News

Hospitals Could Recoup Money After SCOTUS Decision

Hospitals that serve higher numbers of low-income patients could recoup a significant amount of money after a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court this week, the Times Free Press reports. In a 7-1 decision, the court determined that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services faltered by not allowing public comment when the department changed the way it calculates payments designed to offset the costs of treating uninsured and underinsured patients.
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Federal Judge: Judiciary Has No Authority to Enter Fight Over Border Wall Lawsuit

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ruled that he has no jurisdiction to enter the fight between President Donald Trump and the U.S. House of Representatives over the use of unappropriated funds to build a border wall, the ABA Journal reports. “This is a case about whether one chamber of Congress has the ‘constitutional means’ to conscript the judiciary in a political turf war with the president over the implementation of legislation,” U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden wrote. “While the Constitution bestows upon members of the House many powers, it does not grant them standing to hale the executive branch into court claiming a dilution of Congress’ legislative authority. The court therefore lacks jurisdiction to hear the House’s claims."
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NAR asks Judge to Dismiss Antitrust Lawsuit

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) has filed a motion to dismiss in the class-action lawsuit regarding antitrust concerns, Forbes reports. The suit, filed by Minnesota homeowner Christopher Moehrl, contends that NAR conspired with major real brokerages to inflate commissions using its Multiple Listing Services and compensation policies. NAR argues that the complaint violates Section 1 of the Sherman Act in connection with NAR rules related to the Multiple Listing Service and therefore should be dismissed. RE/MAX, Keller Williams, HomeServices of America and Realogy Holdings were also named as defendants in the case.

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CHS Faces Class Action Alleging Securities Exchange Act Violations

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Tennessee-based hospital operator Community Health Systems Inc. (CHS) alleging the company made materially false statements and failed to disclose unfavorable business dealings to investors. The suit, filed by New York-based law firm Bragar Eagel & Squire PC, maintains that by negating or misrepresenting certain facts, CHS inflated its net operating revenue to increase stock valuation. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, can be viewed here.

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Judge Issues Injunction Halting Plan to Finance Border Wall

A California federal judge last week granted a preliminary injunction which prevents the Trump administration from redirecting funds in order to pay for the construction of a border wall, The New York Times reports. Judge Haywood Gilliam of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is overseeing two lawsuits related to border wall financing, one filed by the State of California along with 19 other states and a second from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition. Both suits allege that President Trump’s attempt to fund the project without congressional approval surpasses his constitutional authority. The suit brought by the ACLU seeks to block the president from accessing Department of Defense funds and claims that the president’s emergency declaration was an abuse of power as well as a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

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U.S. Supreme Court Issues Partial Ruling Regarding Indiana Abortion Law

The Supreme Court today came to a compromise regarding facets of an Indiana abortion law that requires controlled disposal of “remains” but declined to take a position on a provision prohibiting women to opt for a procedure because of the sex, race, or prospective disability of the fetus, The Washington Post reports. Justices cited a previous ruling from 1983 maintaining that a state has a “legitimate interest in proper disposal of fetal remains,” determining that Indiana’s law is rationally related “even if it is not perfectly tailored to that end.” The court determined that it would not weigh in on the second issue until it is properly adjudicated by lower courts, noting that the 7th Circuit is the only appeals court to have considered the matter. The 7th Circuit previously ruled that provision is unconstitutional based on the fact that “nothing in the Fourteenth Amendment [of the Constitution] or Supreme Court precedent allows the state to invade this privacy realm to examine the underlying basis for a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said that they would have upheld the 7th Circuit’s decision; however, Justice Clarence Thomas dissented calling the practice “eugenic abortions.”

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PBS Frontline Project Examines SCOTUS Confirmation Battles

PBS’s Frontline series recently released Supreme Revenge, a massive project that includes more than 42 hours of interviews about the U.S. Supreme Court’s most momentous confirmation battles. The project includes filmed interviews with U.S. Senators and staff, White House advisers, leading journalists, activists and legal scholars. Thirty-nine of those testimonials have been compiled and made available for viewing on the PBS website.
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SCOTUS Sides with Native American Man Charged with Off-season Hunting

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with a Wyoming hunter charged with off-season hunting, ruling 5-4 that a 150-year-old treaty between a Native American tribe and the United States was still active and protected the man's rights, The Hill reports. Clayvin Herrera was charged in 2014 with off-season hunting, but he argued that an 1868 treaty between the U.S. and the Crow Tribe — of which he is a member — protected his ability to hunt at that time. Conservative Justice Neal Gorsuch sided with the court's liberal justices to tip the scales in Herrera's favor.
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Federal Court Refuses TVA Request to Cancel Sale of Nuclear Plant

A federal judge has refused to cancel an agreement by the Tennessee Valley Authority to sell its unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant to developer Franklin L. Haney, the Times Free Press reports. In an opinion issued this week in Huntsville, Alabama, U.S. District Court Judge Liles C. Burke declined to dismiss a lawsuit Haney brought last November against TVA for not completing the sale of Bellefonte. Haney, a former Chattanooga developer who agreed in 2016 to pay $111 million to buy the assets of the twin-reactor plant site, sued TVA when the federal utility said it couldn't sell the nuclear plant without prior approval of the license transfer from the U.S. Nuclear Regulator Commission. TVA asked the court to dismiss Haney's lawsuit, claiming that federal regulations require any nuclear plant sale to be authorized first by the NRC so TVA couldn't legally sell Bellefonte to Haney.
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Justice Department Says FDA Can't Regulate Lethal Injection Drugs

A new legal opinion from the U.S. Justice Department says the Food and Drug Administration lacks the authority to regulate drugs or other items when used in connection with the death penalty, Politico reports. The opinion could lead to more executions in the U.S. by easing the availability of drugs used to carry out lethal injections. It argues that drugs and other items intended for use in executions are not covered by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, passed in 1938 and repeatedly updated by Congress. The legal memo also says that conclusion is reinforced by so-called federalism problems that could arise from federal officials trying to enforce such regulations in a way that would frustrate state efforts to carry out executions.
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Trump Administration to Challenge Federal Courts' Ability to Issue Injunctions

Vice President Mike Pence yesterday announced that the administration will challenge the ability of federal district court judges to issue nationwide injunctions that halt policies advocated by President Trump, The Hill reports. The administration's move — aimed at pushing back at unfavorable decisions from lower courts across the country — would set the stage for a vast legal debate and battle over the role that national injunctions play in the courts. Pence said that the Trump administration has been “unfairly” targeted by injunctions issued by lower courts, saying the rulings have prevented officials from implementing policies and regulations.
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Kirk Davies Named Court Clerk for U.S. District Court for Middle District

Chief District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee announced Kirk Davies has been named clerk of court. Davies will begin May 20. Davies most recently led the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, which serves as the Department of Defense’s primary source for international legal education, training and rule of law programs.
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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Resigns

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein submitted his resignation letter to the White House today, Fox News reports. It is effective May 11. Rosenstein previously served as deputy assistant attorney general and U.S. attorney. The deputy resigned following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia. Rosenstein served as the primary liaison between the department headquarters and Mueller's office.
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U.S. Deficit Provides Boon for Bond Investments

America’s ballooning deficit may have a slight silver lining — an uptick in safe asset investments, Bloomberg reports. Industry leaders point to the fact that consumers flock to less risky, low-yield investments such as treasury bonds in volatile markets that are backed by government liabilities, which have traditionally performed well in the U.S. Though the returns on treasuries are often meager, America raises a net positive while other some developed nations recently produced negative yields.

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SCOTUS Appears Ready to Allow Citizenship Question on Census Form

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today on whether a citizenship question can be included on forms for the upcoming 2020 census, and appeared split along ideological lines, NPR reports. Based on their questions during today's oral arguments at the high court, the justices appear ready to vote 5-4 to allow the Trump administration to add the questions for next year's head count. Conservative justices say there is historical precedent for inclusion of the question, while liberal justices argue that the question will result in fewer people filling out the form. The decision matters because population counts will determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets for the next decade. The data also guides the distribution of $880 billion a year in federal funding for schools, roads and other public services.
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5 New Job Postings on TBA’s Joblink

See who is hiring in Tennessee. Recent job postings this month offer opportunities in litigation, real estate, health law and more. See full listings or post positions in your firm on TBA’s Joblink.
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Justice Thomas: No Plans to Leave Bench

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is refuting reports that he is considering retirement so that President Trump can appoint a younger justice, the ABA Journal reports. In response to a New Yorker article on that topic, Thomas, 70, told a Pepperdine University School of Law audience that he has no plans to leave the bench. In 20 years? “No,” Thomas said. In 30 years? “No,” Thomas repeated.

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Reeves Takes Oath to Become First Female Chief Judge in Eastern District

Judge Pamela Reeves took the oath of office this week in Knoxville, becoming the first female Chief Judge in the 222-year history of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Reeves was also the first female president of the Tennessee Bar Association. "I like to see myself or think of myself as just being someone who is fair and works hard,” Reeves said in an interview with Knox News. “I mean, really is there anything more that a judge can aspire to be?”

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Register Now: 31st Annual TBA Health Law Forum

Register now for the 31st Annual TBA Health Law Forum and the 19th Annual Health Law Primer to take place this October in Franklin The must-see, must-do event for Tennessee health law attorneys, this forum features timely topics designed to up your game and keep you on top of trends in the area. Presentations in this year’s program will include: cyber threats in health care, surrogate decision making, updates with TennCare, cloud-based vendor agreements, reps and warranties, legislative updates, antitrust concerns and much more. Don’t sleep on this opportunity to learn from seasoned practitioners while networking with top players in the field. Here are the key details:
 
Health Law Primer (introductory program)
When: Wednesday, Oct. 16
Where: Embassy Suites Hotel, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
 
Health Law Forum
When:  Thursday, Oct. 17 – Friday, Oct. 18
Where: Embassy Suites Hotel, 820 Crescent Centre Drive, Franklin
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Registration Now Open for TBA Convention in Nashville, June 12-15

The TBA's annual Convention returns to downtown Nashville this summer! Mark your calendars for June 12-15 and prepare for four days of CLE, networking, entertainment and more at the Renaissance Hotel, 611 Commerce Street. Registration is officially open, with early bird rates available until April 30.
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Reeves Named Chief Judge of Eastern District

U.S. District Judge Pamela L. Reeves will become the chief judge of the Eastern District of Tennessee on April 1, succeeding U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan, who has held the chief judgeship for the past seven years, The Chattanoogan reports. Reeves is the first woman to hold a district judgeship in the Eastern District of Tennessee and becomes the first woman to hold the district's chief judge position in the court's 222-year history. She was nominated to her judgeship in 2013, confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in 2014. She received her law degree from the UT College of Law in 1979, and she practiced law in Knoxville until her appointment. She served as the first female president of the Tennessee Bar Association from 1998 to 1999.
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Court Declines to Hear Discrimination Case for Now

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear a religious liberty case next term concerning Phyllis Young, a Hawaii woman who declined to rent a room in her bed & breakfast to a lesbian couple out of objections to same-sex marriage. The court’s action leaves in place a lower court opinion that found Young’s actions to be discriminatory. The state’s intermediate Court of Appeals issued the ruling but left pending any damages to be awarded. Court observers said the case was not accepted because it had not yet made its way through the lower courts to a final judgement. CNN has more on the story.
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Sixth Circuit Hears Tennessee Refugee Case

Nearly three years after state lawmakers approved a resolution directing Tennessee to sue the federal government over refugee resettlement, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on March 19, The Tennessean reports. The case in front of the court of appeals comes after Tennessee's attorney general declined to initiate the state's lawsuit and one year after a federal judge in a lower court dismissed the matter. The case dates back to 2016, when the Tennessee legislature overwhelmingly approved a resolution ordering the lawsuit. When it was filed in March 2017, Tennessee became the first state in the nation to sue the federal government regarding refugee resettlement on the grounds of violating the 10th Amendment. It is unclear when a decision on the case will be made.
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Judge Won’t Allow Unvaccinated Kids Back to School

In a New York county that’s home to the state’s worst measles outbreak in decades, a judge has refused to allow a group of unvaccinated children back to school, The Washington Post reports. Officials in Rockland County banned unvaccinated children from attending certain schools with low vaccination rates, leading parents of the unvaccinated kids to sues the county’s health department. This week, U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti denied their request, ruling it wasn’t in “public interest” to allow the children to go back to school.
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Federal Judiciary Adopts New Ethics Rules Regarding Harassment, Reporting of Misconduct

New ethics rules adopted by the federal judiciary this week make clear that sexual harassment is banned, and that judges and their employees have a reporting obligation when such conduct happens, The ABA Journal reports. The new rules state that reliable information about judicial misconduct as well as judicial disability must be reported. Unwanted, offensive or abusive sexual misconduct is banned, as is “egregious and hostile” treatment of workers. The rules also bar intentional discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, gender, gender identity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age or disability. Retaliation for reporting misconduct is prohibited. The changes were approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States and take effect immediately.
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