News

Court May be Delaying Action on ‘Big’ Cases

The short-handed Supreme Court may be showing signs it is having trouble getting its work done, the Associated Press reports. The justices have yet to schedule three cases for arguments that were granted full review in January – an indication they may think the issues involved (separation of church and state, class-action lawsuits and property rights) will lead to a 4-4 split. "It’s much more difficult for us to do our job if we are not what we’re intended to be – a court of nine,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Monday. The justices have divided evenly in four cases since Antonin Scalia’s death last term. WRCB-TV has the story.

read more »

ABA Releases Latest Data on Malpractice Claims

The ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability has issued its latest in a series of studies on the state of legal malpractice claims in the United States and Canada. “Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims” has tracked legal malpractice trends for 30 years. This one-of-a-kind data analysis provides attorneys and insurance analysts an in-depth look at current trends as well as comparisons to historical data. The committee chair said this year’s report shows a reduction in real estate claims (which likely stemmed from the economic crisis) but a growth in estate, trust and probate claims, which she attributes to rising numbers of retiring baby boomers.

read more »

Regions Bank to Pay $52M in Mortgage Loan Case

Alabama-based Regions Bank has agreed to pay more than $52 million to resolve allegations that it improperly handled mortgage loans, federal officials announced this week. The bank was accused of approving mortgage loans, insured by the Federal Housing Administration, that failed to meet requirements designed to protect homeowners. As part of the settlement, Regions acknowledged it failed to follow several federal guidelines. Authorities said that as a result, the government insured hundreds of loans approved by Regions that were not eligible for mortgage insurance. WRCB-TV has the AP story.

read more »

Lawyers Sought for Women’s Empowerment Conference

Volunteer lawyers are needed for an upcoming Women’s Empowerment Conference organized by Women Overcoming Many Battles Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit that seeks to help women overcome life’s challenges. The conference will take place July 30 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mt. Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville. Attorneys are needed to lead 15-minute presentations on child support enforcement and wrongful eviction and participate in a general question and answer session. Lawyers also are needed to provide brief legal advice in one-on-one meetings with the women. Those interested in helping should contact AOC Pro Bono Coordinator Patricia Mills

read more »

Bass Fights Nashville Skyscraper Plan

Bass Berry & Sims, Nashville’s largest firm, has retained another Nashville firm to help fight a proposed 40-story skyscraper downtown. Todd Rolapp, the firm's managing partner, argues that the plans for the tower “do not comport with city land-use policy,” The Nashville Business Journal reports. Metro’s Planning Commission is set later this week to decide whether to allow developers to build the $325 million project.  

read more »

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.

read more »

Mentors in Real Estate Law Needed

The TBA Mentoring Program is looking for volunteer mentors who practice real estate law in and around the Williamson and Davidson County areas. Mentoring is the most effective way to pass along skills, knowledge and wisdom and it is critical to a new lawyer’s success. There are many new attorneys signed up for a mentor in the real estate area, but there is a shortage of mentors to match them with. 

To qualify as a mentor you must have a minimum of eight years' experience with no formal BPR investigation pending or disciplinary action imposed in the last 10 years. 

If you’re interested in signing up, please contact Kate Prince, 615-277-3202.

read more »

Developer Sues Thompson's Station Over Permit

Shaw Enterprises is suing the town of Thompson’s Station and the town's planner for failing to issue a grading permit to the developer, the Williamson Herald reports. Shaw claims the company is losing $22,000 a month in interest costs because the company began grading the land following the project’s approval from the Planning Commission. Thompson’s Station contends the commission simply removed a condition of a tree replacement inventory and has no ability to issue a permit.

read more »

Memphis Attorney's "Blight Fight" Featured

Next City, a nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire change in cities through journalism, profiles attorney Steve Barlow’s “blight fight” in Memphis. Barlow said he was inspired to begin tackling the city’s blight problem more than a decade ago after attending a conference put on by a national blight elimination nonprofit. He later filed the city’s first ever blight lawsuit under the state’s Neighborhood Preservation Act. “I feel like it is my job to be sure irresponsible owners are held accountable to a very high standard of property maintenance," Barlow said.

read more »

State Denies Metro's Employment and Wage Records Requests

The Tennessean reports the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development denied two records requests by Metro Nashville officials for wage and employment data. Metro officials are seeking the information for use in its plans to create a new affordable housing policy. State attorneys argue that the data is confidential information that state labor workers cannot disclose under federal law. “We’re trying to create affordable housing where the jobs are, and for us to really understand where the jobs are, we need the most up-to-date data. And they’re not willing to share that data with us,” Metro Planning Department Executive Director Doug Sloan said.

read more »

Digital Billboard Ruling Ends 15-Year Battle

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled a digital billboard in Brentwood must be converted back into a standard style, ending a 15-year court battle. Brentwood and Metropolitan Nashville teamed up in the lawsuit against Lamar’s Advertising. Metro initially approved construction of the billboard that sits 12-feet north of the city’s border, but then denied Lamar’s request to make the sign digital, citing it was prohibited in its zoning district. Read more from The Brentwood Homepage

read more »

Hendersonville Attorney Faces 20 Years for Wire Fraud

Garry Christopher Forsythe, the former owner of Forsythe Title and Escrow, faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud, Hendersonville Star News reports. Forsythe, of Hendersonville, admitted to misusing more than $2.2 million in escrow funding provided by real estate buyers and lenders. His sentencing is scheduled for March 18, 2016. The Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Forsythe from the practice of law in 2009 pending the outcome of this case.

read more »

Metro Airbnb Rule Seeks to Limit Number of Occupants

A new ordinance sponsored by Metro Nashville Councilwoman Burkley Allen would make it illegal for Airbnb and other short-term rental hosts to advertise a rental property for more occupants than is permitted. A violation of the proposed rule would result in a violator’s short-term rental permit getting revoked. “There are now probably somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 [short-term rental properties] in Nashville and I hear very few complaints,” Allen said. “The only complaints I hear are about the large [homes] that are being used for party houses.” Read more from The Tennessean.

read more »

Court Rules Mortgage Service Had No Constitutionally Protected Interest in Land

The Tennessee Supreme Court today upheld that Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) was not entitled to prior notice of the sale of mortgaged land in Hamilton County because it did not have an interest in the land that is constitutionally protected under the Due Process Clause. Purchasers of the land borrowed money from a MERS member lender but later sold the note to another lender, who failed to pay 2006 property taxes. Hamilton County initiated tax foreclosure proceedings and did not notify MERS of the proceedings. MERS filed a lawsuit to set aside the tax sale. The Court affirmed the trial’s court judgment, saying Hamilton County was not required to give MERS notice before it sold the land. Read the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Carlton J. Ditto opinion, authored by Justice Holly Kirby.

read more »

Multiple Real Estate Firms May be Allowed to Represent State

The state Department of General Services is asking commercial real estate brokers to offer their plans to manage the state’s office leases and will consider allowing multiple firms to represent the state government. Officials will not extend their contract with Jones Lang LaSalle, but the Chicago-based company is free to bid on the new contract. Read more from Nashville Public Radio

read more »

New Case Added to Supreme Court Fantasy Challenge

A new case has been added to the Tennessee Supreme Court Fantasy Challenge. Learn about legal issues involving the purchase of property at a tax sale in the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc v. Carlton J. Ditto, et al case before the Supreme Court. 

read more »

Signs for Airbnb Can Remain in Nashville Yards During Lawsuit

WZTV reports Airbnb signs can remain in Nashville yards while a couple’s lawsuit over Airbnb rules is pending, according to a circuit court judge’s ruling Friday. A Nashville couple sued the city after an ordinance went into effect earlier this year banning Airbnb signs and limiting the number of people who can rent their homes as Airbnbs while they are living out of town.

read more »

Knox County Judges Void 182 Annexation Attempts

Knox County judges voided Knoxville’s 182 annexation attempts due to a 2015 enacted law that prohibits annexation without the consent of property owners, Humphrey on the Hill reports. The court orders require the city to pay court costs in the 182 cases – an estimated $33,943.

read more »

Rights of Property Owners CLE is Thursday

Watch the live presentation of the continuing legal education program, "Rights of Property Owners vs. Luck of Birth Knoxville" Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. Mathew Grossman reviews the recent court opinion regarding the Bailey Farm in Loudon County. This decision bolstered the right of property owners against state claims of distance relatives.

read more »

LAET Attorney Stunned by Knoxville Family's Eviction

Attorney Terry Woods with Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) said she has never seen an eviction like the one that forced Lisa Love and her family out their Knoxville home, WATE reports. Love lost her home due to financial difficulties stemming from Love’s 2009 unemployment and disability application. LAET will host an Open Clinic and InterFaith Legal Advice Clinic in Knoxville during Celebrate Pro Bono Month on Oct. 24, 9:15 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at the John Tarleton Gymnasium Helen Ross McNabb Center, 2455 Sutherland Ave. No appointments are necessary and Spanish-speaking interpreters will be available. Contact Woods for more information.

read more »

Hot Topics in Real Estate

Join your colleagues for the TBA's annual Hot Topics in Real Estate Seminar on Nov. 6. This year’s program will offer attendees insight into tax sales, bankruptcy, best practices certification, and the annual legislative report. One session will give special consideration to HOA law. Don’t miss this opportunity to network with attorneys in this practice area.

read more »

Nashville Partners to Chair Practice Groups

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP appointed Nashville partners Emily Hatch Bowman and Ty E. Howard as new practice group chairs within the firm. Bowman represents financial institutions and corporate clients in a variety of commercial and real estate lending matters. Howard represents organizations and individuals in government and internal investigations, compliance matters and related civil or criminal litigation. “Bradley Arant’s practice leaders hold a crucial and respected role, as they work to guide their colleagues in a trajectory that benefits our clients and the firm as a whole,” firm chairman Beau Grenier said.

read more »

Panel Discusses Increasing State's Homestead Exemption

The Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) wrapped up a two-day meeting Thursday with a discussion of Tennessee’s homestead exemption. Since the 1977 constitutional convention that moved the exemption into statute and increased the homestead exemption to $5,000, there has been no change to the individual homestead exemption, only categories added. Tennessee has one of the lowest homestead exemptions in the nation and the state leads the nation in the highest bankruptcy rate filings per capita. A TACIR research report cited the most common reason for bankruptcy is medical bills. Panelists included Maria Salas, a Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist who represented the Tennessee Bar Association. TACIR will be looking at an approach to increasing and/or perhaps simplifying Tennessee’s complex homestead exemptions and will present a policy recommendation at its meeting in October.

read more »

Court of Appeals Affirms Ruling in Property Lawsuit

The Tennessee Court of Appeals is affirming an Aug. 14 court ruling that determined the statute of limitations did not run out for a Rutherford County resident to sue a gun manufacturer over a land-sale breach-of-contract argument. Brenda Benz sued Ronnie Barrett in 2008 for failing to provide access to her land three years after she sold him the property for the expansion of Barrett Firearms. "It's been a long and arduous process, but the court got it right from the very beginning," Benz said in the Murfreesboro Post. The Court of Appeals also decided Benz never wavered in her request for land to provide access to her property.

read more »