Nashville Judge Rules Against ‘Eyesore’ Scrap Metal Yard

A federal judge in Nashville ruled against the scrapyard PSC Metals in a dispute between the company and its landlord, the Nashville Post reports. The two parties disagreed over an appraisal of the property, with the landowners believing that the appraisal should take into account what the land could be worth if it was rezoned from industrial to mixed use. Mayor Megan Barry has called the scrapyard an “eyesore” and former mayors have attempted to redevelop the property in the past.
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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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Investigators May Scrutinize Durham Land Deals

Federal authorities likely will scrutinize real estate transactions involving embattled ex-lawmaker Jeremy Durham, former U.S. attorney Jerry Martin told the Tennessean last week. An analysis of property records by the paper reveals that Durham and his wife borrowed $881,800 from a local bank to finance the purchase of three plots of land and construction of three homes in Williamson County. Records also show they transferred the properties in “unusual transactions” to a Spring Hill alderman who built the homes. The Durhams could have made as much as $91,000 in profit, but the deals were not listed on any disclosure statements, the paper reports. Durham’s lawyer Peter Strianse said all real estate transactions were “completely legal and properly reported to the IRS.”

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Judge Revives Nashville’s Airbnb Law

Davidson County Circuit Judge Kelvin Jones had a change of heart last week, the Tennessean reports. Jones previously had ruled that Metro Nashville’s law regulating short-term rental properties like Airbnbs was too vague to be understood by citizens and thus unconstitutional. Metro continued enforcing the law anyway, while asking Jones to stay his decision so better regulations could be written. Last week, Jones agreed with Metro attorneys that his ruling needed to be amended to only apply to Rachel and P.J. Anderson, the couple that filed suit against the rules. That means the city can enforce the law for everyone except the Andersons.

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Opinion: Homeless Vets Lack Access to Justice

Gary Housepian with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands writes in today’s Tennessean that there are nearly 40,000 homeless veterans in America and another 1.4 million at risk of homelessness. This fact, he suggests, complicates efforts to provide legal services to veterans, who often need help with eviction and foreclosure, outstanding warrants and fines and child support issues. Housepian calls on his fellow lawyers to provide critical civil legal services and urges veterans to reach out for help.

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Administrative Law Forum Coming Next Week

The TBA will hold a CLE on administrative law Nov. 18 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Speakers will cover a wide range of topics including updates on Sunshine Laws, state contracts and real property issues such as easements, surveys, title searches and opinions, contracts, memorandums of understanding, leases and negotiations. A final panel will focus on ethics in the context of work/life balance.

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Hot Topics in Real Estate Coming Friday

This Friday the annual Hot Topics in Real Estate CLE – produced by the TBA and the Tennessee Land Title Association – will be held at the AT&T Building in downtown Nashville. The program will offer insight into commercial lending, a summary of the first year of the TILA-RESPA Integrate Disclosure Rule and an annual legislative report. Other sessions will cover advanced title issues, 1031 tax free exchanges and the recent February ALTA survey changes.

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Court May be Delaying Action on ‘Big’ Cases

The short-handed Supreme Court may be showing signs it is having trouble getting its work done, the Associated Press reports. The justices have yet to schedule three cases for arguments that were granted full review in January – an indication they may think the issues involved (separation of church and state, class-action lawsuits and property rights) will lead to a 4-4 split. "It’s much more difficult for us to do our job if we are not what we’re intended to be – a court of nine,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Monday. The justices have divided evenly in four cases since Antonin Scalia’s death last term. WRCB-TV has the story.

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ABA Releases Latest Data on Malpractice Claims

The ABA Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Professional Liability has issued its latest in a series of studies on the state of legal malpractice claims in the United States and Canada. “Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims” has tracked legal malpractice trends for 30 years. This one-of-a-kind data analysis provides attorneys and insurance analysts an in-depth look at current trends as well as comparisons to historical data. The committee chair said this year’s report shows a reduction in real estate claims (which likely stemmed from the economic crisis) but a growth in estate, trust and probate claims, which she attributes to rising numbers of retiring baby boomers.

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Regions Bank to Pay $52M in Mortgage Loan Case

Alabama-based Regions Bank has agreed to pay more than $52 million to resolve allegations that it improperly handled mortgage loans, federal officials announced this week. The bank was accused of approving mortgage loans, insured by the Federal Housing Administration, that failed to meet requirements designed to protect homeowners. As part of the settlement, Regions acknowledged it failed to follow several federal guidelines. Authorities said that as a result, the government insured hundreds of loans approved by Regions that were not eligible for mortgage insurance. WRCB-TV has the AP story.

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Bass Fights Nashville Skyscraper Plan

Bass Berry & Sims, Nashville’s largest firm, has retained another Nashville firm to help fight a proposed 40-story skyscraper downtown. Todd Rolapp, the firm's managing partner, argues that the plans for the tower “do not comport with city land-use policy,” The Nashville Business Journal reports. Metro’s Planning Commission is set later this week to decide whether to allow developers to build the $325 million project.  

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Register Today for the 135th Annual TBA Convention

Join us on June 15-18 in Nashville for the 135th Annual Convention! Registration for the 2016 TBA Convention includes:

  • free access to all TBA CLE programming;
  • the Opening Reception;
  • the Bench Bar Programming and Luncheon;
  • Law School and general breakfasts;
  • the Lawyers Luncheon;
  • the Thursday evening Joint (TBA/TLAW/TABL) Reception;
  • the Thursday night dinner and entertainment at the George Jones Museum;
  • and the Friday night Dance Party.

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Mentors in Real Estate Law Needed

The TBA Mentoring Program is looking for volunteer mentors who practice real estate law in and around the Williamson and Davidson County areas. Mentoring is the most effective way to pass along skills, knowledge and wisdom and it is critical to a new lawyer’s success. There are many new attorneys signed up for a mentor in the real estate area, but there is a shortage of mentors to match them with. 

To qualify as a mentor you must have a minimum of eight years' experience with no formal BPR investigation pending or disciplinary action imposed in the last 10 years. 

If you’re interested in signing up, please contact Kate Prince, 615-277-3202.

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Developer Sues Thompson's Station Over Permit

Shaw Enterprises is suing the town of Thompson’s Station and the town's planner for failing to issue a grading permit to the developer, the Williamson Herald reports. Shaw claims the company is losing $22,000 a month in interest costs because the company began grading the land following the project’s approval from the Planning Commission. Thompson’s Station contends the commission simply removed a condition of a tree replacement inventory and has no ability to issue a permit.

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Memphis Attorney's "Blight Fight" Featured

Next City, a nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire change in cities through journalism, profiles attorney Steve Barlow’s “blight fight” in Memphis. Barlow said he was inspired to begin tackling the city’s blight problem more than a decade ago after attending a conference put on by a national blight elimination nonprofit. He later filed the city’s first ever blight lawsuit under the state’s Neighborhood Preservation Act. “I feel like it is my job to be sure irresponsible owners are held accountable to a very high standard of property maintenance," Barlow said.

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State Denies Metro's Employment and Wage Records Requests

The Tennessean reports the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development denied two records requests by Metro Nashville officials for wage and employment data. Metro officials are seeking the information for use in its plans to create a new affordable housing policy. State attorneys argue that the data is confidential information that state labor workers cannot disclose under federal law. “We’re trying to create affordable housing where the jobs are, and for us to really understand where the jobs are, we need the most up-to-date data. And they’re not willing to share that data with us,” Metro Planning Department Executive Director Doug Sloan said.

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Digital Billboard Ruling Ends 15-Year Battle

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled a digital billboard in Brentwood must be converted back into a standard style, ending a 15-year court battle. Brentwood and Metropolitan Nashville teamed up in the lawsuit against Lamar’s Advertising. Metro initially approved construction of the billboard that sits 12-feet north of the city’s border, but then denied Lamar’s request to make the sign digital, citing it was prohibited in its zoning district. Read more from The Brentwood Homepage

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Hendersonville Attorney Faces 20 Years for Wire Fraud

Garry Christopher Forsythe, the former owner of Forsythe Title and Escrow, faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud, Hendersonville Star News reports. Forsythe, of Hendersonville, admitted to misusing more than $2.2 million in escrow funding provided by real estate buyers and lenders. His sentencing is scheduled for March 18, 2016. The Tennessee Supreme Court temporarily suspended Forsythe from the practice of law in 2009 pending the outcome of this case.

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Metro Airbnb Rule Seeks to Limit Number of Occupants

A new ordinance sponsored by Metro Nashville Councilwoman Burkley Allen would make it illegal for Airbnb and other short-term rental hosts to advertise a rental property for more occupants than is permitted. A violation of the proposed rule would result in a violator’s short-term rental permit getting revoked. “There are now probably somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 [short-term rental properties] in Nashville and I hear very few complaints,” Allen said. “The only complaints I hear are about the large [homes] that are being used for party houses.” Read more from The Tennessean.

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Court Rules Mortgage Service Had No Constitutionally Protected Interest in Land

The Tennessee Supreme Court today upheld that Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) was not entitled to prior notice of the sale of mortgaged land in Hamilton County because it did not have an interest in the land that is constitutionally protected under the Due Process Clause. Purchasers of the land borrowed money from a MERS member lender but later sold the note to another lender, who failed to pay 2006 property taxes. Hamilton County initiated tax foreclosure proceedings and did not notify MERS of the proceedings. MERS filed a lawsuit to set aside the tax sale. The Court affirmed the trial’s court judgment, saying Hamilton County was not required to give MERS notice before it sold the land. Read the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Carlton J. Ditto opinion, authored by Justice Holly Kirby.

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Multiple Real Estate Firms May be Allowed to Represent State

The state Department of General Services is asking commercial real estate brokers to offer their plans to manage the state’s office leases and will consider allowing multiple firms to represent the state government. Officials will not extend their contract with Jones Lang LaSalle, but the Chicago-based company is free to bid on the new contract. Read more from Nashville Public Radio

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New Case Added to Supreme Court Fantasy Challenge

A new case has been added to the Tennessee Supreme Court Fantasy Challenge. Learn about legal issues involving the purchase of property at a tax sale in the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc v. Carlton J. Ditto, et al case before the Supreme Court. 

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Signs for Airbnb Can Remain in Nashville Yards During Lawsuit

WZTV reports Airbnb signs can remain in Nashville yards while a couple’s lawsuit over Airbnb rules is pending, according to a circuit court judge’s ruling Friday. A Nashville couple sued the city after an ordinance went into effect earlier this year banning Airbnb signs and limiting the number of people who can rent their homes as Airbnbs while they are living out of town.

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