News

December Issue Covers Pirates, Trusts, Banks and Shopping for Toys

Glasby's Fortune by Brentwood lawyer James H. Drescher, a novel about a pirate, is reviewed by the Tennessee Bar Journal's resident "pirate law scholar" Russell Fowler in the December issue. Columnist Eddy R. Smith asks if most trusts should last indefinitely, and Kathryn Reed Edge explains the phases of banking law: good economic times, recessionary times ... and "wedding season." Humor columnist Bill Haltom reminisces over Christmases Past. The bankruptcy of Toys 'R' Us has him feeling guilty for not shopping there anymore now that his kids are grown.

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Court Clarifies Law When Bank Sells Loan Collateral Without Proper Notice

The Tennessee Supreme Court today issued guidance on the steps courts should follow when a creditor sells collateral used to obtain a loan, but does not provide the required notice of the sale. The case involved a bank loan that was used to purchase an airplane, with the plane itself and additional guarantors securing the transaction. When the debtor failed to maintain insurance, the bank, Regions Bank, placed the loan in default, and the resulting accelerated payments were not made. The bank filed suit against the guarantors. While that action was pending, Regions also repossessed the plane and spent money to make it flightworthy and marketable. Regions then ultimately sold the plane at a private sale for less than the amount owed to Regions. The Court concluded that resolution of this issue was a fact question for the trier of fact, in this case the trial court, to decide. The court expressly rejected the Court of Appeals’ evidentiary requirement regarding proof negating a debtor’s or guarantor’s ability or motivation to redeem or purchase the collateral. The court then spelled out the proper procedures for a trial court to utilize to resolve this issue.

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Free Legal Advice Clinic in Maryville

Volunteer attorneys from the Blount County Bar Association will join staff attorneys from Legal Aid of East Tennessee to provide free advice on various legal matters. The public will be able to seek advice on topics such as adoption, child custody and support, divorce, elder law, foreclosure, identity theft, personal injury, VA benefits, wills, worker’s comp, and more.  Legal help will be available on a first come, first served basis. The clinic is open to the public. No appointment is necessary. The Advice Clinic is part of LAET’s Pro Bono Project, and is offered in celebration of Pro Bono Month. The event is Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
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Update on Opting Out of Use of National Form Plan in Tennessee

As most bankruptcy practitioners know, a number of changes to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure come into effect on Dec. 1, 2017. Included in those changes is a requirement for debtors to begin using a national form chapter 13 plan, Official Form 113, unless a federal judicial district has adopted, after publication and an opportunity to comment, a plan for use in that district that satisfies certain conditions (a so-called “conforming” plan). Those conditions include that each paragraph be numbered and labeled in bold face type with a heading stating the general subject matter of the paragraph; that the plan include an initial paragraph for the debtor to indicate that the plan does or does not contain any nonstandard provision; limit the amount of a secured claim based on a valuation of the collateral for the claim, or avoid a security interest or lien.
 
A conforming plan also must contain separate, numbered paragraphs for curing and maintaining payments on a claim secured by the debtor’s principal residence, for paying domestic support obligations, for paying secured “910” automobile claims and for surrendering property that secures a claim along with a request that the automatic stay and co-debtor stay be terminated as to the property securing the claim. A conforming plan also must include a final paragraph for placement of any non-standard provisions, along with a statement that any non-standard provision placed elsewhere in the plan is void. See Fed. R. Bank. P. 3015.1.
 
All three of Tennessee’s federal districts have either opted out and are already using a conforming plan (Western and Middle Districts) or have published for comment and will be using a conforming plan (Eastern District). The Middle District of Tennessee plan went into effect on Dec. 1, 2016, with the Western District requiring use of its plan on July 1, 2017. The Eastern District published its plan on July 21, 2017, and the public comment period ended on Aug. 30, 2017. Each of the conforming plans, along with accompanying local bankruptcy rules, have been tailored to local preferences in practice, after input from the local bars. For example, the Western District plan continues the tradition of brevity by complying with requirements of Fed. R. Bank. P. 3015.1 in the space of two pages, whereas the Middle District plan and the Eastern District proposed plan appear to track Official Form 113 more closely in length and complexity.
 
Interestingly, of the 94 federal judicial districts, it appears that as few as 5 districts are not opting out by adopting a conforming plan, with one district (Northern District of Indiana) choosing to not adopt a conforming plan or to require use of Official Form 113 (their rationale appears to be that no proscribed form can be required of the debtor since, under the bankruptcy code, only a debtor can propose a chapter 13 plan). The idea for requiring use of a nationwide plan was to bring uniformity in chapter 13 bankruptcy practice. By Dec. 1, 2017, we will at least have uniformity within all of our Tennessee districts. 
 
Joel W. Giddens
Wilson & Associates
Attorneys at Law
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Court Square Series Coming to Dyersburg on Friday

On Sept. 22, TBA CLE will bring the Court Square Series to the Farms Golf Club in Dyersburg. Public Defender Sean Day will provide case law updates and review statutory law governing criminal cases. Bankruptcy Trustee Molly Williams will provide guidance on real property issues in bankruptcy cases. The final session will be a presentation on appellate practice with attorneys Jennifer Vallor Ivy and Samuel Ivy.

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Chatbot Allows Users to Sue Equifax Without Lawyer

Legal chatbot DoNotPay is now allowing users to file suits against credit-reporting agency Equifax, in light of last week’s news of a massive data breach, the ABA Journal reports. The online platform can help file negligence claims by walking users through a set of questions that generates a PDF they can file in small claims court. The service is free and available to the public in all 50 states. "It is particularly exciting that a lawyer is never needed in the process," Joshua Browder of DoNotPay said. "The class action lawsuit against the company will only give successful consumers around $500 (with the rest going to greedy lawyers in commissions). I hope that my product will replace those lawyers, and, with enough success, bankrupt Equifax.”

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Creditors Practice Annual Forum 2017

Make plans to join us for this year's exciting forum. The TBA's Creditors Practice Section offers current developments in this area of the law. This year's program will provide new information on creditors practice in estate claims and an update on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Other topics include a crash course in bankruptcy and an ethics session about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Click here to sign up today.

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August Columns Laser in On Technologies

Don't miss the columns this month in the August Journal, offering various takes on new technologies. Knoxville lawyer Eddy Smith explains how to plan for and administer digital assets in the estate planning process. Nashville lawyer Kathryn Reed Edge explains "fintech" companies -- firms "that use new technology and innovation with available resources in order to compete in the marketplace of traditional financial institutions and intermediaries in the delivery of financial services." If your head is not spinning after that, read Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom's take on a lawsuit where at issue is laser sensor technology used in driverless cars. The suit is between Google and Uber and it's "shaping up to be a huge legal battle. And there is no one in the driver’s seat."

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A Welcome from the Chairman

Greetings,

I wanted to send a welcome to all Bankruptcy Section members as I transition into my role as chair of the executive council of the Bankruptcy Section for 2017-18.  The council is looking forward to an exciting year culminating in the Bankruptcy Forum to be presented by the TBA April 27 – 29 in beautiful Gatlinburg. Put it on your calendars now and plan to join us this year! 

In the meantime, I’d like to invite all section members to send the section any local bankruptcy law updates, news, etc. so that we can provide updates to the TBA Section Connects on the TBA website and for a monthly bankruptcy newsletter.  If you have any ideas for continuing legal education in your areas prior to the Forum, please send me those as well.  You can reach me at jgiddens@wilson-assoc.com or (901) 578-9914 or they can go to Wil Hammond, TBA Sections & Committee Coordinator.

As for upcoming news, as you probably aware, amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure are coming December 1, 2017, with important changes for all districts. For consumer practitioners, the most important change involves the Chapter 13 form plan. Districts can either opt out of using Form 113 (the so-called National Model Plan) by proposing a conforming plan for use in the district, which may be adopted after publication and a comment period, or the district can take no action and Form 113 will become the district plan.

For districts in Tennessee, the Middle District already uses the National Model Plan and the Western District has adopted a conforming plan with use beginning July 1, 2017. The Eastern District appears to be headed for adoption of a conforming plan prior to the December 1 deadline so stay tuned.

Again, please contact me with any local developments in our practice and feel free to contact me about any matters of interest to the section.  

 

Sincerely,

Joel Giddens
Bankruptcy Section Chair

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Item of Interest

Below is an article that was published in the the Disability Section Connect. We thought it had information that would be of interest to those of you in this section as well.  

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Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.

How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines at http://www.tba.org/submit-an-article, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.

If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Commission on CLE & Specialization at http://www.cletn.com/.

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TBA Convention in Kingsport is Just Around the Corner

Registration is open for the 2017 TBA Annual Convention. This years programming offers plenty of opportunities to make new friends and renew acquaintances with colleagues from across the state. The highlight comes Thursday night with the Kingsport Karnival at the downtown Farmers Market. Along with fabulous food and drink, there will be live music from two bands, an aerialist, juggler, magician, body and face painters, caricaturist and more. Plus, you'll have access to the fabulous Kingsport Carousel, the delightful project of community artisans. Special thanks to Eastman for support of this event! 

This years convention also offers 12 hours of CLE programming, highlighted by sessions on the Hatfields and McCoys, The Neuroscience of Decision-Making, and the popular Better Right Now wellness program. It is all set at the beautiful MeadowView Marriott Conference Resort & Convention Center. To receive the TBA $129 room rate, you must book your reservation by May 23. Book your room online now or call 423-578-6600.

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Call For Submissions — Law Practice Pointers

One of the benefits of being a TBA Section Member is having access to information from experienced practitioners to assist in your day-to-day practice. The sharing of this information amongst colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession. It is also a way of helping each other to maneuver the evolving legal market and strengthen your legal practice.

How can you help your fellow Section Members?  If you have some Law Practice Pointers you would like to share with your fellow section members, write an article between 300-500 words and submit it to the Section Coordinator for review and approval. These Law Practice Pointers can be related to a court opinion, piece of legislation, or current event or industry trend that affects the practice of law as it relates to the specific Section. The main requirement is to make sure the article gives lawyers practical tips, based on experience, to include in their day-to-day practice.

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Banking, Estate Planning … and Someone Named Juris P. Prudence

Here's what you can expect from Tennessee Bar Journal columnists if you haven't gotten all the way through this month's issue yet. Kathryn Reed Edges looks at what the Trump Administration will mean for bankers. Eddy R. Smith explains why Tennessee is an attractive jurisdiction for establishing and maintaining trusts, and Bill Haltom writes about the introduction of a fictional character sure to steal the hearts of law-loving kids everywhere.

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Relax in the Mountains at the 14th Annual Bankruptcy Forum

Join bankruptcy practitioners from across the state at the TBA's 14th Annual Bankruptcy Forum on April 28-30 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Gatlinburg. Participate in small group discussions and hear presentations on recent bankruptcy case developments in the 6th Circuit and around the country.

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Nashville Law Partner Named Vice Chair for National Practice Group

Shane G. Ramsey, partner in Nelson Mullins' Nashville office, was named vice chair of the firm’s national bankruptcy and financial restructuring practice group, the Nashville Post reports. Ramsey will lead more than 30 bankruptcy lawyers in the firm’s 17 offices around the country. Ramsey joined the Nashville office last year.
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Reported Check Scam Appears in Tennessee

Tennessee attorneys should be on the lookout for an email check scam that at least one Nashville firm has reported encountering. The deception involves an overseas caller or emailer claiming to be a real person and asking about a breach of contract issue. A preliminary web search about the "client" would likely return real results, creating the appearance of validity. The North Carolina Bar Association has more information and examples of materials likely used by the scammer. The NCBA advises caution when dealing with any debt collection case initiated by an overseas “client.”
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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
 
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
 
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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New 1-Click Packages Make CLE Easy

Three new CLE packages are now available through the TBA's 1-Click Program. We have gathered together the most popular CLE programs on key practice areas and are making them available for a special price. Visit the 1-Click page to find packages on Creditors Practice, General Practice, Tax Law, Transactional Law and more. New packages are always being added, so check back if you don't find the one you want.

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ABA Young Lawyers Division Looking To Connect With Young Bankruptcy Attorneys

The ABA Young Lawyers Division Bankruptcy Law Committee is reaching out to state bar associations to connect young bankruptcy attorneys with their counterparts across the country and provide an opportunity for these young lawyers to gain a national presence and improve their resume. Check out the ABA YLD Bankruptcy Law Committee webpage and Letter from the Chair for more details.

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Walker Sworn In to U.S. Bankruptcy Court

Hon. Charles M. Walker was sworn in to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee today. Chief Bankruptcy Judge Marian F. Harrison administered the oath in a courtroom at the U.S. Customs House in Nashville, and Chief District Judge Kevin H. Sharp of the U.S. District Court gave remarks welcoming Walker to the court.

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Bankruptcy Court Adopts Changes to Local Rules

Local Rules for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee have been amended and will become effective Nov. 1. You can download a copy of the new rules from the court or see the redline version showing the changes.  

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Bankruptcy Court Seeks Comments on Rules Changes

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee today published proposed amendments to its local rules for public comment. The comment period will run from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31. Comments may be made in writing to James E. Bailey III, Butler Snow LLP, 6075 Poplar Ave., Suite 500, Memphis, TN 38119 or to Michael Tabor via email at marissav@bellsouth.net.

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Services This Week for Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Stinnett

Judge Robert Thomas “Tom” Stinnett died yesterday (Aug. 23) in Chattanooga. He was 72. Stinnett graduated from the University of Tennessee and was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant. After serving in Italy, he returned to attend the University of Tennessee College of Law, then clerked for his father-in-law James Parrott and the Tennessee Court of Appeals. He practiced law in Knoxville for 20 years at Stone & Hinds before being appointed a U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee. He relocated to Chattanooga and served there for 16 years before retiring in 2010. The family will receive friends Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Chattanooga's Mountain City Club, 729 Chestnut St. Funeral services will be Monday at 4 p.m. in Knoxville at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 544 N. Broadway. Burial will follow at the church columbarium. A time of remembrance in the church's fellowship hall will wrap up the day.

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