News

Despite Lawsuit, TVA to Meet with Roane Leaders

Tennessee Valley Authority officials were scheduled to meet today with Roane County leaders at its Kingston power plant, a move that attorney Jim Scott, who represents the county leaders, met with trepidation, Knoxnews reports. The elected officials are suing TVA and its contractor, Jacobs Engineering, alleging they knew about the health risks posed to workers hired to clean up the Kingston coal ash spill. “I hope officials at TVA involved in the attempted arrangement of this meeting with Roane County officials have discussed this thoroughly with their attorneys because I have certain issues of concern as their attorney in that action,” Scott said. TVA claims the sit down is a routine meeting with county leaders.
read more »

Fastcase 7 New Features

A new Fastcase 7 update provides highlighting for your search terms when viewing the full text of a document. Each term is highlighted with a different color so that you can see the occurrence of each item separately. You can also turn off the highlighting function for both, and each term individually by choosing the highlight dropdown option, then selecting the ‘x’ across from the term. See this and all new features of TBA’s member benefit Fastcase 7 here.

read more »

6th Circuit Rules That Nashville Family's Lawsuit Against Amazon Can Proceed

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a Nashville family’s lawsuit against Amazon, regarding a hoverboard sold by the company that caught fire and ultimately burned down their home, can proceed. The fire left two children injured as they were forced to break windows and fling themselves from the second floor. Evidence shows that Amazon was aware of complaints that the hoverboards were catching fire and exploding, and even launched an investigation that led the company to cease selling the model in question. The court affirmed that Amazon was in violation of the Tennessee Products Liability Act and Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. A trial date has not been set.
read more »

Class Action Suit Claims FedEx Downplayed Effects of Cyberattack

A new class action lawsuit claims that FedEx downplayed the effects of a cyberattack on subsidiary TNT Express, misleading investors and violating federal securities laws, the Commercial Appeal reports. The lawsuit claims FedEx pushed a positive narrative that “lacked a reasonable basis” about the ability of TNT to meet goals and retain business following a 2017 cyberattack. FedEx allegedly made misleading statements about the TNT integration that caused members of the class action to purchase FedEx stock "at artificially inflated prices."
read more »

AG Slatery Asks SCOTUS to Defend Tennessee Laws Struck Down in Federal Court

Attorney General Herbert S. Slatery III filed a petition late last week with the U.S. Supreme Court in his ongoing effort to defend a package of Tennessee legislation that places caps on damages awarded by juries in civil lawsuits, the Tennessean reports. In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down the state’s cap on punitive damages, calling it a violation of the Tennessee Constitution. The federal court ruled the state legislature has no right under the state’s constitution to usurp the authority of juries to award punitive damages. Slatery is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to step in, saying states’ rights to decide their own constitutional issues is at stake.
read more »

TBA House of Delegates Seeks to Fill 13 Open Positions

In accordance with Article 29 of the TBA Bylaws, the officers of the House of Delegates will fill 13 open positions in the House. If you would like to be considered for one of these positions, please submit a declaration of candidacy that includes your name, principal place of law practice, district of interest and contact information to TBA Executive Director Joycelyn Stevenson by July 15. Read a list of open positions here.
read more »

U.S. Soccer Federation and USWNT Players Agree to Mediation

U.S. Soccer Federation and the 28 women’s national team players who filed suit in March over pay inequity and other workplace issues have agreed to head to mediation shortly after the Women’s World Cup ends on July 7, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Wall Street Journal recently released a report that may help the players’ case. Based on audited financial statements from the federation, the report states that in the three years since the 2015 Women’s World Cup win, the women have generated nearly $1 million more in game-related revenue than the men made. Further, the lawsuit claims that between March 2013 and December 2016, women’s national team players could earn no more than $99,000 for playing and winning 20 games in one year, which is 62% less than men’s national team players would have earned in the same series.

read more »

Clarksville Disputes Ownership of Greenway Portion Where Bicycling Accident Occurred

The city of Clarksville maintains that it does not own the section of greenway where a bicycling accident occurred, which led to a personal injury lawsuit, The Leaf Chronicle reports. The plaintiff in the case maintains that she fell into a ravine after dismounting her bike to push it up a hill, and that the city was negligent by not including guardrails on elevated segments of the greenway. The city hired a surveyor to evaluate the area, and determined that the location where the fall happened is on property owned by the Advance Development Company. City attorney Lance Baker said the case may head to trial in July.

read more »

TBA Debuts New Podcast Network

The Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network launched today with the premiere of two shows-- Sidebar and BarBuzz. Sidebar is a magazine podcast featuring compelling stories from attorneys across the state. BarBuzz is a monthly rundown of TBA news and upcoming events at the local and state bar levels. Both 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. Do you have a story lead you'd like to submit for a future episode? Submit your ideas here!

read more »

Use Your Prepaid TBA CLE Credits Before Monday!

TBA members have until June 30 to use the 2018-2019 CLE credits that come with their memberships. Use the credits now to register for any TBA course taking place this summer or fall, or any online course, as long as you register by June 30. Don’t let these valuable credits go to waste! Find more information on how to use your credits, and if you haven’t done so already, remember to renew your TBA membership for the upcoming year to get more CLE credits.
read more »

Tennessee Supreme Court to Hear Case Challenging Cap on Jury Awards

The state Supreme Court this week agreed to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of a Tennessee law that requires judges to override jury awards in civil lawsuits, Knoxnews reports. The punitive damages cap law was part of the Tennessee Civil Justice Act, a package of legislation passed by the state legislature in 2011 to create a pro-business climate in Tennessee by protecting businesses from hefty damages awards in cases of civil wrongdoing. The case that brought the challenge was one of a California woman who was injured in a shop at the Nashville airport and was awarded $444,500 by a jury to cover costs and $930,000 for pain and suffering. Defense attorneys invoked the state's $750,000 damages cap to deny her the full award.
read more »

Full Upgrade to Fastcase 7 Coming July 22

The TBA will be upgrading to Fastcase 7 — the latest in legal research technology — on July 22. Start the transition by reviewing the helpful resource page to learn new and advanced research tools and view training videos and reference guides. Did you know that as a member benefit Fastcase also offers research assistance? Use the LiveChat feature located on the Fastcase website, email support@fastcase.com or call 866-773-2782, Option 2, to speak with a research attorney. 
read more »

ABA Releases Guidance for Splitting Fees in Contingency Cases When a Lawyer is Replaced

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released today Formal Opinion 487 that addresses fee splitting arrangements when a lawyer in a separate firm replaces the first counsel rather than works together on a contingency-fee case. The opinion emphasizes that a previous attorney, whose services are terminated without cause, may be entitled to a fee for services performed prior to discharge and that any proposed agreement between the initial attorney and a successor should be fully disclosed and discussed with the client. Read more at the ABA website.
read more »

Unsealed Lawsuit Shows Pharma Firm Fanned Flames of Opioid Crisis

A recently unsealed lawsuit in Knox County Circuit Court showed that from 2007 to 2014 opioid maker Endo Pharmaceuticals sold nearly a million more pills in Knoxville than in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles combined, a reality that was due to the company’s marketing and aggressive sales tactics. Knoxnews reports that Endo’s sales outpaced another opioid giant, Purdue Pharma, with tactics that included marketing directly to doctors and patients alike, targeting addicts and acknowledging pill mills that prescribed more drugs than people per square mile.
read more »

Tomorrow: Elder Law Forum 2019

The 2019 TBA Elder Law Forum will return to the illustrious ‘batman’ building in downtown Nashville on July 12. This forum offers top-notch programming, with essential information for both seasoned practitioners and attorneys interested in adding elder law to their practice. The program will feature timely topics such as updates on TennCare, uniform powers of attorney, recent changes to VA benefits, annuities, ethics and more. Don't miss this opportunity to connect with colleagues from across the state and catch up on the latest developments in this practice area. Section members receive a discount to attend the program. Here are the key details:
 
When: Friday, July 12, registration begins at 8 a.m., CDT
Where: AT&T Building – Auditorium, 333 Commerce St., Nashville 
CLE Credit: 5 General, 1 Dual
read more »

Former Rhodes Student Sues School Claiming Wrongful Charge of Violating Sexual Misconduct Policy

A former Rhodes College student claims the school's determination to hold a male student responsible for an alleged sexual assault led to him being unfairly singled out in a Title IX investigation, the Commercial Appeal reports. The former student included the allegation in a lawsuit he filed against Rhodes College in which he asked for his expulsion to be reversed, compensation for attorney fees and $5 million in damages for emotional and physical suffering. The lawsuit says the school wrongly charged the plaintiff with violating campus sexual misconduct policy, triggering his expulsion. 
read more »

Woman Reportedly Raped by a Chattanooga Police Officer Alleges Fourth Amendment Violations, Coverup

Attorneys representing a woman in a lawsuit against the city of Chattanooga who alleges former Chattanooga police officer Desmond Logan raped her filed an amended complaint on Wednesday alleging a coverup and Fourth Amendment violations, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. The updated filing contends that Logan has a history of “inappropriate sexual misconduct, including a previous rape incident” and that Chattanooga Assistant Police Chief Edwin McPherson conspired with retired Capt. Pedro Bacon to suppress records of that misconduct. At least three women maintain that they were raped by Logan since he began his law enforcement career in 2015. The city has not filed a response to the complaint and has declined to comment on the matter.

read more »

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.

read more »

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.

read more »

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Decision Regarding Application of CAFA

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday handed down a 5-4 decision in the case of Home Depot v. Jackson regarding application of the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) and an alleged scam by the company in cooperation with Citibank, and Carolina Water Systems Inc. (CWSI) over questionable credit lines used to push water purification systems. One customer who purchased the system, George W. Jackson, was sued by Citibank for unpaid debt. Jackson then filed a counterclaim against Citibank asserting class-action consumer-protection claims, further naming Home Depot and CWSI as respondents. Citibank then tried to remove the case to federal court citing the CAFA, when the lower courts and the Fourth Circuit held that a party named in a counterclaim is not a “defendant” that is entitled to remove the case under the law. Justice Thomas joined with Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan to form the majority in affirming the Fourth Circuit judgment.

read more »

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.”

read more »

Court to Consider Whether Shoplifting from Walmart Can be Considered Burglary

The Tennessee Supreme Court will consider whether shoplifting from Walmart stores more than once can be considered felony burglary instead of a shoplifting misdemeanor, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. This comes after a policy instituted by Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen in 2016, which seeks to curb multiple offenses and was adopted by several other counties in the state. The Court of Criminal Appeals recently ruled that Allen’s policy is sound, further stating that once a shoplifter has been banned from the store in writing, consent of public patronage has been revoked. Criminals Appeals Judge Camille R. McMullen wrote a dissension saying: “Unlike an individual who owns a building closed to the public, a retail store such as Walmart does not have its privacy invaded and is not terrorized or personally violated when a banned individual commits the offense of shoplifting or theft within one of its stores … by charging individuals in this way, prosecutors are creating an enhanced penalty for shoplifters and petty thieves. The court has not yet set a hearing date.

read more »

Warren, AOC Send Letter and Release Video Questioning Mnuchin’s Role in Sears Bankruptcy

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and released a video last week detailing a series of questions for Mnuchin regarding his advisory role to former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert during the downfall and eventual bankruptcy of the company, The Washington Post reports. Mnuchin was college roommates with Lampert and served on the boards of both Sears and Lampert’s hedge fund, ESL Investments. Mnuchin, Lampert and other board members have been named in a lawsuit filed last month by Sears’ unsecured creditors on behalf of Sears. The suit accuses them of transferring billions of dollars from the company, as it closed stores and cut staff, in order to benefit Lampert, his hedge fund, his real estate investment firm and other insiders. After Sears filed for bankruptcy, its two pension plans were handed over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC), overseen by Mnuchin and two other secretaries. Warren and AOC inquire into the ethical obligations and current status of Mnuchin’s recusal requirements from PBGC’s actions related to Sears. Watch the video and read the full story here.  

read more »

TBA Recap: Litigation & Appellate Forum 2019

The TBA Litigation Section recently held its annual forum on April 18 in Nashville at the Tennessee Bar Center. The section collaborated with the Appellate Section to provide CLE sessions that benefit members of both sections. The TBA would like to thank program producer and Section Chair Mary Taylor Gallagher as well as the entire executive council for their time and assistance in planning this program. 

read more »

Article Explores SLAPP Litigation in the #MeToo Era

A recent Nashville Scene feature puts a local lens on the state of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) and their deployment during the #MeToo movement. The piece follows the story of a Nashville musician accused of sexual assault who sued one of his accusers, and how anti-SLAPP legislation signed by Gov. Bill Lee this year might change such litigation in the future.
read more »