News

MGM Resorts Suing Victims of Las Vegas Shooting

MGM Resorts International, owner of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, has filed lawsuits against the victims of the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, asking federal judges to declare the company free from liability. NPR reports that the lawsuits, which name more than 800 defendants in California and more than 200 in Nevada, cite a 2002 federal law designed to encourage companies to deploy anti-terrorism security technologies without fear of being held responsible for damages if a terror attack happens. Mandalay Bay is where shooter Stephen Paddock stayed for several days before opening fire from his room onto a crowd attending a country music festival, killing 58 people.
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Johnson & Johnson Must Pay for Dangerous Talcum Powder

Johnson & Johnson was ordered Thursday to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer, The New York Times reports. A jury in a Missouri circuit court awarded $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages to the women, who had accused the company of failing to warn them about cancer risks associated with its baby and body powders.
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Duty of Care Exists Even in Dangerous Sporting Activities

In a recent blog post, John Day discusses how even when a person chooses to participate in a risky sport, he or she does not “assume the risk of whatever dangerous conduct, however unreasonable, is engaged in by the [other] participants." Instead the reasonableness of the defendant’s conduct will be determined based on the circumstances of the case.

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Schedule Time to Read Email

A Tip from the TBA Attorney Well-Being Committee

Rather than checking on every e-mail as it arrives, schedule time in your calendar for reading and managing e-mail (and leave e-mail notifications silent during the other times of the day). This will enable you to have focused time for given tasks without constant interruption and distraction.

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Webcast to Look at Captive Insurance Developments and More

Held on June 20, this webcast will cover the current events affecting the captive insurance industry. We will go over the changes made in the 2015 PATH Act and subsequent developments in the wake of those changes, including recent PATH Act amendments made in the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act. We will discuss the impact that the 2017 tax reform will have on the captive insurance industry. We will also review the recent Avrahami decision out of the U.S. Tax Court and the tax status of captives. We will also look ahead to the potential growth for agency captives and health care captives.
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A Wellness Tip from the Attorney Well-Being Committee

Rather than checking on every e-mail as it arrives, schedule time in your calendar for reading and managing e-mail (and leave e-mail notifications silent during the other times of the day).  This will enable you to have focused time for given tasks without constant interruption and distraction.
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Gatlinburg Fire Lawsuit Seeks Millions from Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A lawsuit filed on behalf of a husband and father who lost his family in the Gatlinburg wildfires is seeking millions from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which the suit claims failed to warn residents or contain the fire in time, Knoxnews reports. Michael Reed, who lost his family to the blaze and James England, who lost his home, are named as lead plaintiffs in the suit, which seeks class-action status for all victims of the fire. Damages sought for Reed are more than $15 million and $1.3 million for England. 
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Supreme Court Will Not Hear Opry Mills Flood Appeal

The Tennessee Supreme Court has decided not to hear an appeal from the owners of Nashville’s Opry Mills Mall over its insurers’ decision to cut the insurance payout following the 2010 flood, the Nashville Post reports. Mall owners claim they were owned $200 million and a Davidson County court agreed with them, but the Tennessee Court of Appeals sided with the insurance company, saying the insurer only owed $50 million due to Opry Mills’ location in a flood zone.
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Share Your Thoughts on Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 6

The Supreme Court recently requested comment on proposed amendments to TSC Rule 6 that would require new attorneys to complete a Tennessee Law Course within one year of admission to the Tennessee bar. The Tennessee Bar Association has a working group on this issue and will be drafting comments in response to the court's Order for Comment. To ensure this comment best reflects members’ views and positions, the groups is looking for your feedback. Share your thoughts about the proposed amendments through this form by June 8.
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    SURVEY: Proposed Amendment to Supreme Court Rule 31, Relative to Alternative Dispute Resolution

    As you may know, the Supreme Court issued a notice requesting comment on amendments to TSC Rule 31. The Tennessee Bar Association will be filing a comment in response to the proposed amendments and we need your help in drafting our response to ensure that it best reflects our members’ views and positions. Completing this brief survey will assist us in determining specific sections' positions on the proposed changes. After completion, the survey will be sent to your section's executive council, who will review the received responses, determine the section's position and relay the final comments to the TBA.
      
    The TBA has generally summarized the proposed changes, but please read the order and proposed amendments, which are provided below, for more detailed information. Please provide your responses by Monday, April 30. Thanks for your help in this endeavor.

    TAKE THE SURVEY

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    Magician Forced to Reveal Secrets in Negligence Lawsuit

    The secrets behind one of magician David Copperfield’s tricks were revealed in court documents thanks to a negligence lawsuit filed by a man who claims he was badly hurt while participating in a 2013 performance in Law Vegas, the Associated Press reports. Copperfield’s lawyers lost pretrial bids to close proceedings to the public to avoid giving away the secrets. Copperfield himself will take the stand on Wednesday in the trial.
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    State-Mandated Cap Limits Award in Loss of Four Limbs Case

    Bob Kraft of P.I.S.S.D questions the state-mandated cap of $750K in a case where a woman lost four limbs in a medical malpractice case. Seven justices of the Wisconsin’s Supreme Court will decide this week.

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    Wells Fargo Missteps Lead to More Consumer Abuses

    Jace Ferraez with Bondnbotes.com writes about new penalties charges for Wells Fargo. Fines target Wells Fargo who faces new penalties for auto insurance and mortgage lending client abuses. Fines stem from in consumers wrongly charged with insurance they did not need and changes to borrower’s accounts on mortgage loans. Mike Mulvaney, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, leads the investigation.

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    Nashville Orthodontics Startup Sues Reporter for Negative Story

    SmileDirectClub, a Nashville-based orthodontics startup, is suing Gizmodo Media Group and author Nick Douglas over a story that criticized their company, the Nashville Post reports. The company claims that the story is “filled with unsubstantiated false statements and innuendo.” The article described criticisms from the American Association of Orthodontists about the company’s product. Gizmodo Media Group is made up of the remnants of Gawker Media, which was successfully sued by Hulk Hogan until it folded in 2016.
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    Teacher Fired for Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy Files Lawsuit

    A Knox County private school teacher is suing the school that fired her when administrators discovered she was pregnant but unmarried, Knoxnews reports. The school’s attorney says that Concord Christian School had the right to fire Tabatha Hutson under a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that recognized a “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws. Hutson’s attorney claims that since Hutson, a Catholic, was hired at a Baptist school for her expertise in the curriculum and not because of a ministerial calling, the exception does not apply. 
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    Jury Awards Smoker’s Family $13.5 Million in Case Against Cigarette Company

    A Florida state jury awarded $13.5 million the family of a man who died after smoking cigarettes for decades, Law360 reports. $5 million in compensatory damages and $8.5 million in punitive damages were awarded to the family of Arthur Brown, who was found 35 percent at fault for his death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2003. Brown smoked Viceroy cigarettes, a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds, since 1955, a period in which tobacco companies were still colluding to hide evidence pertaining to the health risks of cigarettes. The Brown family was represented by Nashville attorneys Kathryn Barnett and Jason Gichner, and Jacksonville attorneys Katy Massa and Tony Luciano, all of Morgan and Morgan.
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    Attorney Parke Morris Talks about Nursing Home Litigation

    In this one-hour online CLE from the Tennessee Bar Association, attorney Parke Morris reviews recent cases involving nursing home and long-term care. Other topics include prosecuting and defending cases in this area and identifying legal issues.
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    Nashville Mall Owners Appeal to Supreme Court Over Flood Insurance

    The owners of Opry Mills, the Nashville mall that was closed for two years following the May 2010 floods, have appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court to reverse a decision that reduced their flood insurance coverage from $200 million to $50 million, The Tennessean reports. Simon Property Group filed an appeal Friday with the court to overturn a lower court decision that ruled the mall fell under a $50 million coverage limit for properties in “high hazard flood zones.”
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    10 Essential Documents for Your Practice

    Instructions and rules for client file retention, list of current curse and copy of bank’s form for IOLTA access are three of the top 10 documents attorneys need for succession planning and practice management. Learn more in this 3-hour dual credit workshop with attorney Timothy Takacs.

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    Reception for Tort and Appellate Attorneys

    The TBA Appellate and Tort & Insurance Practice sections will hold a reception immediately following their collaborative forum on March 29. Section members and practitioners are invited to attend (attendance to the CLE is not required but recommended). The reception will be held on March 29, 4 p.m. at the Tennessee Bar Center.
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    Annual Tort and Appellate Forum Features Judicial Panel and New E-Filing

    Clerk of the Appellate Courts Jim Hivner will review the court’s new e-filing process at the upcoming Tort and Appellate Forum on March 29 in Nashville. Other speakers include Dean Bill Koch of Nashville School of Law, the Hon. Neil Thomas, the Hon. Kyle Hendrick and former Chief Justice Janice Holder. Sessions will feature updates in tort law, the process of claim evaluations and best practices for insurance coverage and bad faith.
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    Harper Lee’s Estate Sues Over Broadway Version of ‘Mockingbird’

    The estate of Harper Lee has filed suit in Alabama federal court over producer Scott Rudin and acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s depiction of Atticus Finch in the much-anticipated Broadway adaptation of novel To Kill A Mockingbird, reports The New York Times. The complaint asserts that Sorkin’s portrayal of the iconic Atticus Finch, the crusading lawyer who represents a black man unjustly accused of rape, presents him as a man who begins the drama as a naïve apologist for the racial status quo, a depiction at odds with his purely heroic image in the novel. 
     
    The contract the parties signed states that “the Play shall not derogate or depart in any manner from the spirit of the novel nor alter its characters.” Tonja B. Carter, the lawyer Lee appointed to run her estate, met with Rudin to express “serious concerns about the script,” specifically that Finch is depicted as “rude and selfish” as well as “more confrontational and far less dignified.” “This Atticus,” Carter wrote, “is more like an edgy sitcom dad in the 21st Century than the iconic Atticus of the novel.” The Rudin team is arguing that while the producers must listen to the estate’s view, they are the final arbiters of whether the production is faithful to the novel.
     
    "As far as Atticus and his virtue goes, this is a different take on Mockingbird than Harper Lee's or Horton Foote's," Sorkin told New York Magazine. "He becomes Atticus Finch by the end of the play, and while he's going along, he has a kind of running argument with Calpurnia, the housekeeper, which is a much bigger role in the play I just wrote. He is in denial about his neighbors and his friends and the world around him, that it is as racist as it is, that a Maycomb County jury could possibly put Tom Robinson in jail when it's so obvious what happened here. He becomes an apologist for these people” said Sorkin.
     
    This production will be the first time To Kill A Mockingbird has been performed on Broadway. The play is scheduled to open on Dec. 13. Click here to read the complaint in its entirety.
     
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    Tort and Appellate Forum Reception

    The TBA Appellate and Tort & Insurance Practice sections will hold a cocktail reception immediately following their collaborative forum on March 29. Join friends and colleagues to relax and unwind after the program.
     
    This event provides a great opportunity to meet leadership of the organization while networking with attorneys and professionals with a similar focus. Forum attendance is not required to attend the reception. Here’s the key info:
     
    When: March 29, 4 p.m., CDT
     
    Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 5th Floor Terrace Room, 221 4th Ave N., Nashville, TN 37219
     
    Contact Jarod Word with any questions.
     
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    Store Owners Caught in 'Operation Candy Crush' Contemplate Legal Action

    Store owners involved in the recent “Operation Candy Crush,” where Rutherford County law enforcement agencies raided and shuttered 23 businesses selling cannabidiol (CBD) candies, are contemplating legal action reports The Murfreesboro Post. Law enforcement action culminated on Feb. 12, when the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department and the Smyrna Police Department seized all merchandise containing CBD and padlocked the almost two dozen businesses, citing them as a public nuisance.
     
    Proprietors argue that they broke no laws since CBD contains only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive element in illegal marijuana. Legal CBD products must be derived from industrial hemp and contain less than 0.3 percent THC. When isolated from the plant, CBD can be distilled into an oil and added to food and beverages to be sold. If derived from an industrial plant with a clear chain of command, the oil is not inherently illegal.
     
    Defense attorney Tommy Santel, who is representing several store owners, argued that CBD and industrial hemp are not identified as controlled substances. "The state has failed to even plead a sufficient case," Santel said, when asking for the dismissal of all civil injunctions and the removal of the padlocks. "The state needed to go further, the state needed to say 'derivative of marijuana' or 'derivative of industrial hemp.”
     
    All criminal and civil charges against the store owners in Rutherford County part of Operation Candy Crush will be dismissed and their records wiped clean.
     
    Attorneys representing those business owners are discussing how to structure any legal action, which could involve “an overarching” state injunction by stores that took their items off of shelves because they feared prosecution, as well as the Rutherford County business owners who were arrested and lost days of business, according to Joe Kirkpatrick, president of the Tennessee Hemp Industries Association. 
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