim Sues St. Thomas

Widower Wayne Reed filed a lawsuit against the Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center and its owners after his wife died in last year’s meningitis outbreak from tainted injections she received at the clinic. The Nashville Ledger reports that the lawsuit also challenges caps on medical malpractice awards in a new state law, and seeks $12.5 million in compulsory damages. Reed is disabled and the suit claims his wife was his primary caregiver.

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Pharmacy Blames Cleaning Company for Meningitis Outbreak

The Boston Globe reports that the New England Compounding Center -- the pharmacy linked to the nationwide meningitis outbreak -- is attempting to get its cleaning contractor to take responsibility for problems in its factory. The firm, UniFirst, acknowledges that a subsidiary helped clean portions of the pharmacy’s cleanroom facility, but a spokesperson called the claims “unfounded and without merit.”

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Court Will Not to Hear Pay Equity Case

The Tennessee Supreme Court will not hear an appeal filed on behalf of Washington County Clerk and Master Brenda W. Sneyd after her lawsuit against the county was dismissed, by the State Court of Appeals, the Johnson City Press reports. Sneyed originally  filed suit in Sept. 2010 in Washington County Chancery Court to request back pay for not receiving the same 10 percent pay raise as her counterpart. 

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AG Reaches $90 million Agreement over Unlawful Drug Promotion

The Tennessee Attorneys General office, along with 37 other Attorneys General, reached a $90 million agreement with GlaxoSmithKline LLC to resolve allegations that GlaxoSmithKline unlawfully promoted its diabetes drug Avandia by engaging in unfair and deceptive practices by misrepresenting Avandia’s cardiovascular risks and safety profile. Tennessee will receive $3 million as part of this multistate consumer protection investigation. Download the press release.

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Lawmakers Issue Subpoena for Meningitis-linked Pharmacy Director

Congressional lawmakers have issued a subpoena for the director of the Massachusetts pharmacy linked to the deadly meningitis outbreak, the Elizabethton Star reports. The subpoena came after a lawyer for Barry Cadden, co-founder of New England Compounding Center --  where the contaminated steroid shots were distributed from -- told lawmakers he would not voluntarily attend a congressional hearing.

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Supreme Court Considers Limitations on Class-Action Suits

The Supreme Court appears divided on two cases limiting class-action lawsuits against biotech company Amgen Inc. and cable provider Comcast Corp. Class actions increase pressure on businesses to settle suits because of the cost of defending them and the potential for very large judgments. Amgen and Comcast are seeking requirements for plaintiffs to prove more of their case earlier in the process in order to reduce the number of class-action suits. The court should decide both cases by June. The Memphis Daily News has the story. 

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Red Bank Commissioners Settle 2 of 5 Lawsuits

Red Bank commissioners have settled two of the five lawsuits filed against them in federal court between 2010 and 2011 in the wake of the controversial firing of Chief Larry Sneed, the Times Free Press reports. The commission voted 3-1 to settle suites filed by former police officers Bradley Hannon and Rebecca Chauncey Morgan for $36,000 and $21,000, respectively. The city is still battling lawsuits from Sneed, officer Isaac Cooper, and officer Stephen Satterwhite.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Returns to Bass Berry & Sims

Former Bass Berry & Sims partner Matt Curley has returned to the firm following a two-year stint in the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, the Nashville Post reports. A graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law, Curley served as an assistant U.S. attorney and chief of the local office’s civil division. At Bass, he will again be a partner in the firm’s compliance and government investigations practice group.

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Vanderbilt Sues Former Employee, Partner Convicted of Fraud

Vanderbilt University has filed a civil lawsuit against the two men convicted of defrauding the school of more than $560,000, the City Paper reports. On Oct. 9, Jason Hunt, former administrative manager at Vanderbilt Law School, and his partner Samuel Wakefield pled guilty to fraud, theft and statutory rape. The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages, interest, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

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J. Alexander's Class-Action Suit Settled

A class-action lawsuit filed in Tennessee State Court against Nashville-based J. Alexander’s and Fidelity National Financial has been settled, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Shareholders accused J. Alexander’s of not doing enough on their behalf after the proposed acquisition by Fidelity. They also allege Fidelity influenced the deal by offering J. Alexander CEO a job before the merger.

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Judge: TVA Negligent, Responsible for Massive Spill

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Varlan ruled on Thursday that the Tennessee Valley Authority was responsible for a massive coal ash spill at its Kingston facility in 2008. He said the TVA should have investigated and remedied problems at the site prior to the "catastrophic failure." Total cleanup costs, which are ongoing, are estimated to exceed $1 billion. Varlan said in a written opinion that the TVA was negligent in its conduct and will be liable for damages that will have to be proven in the next phase of the ongoing lawsuits. Related litigation involves more than 60 cases and more than 800 plaintiffs. ABC News has more

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Court: Graphic Images on Cigarette Warnings Violate Speech Rights

Federal rules that require graphic warning images on cigarette packages were struck down today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, on the basis that the mandates violate corporate speech rights, ABAJournal.com reports. Writing for the majority, Judge Janice Rogers Brown found in favor of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, saying that the case raises “novel questions” about what the government can require in commercial disclosures.

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Magazine Highlights Strangest Lawsuits

Inside Counsel offers up seven of the strangest lawsuits making headlines, including a nude beauty queen, Humphrey Bogart's coat and fancy fonts on billboards. Read about them all here

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Survivor of Colorado Shooting to Sue Theater, Studio, Doctors

A lawyer told reporters Tuesday he will bring suit against multiple parties on behalf of a survivor of Friday's mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. Beverly Hills-based attorney Donald Karpel told TMZ he will file on behalf of Torrence Brown Jr., who attended the midnight showing where the massacre took place. He plans to sue the Century Aurora 16 movie theater, Warner Bros. Entertainment and the doctors for alleged Colorado gunman James Eagan Holmes. WMC has the story

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Attorneys Sought for Document Review

Counsel On Call seeks experienced litigation attorneys to assist with electronic discovery review and analysis for a number of Fortune 50 companies located across the country. The full-time positions would be located in the company's service center in Nashville. Requirements include at least two years of litigation experience (preferably in a law firm or corporate environment), solid academic credentials and an active Tennessee law license. Prior electronic document review experience is preferred but not required. To be considered, submit resumes to resumes@counseloncall.com. Learn more on JobLink

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Greer Elected West Tenn. TAJ VP

Memphis lawyer Thomas Greer, a partner in Bailey & Greer PLLC, has been elected vice president of the West Tennessee division of the Tennessee Association for Justice (TAJ). Greer practices in the areas of medical malpractice, personal injury, wrongful death, premises liability and police brutality. In an interview with the Memphis Daily News, Greer reflects on shifting trends in the legal profession and how TAJ is responding. “There’s a declining trend for the number of cases that go to trial," he says. "One of the missions of our association is to keep the courthouse open and level the playing field for the ordinary Tennessean. To try to make sure that future generations have the same constitutional rights that we grew up with and that we’ve had.”

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McDonough is New Litigation Chair at Miller & Martin

Travis McDonough has been appointed chair of Miller & Martin's Litigation Department. He is in the Chattanooga office,  concentrating his practice in the areas of corporate disputes, white collar criminal defense, class actions, intellectual property rights and other complex litigation. He previously served as vice-chairman of the firm's litigation department beginning in 2007. Learn more from the firm

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Judge Haynes Reception March 29, Contribute to Portrait Fund

A reception honoring retired Circuit Court Judge Barbara Haynes will be March 29, 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Davidson County Courthouse. Contributions are also being accepted to procure a portrait of Judge Haynes, to be hung in the Third Circuit Courtroom. Download a reservation card.

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Class Action Over Denial of Autism Treatment May Proceed

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled today that a class action against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan over the company's denial of a particular therapy for autism can move ahead.  The plaintiffs initially sued Blue Cross in 2010 for reimbursement for what is known as Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). They also sought a court ruling that they're entitled to future coverage for the therapy costs. The National Law Journal has the details.

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