News

ABA Throws Support Behind Fair Housing Improvement Bill

American Bar Association President Bob Carlson is applauding a bill that would expand the protections of the Fair Housing Act to prevent discrimination based on a person’s lawful source of income, The ABA Journal reports. Carlson praised the bill in a letter to its sponsors, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. The bill, called the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2018, would bar housing discrimination based on income source or veteran status. Last year, the ABA House of Delegates adopted a policy urging the implementation of such legislation and opposing prejudice against people who rely on government support to make ends meet.
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U.S. Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal Regarding Real Estate Search Patents

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday shot down a petition related to the ruling of a Federal Circuit Court regarding Real Estate Alliance Ltd.’s (REAL) search patents, according to Inman.com. The ruling affirms a Feb. 1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that its real estate search tools are not, in fact, patent eligible. The dispute arose in 2007 when Move Inc. filed a lawsuit against REAL seeking a declaratory judgment that the patents were invalid.

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Knoxville Sees Growth in Outside Investors

The city of Knoxville has seen an abundance of outside real estate investors, joining Memphis and Nashville in the state’s red-hot commercial real estate market, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Investors say that they are drawn to the city because of the market’s stability, with the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge to anchor the area’s economy. Multi-family and apartment sales volume sustained 35 percent of total investments, yielding more than $48 billion.

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European Real Estate Giant Invests in U.S. Commercial Lending

One of Europe’s largest real estate investment firms is jumping into the U.S. debt market, The Wall Street Journal reports. AXA Investment Managers — a unit of the French insurer AXA — is set to purchase the $9.4 billion debt portfolio of Atlanta-based Quadrant Real Estate Advisors for an undisclosed amount. Quadrant specializes in loans bankrolled on office buildings, shopping centers, apartment buildings and other commercial property.

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Highlights from TBA Fall Board of Governors Meeting

The TBA Board of Governors and relevant committees met over the course of two days in October, discussing issues of importance to the association. Highlights of the meeting included the adoption of an official TBA Public Policy that recognizes and approves the Path to Lawyer Well-Being, which is the comprehensive report of the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being. The Board also considered recommendations from TBA’s House of Delegates, approving several section-sponsored pieces of legislation reviewed by the House. In response to concerns raised by the House of Delegates related to Tennessee Supreme Court Sanctioned Pro Se Divorce Forms, the Board voted in favor of the creation of a task force to work with other legal organizations including the Administrative Office of the Courts to collect data from practitioners, judges and clerks in order to document and properly address those concerns.
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This Issue: Deficiency Statute, THRA and Seersucker

In this month's Tennessee Bar Journal, Chattanooga lawyer Richard Gossett examines the state of the law both before and after the enactment of the Deficiency Statute. In "The Law at Work" column, Knoxville lawyers Ward Phillips and Brandon Morrow write about a recent decision from the Tennessee Court of Appeals, reminding employment litigators of a key distinction in state law: there is no right to a jury trial on Tennessee Human Rights Act (THRA) claims in circuit court. And Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom helps us recall those lazy days of summer, just a month or so ago, when lawyers across Tennessee suited and participated in the first statewide Seersucker Flash Mob. You don't want to miss the pictures of this nostalgic end-of-summer fashion statement. Read the October issue!

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Basic Tech Checklist for Firms

Law firms attempting to stay competitive and state-of-the-art need to consistently evaluate their use of technology. In addition to staying competitive, technological competency is required. In 2017, the Tennessee Supreme Court amended Rule 8 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility to include this obligation. Above the Law presents a simple and straightforward tech checklist for law firms or lawyers seeking guidance in this area.   

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Leadership CLE 2018

Leadership is explored through an interactive curriculum exploring the challenging characteristics needed in today’s leaders. On Nov. 19, learn from today’s leaders how to develop leadership skills, build characteristics of effective leadership, and identify strategies to overcome challenges. A great opportunity to obtain your ethics credit hours, up to 5.75 dual credits are available. Register here.
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This Week: Hot Topics in Real Estate 2018

Join us Nov. 9 at the AT&T Building in Nashville for Hot Topics in Real Estate. The program, a staple for Tennessee "dirt lawyers," is designed to keep you on the cutting edge of developments in real estate law with topics such as blockchain and smart contracts, case law updates and tips to avoid complaints. Do not default on this opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals while networking with colleagues in your area of practice. 
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CLE Hot Topics in Real Estate 2018

Join us Nov. 9 at the AT&T Building in Nashville for a program designed to keep you on the cutting edge of developments in real estate law with topics such as blockchain and smart contracts, case law updates and tips to avoid complaints. Do not default on this opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals while networking with colleagues in your area of practice. 
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Search CLE by Topic

The TBA allows you to search CLE by topic area. For example, you will see 16 options for real estate law, 17 options for criminal law and 12 options for corporate counsel practitioners.
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Construction on Nashville's Broadwest Two-Tower Development Scheduled for Fall

The West End Summit site, home to the infamous and recently drained ‘Lake Palmer,’ may see construction beginning as soon as this fall, The Nashville Post reports. Huntsville, Alabama-based Propst Development plans to build two mixed-use buildings which will be called Broadwest and encompass a collective 1.2 million square feet at 1600 West End Ave near the split with Broadway. Local partners on the project include:

  • Chartwell Hospitality, a Franklin-based hotel operations and development company, to co-own and operate the 14-floor luxury hotel;
  • Parks Realty, a Nashville-based real estate agency, to lead condominium sales;
  • The Nashville office of Jones Lang Lasalle for office leasing;
  • Atlanta-based Cooper Carry as the lead architects of Broadwest;
  • The local offices of Turner Construction Company and Hoar Construction as general contractors;
  • Nashville-based Premier Parking to oversee the parking component.

The project could carry a price tag upwards of $500 million.

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Legal Practice Tip: Slander of Title – Clouds on Property Owned by Public Officials

What are your rights if a false lien is filed against property you own

On May 21, Gov. Haslam signed into law Public Chapter No. 1042 which immediately created a cause of action providing for remedies for the successful challenge of the validity of a lien against a property. The real property owner that prevails in challenging the validity of a lien or a slander of title proceeding may recover:
  1. The owner's reasonable attorney's fees; 
  2. Reasonable costs incurred by the owner to challenge the validity of the lien; 
  3. Liquidated damages in an amount equal to ten percent (10%) of the fair market value of the property not to exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000); and
  4. Any actual damages incurred by the owner.
The provisions of the act do not apply if the lien is based on a loan agreement which lists the property as collateral to secure repayment of the loan. The statute became effective on signing.
 
What if you are a “public official?"
 
A separate act was signed by the governor on May 1, which took effect on July 1. Public Chapter No. 913 provides a way for “public officials” to administratively challenge the filing with the register a cloud on an interest in real property by way of an affidavit by the official which sets into motion a process to remove the cloud. This procedure is reasonably complicated but may provide the local and state officials with alternative methods for removing the clouds in a more expeditious and less expensive way and may force the hand of individuals filing such false claims.

Joseph "Joe" Kirkland is an attorney and senior escrow officer at the East Memphis office of CloseTrak, Closing & Title Services. Kirkland is active in the Tennessee Land Title Association (chair of the standing Legislative Committee 2017-19, director of the Board of Directors 2018-19) and the immediate past chair of the Tennessee Bar Association's Real Estate Law Section.
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Environmental Groups Sue TVA Over Grid Access Charge

Five environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in an attempt to block a new grid access charge scheduled to begin next month, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The plaintiffs maintain that the planned TVA rate changes and cutbacks in renewable and energy efficiency programs will discourage consumers from investing in solar, wind and energy efficiency projects and harm the environment as a result. The new grid access charge is set to take effect Oct. 1 and will require municipalities and power cooperatives to pay a mandatory electricity fee regardless of their energy usage. You can view the complaint here.

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2018 Tax Law Forum

The annual Tax Law Forum will be held at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville on Sept. 17. Sessions will focus on the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Topics include the new pass-through entity tax law, an overview of the changes to international tax law, corporate and other business tax changes as well as non-profit law changes.
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Section Seeks Your Opinions on Upcoming Law Office Technology Forum

To help build programming for its upcoming Law Tech Forum, the TBA Law Office Technology and Management Executive Council is asking your opinions. Completing this brief web form will assist in ensuring the forum remains timely, relevant and on the cutting edge. Comments can be related to subject matter, length and location of the event. Please respond by Sept. 7. 

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Put TBA UPS to Work

Have you enrolled in TBA’s UPS account for members? Visit UPS's TBA page and save up to 34 percent on UPS’s broad portfolio. Shipping services include next day air, international, ground and express.
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Law Office Management Tips on Shipping

If your law office uses shipping services, your TBA membership team can help you compare those costs to TBA’s UPS member benefit. Your firm office manager can work directly with TBA staff and UPS services to enroll or transfer shipping accounts. Members can save up to 34 percent on UPS’s broad portfolio of shipping services, including next day air, international, ground and express.
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Chancellor Approves Cordova Rezoning Case

Chancellor Walter Evans dismissed a petition against the proposed rezoning of the Cordova Triangle in Germantown on Thursday in Shelby County Chancery Court, The Commercial Appeal reports. The city of Germantown may now proceed with its proposed rezoning of the area from urban to residential. The Jack Owen Revocable Trust, which owns a tract in the Triangle, filed a petition against the city after the Germantown Planning Commission voted in favor of the rezoning during its July 10 meeting.
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TBA Section Chair Recognized as Emerging Leader

Nashville attorney David Wicker of Stites & Harbison was recognized as an Emerging Leader in Legal Services by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville during an event Thursday at Lipscomb University, the Nashville Post reports. Wicker, who currently chairs the TBA Real Estate Section, is also active in community organizations, ranging from the Rotary Club to the Tomato Art Fest.

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Destination CLE Survey

Let's take a trip! The TBA CLE Committee would like your feedback on destination CLE events. Taking a moment to complete this brief survey will greatly assist us in developing the best CLE experience for you. Please complete this survey by Aug. 10. We greatly appreciate your help with this endeavor.
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Cameras Catch Airbnb Guests Illegally Entering Neighbor's Home

Four men illegally entered a woman's South Nashville home last Friday while she was cooking dinner for her young daughter, WKRN News reports. The men were staying at an Airbnb on 9th Circle South in Edgehill, where they hopped over a barrier separating the third-floor balconies of the properties, breaking into the house of Amy Allen. Allen was notified of the intrusion by her security system, which also filmed the ‘bnb’ burglars in action. Allen said she called the police and began looking through her surveillance video when she discovered that the guests from next door had been in her home previously and had stolen a bottle of alcohol.
 
Airbnb rentals remain a contentious topic in Nashville, leading the city to establish a designated hotline to field complaints about short-term rental properties. Since September 2017, Metro Codes has received 1,581 calls on the complaint hotline.

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Remote Online Notarization and Electronic Notarization Now Possible in Tennessee

On May 15, Tennessee became the 6th state to enact legislation permitting the Remote Online Notarization (RON) of documents. Under Public Chapter No. 931, qualified notaries public will be allowed to electronically apply notary seals and additionally, to perform notarizations for individuals via two-way audio-visual communications.  
 
The act now defines “Appear” “Appearance” and “personally appear” to include: appearing before an online notary public by means of an interactive two-way audio and video communication that meets the online notarization requirements under rules promulgated by the secretary of state; these will include the standards that must comply with online notarization and “credential analysis” and “identity proofing” to ensure the proper identity of the party to be witnessed and preservation of the notarization act for a period of a minimum of five years.
 
The act also contains definitions for terms such as "Credential analysis," "Electronic document," "Electronic notarial certificate," "Electronic seal," "Electronic signature," "ldentity proofing," "Online notarization" and "Remote presentation," among others. The Tennessee Secretary of State will be administering and promulgating the rules for the orderly conduct of electronic notarizations and remote online notarizations. Public Chapter No. 931 will become effective on July 1, 2019.

Joseph "Joe" Kirkland is an attorney and senior escrow officer at the East Memphis office of CloseTrak, Closing & Title Services. Kirkland is active in the Tennessee Land Title Association (chair of the standing Legislative Committee 2017-19, director of the Board of Directors 2018-19) and the immediate past chair of the Tennessee Bar Association's Real Estate Law Section.
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TDEC Proposing Changes to Aquatic Resource Alterations

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is proposing changes to the permitting process when entities seek to divert a stream, pave over wetlands or otherwise alter the state’s waterways, The Tennessean reports. The proposed changes to Rule Chapter 0400-40-07 Aquatic Resource Alteration would stipulate where developers can mitigate the damage done to streams and would establish a baseline for pollution or alterations from which any harm would have to be offset. Comments on the amendments will be accepted through July 31 and can be submitted to Jimmy.R.Smith@tn.gov.

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