Feature Story

Comparative Fault and ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ Cards

A recent decision of the Tennessee Court of Appeals reminds us of the interaction between our law of comparative fault and the legislature’s gift of “get out of jail free cards” (immunity and partial immunity) to certain special interest groups.

Edna Green was hurt on a church-sponsored bus ride to a local farm. The bus, driven by a fellow parishioner, hit some berms on the farm road causing severe injury to Ms. Green. Ms. Green sued her church, and the church asked in its answer to the complaint that fault be assigned against the farm. Ms. Green elected not to sue the farm, and went to trial only against her church.1

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Lawyers Honored with Public Service Awards

Each year the Tennessee Bar Association recognizes outstanding service by attorneys and law students who have dedicated their time to helping others. The awards given are the Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year, the Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year and the Law Student Volunteer of the Year. Read the stories of those recognized here.

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‘A Greater Fool’

Pro Bono Experiences, Opportunities, Vision

In the 2012 HBO series The Newsroom, we begin to get to know the main character, Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, when we see him on a panel discussion on a college campus. In the first episode, a young woman from the business school asks the panel why America is the greatest country on earth? The other panelists say freedom, diversity and opportunity. After a pregnant pause, Will says he doesn’t believe America is the greatest country on earth. He embarks upon an abusive rant which cites illiteracy, low rankings for math and science, falling life expectancy, rising infant mortality, and incarceration per capita, to name a few. The rant lands Will in a good deal of trouble with the public and with his cable news network where he anchors the evening news.

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The Man Behind the Robe

Edward Terry Sanford

In the sweltering heat of September 1934, when the last thing anyone probably wanted to think about was wearing an additional layer of clothing, a movement began among Knoxville Bar Association’s members to get Knox County judges to adopt the custom of wearing robes while on the bench.1

The supporters of the movement “point[ed] to the fact that the late Justice Edward Terry Sanford, of the United States Supreme Court, a Knoxvillian, introduced the custom in Tennessee” while he was a federal district court judge2 and cited “the added dignity that the wearing of the black robes brings to the bench, the robe being the symbol of the judiciary, which is in turn the embodiment of the people’s majesty as applied to the settlement of legal controversies.”3

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Insolvencies: What Happens If an Insurer Fails?

Lawyers tend to take insurance companies for granted. They are there to pay defense costs and handle any judgments for plaintiffs. But what happens if an insurer fails?

In order to protect ourselves and our clients, it is necessary to understand the insurance liquidation process and know about the safety net provided by the Tennessee Insurance Guaranty Association (TIGA). If insurance companies did not exist, lawyers would have to invent them. Who else would collect money to be paid out to defense attorneys and plaintiff attorneys alike to satisfy judgments? Unfortunately, that well may unexpectedly run dry.

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Deficiency Judgments after Foreclosure Sales

In an apparent attempt to bring a greater degree of certainty to the law in Tennessee with respect to the matter of deficiency judgments after real property foreclosure sales, the legislature enacted what has been codified as Tenn. Code Ann. § 35-5-118, effective Sept. 1, 2010 (the “Deficiency Statute”).

We will briefly examine the state of the law both before and after the enactment of the Deficiency Statute and let the reader decide whether the legislature did indeed achieve its goal.

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A Woman of Many Firsts

Tennessee’s Lutie Lytle

October is “Celebrate Pro Bono Month.” It is fitting that we remember a pro bono lawyer — Lutie Lytle — who was the first in many things. She was one of America’s first black female journalists.[1] She was the first black woman to earn a law degree in the South and be admitted to the bar in the South.[2] She was the first woman (of any color) admitted to the Tennessee bar.[3] She was the first black woman admitted to the Kansas bar. She was the first female law professor (of any color) in the nation.

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Celebrate Pro Bono Month Is Here!

It’s Easy to Be a Part

October is “Celebrate Pro Bono Month,” and Tennessee lawyers are joining their colleagues across the country to provide free legal services to those in need and honor the good work performed by lawyers every day as part of the annual National Pro Bono Celebration. Tennessee is among a small group of states that celebrates Pro Bono Month, not just a single day or week. Now in its 10th year, the TBA’s statewide Celebrate Pro Bono initiative brings together legal services providers with local bar associations, law schools, law firms and individual lawyers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer.

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Supported Decision Making

The Missing Piece in the Puzzle of Planning for Clients with Diminished Capacity

Advising clients to plan ahead for who will make decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated constitutes a significant component of elder law and estate planning. However, the customary legal path of appointing a substitute decision maker, while obviously required for many clients with diminished capacity, is certainly not a necessity for all such clients.

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New Tax Act Brings Major Changes to U.S. International Taxation System

A Brief Look at the New Participation Exemption

The Surprisingly International Tennessee

Tennessee has many international ties that often surprise practitioners. Some of the largest multinational companies in the world are headquartered here, and more than 147,000 Tennesseans are employed by foreign-based companies. In fact, Tennessee is the number one state for jobs created through foreign direct investment. Tennessee has frequently earned top marks for its business-friendly environment, and it is likely to be the beneficiary of increased investment by U.S.

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