News

7 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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Brentwood Based Assisted-Living Conglomerate Sued by Residents

The nation’s largest assisted-living provider, Brentwood-based Brookdale Senior Living Inc., is being sued by eight disabled and elderly residents who claim the company is responsible for financial abuse and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Mercury News reports. The plaintiffs maintain in the complaint that the organization failed to provide services listed in its initial agreement and fostered “humiliating, frustrating and hazardous situations on a daily basis.” The provider is no stranger to the courtroom, being party to numerous lawsuits over the years, including one case in which an elderly resident was killed by an alligator. The lawsuit will seek class-action status for the estimated 5,000 residents in Brookdale facilities throughout California.

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Man Sues Rutherford County Adult Detention Center After Fall From Bunk

A man who is paralyzed after falling off the top bunk while incarcerated in the Rutherford County Adult Detention Center is now suing the institution for negligence, The Daily News Journal reports. Nicholas Parks maintains that jail staff made him sleep on the top bunk despite his protestations and detailed medical history. Court filings show that Rutherford County plans to ask for dismissal of the lawsuit. Parks’ attorney, Tommy Santel, did not return the paper’s request for comment.

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Legal Battle Over Toxic Waste in Tennessee Town Heats Up

A rural community in west Tennessee continues its fight against a waste management company regarding a toxic substance that has polluted area water sources and devastated local vegetation, USA Today reports. In 1999, the town of Bath Springs contracted North Carolina corporation Waste Industries to assume operations of its landfill that was used for local waste in Decatur County. Subsequently, under new management, the landfill began to accept “special waste” characterized as being "difficult or dangerous" to contain, which is more profitable than household trash but when exposed to elements excretes an ooze called leachate that finds its way into the soil and ultimately the water supply. Waste Industries later announced plans to abandon the landfill and sued the county, maintaining the municipality was derelict in its responsibilities to “to provide for the disposal and treatment of the leachate” and is in breach of the initial agreement. The county filed its own lawsuit against Waste Industries, alleging violations of federal clean air and water acts. The lawsuit against the county is scheduled for a status conference on May 10 in Tennessee Western District Court, Judge S. Thomas Anderson presiding.

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TSC Rules Companies Cannot Depreciate Labor Costs in Insurance Payments for Property Damage

In addressing a certified question from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, the Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that insurance companies cannot depreciate labor costs in insurance payments for property damage. In Lammert et al. v. Auto-Owners (Mutual) Insurance Company, the court determined that the language of the insurance policies in question were susceptible to two or more reasonable interpretations on whether labor costs could be depreciated. Under Tennessee law, when an insurance policy is ambiguous, the policy is construed against the insurance company as the author of the policy.
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This Thursday: Litigation & Appellate Forum

It's not too late to join your colleagues for the 2019 Litigation Forum on April 18. This year’s event will include a Magistrate Judges panel, a session on social media in client intake, a review of the Business Court and much more. Earn up to four hours of general CLE and one ethics hour.
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Lawsuit Claims Murfreesboro Facility at Fault for Man’s Burning Death

The family of a man who was burned alive at a veteran’s affairs facility is suing multiple people associated with the facility, the Daily News Journal reports. John Daniels Carothers was arrested and accused of murdering Robert "Bobby" Miller," a black man, and later sent a letter to a white supremacist group admitting to the crime. Robert Miller Jr. and Vernice Miller are suing multiple people after the March 2018 death of their son, including Ida Frazier and Annie Young, sisters and co-owners of Frazier Young Supportive Living. The wrongful death suit names employees of the facility, Carothers and Ten Broeck Healthcare, a private mental health institution in Cookeville that placed Miller and Carothers in the Frazier Young residence.
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Lawsuit Claims Smyrna Employee Hit Inmate with Van on Purpose

A new federal lawsuit claims a Smyrna city employee hit a workhouse inmate with his van to encourage the man not to "lag behind," the Daily News Journal reports. The lawsuit, filed on March 15, says that Travis Wagner, who is employed by the Smyrna Streets Department, purposefully hit Rutherford County Correctional Work Center inmate Taylor Ross Jacobs with his van. Jacobs is seeking $175,000 from Wagner and $150,000 from the Smyrna Street Department because, according to the lawsuit, it knew of "Travis' abuse towards inmates and continue to let him supervise them."
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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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Purdue Pharma, Oklahoma Reach Settlement, Praised by AG Slatery

Oklahoma has reached a landmark settlement with Purdue Pharma regarding its role in the opioid crisis, The Washington Post reports. This is the first such settlement in the more than 1,600 lawsuits faced by the drug maker, including the case in Tennessee where Knox County Circuit Court Judge Kristi M. Davis struck down Purdue’s motion for dismissal. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery released a statement praising the action and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to holding Purdue and other manufacturers accountable for possible violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. In the Oklahoma settlement, Purdue will pay $102.5 million to establish a new foundation for addiction treatment and research, provide $20 million worth of treatment drugs and cover about $60 million in litigation costs.
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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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Teacher Awarded $1.7 Million in Lawsuit with Oak Ridge Schools

John Edward Anderson III, a teacher who sued Oak Ridge Schools in federal court, was awarded more than $1.7 million by a jury this week, the Columbia Daily Herald reports. Anderson sued the school district and its head administrators for wrongful termination, breach of contract, defamation, lack of due process and an invasion of his privacy. Anderson retired from the Oak Ridge district in 2015 amid a series of allegations, which related to the sleeping arrangements of a high school track trip that had upset parents.  
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Lawsuit Claims Vandy Doctors Operated on Wrong Kidney

A woman sued Vanderbilt University Medical Center today, alleging the hospital operated on her wrong kidney during a surgery — a mistake so rare and preventable that medical experts call it a "never event," The Tennessean reports. Carla Miller claims that Vanderbilt doctors were supposed to implant a small mesh tube extending from her left kidney through her urinary system to her bladder during a surgery. Instead, doctors mistakenly implanted the tube in her right kidney, then ran it through the wrong half of her body. Miller’s lawsuit asks for more than $25 million in damages.
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Family Considers Lawsuit Regarding Man's Death in Lincoln Co. Jail

The state medical examiner’s office has ruled the manner of death for the man who died after a fight with guards at the Lincoln County Jail a homicide, the Elk Valley Times reports. William Barnard Hawk died from traumatic asphyxia — suffocation by intense compression of the chest — last September and was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center where it was documented that Hawk suffered from head trauma, facial injuries and a broken nose because of the incident. No charges have yet been filed regarding Hawk’s death, however, the lawyer who is representing Hawk’s daughter said that they are considering filing a wrongful death and civil rights violations lawsuit.

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Pain Management Conglomerate with Tennessee Clinics Facing Several Lawsuits

A pain management conglomerate with clinics in Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina that was raided late last year by the FBI is now facing several lawsuits, The Charlotte Observer reports. Investigators say that the Pain Management Associates of the Carolinas liberally dispensed unnecessary opioids to patients without proper evaluation, with a former employee going further, accusing the company of completing the evaluations as a “mere formality” and that it would see patients for just a couple minutes, then bill Medicare at a higher rate. The company also goes by FirstChoice Healthcare and Oaktree Medical Centre.

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Company Will Pay Over $2 Million for Role in Volkswagen Scandal

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced that Bosch, the company that facilitated the implementation of the defeat device software in more than 600,000 Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler vehicles, will pay the State of Tennessee $2,291,760 in consumer and environmental civil penalties. The agreement also includes precedent-setting injunctive terms and requires Bosch to maintain robust processes to monitor compliance and to refuse to accommodate requests for software development and programming that could result in the installation of defeat device software. Under the multistate agreement involving Tennessee and 49 other jurisdictions, Bosch will pay a total of $98.7 million in civil penalties.
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Legislative Update - Pace Picks Up at General Assembly

Legislative activity continued to increase last week, with full committee calendars that included both bills and budget presentations of executive branch agencies. Additionally, some committees already have their projected end dates in sight as leadership continues to target an early May adjournment. The overall level of legislative activity will increase even more next week, as the bulk of legislation for 2019 will have its fate determined in the next four weeks. 
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LGBT Law Annual Forum 2019

Register now for the TBA LGBT Law Annual Forum to take place on June 21 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Timely topics for this year’s program will include laws concerning conversion therapy, an inside look at Vanderbilt’s Clinic for Transgender Health, ethical considerations regarding discrimination and employment law, ending the day with an LGBT community advocacy panel open to the public. The forum will be held in conjunction with the 2019 Nashville Pride Festival, allowing attendees to take advantage of the fun and activities surrounding the celebration. Don’t miss what guarantees to be an insightful forum and one of the nation’s premier Pride festivals! Here’s the key info:
 
When: Friday, June 21, registration begins at 11 a.m., CDT
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville
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Federal Lawsuit Claims La Vergne Mayor Retaliated Against Employee Who Complained of Discrimination

A new federal lawsuit says La Vergne City Mayor Jason Cole refused to let an assistant city recorder work after she made complaints of sex discrimination and unequal pay, The Daily News Journal reports. April Lawrence, a five-year city employee, says she was placed on administrative leave after sending a 30-page complaint to Cole and other city leaders. She had previously met with the director of human resources in an attempt to address the perceived problems. The lawsuit says Cole and the city are violating the Equal Pay Act and Fair Labor Standards Act. Lawrence wants a jury trial, back pay and other fees a jury deems necessary.
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Man Accuses Chattanooga Police Department of a Cover-Up Regarding Beating

A lawsuit was filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court on Monday accusing the Chattanooga Police Department of a cover-up regarding the beating of a man last year during a traffic stop, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Benjamin Piazza pulled over Fredrico Wolfe for speeding and said that Wolfe tossed bags of drugs from his car, then struggled as he was being arrested. Wolfe’s attorney, Robin Flores, maintains that footage of the incident does not match Piazza's story, stating that "in his attempt to cover-up his criminal and unconstitutional conduct, later wrote false claims in an affidavit of complaint, which he swore under oath, in order to bring [now-dismissed] charges against the plaintiff,” and that the department suppressed knowledge of body camera footage on the incident. City Attorney Phil Noblett told the paper that he had been served a copy of the complaint this week but had not yet read the claims. The plaintiff is seeking $3 million in damages

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Advocates Submit Amicus Briefs Requesting Juliana v. United States Proceed to Trial

Plaintiffs in the case Juliana v. United States have filed 15 amicus briefs with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the lawsuit, requesting that the case proceed to trial. Briefs were submitted on behalf of a diverse group of supporters, including U.S. Congress members, legal scholars, religious and women’s groups, businesses, historians, medical doctors, international lawyers and environmentalists. The case was originally set for trial on October 29, 2018, however, the court granted the Trump administration an interlocutory appeal. Oral arguments for the appeal are set for June 3. You can view the briefs submitted using this link.

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Tort, Insurance and Appellate Practice Forum Set for March 21

The TBA Tort and Insurance and Appellate Practice sections are presenting a joint forum with six hours of CLE, offering essential and practical material for tort and insurance attorneys and appellate updates from seasoned practitioners in that arena. The program will address the intangibles of litigating against an insurance company and highlight recent updates in medical malpractice law designed to keep you on top of trends and developments in this field. An interactive judicial panel and a focused dive into attorney well-being will round out the day. This event will take place at the Tennessee Bar Center, a change from its previously announced location at the AT&T Building.
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Knox Co. Judge Rejects Purdue Pharma Request to Dismiss Opioid Lawsuit

Knox County Circuit Judge Kristi Davis rejected a motion by Purdue Pharma to dismiss a lawsuit filed last year by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III on behalf of taxpayers accusing the company of playing an integral role in the state’s opioid epidemic, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Purdue maintains that it has no liability regarding the epidemic, saying the drug which sparked the lawsuit, Oxycontin, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and that it complied with all FDA labeling requirements. Davis ruled the state isn’t suing Purdue for labeling and selling the drug as authorized by the FDA, stating in her opinion “the court finds that Purdue’s argument is based upon a mischaracterization of the state’s complaint, which is not grounded in the content of the medication labels but rather the conduct of Purdue and its pharmaceutical sales representatives.” Purdue maintains the blame falls solely on opioid addicts and over-prescribing doctors, not its drug.

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Labor & Employment Forum – May 3

This program provides timely, specialized and practical information on a range of labor and employment law topics. Presented by esteemed leaders in the field, the CLE sessions will focus on mediation and employment cases, accommodations in the modern era, case law updates, and a unique, interactive ethics session focused on attorney well-being and the power of laughter. Finally, this program will include a judicial panel giving practitioners unique insight into the best presentation techniques for employment cases in federal court. This is the most in-depth employment-focused CLE in the state. Review the agenda, read the session descriptions and register to attend by clicking here.
 
When: Friday, May 3. Registration starts at 8 a.m.
Where: Tennessee Bar Center, 221 Fourth Ave. N., Nashville
CLE Credits: 1 Dual, 5.5 Gen.
 
The program will feature presentations by Hon. Waverly Crenshaw Jr.Hon. Jon McCallaHon. Travis McDonoughJohn Bode of Miller & Martin PLLC, Celeste Bradley of Impark, Heather Collins of Collins & Hunter PLLC, Edmond Sims and Deborah Walker of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Stan Graham of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, Dan Norwood of Working Boomer Advocate, Debra Norwood of LaughterLawyerUSA and Michael Russell of Russell Dispute Resolution, PLLC.
 
Produced by Donna Mikel of Burnette, Dobson & Pinchak.

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Tennessee Woman Sues Facebook Regarding Sex Trafficking of Teenage Daughter

A woman has filed a lawsuit in Nashville against Facebook claiming her daughter, a sex trafficking survivor, is a victim of the company’s "quests for profits above the public good,” U.S. News & World Reports says. The complaint maintains that then-15-year-old “Jane Doe” was persuaded by a man to leave home via private Facebook messaging and that the company, “driven by profit” treated “children as a commodity” because of its lax protocol on user verification. Nashville Rodeway Inn, the hotel where the crimes took place, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. It is accused of ignoring visible signs of physical and sexual abuse.

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