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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1-Click CLE Packages

Gain fast and easy access to annual updates with TBA's 1-Click options. Each package is listed by practice area. Updates included best practices, legislation, ethical consideration and practice tips.
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TBA Weekly Legislative Update

The Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives are back in session and are referring newly introduced bills to the appropriate committees, which are primarily holding organizational meetings this week. The deadline for filing all legislation is Feb. 6, so there will be a flood of bills introduced over the next two weeks. The TBA Governmental Affairs Team will be reviewing all bills and begin the process of forwarding the legislation affecting the practice of law to the appropriate Section Executive Councils for review and feedback. Stay tuned for more info.
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Creditors File Motion Challenging Lampert’s Bid for Sears

Attorneys representing Sears’ unsecured creditors filed a motion last week challenging Sears Holdings chairman Eddie Lampert’s $5.2 billion bid to buy the company, USA Today reports. The creditors’ committee claims to have uncovered facts that demonstrate misconduct committed by Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments, which contributed to the retailer’s downfall. The bid needs final approval from a bankruptcy judge at a hearing currently slated for Feb. 1. Sears maintains that the sale will prevent liquidation and preserve 45,000 jobs; however, the creditors allege that the deal is part of a pattern that enriches Lampert by acquiring the company at a discounted rate. The court filing claims Lampert engaged in two controversial and complex financial transactions in which he acted as both lender and borrower. One of those deals occurred in 2015; 235 of the most valuable Sears store properties were transferred to the real estate investment trust Seritage Growth Properties, where Lampert is the biggest shareholder and chairman. According to a public filing, in 2017, Sears paid Seritage $109 million in rent, $43 million in expenses and $35 million in lease termination fees. The creditors would like to recover the value of the properties transferred to Seritage. ESL stated that all business transactions involving Sears were done in good faith and on fair terms with the approval of the Sears Board of Directors.

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Sears Closures Add Millions of Square Feet to Commercial Real Estate Market

Beleaguered retail behemoth Sears is considering liquidation, which would add an estimated millions more square feet of unused commercial space nationwide, Forbes reports. Since it announced bankruptcy last October, Sears has either closed or plans to close 260 of its 700 retail locations. In 2015, Sears Chairman and former CEO Eddie Lampert created the real estate investment trust Seritage Growth Properties, seeking to capitalize on the real estate value of Sears’ holdings; however, there is no indication if this was done in light of bankruptcy considerations. 

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Metro Council Approves Infrastructure Funding for Nashville Yards Development

The Metro Nashville Council recently voted to grant preliminary approval for $15.2 million earmarked towards road, sewer and other infrastructure needs around the Nashville Yards project which will be home to Amazon’s HQ2, The Tennessean reports. The move also approves participation, easement and license agreements between Metro and Uptown Property Holdings, the building group in charge of development. Council member Kathleen Murphy — one of only three detractors — denounced the city’s interest in the infrastructure plan, saying that it was just "another incentive" for Amazon and that the money would be better spent on other projects throughout the city. The council will make its final decision regarding the infrastructure reimbursement on Feb. 5.

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Oak Ridge Intends to Break Ground on Regional Airport Within Next Couple of Years

The much-anticipated Oak Ridge airport moves closer to reality, with city leaders hoping to break ground on the project within the next couple of years, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Since 2009, the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority has maintained the need for a general aviation airport in the city because of population growth in the area, and increased business travel needs from places like Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Coqui Pharmaceuticals Corp. Though Oak Ridge has seen plans for an airport come and go over the years, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said that this plan "has legs.” It calls for a 5,000-foot runway, a partial parallel taxiway and approximately 40 hangars on the 171 acres of land acquired from the U.S. Department of Energy on the former K-25 uranium enrichment facility site.

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Real Estate Investments Safer than Other Sectors in Flailing Market

Real estate fund investments remain relatively stable despite a mercurial stock market, The New York Times reports. As the S&P 500 plunged 13.52 percent in the fourth quarter, FTSE Nareit All Equity R.E.I.T.s Index — the leading index of publicly traded real estate investment trusts — lost only 6.1 percent, marking a 4 percent loss for the entirety of 2018, compared to an S&P 500 loss of 4.4 percent, including dividends, for the same period. The sector has achieved comparative stability through tangible assets, banking on office buildings, malls and warehouses.

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Estate Planning & Probate Forum 2019

The 2019 Estate Planning & Probate Forum provides six hours of CLE, including an hour of dual credit. It will focus on timely, relevant topics to help you stay on top of trends affecting this area of law. Legislative updates and the ever-popular Clerk and Masters Panel will ensure that you leave with the knowledge necessary to advance your practice. Make a plan to join us on Feb. 22.

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Federal Judge Rules in Favor of TVA in Eminent Domain Dispute

U.S. District Court Judge Harry "Sandy" Mattice on Friday rejected a challenge to the Tennessee Valley Authority's plans to erect a transmission line through farmland in south Meigs County to help supply power for a new $300 million load control center, The Times Free Press reports. Mattice ruled that TVA was within its legal right in its order of possession issued to Greg Vital to enter his property in preparation for seeking a right-of-way for the power line route. Vital is the president and CEO of Morning Pointe Senior Living and owner of hundreds of acres of land near Georgetown.
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Nashville Airbnb Host Sues Metro Government After Permit Revocation

An Airbnb host who had her permit revoked after Metro Codes found that it errantly issued more than 100 to property owners who did not meet certain requirements for short-term rentals is now suing the Metro Nashville government, The Tennessean reports. The rule in question stipulates that residential property owners in two-family units must live in one of the units and own both properties in order to operate as a short-term rental. Barbara Culligan argues that the revocation "will cause irreparable harm, damage to goodwill, and harm for which money damage cannot fully and adequately compensate." Her attorney is seeking a temporary injunction to halt the cancellation.

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UT Studies How Municipalities Address Changing Street Names that Honor Controversial Figures

Two University of Tennessee researchers are studying how local governments treat requests involving name changes for streets termed after controversial historical figures, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Geography professor Derek Alderman and geography Ph.D. candidate Jordan Brasher, using Tulsa, Okla., as a study model, found that cities "don't want to inconvenience or disrupt business," which could delay the renaming process, and contend that "cities tend to put economic development and convenience and practicality over really repairing the wounds and really trying to do justice." Alderman said he feels that more public participation when selecting street names could help alleviate some of these issues. 

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AARP Foundation Files Federal Class Action Suit Against Reverse Mortgage Provider

The AARP Foundation — through its litigating arm, AARP Foundation Litigation — has filed a class action lawsuit in federal court alleging that reverse mortgage provider Live Well Financial Inc. improperly paid the property taxes of customers with Home Equity Conversion Mortgages before the taxes were due, then demanded repayment out of homeowners’ personal funds under the threat of foreclosure. The complaint maintains that the company failed to provide the required notice to the mortgage holder regarding prepayment of taxes and in fact had no contractual or other legal authority to do so. Also named in the suit are Celink and Reverse Mortgage Funding LLC.

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Memphis Proposes Registry for Rental Properties

The City of Memphis has plans for a real property registry intended to monitor and track rental properties, compile data and make focused decisions regarding allocation of resources to those that have a history of code violations, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The registry would require landlords to have a local, registered agent to consult regarding code violations and other matters in attempts to prevent blight and ensure accountability from property owners. This would be the first step for the city’s 3.0 comprehensive land-use plan, with prospective tax changes and other affordable housing measures on the horizon.

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Metro Council to Consider Development Incentives Proposal

A Metro Nashville Council proposal would link economic and community development incentives to investment and support for affordable housing. Councilmember Fabian Bedne has introduced a bill which would require Metro to make matching payments to the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing when awarding incentive grants to companies seeking to relocate to the city, The Nashville Post reports. According to the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development, total incentive grants in the 2018 fiscal year were $1.53 million. The bill is set to be considered at next week's Metro Council meeting. 

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All Civil Cases Involving U.S. Attorneys in West Tennessee Stayed Due to Shutdown

Due to the federal government shutdown, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee issued an order today staying "all proceedings in civil cases where the U.S. Attorney is counsel of record" until Congress restores its funding. Watch websites for the Middle District of Tennessee and the Eastern District of Tennessee for updates from those courts.

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Webcasts: Transactional Practice Series (Parts 1 and 2)

New for 2018! Every lawyer experiences transactional law at some point in the year, and this all-in-one online video series features up to six dynamic hours of valuable content providing lawyers in various areas of the law with the information, tools, and tips needed to successfully handle transactional, traditional business, and probate matters. Perfect for General, Solo, Small Firms, Real Estate Law, Entertainment Law, Health Law, Business Law, Bankruptcy Law or Young Lawyers Division attorneys. Earn up to five general (online) CLE hours and one dual (online) hour. Part 1: Earn up to 3 general (online) CLE hoursPart 2: Earn up to 2 general and 1 dual (online) CLE hours.

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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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Casino Planned for Tennessee, Virginia Border

Private investors intend to convert a failing Bristol, Virginia, shopping mall into a casino, resort and convention center, The Business Journal reports. The city built The Falls shopping center with taxpayer dollars in hopes to compete with the booming retail sector of its sister city in Tennessee, adding $48 million to the city’s debt and creating a heavy bond-debt. Investors believe the project will be a boon to the local economy, creating somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 jobs in the area. The total conversion is expected to cost $300 million to $400 million.

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Downtown Memphis Development Board Approves First TIF Property

The Center City Revenue Finance Corp., a state-chartered industrial development board in Memphis, recently approved its first tax increment financing initiative, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The Union Row project will develop around 800 apartments, 200 hotel rooms and 460,000 square feet of mixed-use office and retail space in a location between South City and Downtown. Construction is set to start in June 2019, with the first phase scheduled for completion by June 2021.

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Meigs County Landowners Fight TVA Land Access

A Meigs County landowner is fighting back on TVA’s plans to run a high-voltage transmission line across his property, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Georgetown farmer Greg Vital has filed a suit contesting U.S. District Court Judge Sandy Mattice's grant of a temporary easement allowing access to several properties to survey potential tower sites for the transmission line, which will serve the organization's new 185,000-square-foot power control center in Chattanooga. TVA maintains that it chose the rural Meigs County site to provide greater security and make it less vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse attacks or other potential threats to TVA's power grid.

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FTC Says Americans Spent $100 Million on Belize Real Estate Scam

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed suit on what it alleges is a $100 million real-estate investment scam targeting Americans who wish to retire abroad, The Wall Street Journal reports. Belize’s Atlantic International Bank was selling parcels in a remote jungle area — which the bank said would become a luxury resort community — and reportedly pocketing the investors’ money. Several investors sued the developers in 2016, however, their Belizean attorney was fatally shot in his home, which local authorities labeled a suicide. The project operated under various names over a span of 13 years and involved more than 1,000 investors.

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Nashville Passes Ordinance Limiting Use of Proceeds From Property Sales

The Nashville Metro Council voted 34-0 last week to prohibit the sale of real property owned by Metro government to pay for city operating expenses, the Tennessean reports. Mayor David Briley had proposed the sale of three Metro properties in June, with the proceeds going to the 2018-19 city budget, however, those sales did not materialize. Under the new ordinance, revenue from the sale of city-owned properties will go toward paying off the city’s debt.

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Farm Owners Prepare to Fight TVA Over Access to Land for Meigs County Power Center

Farm owners have hired legal representation and are preparing for a fight after a federal judge signed an order giving the Tennessee Valley Authority access to several farms along the route to a planned $300 million power center in Meigs County, The Chattanoogan reports. Judge Sandy Mattice's order says the farm lands "are deemed to be condemned and taken for the use of the United States" with compensation to be determined for the owners. The farm owners say they have only had a few months notice of the taking, but that TVA has been planning it for several years.
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