News

TBA to Introduce Legal Document Generation

The TBA will soon launch a new subscription-based product for Tennessee lawyers — automated legal forms. The initiative will use HotDocs, a custom documentation generator that creates form templates and speeds up the preparation process based on client and case data. In order to provide this valuable resource to our members, we hope to obtain your comments and ideas on forms you deem beneficial for replication. With across-the-board participation, we can comprise a substantive, comprehensive database where subscribers will have access to forms submitted by all TBA sections. Please send suggestions and comments to TBA Membership Director Mindy Fulks.

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February TBJ: Play Ball (in the Courtroom)!

Deliver that perfect closing pitch – on the baseball diamond if you must, but we’re talking about in the courtroom! Read this Step-by-Step Guide to Delivering the Perfect Closing Pitch, in our February issue. Also, take an inside look from two medical examiners about how a suicide determination is made. TBA President Jason Pannu addresses respecting judicial independence and the Rule of Law, and a new elder law column is introduced – “Older & Wiser,” with Kelly and Matt Frere. Read the full issue here.
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Suit Say Gatlinburg Park Rangers Guilty of ‘Reckless Neglect’ in Wildfire

In a motion filed this week in U.S. District Court, lawyers for Michael Reed, a man who lost his family during the 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires, accused the Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers of "reckless neglect” and said they “failed to comply with one mandated policy after another.” Knoxnews reports that lawyers working on behalf of the park want the lawsuit thrown out, saying fire crews need the freedom to act without fear of being sued or second-guessed later.
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Federal Judge Releases Injunction Regarding TennCare Application Hearings

U.S. District Judge William Campbell Jr. recently released Tennessee’s Medicaid program from a 2014 injunction requiring hearings for people whose applications were not processed in a timely manner, The Associated Press reports. The lawsuit maintained that thousands of TennCare applicants were left in limbo because of a software design flaw, which led to long delays in processing. The plaintiffs asked for a permanent injunction, arguing that the organization’s system is still not fully functional. In his ruling, Campbell said that "the law does not require that a state Medicaid agency implement a flawless program,” and that applicants will continue to receive hearings when delays occur, without the necessity of a court order. The required timeframe for processing Medicaid applications is 45 days or 90 days for those based on a disability.
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Defendants Ask for Dismissal of Lawsuit Involving Stalking by Dickson Police

Defendants in a lawsuit in which two former Dickson Police Officers sued the city, alleging that they were “routinely followed and stalked” after being fired, are asking that the case be thrown out, The Tennessean reports. The dispute stems from the dismissal of Robert Peeler and Justin Walton, former officers with the department who were sacked for their handling of an altercation outside of a local restaurant and evidence tampering — for which they were ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor. The defendants, Dickson Police Assistant Chief Seth Lyles and Capt. Todd Christian, maintain that any observations of Peeler and Walton took place in public places and that no constitutional violation occurred because there was no “search,” therefore the plaintiff's claim of invasion of privacy is unsubstantiated. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and District Attorney's office in the 17th Judicial District investigated the allegations made by Peeler and Walton, and determined that there was no reason to pursue charges on the matter.
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U.S. Supreme Court Considers Case Involving Tennessee Liquor Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments in Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, considering whether states can pass laws with resident restrictions regarding the issuance of liquor licenses, Forbes reports. The dispute involves a family that owns a mom-and-pop liquor store, who moved to Tennessee from Utah and attempted to bring their business with them. Current Tennessee law requires license applicants to live in the state for at least two years. Additionally, the license expires in one year, and renewal requires residency of 10 consecutive years, effectively barring new Tennesseans from opening these types of businesses, which detractors claim stifles new business in favor of existing competitors. The Tennessee Alcohol and Beverage Commission recommended approving the license and declined to enforce the rule, leading the association to sue. The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision sometime this spring.

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Tennessee Congressman Files Lawsuit Against Nashville Over MLS Stadium

A nonprofit led by newly elected U.S. Rep. John Rose, R-Cookeville, that operates the annual Tennessee State Fair sued Metro Nashville earlier this month seeking an injunction to halt construction of the city's new Major League Soccer stadium at the fairgrounds, the Tennessean reports. Tennessee State Fair Association argues that plans for the new MLS stadium do not leave sufficient space and structures for the state fair, which is a protected use in the Metro Charter. Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle in November denied a similar injunction request in a separate lawsuit filed by fairgrounds supporters that argued flea markets wouldn't be able to co-exist with the stadium.
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Judge Orders TVA Contractor Negotiate with Sickened Kingston Coal Ash Spill Workers

A federal judge is ordering a TVA contractor accused in the nation’s first and largest case of mass poisoning by coal ash to sit down at the bargaining table with sickened workers, Knoxnews reports. Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan on Friday ordered Jacobs Engineering into mediation in a toxic tort lawsuit filed on behalf of the hundreds of blue-collar laborers who were sickened — some fatally — after unprotected long-term exposure to the 7.3 million tons of coal ash that spilled from a dike at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County a decade ago. Jacobs was the firm placed in charge of the clean up process by TVA.
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6th Circuit Panel Strikes Down Tennessee's Punitive Damage Cap

A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled in a recent decision that a 2011 Tennessee law that caps punitive monetary damages in civil lawsuits is unconstitutional, The Times Free Press reports. The ruling strikes at a provision in the 2011 Tennessee Civil Justice Act, which sharply curtailed monetary damages, including punitive damages. A spokesperson for the Tennessee Attorney General's office said the state is reviewing whether to appeal or not.
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Tennessee Supreme Court Clarifies Law Regarding Releases From Liability

The Tennessee Supreme Court has revised the factors for courts to consider when deciding the enforceability of a release of liability signed by someone before participating in an activity or obtaining a service. In a case brought by Frederick Copeland against medical transport company MedicOne Medical Response Delta Region Inc., in which Copeland, after signing an agreement releasing MedicOne from liability, was injured while getting into one of the company's vans. Copeland sued, but a lower court and an appeals court both found the released enforceable. However, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that the release was not enforceable because Copeland did not have equal bargaining power with MedicOne when he signed the release, the language of the release was unclear and overly broad, and the release involved an activity with important public interest implications. Read Justice Sharon Lee's unanimous opinion.

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Forrest Descendants Sue Memphis Over Statue

The descendants of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest have filed a lawsuit against the City of Memphis, demanding the return of a statue of him that was removed late last year, The Commercial Appeal reports. The descendants want the city to pay for the return of the statue to a location of their choosing, as well as return "all pedestal, base, burial vault, copper caskets, and the earthly remains of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest." They want an unspecified amount in compensatory damages for the "embarrassment, humiliation, and mental anguish caused by the defendants."
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Federal Judge Rules School Not Legally Responsible for Students' Safety in Mass Shooting

A federal judge in Miami has dismissed a lawsuit filed by 15 students present during the Valentine’s Day shooting at their school in Parkland, Florida, The ABA Journal reports. U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom ruled last week that school and sheriff’s officials had “no legal duty” to protect the students. Among those named in the suit are officials at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the Broward County sheriff’s office. Bloom said the students’ suit arises from the actions of the shooter, rather than a state actor.
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Join Us Today: LAW TECH

Today's the day! Discover the newest technology for your law practice and law office at this year's Law Tech Blast at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville!

The flexible open house format allows you to create your own schedule. You can attend CLE sessions, enter to win prizes, network with attendees, visit with sponsors and interact with speakers. Take as many or as few CLE hours as you need. Only those seeking to be awarded CLE Credit will be charged. The registration desk will be open all day, so you can come and go for the hours you need when it is convenient for you. Attendees can earn up to 6.5 hours of Dual CLE credit.

CLE TOPICS:
  • GDPR, Cloud and Technological Competency
  • The Bill and Phil Tech Show 2019: BEAT THE CLOCK
  • Best Practices: Information Security for Firms
  • Judicial Panel: Technology in the Courtroom
  • Know When to Hold 'Em
  • Digital Evidence – A Technical Life Raft for the Legal Mind
  • Make it Rain: Ethics Guidelines and Practice Essentials

ATTEND TO WIN: Attendees will have a chance to win prizes, including an iPad Pro. The tech prize drawing will be held at the 10:30 a.m. break. Must be present to win.

TAKE A LYFT: TBA has partnered with Lyft to offer attendees a discounted ride.

  • New to Lyft?: Get $5 off 2 rides at http://lyft.com/i/lawtech5 or download the app and enter code LAWTECH5
  • Already Have Lyft?: Save 10% off 2 rides to or from Law Tech Blast with code LAWTECH

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS & EXHIBITORS:


 

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Give the Gift of TBA Membership

Give yourself (or a friend) the gift that keeps giving — one-year of unlimited access to professional development opportunities and a number of programs and services designed to help you become a better practitioner. Founded in 1881, the Tennessee Bar Association is dedicated to enhancing fellowship among members of the state's legal community. Oh, and did we mention some of the benefits? Earn three pre-paid credits to use on any live or online course featured in the 12-days of CLE. Join now!

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Lawyers in Equifax Data Breach Case Want Material Surrendered to Congress

Attorneys suing Atlanta-based credit bureau Equifax in a massive class action stemming from the firm’s 2017 data breach want documents and witness statements the company turned over to Congress, Law.com reports. Plaintiffs counsel is seeking the information because the rules in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia generally preclude discovery until after a judge has ruled on motions to dismiss. As a result, once defendant parties move to dismiss a case, little or no discovery occurs until after the court rules. The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a majority report Tuesday that concluded the data breach that exposed personal and financial data of an estimated 148 million consumers was preventable.
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LexisNexis Launches Legal Analytics Tool

LexisNexis has launched a new legal analytics tool, Context, that provides sortable data on federal judicial decisions, Legaltech News reports. Available as an added purchase in the Lexis Advance suite, Context can provide data specific to judges, including favored citations and motion outcomes. Additionally, the tool has sortable data on 380,000 expert witnesses who appeared in federal court. 

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Best Twitter Accounts for Legal Issues

Looking for some great social media follows? The American Bar Association is out with its list of best legal Twitter accounts of 2018. Included for the first time this year is @inspiredcat, the account of Vanderbilt Law School professor Cat Moon. Members can also always keep up locally with the TBA at our Twitter accounts, @TennesseeBar, @TennBarJournal or @TBAYLD.

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December CLE in 6 Cities

TBA offers CLE in six locations during December. See offerings in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, Johnson City and Jackson. Find last-minute by the hour through Dec. 31 or take any of the TBA's online CLE packages.
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Nashville Police Officer Files Suit Claiming City Retaliated Over Her Rape Accusation

A Nashville police officer filed a federal discrimination lawsuit Friday against the Metro Nashville government and a police department commander, alleging the government and commander retaliated against her after she accused another officer of sexually assaulting her. The Tennessean reports that Officer Monica Blake’s lawsuit also claims that Commander Janet Pardue discriminated against her by dealing a more severe punishment to Blake than what was given to other white, male officers for the same infraction.
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Suit: Pain Clinics Duped Government, Military out of Millions

Federal prosecutors have accused a chain of pain clinics in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia of duping the government and the military out of millions of dollars by forcing patients to receive unnecessary injections into their back, then intentionally mislabeling the injections during billing, the Tennessean reports. A lawsuit filed against Franklin-based Pain MD clinics and parent company MedManagement, or MMi, alleges that the MMi company culture pressured medical staff to inject patients as often as possible in an effort to inflate profits.

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Mark Your Calendars!

Sevier County Man Faces Trial for Deputy's Panic Attack

In the first case of its kind in Tennessee, a Sevier County man will stand trial Wednesday on charges he caused a deputy’s panic attack, Knoxnews reports. Brian Mullinax was unarmed and facedown on the ground several yards from the law enforcement officer during an incident in December 2016, for which he now faces assault charges. The officer, former Sevier County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Justin M. Johnson, fired his gun in Mullinax's neighborhood minutes before the panic attack allegedly occurred. Johnson was forced to resign earlier this year after an investigation uncovered the details of his past firing from a police agency for fanning his gun over the head of an officer, lying to his chief, hitting his wife and threatening his mistress.
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Ex-Pilot President Denied Christmas Break Before Starting Fraud Sentence

A request from convicted Pilot Flying J former President Mark Hazelwood that he have until after Christmas to begin serving his 12 ½ years in prison for fraud has been denied, Knoxnews reports. "If the court attempted to set (prison) dates that did not conflict with any religious holidays, it would be unable to set any dates at all," U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier said. "Easter, the most important Christian religious holiday, would come just a few short months after Christmas." Hazelwood was convicted in a scheme to rip off small trucking companies of more than $50 million.

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New Videos Available

Need a few CLE hours? Several presentations from this year's Litigation and Appellate Forum are now available online. Take a look at the list below and view one today!

New E-Filing Process and its Impact on Tennessee Rules - Jim Hivner, Clerk of the Tennessee Supreme Court, will discuss the new E-filing process in the Appellate courts and its impact on Tennessee rules.

Open Courts - Judge Brandon Gibson discuss the importance of openness and transparency in the court system and the presumption of openness of government records. 

Oral Argument Preparation Panel - This panel discusses perfecting your appeal before the trial even ends. You will hear about tips and techniques used by some of the most experienced trial lawyers in Tennessee.

Perspectives from the Bench - This presentation will help you the next time you appear in Federal court.

Taking and Defending Effective Depositions - In this presentation you will learn the techniques to successfully take or defend a deposition to your greatest advantage.

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Lawsuit Claims Knox Commissioner Abused Special Needs Student

A lawsuit filed just before the school year claims that Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill physically and psychologically abused a student with special needs in 2017, Knoxnews reports. The student’s parents are suing Gill, Knox County, the Knox County Board of Education, Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas and the South-Doyle Middle School Principal Andrew Brown. An attorney representing the family said each party has "agreed to stay the proceedings pending a mediation to explore a resolution of all claims."
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