Ethics Roadshow: Last stop, Nashville

After traveling all across Tennessee, the 2007 edition of the Ethics Roadshow, hosted by Memphis attorney Brian Faughnan, comes to a close this week in Nashville. This year's title is a secret: A Guided Tour of Client Confidentiality and Attorney-Client Privilege in Tennessee. Your last chance to catch the three-hour session is Dec. 12 at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Nashville. And remember, TBA members can use their three hours of prepaid CLE programming to take this course for free. Sign up or find out more now.
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Court: TCA


Matthew F. Wright, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Doe.

Connie Reguli, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, The Adoption Place, Inc.


This is an appeal of the termination of the parental rights of an unknown father. The appeal challenges the service by publication on the unknown father, the protective order that effectively prohibited the attorney for the unknown father from conducting discovery regarding the identity of the unknown father, and the findings by clear and convincing evidence that the unknown father had abandoned the child and that it was in the best interest of the child to terminate the unknown father's parental rights. We reverse the actions of the trial court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TCA


Jeffrey O. Powell, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Maxine Jones and Juanita Allen.

David A. Changas, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Montclair Hotels Tennessee, LLC and Tennessee Oakmont, LLC.


Plaintiffs sustained personal injuries when an elevator in Defendants' hotel fell approximately six stories on August 4, 2003. Plaintiffs filed suit exactly one year later on August 4, 2004. Plaintiffs did not properly identify the hotel's owner/operator as a party-defendant in their original complaint and thereafter filed three amended complaints. The elevator servicing company was named as a defendant in the original complaint and was later dismissed on summary judgment. Following the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the elevator servicing company, Plaintiffs finally identified the proper defendant hotel owners in their third amended complaint filed on April 17, 2006. The trial court dismissed the complaint on the determination that it was time-barred by the applicable one year statute of limitations. Plaintiffs appeal and claim the trial court erred in dismissing their cause of action against the hotel because their third amended complaint should relate back to the date of the original pleading thus placing it within the statute of limitations pursuant to Rule 15 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Additionally, Plaintiffs argue the defendant- hotel's failure to register with the Secretary of State should impart to it constructive notice of the action. Finding no error below, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCA


L. Gilbert Anglin, Peter V. Hall, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Paul Leland.

James B. Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee, John L. Tate, Louisville, Kentucky, for the appellees Louisville Ladder Group LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company; and David Patterson, Individually and in his capacity as Agent and Employee of Defendant Louisville Ladder Group LLC.


The trial court summarily dismissed this malicious prosecution action arising out of criminal charges prosecuted by the defendants that the plaintiff had stolen assets while an employee of one of the defendants. We conclude the defendants did not negate one of the essential elements of plaintiff's claim, that element being that the defendants did not have probable cause to believe, at the time they prosecuted the criminal case, that the plaintiff had stolen the ladders. We have also concluded that the trial court erroneously placed the burden of proof upon the plaintiff to prove that the defendants lacked probable cause when they prosecuted the case against him. Accordingly, we reverse.


Court: TCA


Peter H. Curry, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ross Products Division Abbott Laboratories.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Janie C. Porter, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A manufacturer of infant formula entered into a contract with the State of Tennessee to furnish large quantities of its products to retailers for the federally-funded WIC program. The contract included a cash rebate which the manufacturer agreed to pay the State for each can furnished, to offset the cost of administering the program. After operating under the contract for four years, the manufacturer unilaterally decided to reduce the size of the cans it was providing, and it asked the state to reduce the rebate proportionally. The State refused, citing a provision in the contract that precluded rebate reductions. The manufacturer then filed an administrative claim, asking for a $1.2 million refund of its alleged overpayment of rebates. The Claims Commissioner granted Summary Judgment to the State. We affirm the Commissioner's judgment.


Court: TCCA


J. Barney Witherington IV, Covington, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Charles Thomas Lard, II. Frank Deslauriers, Covington, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Doreen Rebeca Gates Lard.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Walt Freeland, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: HAYES

The Appellants, Charles Thomas Lard, II, and Doreen Rebeca Gates Lard, each pled guilty in the Tipton County Circuit Court to possession of one-half ounce or more of marijuana with intent to deliver and to the manufacture of one-half ounce or more of marijuana, both Class E felonies. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Lards reserved the following certified question for consideration by this court on appeal: whether the trial court erred in denying their respective motions to suppress evidence and statements obtained by the police after a search of their home, based upon its finding that the Lards knowingly and voluntarily consented to the search. After thorough consideration of the arguments of the parties and the record on appeal, we affirm.

Applicability of Tenn. Code Ann. Section 44-17-303(a)(3) to Licensed Veterinarians

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2007-12-06

Opinion Number: 07-158


Legal News
Legislative News
Supreme Court Report
Practice Management
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Lawyer to cooperate in Mississippi bribery case
The Associated Press reported today that Mississippi lawyer Timothy Balducci has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe a judge and is assisting federal prosecutors develop a case against Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, one of the nation's wealthiest trial lawyers. Court records say Balducci is the person who physically delivered thousands of dollars to the judge at the alleged behest of Scruggs and others at his law firm.

Suit seeks access to state officials' home computers
Child advocates are trying to get records from the state -- including information on home computers of top state officials -- to back their argument that the state is failing to provide adequate health care for thousands of poor children. The move is the latest development in the nearly 10-year-old "John B." lawsuit filed by the Tennessee Justice Center, which has long battled the state over TennCare.
Read about it in the Tennessean
Federal suit filed in alleged
jail rape
A shoplifter who said a gang of female Sevier County Jail inmates raped her has filed a $13.5 million federal lawsuit against the alleged attackers and the county sheriff's department. The inmates in question already face criminal charges and are set to appear Jan. 30 in Sevier County Circuit Court. The alleged victim claims that overcrowding at the jail forced her to be housed with violent inmates.
The News Sentinel has the story
Copyright royalties set for satellite radio
After a year long proceeding, the Copyright Royalty Board has set the royalty rates XM Satellite Radio must pay record labels to play their music. The ruling ties the rate to gross revenues and increases it each year from 6 percent in 2007 and 2008, to 6.5 percent in 2009, 7 percent in 2010 and 8 percent in 2012.
The Nashville Business Journal reports on the decision
Wade addresses rotary
Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade addressed the Sevierville Rotary Club this week and spoke about several decisions facing the court. He specifically referenced the status of the death penalty in Tennessee and a case involving the collective bargaining process for Tennessee's tenured teachers.
The Mountain Press covered it
Shelby County defender reaches out to community
The Memphis Daily News recently interviewed David Bell, an attorney in the Shelby County Public Defender's office. In addition to defending those who cannot afford an attorney, Bell has established a program to educate teenage drivers on how to get driver's licenses and keep them by knowing the law.
Read more about his work
Legislative News
Study looking at cost of defending indigent
Lawmakers and others studying the death penalty in Tennessee are analyzing how much money is spent defending indigent cases. Some legislators are concerned that state budgetary decisions are made without considering the legal needs of defendants.
The News Sentinel has this report
Supreme Court Report
Thomas questions increase in questions
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said he was going for "shock value" when he answered a question last week about his fellow justices' penchant for oral-argument questions by saying they "should shut up." Citing historical precedent for justices rarely asking questions, Thomas suggested that the court should examine why so many questions are now necessary.
Read the story from U.S. News & World Report
Cert decisions
This week the court decided not to hear a case involving a city ban on "for sale" signs on cars parked on public property, but did agree to decide whether $35 million stolen by former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos belongs to the victims of his regime or the Philippine government.
For more on the court's work visit
Alexander elected to leadership post
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., was elected chairman of the Senate Republican Conference by his colleagues today, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. He prevailed over Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., by a vote of 31-16. The position makes Alexander the third-highest ranking Republican in the Senate.

Tuke won't seek Senate seat
Former state Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke says he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. His announcement follows news from Mike McWherter that he too will sit out the race. Tuke cited personal, professional and community obligations as his reason for not running. Nashville insurance lawyer Kevin Doherty is the only other Democrat publicly considering the nomination. He has not yet said when he will decide the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

Practice Management
Should law firms match associate bonuses?
When an elite New York firm announced it was doling out special bonuses of $10,000 to $50,000 to associate lawyers (on top of its regular bonuses of $35,000 to $60,000), a competing firm matched the deal within days. Firms say they pay these "lockstep" bonuses to stay competitive. New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin suggests, however, that the policy doesn't make good business sense.
Find out why
Disciplinary Actions
Attorney suspended for criminal conviction
Damon Jarrid Lee was summarily suspended from the practice of law on Nov. 21 after being convicted of two forgery charges in Bradley County Criminal Court.
Read the BPR's notice
Nashville attorney reinstated
G. Thomas Nebel was reinstated to the practice of law on Nov. 21 after responding to a complaint of misconduct. He had been suspended on Sept. 25 for failing to respond.
Download the BPR's release
TBA Member Services
Health savings accounts now available
The TBA has partnered with First Horizon Msaver Inc. to offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and HSA-qualified health plans for individuals and groups to members. HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts that let you set aside money to pay for current and future medical expenses. For more information, or to obtain an instant quote for an HSA-qualified health plan, call the TBA's dedicated toll-free customer care line at (866) 257-2659 or visit the TBA member web site.
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