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Prominent Gay Rights Lawyer Commits Suicide by Self-Immolation

David S. Buckel, a lawyer nationally known for being a champion of gay rights died earlier this month, after setting himself on fire, The New York Times reports. Buckel was the lead attorney in Brandon v. County of Richardson, in which a Nebraska county sheriff was found liable for failing to protect Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered in Falls City, Nebraska. The murder of Teena was depicted in the film "Boys Don’t Cry."
 
A staunch advocate for LGBTQ persons, Buckel also served as marriage project director and senior counsel at Lambda Legal, a national organization that fights for the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. According to police, Buckel left a note in a shopping cart not far from his body that alluded to environmental protest as the reason for his suicide. The note was also emailed to several news media outlets. Buckel was 60 years old.
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Nonhuman Rights Project Seeking a Full-time Senior Staff Attorney

The Nonhuman Rights Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is seeking a full-time Senior Staff Attorney with the following skills, to begin immediately: 
 
  • You want to make history.
  • You want nonhuman animals to have legal rights both in the United States and abroad.
  • You have at least 12 years of litigation experience, including substantial first-chair trial experience and appellate work.
  • You have extensive experience in civil rights, human rights, and/or animal protection.
  • You have excellent writing skills. Published law review articles and/or books are a plus, but not necessary.
  • You have excellent interpersonal skills.
  • You work well remotely on long-term complex legal projects.
  • You have experience managing staff and volunteers, especially on legal projects (this is a plus, but not necessary).
  • You are admitted to practice law in at least one US jurisdiction.
This position requires a deep commitment to gaining personhood and legal rights for nonhuman animals and willingness to spend the time learning how to accomplish it. This is a remote position requiring some travel. To apply, please send a letter of interest explaining why you want to work with the NhRP, along with a CV, both combined into a single PDF, to jobs@nonhumanrights.org, putting your name in the subject line. 
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ABA Humane Education Project Training

A free training will be provided with teaching tools and guidance to implement four humane education lesson plans for upper elementary students. This program places special emphasis on issues related to companion, farmed and wild animals, such as puppy mills, dog fighting, overpopulation, factory farms, and habitat destruction. The workshop is open to attorneys, law students, paralegals and members of bar associations. Educators and concerned citizens are also welcome.

The Humane Education Project is a joint public service project of Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART), a non-profit public charity, and the Animal Law Committee of the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (ABA-TIPS). The primary objective of the Humane Education Project is to cultivate compassion and empathy in young people toward animals and foster respect for the environment. Here's the key info:

When: Sunday, April 8, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., CST

Where: Berry Hill Community Center, 404 East Iris Drive, Nashville, TN 37204

You can register for this event here.

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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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Thanks to Our Sponsor

 

Wood is a global leader in the delivery of project, engineering and technical services to energy and industrial markets operating in more than 60 countries. Wood provides performance-driven solutions throughout the asset lifecycle, from concept to decommissioning across a broad range of industrial markets, including upstream, midstream and downstream oil & gas, chemicals, environment and infrastructure, power & process, clean energy, mining, nuclear and general industrial sectors. 

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Thanks to Our Section Leaders

Thanks to the members of the 2017 - 2018 TBA Environmental Law Section Executive Council for their service to the section this year. In addition to the production of CLE programming for the members, the executive council meets regularly throughout the year to produce news to the members and the Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award Writing Competition. Thanks to all for their dedication and hard work on behalf of the TBA Environmental Law Section.
 
OFFICERS
 
• Lauran Sturm, Chair
Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (Nashville)
 
• Jenny Howard, Vice-Chair
Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (Nashville)
 
• Willa Kalaidjian, Immediate Past Chair
Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC (Chattanooga)
 
• Robert "Jaz" Boon, Newsletter Editor
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP (Nashville)
 
• Bob Tuke, Secretary/Treasurer
Trauger & Tuke (Nashville)
 
 
MIDDLE TENNESSEE DELEGATES
 
• Elizabeth Alexander
Southern Environmental Law Center (Nashville)
 
• Gregory T. Young
Stites & Harbison PLLC (Nashville)
 
• Scott Thomas
Bass, Berry & Sims PLC (Nashville)
 
 
WEST TENNESSEE DELEGATES
 
• Jim Lenschau
Wyatt Tarrant & Combs (Memphis)
 
• Randy Womack
Glankler Brown PLLC (Memphis)
 
• Robert McLean
Farris Bobango Branan PLC (Memphis)
 
 
EAST TENNESSEE DELEGATES
 
• Ashley Lowe
Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC (Knoxville)
 
• David Higney
Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison PC (Chattanooga)
 
• Rick Hitchcock
Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel PC (Chattanooga)
 
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Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice Write-ups

1.       EPA Year in Review for 2017-2018
a. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt released a report of its accomplishments under the Trump Administration’s first year in power.  The report touts, among other things, 22 deregulatory actions taken by the EPA, the removal of seven sites from the National Priority List, and action on 322 State Implementation Plans.
 
2.       October 31, 2017 Directive from Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator
a. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt established certain principles and procedures for the Agency to follow when establishing the membership of EPA federal advisory committees.  The principles include strengthening member independence, increasing state, tribal and local government participation, enhancing geographic diversity, and promoting fresh perspectives.  Mr. Pruitt’s stated intent is to improve the internal management of the EPA although maintaining the discretion to depart from the new procedures.
 
3.        Directive Promoting Transparency and Public Participation and Consent Decrees and Settlement Agreements
 
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Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award Writing Competition

The Environmental Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association is sponsoring an Annual Writing Competition, titled the Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award, in memory of one of its outstanding founding members.  
 
$1,200 CASH PRIZE POOL
 
ENTRIES DUE APRIL 1, 2018
 
This is a juried award selection for the best legal writing on a topic of Tennessee or federal environmental law.
 
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Law Students enrolled in a Tennessee law school in 2017 or 2018.
 
WHAT?
Law students who comply with these criteria may submit an entry in accordance with the Rules of Competition. The Rules of Competition are available from Environmental Law professors or may be obtained by sending an email to Jarod Word at the Tennessee Bar Association, jword@tnbar.org.
 
WHY?
One of the primary purposes of the Environmental Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association is to improve environmental compliance in Tennessee. We accomplish this goal through a number of means, including assisting our members to stay current on issues and promoting a dialogue on substantive environmental law topics.  
 
The Jon E. Hastings Memorial Award Writing Competition has several goals including the following:
 
A. To improve the understanding of environmental law in Tennessee through the publication of scholarly articles on pertinent and timely environmental law topics;
 
B. To strengthen the relationship among environmental law professors, environmental law students and environmental practitioners in Tennessee;
 
C. To recognize Jon E. Hastings, a founding member of the Tennessee Environmental Law Section, for his contributions to the body of environmental law in the State of Tennessee.  
 
To accomplish these goals, the Environmental Law Section is pleased to extend an opportunity to law students to participate in a writing competition.  The winning entry or entries will be published in the Newsletter of the Environmental Law Section.
 
This competition will be judged by a panel of environmental law practitioners, members of the judiciary, and/or professors selected by the Environmental Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association.
 
The Award Winning paper(s) must be released from copyright or other restrictions for the purpose of publication in the Newsletter.
 
BACKGROUND
Jon E. Hastings was a founding member of the Environmental Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association, and an attorney with Boult, Cummings, Conners & Berry PLC, who passed away at the young age of 45 on Aug. 22, 2004 after a two-year battle with cancer.  Jon was a proud member of the Environmental Law Section and an outstanding lawyer in the fields of environmental, telecommunications, and public utility law.  Jon was listed in the 2003 - 2004 edition of "The Best Lawyers in America" and found the energy to devote time on behalf of numerous philanthropic causes and civic groups.  
 
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Part 2 of 2: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs):

Emerging Contaminant Litigation Despite Federally Promulgated Rule

By Shalene Thomas and Brad Glisson
 
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) are a widely used class of synthetic chemicals of emerging concern to human health and the environment. These chemicals repel oil and water from clothing, carpet, furniture  and cookware and are used to suppress fires. PFASs have been ubiquitously used in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) to extinguish hydrocarbon-based fires and in manufacturing processes related to photolithography, photographic coatings applications, electroplating mist suppressants and aviation hydraulic fluids. Although chemicals in the emerging class have been used ubiquitously in commerce since the 1960s, and health effects were first uncovered in the 1970s, there continues to be no Federally promulgated drinking water and clean-up rules around this class of chemicals. Despite this, more than a dozen cases have ensued involving PFASs and specifically Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and most recently GenX.
 
Initial litigation focus was on the manufacturers themselves, primarily DuPont (and spin-off Chemours) and 3M and primarily on PFOS and/or PFOA. For example, the first class-action lawsuit for PFASs was filed in 2004 (Leach, et al v. E. I. DuPont deNemours and Co.) on behalf of West Virginia residents across six different water districts exposed to PFOA releases from DuPont's Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, WV. A settlement was reached with DuPont in the original (Leach v. E. I. DuPont) class action lawsuit. The entire settlement was approved in February 2005 with $70 million for a health and education project, the installation of state-of-the-art water treatment technology for the six identified water districts and private well, $30 million to fund a PFOA health study, and funds available (up to $235 million) for the medical monitoring of class members. In the last few years, DuPont and Chemours have agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits related to PFOA, including a $670.7 million global settlement last February to settle 3,550 lawsuits in multidistrict litigation centered in Ohio.
 
Issues at the Washington Works plant appear to be continuing despite the nearly two decades of litigation. Earlier this month, Ohio's attorney general sued DuPont and its spin-off Chemours Co. for restitution and damages resulting from PFOA at the Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, WV. The Attorney General is seeking relief including 1) A declaration of DuPont’s duty to compensate Ohio for expenses related to the contamination, 2) Damages for injury to Ohio’s natural resources, including the economic impact to the state and its residents, 3) An award of present and future costs to clean up PFOA contamination, and 4) Restitution damages for profits DuPont obtained through the conduct.
 
In more recent years, the umbrella of litigation has grown past the manufacturer to include water utilities, product users, and secondary manufacturing applications. For example, in 2017, Tennessee Riverkeeper filed a lawsuit under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, against 3M, BFI Waste Systems of Alabama, the city of Decatur, Morgan County and other entities to clean up landfills and wastewater treatment plants that Tennessee Riverkeeper states are still releasing PFOS and PFOA into the Tennessee River and local groundwater. In another example, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International Inc. on behalf of residents in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., after discovering they were drinking water containing high levels of PFOA. Similar cases were filed in New Hampshire and Vermont against Saint-Gobain. The plant does not manufacture PFOA but rather applies it to fabric to make coated fabrics for application in sporting complexes, hazmat suits for the first responder, and shelters for mobile medical units. In a final example, a class action lawsuit was filed last October against five manufacturers of aqueous firefighting foams ("AFFF") containing PFOS and PFOA for the contamination of the groundwater relied upon by the residents of Yaphank, New York. The class action complaint was filed in the Supreme Court for the State of New York, Suffolk County, and names 3M, and several foam manufacturers (Tyco Fire Products L.P., Buckeye Fire Protection Co., National Foam, Chemguard) as Defendants. As cases continue to develop around AFFF, some have taken a proactive approach to address potential environmental and human health risks. The US Air Force as an example has already spent $210 million dollars on PFOS/PFOA actions to date to respond to AFFF-contaminated drinking water at 19 installations across the country. A total of 203 installations have been evaluated and 190 of them are expected to require further site inspections. 
 
The latest trend in PFAS litigation is currently towards other chemicals in the emerging contaminant class. For example, late last month, lawyers filed a new class action lawsuit against DuPont and Chemours claiming that the two firms contaminated the Cape Fear River in North Carolina with PFASs. The filing consolidates three class action suits filed since October 2017 by lawyers representing thousands of people who claim they are ill or could get ill because they drank water from the Cape Fear River and from wells surrounding the plant, now run by DuPont spin-off Chemours. The suit seeks funding for an epidemiological study to gauge the impact of PFOA, other polyfluoroalkyl substances, and GenX—which Chemours considers a safer alternative to PFOA — on residents along the Cape Fear River. It also seeks undetermined compensatory and punitive damages for illness, reduced property value, and the cost of water filtration
 
As hundreds of sites are identified across the United States, liability associated with the environmental and health implications of PFASs continues to grow exponentially. As science around the emerging contaminant class develops, additional PFASs become scrutinized and state regulatory requirements expand to accommodate them. Litigation associated with PFASs is expected to continue for years to come. 
 

—Shalene Thomas (Derouard), PMP is the Emerging Contaminants Program Manager with Amec Foster Wheeler Environment & Infrastructure Inc.  (Note, effective Oct. 9, 2017, Amec Foster Wheeler joined Wood, PLC).  Shalene can be contacted by email at Shalene.Thomas@woodplc.com or by phone at (612) 252-3697.

—Brad Glisson, CHMM is a Senior Environmental Scientist in the Amec Foster Wheeler’s Nashville, Tennessee office.  He can be contacted at brad.glisson@woodplc.com and (615) 333-0630.
 
Additional Information
 
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Judge Rules That Homeless Man's Truck is His Home

A Seattle man won a recent legal dispute that could have implications on how municipalities across the country address the issue of homelessness, reports The Seattle Times. In 2016 Stephen Young returned from work to find his GMC pickup truck, that he had been living in since becoming homeless in 2014, had been towed because of an ordinance that requires vehicles to be moved every 72 hours. Officers responding to an unrelated call in the area found Young in his truck, which was inoperable and called a city parking enforcement officer who tagged it for impound. At the impound hearing, Long said the truck was his residence and the city waived the $44 ticket and reduced the towing and impound fees from more than $900 to $557.

With the help of Columbia Legal Services in Seattle, Long sued the city on the basis that he had no home for a time; he lost income because work tools he used for day labor jobs were in the truck, and he struggled to pay the fines because he makes between $300 and $600 a month. He lost the initial suit in Seattle Municipal Court, however, won the case on appeal in King County Superior Court last Friday, where Judge Catherine Shaffer ruled that the city’s impoundment of Long’s truck violated the state’s homestead act because he was using it as a home. Shaffer also ruled the fees the city required Long to pay to retrieve the truck were too high, violating constitutional protections against excessive fines and called Long “a poster child … for a lot of other people who are in this situation.”

“We believe this case has a lot of implications for other people using their vehicles as homes,” said Ali Bilow, one of Long’s attorneys with Columbia Legal Services. “I think Seattle municipal judges should follow this ruling and take a hard look when homeless individuals, who are living in their vehicles, are charged these really excessive fees.”

Assistant City Attorney Michael Ryan argued that police and parking-enforcement officers could now find themselves in a bind if they can’t definitively determine whether a vehicle is simply abandoned or is someone’s home. “Someone could park right here in front of the courthouse on Fifth Avenue, and we couldn’t tow them, or if we did tow them, we couldn’t put them in impound. We’d have to put them somewhere else and we couldn’t charge them at all for it because if we did, we’d violate the constitution if they were living in that vehicle,” said Ryan. The city attorney’s office is currently weighing whether to appeal the case.

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