News

Tennessee Taxpayers on the Hook for Amazon’s Operations Center of Excellence

Tennessee taxpayers will fork over $102 million in cash and tax breaks to secure Amazon’s Operations Center of Excellence in Nashville, The Tennessean reports. Gov. Bill Haslam said that the incentives for the Amazon investment would be repaid in just over a year and that the returns will be immeasurable for years to come. State officials have agreed to only pay if the company hires at least 5,000 employees.

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Judge Rules Nashville Expo Center Construction Can Continue

Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle recently denied a request for a temporary injunction that sought to halt the construction of new expo center buildings at the fairgrounds as part of the city's new Major League Soccer stadium project, the Tennessean reports. The group Save Our Fairgrounds in September sued Metro over the city's MLS stadium plans, arguing that closing Walsh Road and its surrounding parking lot for the expo center facility would "irreparably harm" the Nashville Flea Market at its current facility.

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Need a Hotel for a Visiting Guest?

The Tennessee Bar Association Travel Discount Program offers travel discount service to TBA members. Savings average 10-20 percent below-market on all hotels and car rental suppliers around the world. Save time and money. To access this service, make sure you are logged in to your TBA member account first, then explore any hotel, any car, anywhere, anytime.
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Mark Your Calendars!

Daughters of the Confederacy Heats Up Battle Over Franklin Confederate Statue

In a newly filed court argument over a monument in Franklin's public square, the Franklin Daughters of the Confederacy chapter allege that it wasn't possible for the city to own the entire public square, The Tennessean reports. In documents filed in Williamson County Chancery Court, the group argues they own the land that makes up the monument site around their Confederate statue. Ownership came into question after a group of pastors and historians wanted to place new markers on the square depicting African-American history. The Daughters of the Confederacy legal team responded by saying they would sue the city if anything was placed on their land. Hours after, Franklin decided to file a judgement suit to determine who owned the land.
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Knoxville Sees Growth in Outside Investors

The city of Knoxville has seen an abundance of outside real estate investors, joining Memphis and Nashville in the state’s red-hot commercial real estate market, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Investors say that they are drawn to the city because of the market’s stability, with the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge to anchor the area’s economy. Multi-family and apartment sales volume sustained 35 percent of total investments, yielding more than $48 billion.

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European Real Estate Giant Invests in U.S. Commercial Lending

One of Europe’s largest real estate investment firms is jumping into the U.S. debt market, The Wall Street Journal reports. AXA Investment Managers — a unit of the French insurer AXA — is set to purchase the $9.4 billion debt portfolio of Atlanta-based Quadrant Real Estate Advisors for an undisclosed amount. Quadrant specializes in loans bankrolled on office buildings, shopping centers, apartment buildings and other commercial property.

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Tennessee Solar Farm Information & Welcome Center Nears Opening

After many delays, the new Interstate 40 Welcome Center and Solar Exhibit near Memphis is expected to be completed in late November, the Daily Memphian reports. Although the center was essentially finished a year ago, a final inspection performed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation determined that several changes needed to be made before it could open. These changes required change orders to the construction contract, which proved to be difficult because of the number of state agencies involved in the project. Once open, people visiting the $3.4 million center will be able to experience a nearly 360-degree view of a 25-acre field containing more than 20,000 solar panels as well as a circular, interactive exhibit about solar power in Tennessee.

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Crossville Business Park Named Tennessee Certified Site

The city of Crossville and Cumberland County have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars toward developing Interchange Business Park, Crossville Chronicle reports. The investments have paid off because the park has been named a Select Tennessee Certified Site. The Select Tennessee program has rigorous standards that help communities secure industrial buyers by listing the site on the state's website and providing additional marketing. There are 57 certified sites in Tennessee.

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4 Ways to Make Remote Work Successful

As technology advances, so too does the legal profession. In-person negotiations can now be completed from afar using technology. Remote work is becoming more available to attorneys and also demanded by them. Lexology presents four ways to make remote work successful for companies and attorneys.  

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Tackle All Your CLE for the Year at Fall Fast Track on Friday

Emerging technology is revolutionizing the way we practice law — from document automation to using artificial intelligence research tools to assist with briefs, memos and complaints. We want to ensure that you stay on the cutting edge of today’s legal landscape. At the Fall FastTrack in Nashville, you will have the opportunity to tackle all of your CLE requirements for the year while learning from seasoned professionals on how to leverage technology, allowing solos and small firm practitioners to compete with the big boys.
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Construction on Obama Presidential Center Faces Legal Delays

A federal judge announced yesterday that a trial date will be made in December regarding a lawsuit delaying the construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, Fox News reports. One environmental group believes the project should not be built in Jackson Park, citing a principle known as the public trust doctrine. However, the city does not believe the project violates state law. Another environmental group contends that by building the center on park land, it would violate the Park District code and state law.

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THEC Denies MTSU Acquisition of Valparaiso University School of Law

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) decided to deny MTSU's acquisition of Valparaiso University School of Law in an eight to five vote last week, The Daily News Journal reports. THEC had a consultant conduct an independent study regarding issues surrounding the law school transfer, with results citing competition the transfer would create among existing schools in Tennessee. Attorney Evan Cope, who serves as chairman of the THEC, commented on the decision saying, “I can’t speak for the other members of the commission, but my sense is there was genuine concern about the labor supply and demand for lawyers, and that concern was legitimate."

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Basic Tech Checklist for Firms

Law firms attempting to stay competitive and state-of-the-art need to consistently evaluate their use of technology. In addition to staying competitive, technological competency is required. In 2017, the Tennessee Supreme Court amended Rule 8 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility to include this obligation. Above the Law presents a simple and straightforward tech checklist for law firms or lawyers seeking guidance in this area.   

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ABA Issues Formal Opinion on Lawyers' Duty in Case of Cyber Attack

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released a formal opinion this week that reaffirms the duty of lawyers to notify clients of a data breach and details reasonable steps to be taken to meet obligations set forth in model rules. “When a breach of protected client information is either suspected or detected, Rule 1.1 requires that the lawyer act reasonably and promptly to stop the breach and mitigate damage resulting from the breach,” Formal Opinion 483 says. “Lawyers should consider proactively developing an incident response plan with specific plans and procedures for responding to a data breach. The decision whether to adopt a plan, the content of any plan and actions taken to train and prepare for implementation of the plan should be made before a lawyer is swept up in an actual breach.” Read more here.
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Nashville Approves MLS Construction Contract Amid Union Opposition

The board of directors for the Nashville Sports Authority voted in favor of awarding the MLS stadium construction contract valued at $167.5 million to a joint venture between two firms, Minneapolis-based Mortenson and Nashville-based Messer Construction Company, The Tennessean reports. The agreement will still need to undergo successful negotiations between the city and the construction firms. However, union workers encouraged Metro to only hire “high-road” subcontractors, which are unionized firms. They say high-road contractors are more likely to protect from wage theft, avoid workplace injury and ensure health insurance for workers. Following a community benefits agreement between MLS owners and the community group Stand Up Nashville, the 10-acre mixed-use private development being built next to the stadium will require high-road contracts. Union workers argue that the same standards required on the private side should also apply on the public side.

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Nashville Named Most Dangerous Southern City for Construction Workers

A report titled Build a Better South: Construction Working Conditions in the US South that was put out in May 2017 by the Partnership for Working Families, Workers Defense Project and a professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago declared Nashville as the most dangerous city in the south for construction workers, The Guardian reports. Between 2016 and 2017, 16 workers, over half being Latino, were killed on construction sites in the city, making it the deadliest two-year stretch in over three decades. The article discusses a culture of fear and intimidation on construction sites which leads to basic safety precautions being overlooked. However, there are some positive changes happening in Nashville. Recently, Major League Soccer agreed to a series of improvements for worker safety on its projects.

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Avvo to Improve Lawyer-Rating Transparency, Pay $50K in Agreement with NY AG

Online legal marketplace Avvo has reached an agreement with the New York Attorney General’s Office to increase the transparency of the online legal directory’s lawyer-rating system, The ABA Journal reports. The changes include consumer disclosures about how lawyers are rated and how legal forms are posted to the website. The company will also pay a $50,000 fine to cover the cost of the AG’s investigation.
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The Final Frontier: Ethics and the Malpractice Risks of Protecting Electronic Information – Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis

Just in time for the end-of-the-year CLE rush, the TBA has a variety of ethics CLE options across the state. As quickly as client information and case management technology evolves, so too does the legal profession’s duty to safeguard it. Join us in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis on Oct. 23, 24, and 25 for this annual event, with three hours of dual CLE, guiding attendees through malpractice risks and how to prevent them from happening in the ever-changing electronic age.

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Nashville MLS Stadium Approval Spurs Quick Fairground Reconstruction Plans

Nashville’s fairground reconstruction plans are moving forward following last week’s Metro Council approval of a $275 million Major League Soccer stadium, The Tennessean reports. Construction to begin the consolidation of multiple buildings into a newly transformed expo center is slated to begin mid-October. The new expo center will sit on a currently vacant, lower-elevation piece of fairground land, and it will house the Nashville Flea Market as well as other events. Demolition and construction for the MLS stadium are scheduled to begin after the expo center is completed. The future 30,500-seat stadium and 10-acres of mixed-use private development are planned to sit on higher-elevation fairground land.

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Construction on Nashville's Broadwest Two-Tower Development Scheduled for Fall

The West End Summit site, home to the infamous and recently drained ‘Lake Palmer,’ may see construction beginning as soon as this fall, The Nashville Post reports. Huntsville, Alabama-based Propst Development plans to build two mixed-use buildings which will be called Broadwest and encompass a collective 1.2 million square feet at 1600 West End Ave near the split with Broadway. Local partners on the project include:

  • Chartwell Hospitality, a Franklin-based hotel operations and development company, to co-own and operate the 14-floor luxury hotel;
  • Parks Realty, a Nashville-based real estate agency, to lead condominium sales;
  • The Nashville office of Jones Lang Lasalle for office leasing;
  • Atlanta-based Cooper Carry as the lead architects of Broadwest;
  • The local offices of Turner Construction Company and Hoar Construction as general contractors;
  • Nashville-based Premier Parking to oversee the parking component.

The project could carry a price tag upwards of $500 million.

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Legal Practice Tip: Slander of Title – Clouds on Property Owned by Public Officials

What are your rights if a false lien is filed against property you own

On May 21, Gov. Haslam signed into law Public Chapter No. 1042 which immediately created a cause of action providing for remedies for the successful challenge of the validity of a lien against a property. The real property owner that prevails in challenging the validity of a lien or a slander of title proceeding may recover:
  1. The owner's reasonable attorney's fees; 
  2. Reasonable costs incurred by the owner to challenge the validity of the lien; 
  3. Liquidated damages in an amount equal to ten percent (10%) of the fair market value of the property not to exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000); and
  4. Any actual damages incurred by the owner.
The provisions of the act do not apply if the lien is based on a loan agreement which lists the property as collateral to secure repayment of the loan. The statute became effective on signing.
 
What if you are a “public official?"
 
A separate act was signed by the governor on May 1, which took effect on July 1. Public Chapter No. 913 provides a way for “public officials” to administratively challenge the filing with the register a cloud on an interest in real property by way of an affidavit by the official which sets into motion a process to remove the cloud. This procedure is reasonably complicated but may provide the local and state officials with alternative methods for removing the clouds in a more expeditious and less expensive way and may force the hand of individuals filing such false claims.

Joseph "Joe" Kirkland is an attorney and senior escrow officer at the East Memphis office of CloseTrak, Closing & Title Services. Kirkland is active in the Tennessee Land Title Association (chair of the standing Legislative Committee 2017-19, director of the Board of Directors 2018-19) and the immediate past chair of the Tennessee Bar Association's Real Estate Law Section.
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Community Benefits Agreement Pushes Nashville MLS Project Forward

Two hours before the Metro Council held Monday’s public hearing and vote on the proposal to rezone 10 acres of fairgrounds land, a joint statement was released announcing a community benefits agreement had been reached between the community stakeholder group, Stand Up Nashville, and the ownership team of Nashville Major League Soccer, The Tennessean reports. Included in the CBA were guarantees for affordable housing, income-based child care options, partnerships with Metro schools and higher paying hourly wages. This type of agreement is unique for a government-led project. It is expected that finalization of the contract will take place this week. One remaining issue that needs to be addressed prior to finalization is construction worker safety.

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New Job Postings on TBA JobLink

New job postings have been added to TBA’s employment portal. Positions include general and senior counsel, practice area experts and associate. JobLink helps Tennessee legal employers post jobs and TBA members connect with career opportunities.
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Federal Judge Orders Keystone XL Pipeline Review

A federal judge in Montana ordered the U.S. State Department to do a full environmental review of a revised route for the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline – a move that could further delay the project, Reuters reports. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris ruled for plaintiffs, ordering the review of a revised pipeline route through Nebraska to supplement one the department did on the original path in 2014. In his ruling, Morris said the State Department was obligated to “analyze new information relevant to the environmental impacts of its decision” to issue a permit for the pipeline last year. You can view the initial complaint here.

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