News

Ballad Health Filed More Than 6,700 Lawsuits Regarding Medical Debt Last Year

Tennessee-based hospital conglomerate Ballad Health filed more than 6,700 lawsuits against patients last year highlighting concerns over skyrocketing medical debt, The New York Times reports. The company, which oversees more than 20 hospitals in Virginia and Tennessee, has filed over 44,000 lawsuits since 2009, with the number of suits typically increasing on an annual basis. Executive Vice President for System Innovation and Chief Population Health Officer Anthony Keck said the company is only pursuing patients who have the means to pay but choose not to; however, detractors contend healthcare companies are targeting people who appear they can pay, but cannot afford the higher deductibles stipulated by insurance companies.

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Comcast Exec. Files Federal Lawsuit Over Title VII Protections

A senior executive at Comcast Corp. recently filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was routinely discriminated against because of his sexual orientation, NBC News reports. Plaintiff Klayton Fennell claims that while employed with the company he was denied equal pay, passed over for promotions, was subjected to slurs from employees and retaliated against after he filed a discrimination complaint. Comcast claims that it was supportive of Fennell’s participation in LGBTQ initiatives both inside and outside of the company, and that it has a “longstanding commitment to the LGBTQ community and has been widely recognized for its inclusive culture.” Fennell is seeking unspecified damages for pain and suffering, emotional upset, mental anguish, humiliation, loss of life’s pleasures and any other remedies provided by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Ford Motor Co. Was Aware of Faulty Transmissions, Sold Cars Anyway

Ford Motor Co. is facing significant liability in lawsuits regarding defective transmissions in two entry level car models, the Detroit Free Press reports. Internal documents show that the company was aware of faulty DPS6 transmissions in its 2011 to 2016 Fiesta and Focus models but let them be sold instead of issuing a recall. A Los Angeles jury last year awarded a plaintiff $554,000 in punitive damages over the controversy, and the company is facing nearly 13,000 lawsuits nationwide for the sale of affected vehicles.

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Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Vape Manufacturer

Two Kentucky residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against an e-cigarette manufacturer alleging the company marketed its products to children and deceived customers into believing its products were safe, the Courier Journal reports. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that the San Francisco based company Juul used flavored vape pods and unlawful marketing to mislead the public about the potency of its products and safety concerns from use. The plaintiffs’ attorneys say they are working with up to 100 more potential clients who could file their own suits or join others under current adjudication.

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Woman Involved in Kroger Shooting Files Class-Action Lawsuit Against the Suspect, Retailer

A woman who was inside a Louisville Kroger last year when a gunman opened fire killing two shoppers has filed a class-action lawsuit against the suspect and supermarket chain, the Courier Journal reports. Plaintiff Denise Clark claims that she suffered "physical, mental and/or emotional injuries" as a result of the shooting, and was only offered a $10 gift card as compensation. Clark's attorney said that more than two dozen shootings have taken place at Kroger stores around the country since 1991, and despite knowing about these issues the company took no actions to provide safety measures for its customers. The gunman, Gregory Bush, is facing murder and hate crime charges in state and federal court.

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New TBA Sidebar Podcast Episode Shares Benefits of Improv Comedy For Lawyers

A new installment of the Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network show, Sidebar, is now available. The episode focuses on improv skills for attorneys and features interviews with the co-owner of the Third Coast Comedy Club in Nashville and Kirsten Jacobson, staff attorney at the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and improv student. Sidebar is available on the TBA's website or anywhere you listen to podcasts, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher and TuneIn. Simply search the show title of "Tennessee Bar Association." Do you have a story lead you'd like to hear on a future episode? Submit your ideas here.

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Plan to Attend: International Law Trade & Investment Roundtable - Oct. 8


The Tennessee Bar Association’s International Law & Practice Section is providing an “International Law Trade & Investment” Roundtable Discussion on Oct. 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. CDT at Lewis Thomason's Nashville Office.
 
Can't attend in person? Viewing rooms will be available at Lewis Thomason's offices in Knoxville and Memphis as well as the Olsen Law Firm in Chattanooga. 
 
Networking Reception: Immediately following the roundtable, each location will have a casual reception. Mingle with fellow attendees and enjoy a selection of hors d'oeuvres along with a variety of refreshments, including liquor, beer, wine and soft drinks.
 
Speakers for the Roundtable Discussion include the following professionals speaking on (1) U.S./International Entrepreneurship, (2) U.S./International Tariffs, (3) U.S./International Treaties and (4) U.S./International Markets & Trends—  
  • UTK Law Professor Brian Krumm, Director of UTK Business Clinic
  • UTK Law Professor Maurice Stucke, author of “Virtual Competition” & “Big Data and Competition Policy”
  • Matt Ferguson, Chief Financial Officer of Happy Feet International Flooring
  • Masami Tyson, Global Director of Foreign Direct Investment and Trade at the Tennessee Economic and Community Development (ECD)
  • Waddell Wright, President & Asset Manager at W. Wright & Co. LLC
  • Allen McKendree Palmer,  President and CEO of Palmer Global Ink
  • Terry L. Olsen, Chair of the International Law & Practice Section
Although an RSVP is not required, signing up here helps us plan accordingly.  Please contact tolsen@tlolaw.com with any questions about this event. 

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Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Roberts to Speak at TBA Health Law Forum

As Tennessee deals with the rising medical needs of its rural citizens and seeks to realize its Medicaid block grant proposal, there are many developments on the horizon for TennCare. TBA Health Law Section member and Deputy Commissioner of TennCare Gabe Roberts will address some of these plans on Oct. 17 at the 31st Annual TBA Health Law Forum. Roberts’ address — along with presentations by Johns Hopkins health policy expert and New York Times bestselling author Marty Makary and health care policy advisor to the White House Larry Van Horn — will make this year’s forum the must-see, must-do event in health law. You can learn more and see the rest of the program’s stellar line-up using this link.
 
When: Oct. 17-18; registration begins at 7 a.m., CDT on Oct. 17
Where: Embassy Suites Cool Springs, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
 
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Purdue Pharma Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, the drug widely seen as igniting the opioid crisis, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The move was expected as the company seeks to shield itself and its owners from more than 2,600 federal and state lawsuits. The terms of the filing, which include a proposed resolution of most of those cases, will likely be contested by a group of 26 states that have refused to settle, the Nashville Business Journal reports. Purdue says it hopes to completely restructure. Read more in this statement from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III.

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Corporate Counsel Section Adds Delegates to Executive Council

The Tennessee Bar Association’s Corporate Counsel Section in its most recent meeting voted to make several additions to the body’s executive council. There was a great response from members interested in joining the section’s leadership, with the following delegates assuming roles on the council:

Aaron Gentry is a corporate attorney for JTEKT North America, a global leader in engineering and manufacturing automotive systems, bearing solutions and high-performance machine tools. Gentry handles commercial and transactional advice and guidance as well as general legal counsel to JTEKT.

Daina Bray is the General Counsel for Mercy For Animals, an international nonprofit with offices in 16 countries and an annual budget of $80 million. Bray has extensive international law practice experience and serves as the Vice Chair of the ABA TIPS Corporate Counsel Committee.

Jason Little is the In-House Corporate Counsel and Privacy Officer for the Carlstate Group, LLC, located in Franklin. Little provides in-house legal advice and support in transactional and litigation matters involving commercial agreements, M&A, employment, and information technology, as well as corporate compliance and oversight of regulatory matters.

Justin Hayden is a Shareholder at Smythe Huff & Hayden, PC. Hayden practices creditor litigation, construction law, collections, foreclosures and representation of creditors in bankruptcy.

Katie Atkins is the Senior Operations Counsel at NaviHealth, Inc. of Brentwood. She has over seven years of experience as a lawyer in the health care sector and was previously an attorney with the Tennessee General Assembly.

Melissa Leigh is General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Keystone Peer Review Organization (KEPRO), Inc in Nashville. Leigh oversees strategic and tactical management of legal and compliance teams and advisement to the Chief Executive Officer Board of Directors and executive leadership of KEPRO.

Robert Dennis Is the General Counsel & Managing Member for Tennessee Fitness (TF), LLC located in Murfreesboro. TF owns and operates 7 Gold's Gym fitness centers in the greater Nashville and middle Tennessee area.

Please join the TBA in welcoming your new Corporate Counsel Section delegates.

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New York Law Firm Sets Up Shop in Nashville

New York-based law firm Barton LLP opened an office in Nashville today with veteran Nashville attorney Marc Dedman as its new partner in charge. Dedman most recently served as managing partner for Spicer Rudstrom PLLC. With roughly 40 attorneys, Barton bills itself as a boutique, high-touch firm. It has signed a short-term lease inside Gulch Crossing at 1033 Demonbreun St., Nashville 37203. Dedman can be reached at mdedman@bartonesq.com or 615-340-6790.

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Spring Hill GM Plant Workers Go on Strike

Workers at the General Motors (GM) plant in Spring Hill went on strike last night, walking out of the plant and holding protests at its entrances, The Tennessean reports. This comes after stalled negotiations between GM and the United Auto Workers (UAW) regarding stagnant wages, idle plants and the rising cost of health care that led 50,000 union workers nationwide to go on strike. The strike has not affected Ford or Fiat Chrysler, whose UAW contracts were extended while the union tries to negotiate a deal.

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U.S. Dept. of Treasury, IRS Propose Changes Regarding Net Operating Losses

The U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service last week proposed new regulations regarding application of certain rules under Sections 382 and 383 of the Internal Revenue Code. The new regulations would lessen the ability of companies to use net operating losses and other tax saving measures by changing the “annual limitation” on the ability of a company to apply pre-change tax attributes to offset post-change taxable income. You can read more about these changes and submit a formal comment here. The deadline for comment on these proposed changes is November 12.

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Investors, HOAs Battle Over Neighborhood Rentals

As Tennessee experiences record growth, real estate investments are causing friction between homeowner associations (HOAs) and absentee corporate landlords overseeing long-term rentals, sparking state lawmakers to seek ways to address this issue, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. HOAs are typically opposed to this practice over concerns that these companies generally have no ties to the neighborhood and are not concerned by nuisance tenants or upkeep. This has led some HOAs to instill new rules to mitigate or curb these types of rentals. Investment companies deny these allegations and argue that the associations keep moving the sticks and are interfering with their property rights. Tennessee Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, appears to be listening to investors’ arguments, and has amended a bill he introduced — SB1429/HB1290 — to include language allowing current investment properties to continue renting despite any new rules imposed by HOAs. Bell’s bill is currently under consideration by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

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AG Reaches $1.86 Million Settlement with Cigarette Manufacturer

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III recently settled litigation against cigarette manufacturer Xcaliber International Ltd. that resulted in a payment of $1.86 million to the state. The state brought suit against the company after it bought and began manufacturing a cigarette brand that was contraband under state law. The settlement brings the company into compliance with state law, which will allow it to continue selling cigarettes in the state. The original manufacturer of the cigarette brand remains banned until it makes the payments it owes to the state. Read more in this press release.

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Legal Aid Society to Celebrate 50-Year Anniversary

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will hold its 50th Anniversary Celebration “An Evening at the Frist” on Nov. 9 at the Frist Museum in downtown Nashville. The event will feature cocktails, live music and a gallery exhibition, and provide a unique opportunity to honor the group’s distinguished 50-year legacy of providing “justice for all.” Tickets are available online.

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Nashville's Southwestern Company Names First In-House Counsel

Nashville-based Southwestern Company has hired its first in-house general counsel according to the Nashville Post. Ben Huddleston, who will provide management and oversight of the legal activities for Southwestern’s 18 affiliated companies, previously served as vice president and corporate secretary at Quorum Health. Prior to that, he was vice president of legal services at Community Health Systems and an attorney at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis.

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September Episode Of TBA BarBuzz Podcast Now Available

Get a monthly recap of bar association news and upcoming events on this month’s episode of BarBuzz, part of the Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network. Also included in the network are Sidebar, a show covering human interest stories from attorneys in Tennessee and HealthyBar, a podcast centered on attorney wellbeing. The shows are now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and the TBA’s website. Simply search the show title or “Tennessee Bar Association” wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Growing Acceptance for 'Gender X' from States, Companies

A growing number of states and companies are allowing people to designate their gender as “X” instead of male or female on driver’s licenses and other forms of identification, The Wall Street Journal reports. Nine states and the District of Columbia now allow it, and at least six more states say they will make the change in the coming months. “The developments are moving so fast,” Vanderbilt Law School professor Jessica Clarke told the newspaper. With the legalization of same-sex marriage there are fewer legal arrangements that rely on categorizing a person as a man or a woman, she said, leaving few legal reasons to restrict people to two gender categories.

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New TBA Member Benefit: Group Health Insurance!

The Tennessee Bar Association and TBA Member Insurance Solutions have been diligently working with Humana to bring TBA employer members an affordable association group health insurance plan. The fully-funded plan is available exclusively to TBA members. Enrollment is open now and ends Dec. 1. Get a quote or enroll today. Have questions? Contact us at tbams@tnbar.org or call 423-629-2400 x264.

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You Asked. We Listened. Health Insurance.

TBA leaders have been hard at work to bring TBA employer members what they’ve been asking for – an affordable and quality association group health insurance plan. The hard work has paid off and enrollment is open now and runs through Dec. 1. This TBA exclusive plan may save employer members as much as 30% on the cost of health insurance. No health questions and no pre-existing condition exclusions! Start by getting a quote, or contact us at tbams@tnbar.org, 423-629-2400 x264, to ask questions.

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Solo Attorney Interested in Group Health Insurance? Here's Help

You’re in luck! As a solo attorney, you’re eligible for the TBA's new association group health insurance plan if you have at least one W-2 employee working 30+ hours per week. Rates may be as much as 30% less than what you are paying. Guaranteed issue coverage, no health questions and no pre-existing condition exclusions! Enroll or get a quote today. Contact the TBA for more information or call 423-629-2400 x264.

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Volunteers Needed for New Nashville Legal Clinic

Legal Aid Society will host its Downtown Free Legal Clinic at the Nashville Public Library on Sept. 4 from 4 – 6 p.m., CDT. This is a new monthly service where lawyers can provide counsel and advice to those who otherwise could not afford it. The legal clinic will be held the first Wednesday of each month at this same time and location. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Kendra Cheek, 615-780-7131.

When: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 4 – 6 p.m., CDT

Where: Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St., Nashville

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U.S. District Court for Middle Tennessee Certifies Class-Action Lawsuit Against CHS

The U.S. District Court for Middle Tennessee recently certified an $891 million class action lawsuit against Community Health Systems (CHS) alleging the company provided misleading statements and omissions regarding its financial performance, the Nashville Post reports. The lawsuit, filed by Tenet Healthcare in 2011 as it faced a $7.3 billion takeover bid by the company, alleges CHS misused an in-house admissions guide to incentivize physicians to admit Medicare patients to its hospitals instead of outpatient facilities to mislead investors. The certification verifies that all persons and entities who purchased CHS common stock from July 27, 2006, through April 8, 2011, were potentially damaged by the company's fraud allegations.

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Johns Hopkins Health Policy Expert, White House Health Policy Advisor to Speak at TBA Health Law Forum

The Tennessee Bar Association’s Health Law Section has selected Johns Hopkins health policy expert and New York Times bestselling author Marty Makary, M.D., M.P.H. along with health care policy advisor Larry Van Horn as the keynote speakers for its 31st Annual Health Law Forum to take place on Oct. 17-18 in Franklin. Makary has written for The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, TIME, Newsweek and regularly appears on various news networks as a health care expert. Van Horn has advised the state of Tennessee on health policy and is currently working with the White House on issues related to price transparency in health care markets — regularly meeting with the White House, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Federal Trade Commission on the topic. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear from the preeminent voices in today’s health care sector and enjoy other exceptional programming from top players in the field. Here are the key details:

When: Oct. 17-18; registration begins at 7 a.m., CDT on Thursday, Oct. 17

Where: Embassy Suites Cool Springs, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin, TN 37067

REGISTER NOW

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