News

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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Law Office Management Tips on Shipping

If your law office uses shipping services, your TBA membership team can help you compare those costs to TBA’s UPS member benefit. Your firm office manager can work directly with TBA staff and UPS services to enroll or transfer shipping accounts. Members can save up to 34 percent on UPS’s broad portfolio of shipping services, including next day air, international, ground and express.
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Destination CLE Survey

Let's take a trip! The TBA CLE Committee would like your feedback on destination CLE events. Taking a moment to complete this brief survey will greatly assist us in developing the best CLE experience for you. Please complete this survey by Aug. 10. We greatly appreciate your help with this endeavor.
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Remote Online Notarization and Electronic Notarization Now Possible in Tennessee

On May 15, Tennessee became the 6th state to enact legislation permitting the Remote Online Notarization (RON) of documents. Under Public Chapter No. 931, qualified notaries public will be allowed to electronically apply notary seals and additionally, to perform notarizations for individuals via two-way audio-visual communications.  
 
The act now defines “Appear” “Appearance” and “personally appear” to include: appearing before an online notary public by means of an interactive two-way audio and video communication that meets the online notarization requirements under rules promulgated by the secretary of state; these will include the standards that must comply with online notarization and “credential analysis” and “identity proofing” to ensure the proper identity of the party to be witnessed and preservation of the notarization act for a period of a minimum of five years.
 
The act also contains definitions for terms such as "Credential analysis," "Electronic document," "Electronic notarial certificate," "Electronic seal," "Electronic signature," "ldentity proofing," "Online notarization" and "Remote presentation," among others. The Tennessee Secretary of State will be administering and promulgating the rules for the orderly conduct of electronic notarizations and remote online notarizations. Public Chapter No. 931 will become effective on July 1, 2019.

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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TDEC Proposing Changes to Aquatic Resource Alterations

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is proposing changes to the permitting process when entities seek to divert a stream, pave over wetlands or otherwise alter the state’s waterways, The Tennessean reports. The proposed changes to Rule Chapter 0400-40-07 Aquatic Resource Alteration would stipulate where developers can mitigate the damage done to streams and would establish a baseline for pollution or alterations from which any harm would have to be offset. Comments on the amendments will be accepted through July 31 and can be submitted to Jimmy.R.Smith@tn.gov.

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Oshkosh Corporation Expanding to Jefferson City

Specialty truck and access equipment giant Oshkosh Corporation will place a factory in Jefferson City, creating more than 300 jobs by 2021, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports. Oshkosh — which manufactures military, emergency and construction vehicles — will take over and renovate a 500,000-square-foot building that formerly housed a John Deere plant. The factory will facilitate welding and fabrication operations for the company. 
 
TVA, the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, Jefferson City, Jefferson County, Innovation Valley, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development are named as partners on the project.
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Nashville Home to World's Largest 3D-Printed Structure

Nashville is now home to the world’s largest 3D-printed structure, Architect Magazine reports. Due to its shape and volume, early designs for the formation required a steel substructure to support its load, which would have tripled the cost. However, to eliminate the need for a supplemental steel reinforcement, Chattanooga-based architectural fabricator Branch Technology used the company's Cellular Fabrication (C-Fab) 3D-printing technology to prefabricate 40 panels off-site and assembled them on the designated spot in Nashville. 
 
The 20-foot-tall, 42-foot-wide structure is composed of carbon fiber–reinforced Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene and finished with an ultraviolet protective exterior-rated metallic paint. Branch Technology has previously made headlines for a 3D-printed house scheduled to be completed and erected at Chattanooga State Community College this fall.
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Hood Named New Spring Hill Municipal Court Judge

Deana Hood has been appointed the city of Spring Hill’s new Municipal Court Judge starting Aug. 1, the Columbia Daily Herald reports. The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen made the official selection on Monday. Hood won the vote by a narrow margin, defeating acting interim Municipal Court Judge Tom DuBois.
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TVA Invites Public Input on Proposed Updates to Natural Resource Plan

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is soliciting public opinions regarding updating its 2011 Natural Resource Plan, according to a press release on its website. The 2011 plan organized TVA’s work into six resource areas but did not include all of TVA’s Natural Resource efforts. In the 2020 Natural Resource Plan, TVA proposes 10 focus areas that encompass all the Natural Resource functions.
 
TVA is hosting four open house meetings to obtain input, answer questions and receive comments. The sessions will be from 5–7:30 p.m. local time at the following locations:
 
  • July 25 at Pellissippi State Community College in the College Center Room, 10915 Hardin Valley Rd., Knoxville
  • July 26 at Chattanooga State Community College in Rooms 124-126, 4501 Amnicola Highway, Chattanooga
  • August 1 in the TVA Multi-Purpose Building, Room MPB 01202, 101 Reservation Road, Muscle Shoals, Alabama
  • August 2 at Paris Landing State Park in Conference Room A, 400 Lodge Road, Buchanan
  • August 6 – Webinar. Please register in advance of the webinar at www.tva.gov/nrp.
Written comments can be sent to Matthew Higdon, NEPA Compliance, Tennessee Valley Authority, 400 West Summit Hill Drive, WT 11D, Knoxville, TN 37902-1499. Comments also may be submitted on the project website at www.tva.gov/nrp or by email at NRP@tva.gov.
 
NOTE: Those with special needs who wish to attend any open house should contact TVA at least a week in advance at (865) 632-6113.
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Tennessee May Receive Increased Funding for Parks

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., recently gained Senate committee approval for a bill he sponsored — the National Park Restoration Act — that intends to allocate increased funding for the maintenance backlog at national parks, The Herald-News reports. The project will be funded using excess money from energy leases for onshore and offshore federal land to pay for the repairs. The bill is expected to have a great impact on Tennessee, providing money to restore campgrounds, trails and roads in the Smokies, Cherokee National Forest, and the Skinner Mountain Forest among others. The legislation is now ready for consideration by the full Senate.

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Courts to Launch E-filing on July 9

The Appellate Court Clerk’s new electronic filing system will begin operation on July 9. A link on the Appellate Court Clerk’s webpage will provide access to the new system. Once the electronic filing system is in place, attorneys will be permitted to electronically file virtually all new filings in appellate courts. In addition to establishing a new, voluntary system for electronically filing documents, the Supreme Court has established a new fee structure for costs and fees assessed in the appellate courts. Beginning July 9, appellate litigants will be required to pay their fees when initiating a case in the appellate courts rather than waiting until the appellate process is complete. 

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Schedule Time to Read Email

A tip from the TBA Attorney Well-Being Committee

Rather than checking on every e-mail as it arrives, schedule time in your calendar for reading and managing e-mail (and leave e-mail notifications silent during the other times of the day). This will enable you to have focused time for given tasks without constant interruption and distraction.
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Watch Jason Pannu’s Presidential Address Online

Nashville lawyer Jason Pannu took the oath of office as President of the Tennessee Bar Association on June 15 in Memphis. For those who missed his inaugural address, you can now stream a high-quality version online at YouTube. Hear about his new programs and his theme for the year, which is “Honoring Tradition, Embracing Modernity.”
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Sen. Bob Corker Intends to Advance Legislation on Controversial Tariffs

Sen. Bob Corker on Wednesday morning told President Donald Trump that he plans to go through with his legislation that would stifle Trump's ability to impose controversial tariffs, CNBC reports. Trump said last week that he would not exempt Canada, Mexico and the European Union from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The affected nations responded swiftly, stating that they will explore retaliatory measures of their own. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he would not take up Corker's tariff bill as separate legislation, however, it may be added as an amendment to other legislation such as the National Defense Authorization Act.

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A Wellness Tip from the Attorney Well-Being Committee

Consider waking 10 minutes earlier so you can incorporate a brief mindfulness meditation into your preparations for the day. Set a timer for 3-10 minutes (depending on how much time you feel you want to use). Begin by sitting in a relaxed and comfortable but dignified and upright position, with your spine and head aligned. Place both feet on the ground, with legs uncrossed, and rest your hands gently on your lap. Gently close your eyes and allow yourself to notice the sensation of sitting in the chair, of your feet on the ground, of your hands resting in your lap.

Gently bring your attention to your breath, slowly taking a deep breath in, pausing briefly, then slowly exhaling. Now repeat this twice and as you do so, observe your breath as it goes in your nostrils and as it exits your nostrils. Sense the flow of air as it moves in and out, and the space between breaths. You may notice the air feels cool as you inhale, but warmer as you exhale.

Return to your normal breathing. Don’t try to change your breath, just continue to observe it, with a sense of curiosity. Allow yourself to feel your body relax and yield to gravity as you sit quietly in your chair, focusing on your breath. Notice any tense areas in your body and with your next breath, imagine it as a cool breeze touching those areas holding tension and as you exhale, release the tension along with the breath. Continue observing your breath.

When thoughts or concerns arise – as they inevitably will – simply acknowledge their presence, without judgment or opinion, and let them pass by while you gently bring your attention back to your breath. There is no need to grab hold of any thought right now -- just allow your breath to guide you back to the present moment.

Our minds will wander, as intrusive thoughts are constantly vying for our attention. When you realize this has happened, simply observe without judgment and gently guide your attention back to your breath. You might find it helpful to label the thought – “worry” “laundry” “clients” – then let it go and return to your breath. Although thoughts and feelings will come and go in the background, you can prevent them from highjacking your attention by simply acknowledging them without judgment, then gently returning to the breath and this present moment.

Julie Sandine is a graduate of Wake Forest School of Law. She serves as the Chair of the TBA Attorney Well-Being Committee.

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Antitrust Regulators Focus on Real Estate Data

The real estate sector is getting fresh scrutiny from U.S. antitrust regulators regarding a proposed centralized system, known as Upstream, that is designed to offer a single point of entry for inputting, managing, and distributing listings at the brokerage level, Bloomberg Law reports. The centralized system has been backed by The National Association of Realtors (NAR). Critics — including Trulia and Zillow — argue the project has the potential to impede competition in the market by placing a large share of valuable real estate data in the hands of one entity controlled by NAR and large brokerages. NAR settled with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2008 on similar issues.

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Condo Law From Every Angle

Catch up on the popular type of housing for downtown living and mixed-housing suburbs with a Condo Law CLE on June 29. Sessions will give you a full and complete review of Tennessee's Condo Law practice. Experts who have worked on the development and practice of Tennessee Condo Law will be presenting from multiple perspectives for buyers, lenders, owners and developers. Sessions will review emerging issues, future concerns, and offer an analysis of applicable law and legal considerations.
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Construction of Uranium Processing Facility Brings Hundreds of Jobs to East Tennessee

About 400 skilled craft employees and professional services personnel will join the state's largest construction project, Y-12 National Security Complex's Uranium Processing Facility, Knox News reports. The complex was built to enrich uranium for atomic weapons as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II, and it remains the nation’s primary site for processing and storing highly enriched uranium used in nuclear weapons. The Y-12 facility has been the subject of controversy, with several environmental organizations filing suit alleging several old buildings at Y-12 could collapse during a natural disaster. The $6.5 billion construction project will continue hiring to a peak of around 900 skilled craft employees and 1,000 professional services personnel.

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U.S. Department of Labor Cites Contractor, Staffing Agency Following Fatal Trench Collapse

OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $152,618 against a construction company and a staffing agency after a trench collapse killed a temporary employee installing sewer lines, according to a press release on the agency's website. Regulators issued willful and serious citations to All Power Construction Corp. for allowing employees to work in a trench without cave-in protection, failing to provide a safe means to enter and exit the trench, and not having a competent person inspect the trench to identify potential hazards. The temporary employer, Labor Finders of Tennessee, was cited for not ensuring that employees were trained on trenching and excavation hazards. The companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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Share Your Thoughts on Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 6

The Supreme Court recently requested comment on proposed amendments to TSC Rule 6 that would require new attorneys to complete a Tennessee Law Course within one year of admission to the Tennessee bar. The Tennessee Bar Association has a working group on this issue and will be drafting comments in response to the court's Order for Comment. To ensure this comment best reflects members’ views and positions, the groups is looking for your feedback. Share your thoughts about the proposed amendments through this form by June 8.
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    Stengel Elected President Of Construction Counsel Association

    TBA Construction Law Section Executive Council Delegate Elizabeth “Beth” Stengel has been elected the first female president of the Tennessee Association of Construction Counsel, The Memphis Daily News reports. Stengel is a shareholder at Evans Petree, where she practices in all facets of construction and surety matters and serves as area practice leader for their litigation practice group.

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    Use of Sub-Subcontractors Makes it Hard to Fix Liability, Newspaper Reports

    In the booming city of Nashville, more construction workers have died in 2016 and 2017 than in any two-year stretch in the previous three decades, The Tennessean reports. Assigning liability in these and other accidents has also grown more difficult, as construction companies have moved to using more and more small “subs of subs” in the tight labor market. Many of those workers are sent onto scaffolding and roofs without safety equipment or training, The Tennessean says. Federal law places primary safety responsibility on the direct employer, so of the 16 fatalities reported in 2016 and 2017, only three resulted in the general contractor being held accountable.
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    Real Estate Essentials

    The Ins and Outs of Titles

    This Friday, the Tennessee Bar Center will host a program focused on the intangibles for dirt lawyers. The Real Estate Essentials CLE will cover the ins and outs of real estate titles and contracts, from basics like conducting a title search, to advanced topics such as drug seizure laws. Don’t miss this opportunity to obtain necessary CLE credit, while networking with attorneys who share your focus. Section members receive a discount for the program. Here’s the key info:

    When: Friday, May 11, registration begins at 12:30 p.m., CDT
    Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219
    CLE Credits: Three General
     
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    Work-site Accidents: Use of Sub-Subcontractors Makes it Hard to Fix Liability

    A labor shortage has led to a fracturing of work sites, where subcontractors can’t complete projects with their normal crews, so they hire small "subs of subs" below them, The Tennessean reports. Some of these workers are sent onto scaffolding and roofs without safety equipment or training. Federal law places primary safety responsibility on the direct employer, however, experts say many companies pay construction workers as independent contractors, avoiding certain regulations. More construction workers died in the Nashville metro area in 2016 and 2017 compared with any two-year stretch in the previous three decades. Most of the 16 deaths were from falls without any harnesses or other protection.
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