News

Trump Administration Takes Aim at Iranian Oil Production

The Trump Administration’s plan to curb Iran’s crude oil exports may cost consumers at the pump this summer, CNBC reports. On Monday the White House proffered the policy that would end all sanctions waivers for those buying Iran’s oil and heavily rely on OPEC to increase production and keep gas prices stable. The move comes at a time that relations with Iran are particularly tenuous and amidst talks with the country regarding an exchange for U.S. prisoners being held on questionable charges.

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Men Charged With Economic Espionage to Benefit Business Interests, China

An American engineer, and a Chinese businessman were charged on Tuesday with economic espionage for a plan to steal sophisticated turbine designs for the benefit of China and their business interests, The Washington Post reports. The indictment alleges that Xiaoqing Zheng of New York conspired with Zhaoxi Zhang of China to procure and disseminate plans for the turbines, which are trademarked and produced by GE. Though the defendants are not accused of being government spies or officials, both men held meetings with Communist Party officials to discuss a “strategic partnership” regarding development of aerospace technology. Authorities say that Zheng used an encryption technique called “steganography,” which hides secret messages in otherwise normal computer files and images.

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Volunteers Needed for a Saturday Clinic in Nashville

The Legal Aid Society and Metro Nashville Public Schools are hosting their monthly clinic this Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the MNPS Office of English Learners, which is located at 615 Fessey Park Road, Nashville, TN, 37204. All lawyers are invited to help at this advice-only clinic. To volunteer or for more information please contact Jorge Salles Diaz at jsallesdiaz@las.org, 615-780-7131.
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TBA Legislative Update: Flow Motion

Last week the pace of the legislative session accelerated to lightning speed after the House initiated the much anticipated, and equally dreaded, “flow motion” on the floor, a move that suspends the parliamentary rules that the legislature typically observes during session. Bills are moving from committee to the floor on the same day. Now that the vast majority of committees are closed, the legislature will transition into passing the annual budget and tying up loose ends on major policy initiatives with hefty price tags. Only the Senate Judiciary Committee and Finance, Ways and Means Committees remain open. House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland announced plans for the House to take up the state’s $38 billion budget next week, with the goal of tying up all loose ends the following week.
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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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Register Now to Get Early Bird Rate for TBA Convention in Nashville

The Tennessee Bar Association returns to Downtown Nashville's Renaissance Hotel for its Annual Convention June 12-15, with even better programming, exhibits and fun! Register NOW and receive:

  • Free Access to ALL 9 Hours of CLE, including the Bench Bar Program, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Judicial Conference
  • Opening welcome reception
  • Bench Bar Luncheon (featuring keynote speaker, Ken Starr)
  • Law School and General Breakfasts
  • Lawyers Luncheon (featuring special honor for Sen. Lamar Alexander)
  • Thursday night joint reception sponsored with TLAW and TABL
  • Thursday night Dinner/Dance Party featuring My So-Called Band
  • Friday night TBALL/YLD Party
  • Access to activities and programming designed for well-being including massages, contemplative space and more.
  • Access to TBA's sponsorship hall to meet with exhibitors, participate in our special TBA Wellness Corner and win prizes.
• QUESTIONS: Just email convention@tnbar.org to get help.
 

Early Bird Registration ends April 30, so register now to save $$$

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Help4TNDay Kicks Off Saturday

Tennessee lawyers are invited to participate in Help4TNDay activities throughout the month of April. Events will bring attention to the ongoing need for free and low-cost legal services and highlight the groups that provide these services to disadvantaged Tennesseans. Opportunities include volunteering to help clients in need through Tennessee Free Legal Answers (TFLA) or at a local legal clinic. The events kick-off this Saturday with a statewide virtual legal clinic, where attorneys across the state will answer questions on TFLA from noon to 2 p.m. Simultaneously, the TBA will host an on-site TFLA Clinic and Luncheon in Nashville. To participate in the TBA event, contact Liz Todaro. Help4TNDay is a joint effort by the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission, the Administrative Office of the Courts, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services and the Tennessee Bar Association. 
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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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Tesla Files Suits Against Former Employees for Trade Secret Theft

Tesla is suing former engineer Guangzhi Cao for allegedly stealing the source code of the company’s Autopilot technology before joining China’s self-driving car startup Xiaopeng Motors Technology Company, Wired reports. Cao is accused of uploading over 300,000 files to his personal cloud account before leaving for another job. Lawyers for Tesla also filed separate suits last week against four other former employees and the U.S. self-driving car startup Zoox Inc. The suit claims that after leaving Tesla and while working at Zoox, four employees used stolen proprietary information and trade secrets related to warehousing, logistics and inventory control operations to improve Zoox’s operations.  

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EU’s Copyright Directive Passes Final Vote

The controversial legislative package known as the Copyright Directive received final approval on Tuesday in a 348-274 vote by the European Union, The Verge reports. The overhaul contained two controversial articles that remained intact in the final version, Article 11 and 13. Article 11, sometimes called the link tax, will allow publishers to charge platforms, like Google, that display snippets and links to its news stories. Article 13, renamed Article 17 and also known as the upload filter, holds companies, like YouTube, responsible when its users upload copyrighted content. Critics argue Article 13 will stifle free speech and restrict people’s ability to share content online. Upload filters, which scan all user uploaded content for possible copyrighted content, may be implemented by companies in order to avoid penalties. EU member states must incorporate the new laws into their respective national laws within 24 months.

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Immigration Law Forum set for April 25

Join us on April 25 for a program packed with a variety of issues facing immigration, family, criminal, corporate counsel, employment and business law attorneys. The morning sessions will address family immigration and court issues, while the afternoon sessions will address labor and employment immigration issues. Finish the day with an ethics CLE dual representation employment immigration hour. In an effort to provide flexibility for attendees with specific learning interests, the TBA is offering the additional option for folks to attend either the morning or afternoon sessions. Check out the agenda, session descriptions, speakers and register to attend by clicking here. 
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Foreign Adoptions in U.S. Down 14 Percent

The number of foreign children adopted by U.S. families fell 14 percent last year, The Washington Post reports. The U.S. State Department this month issued a report showing that there were only 4,059 foreign adoptions in 2018, compared to 4,714 the previous year. Although there was an increase in adoption of children from India and Columbia, a decline in adoptions from China and Ethiopia negated the increase. The U.S. is responsible for about half of all foreign adoptions.

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Court Seeking Comments on Proposed Rule 46A

The Tennessee Supreme Court is considering the adoption of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 46A, which would govern the electronic service of papers that are e-filed, and it is seeking comments from the legal community and the public on the proposed rule. The deadline for submitting written comments is March 22. Comments should be e-mailed to appellatecourtclerk@tncourts.gov or mailed to: James M. Hivner, Clerk, Tennessee Appellate Courts, 100 Supreme Court Building, 401 7th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37219-1407.
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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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Last Chance to Register for International Forum

 
Early bird registration for the TBA's International Law Forum ends on Feb. 16. Three international business panels make up this Feb. 22 Nashville program and include a stacked line-up of speakers. Register now before it's too late!
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Nashville Mayor's Order Recognizes LGBT-Owned Businesses

Nashville Mayor David Briley recently signed an executive order that recognizes LGBT-owned businesses as a category for Metro procurement and contracting, The Nashville Business Journal reports. Briley’s order aligns with recent changes announced by the Nashville Metro Council, which intends to address complaints that minority-owned businesses are not equally benefitting from the city’s economic growth. “It’s my job as mayor to make sure that everyone in our city, regardless of who they are or where they come from, has equal access to economic opportunities,” said Briley. “Today, we’ve taken an important step towards better equity for LGBT-owned businesses in Nashville.” Nashville will be the first city in the South to instill such a policy.
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International Law Forum on Feb. 22

Join your colleagues Feb. 22 as the International Law Section shares the latest updates and hot topics in international law. This forum at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville is applicable for the experienced and the new business attorney, corporate counsel, employment law and technology law attorney, as well as those exposed to the current and changing international law issues and events affecting Tennessee companies, individuals and beyond. Three hours of General CLE are available. Stay following the event, for a networking reception.
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IP, Trade Talks Between China and U.S. Continue This Week

Officials from China and the U.S. have yet to come to an agreement regarding trade and intellectual property issues, Bloomberg reports, but talks are set to resume this week. American officials confirmed the lack of progress and reported that China continued to deny the alleged IP theft and requested proof. China’s top economic emissary, Liu He, is scheduled to attend the next round of talks in Washington, D.C. this week.

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Register Now! International Law Forum on Feb. 22

 
Stay on track earning your CLE credits by attending the International Law Forum on Feb. 22 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Early bird registration ends tomorrow, Feb. 16!
 
This program is applicable to a wide variety of practice areas, including business law, corporate counsel, employment law, law tech and immigration. Three international business panels make up this afternoon program and include a stacked line-up of speakers. Topics to be discussed include Government & Private International Manufacturing Perspectives, International Sourcing, Importing & Exporting Perspectives and International Entertainment & Tourism Perspectives.
 
Join us for an evening reception immediately following the program for a chance to network with attendees and speakers. Read more about the panels and register for the program here.
 
Unable to attend the live course? Join us virtually for the live webcast!

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Federal Government Reopens for 3 Weeks

President Trump agreed last week to reopen the federal government for three weeks while negotiations proceeded over how to secure the nation’s southwestern border, The New York Times reports. The decision paved the way for Congress to pass spending bills immediately that Trump will sign to restore normal operations at a series of federal agencies until Feb. 15 and begin paying again the 800,000 federal workers who have been furloughed or forced to work for free for 35 days.
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Meditation Apps Help Incorporate Mindfulness Each Day

Consider a meditation app for your phone to help incorporate mindfulness into your day. The accessibility and variety of meditation apps can make them beneficial and easy to try. Some, such as Mindbody, Stop, Breathe & Think, 10% Happier, Breethe, Omvana, Insight Timer, Sattva Meditations & Mantras, and Smiling Mind (which can be tailored to different age groups) are free. Others, such as Calm, Headspace, and the Mindfulness App, have free trials and can be upgraded to a paid subscription. Comparisons of various apps are available on www.healthline.com or www.bestproducts.com.
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Judge Blocks Trump Plans to Add Citizenship Question to 2020 Census

A federal judge in New York ruled against the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, NPR reports. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ordered the administration to stop its plans to include the controversial question on forms for the upcoming national head count "without curing the legal defects" the judge identified in his opinion. The district court ruling in New York is expected to be appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and, ultimately, to the Supreme Court.
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Bloomberg Exposes “Ghost” Worker Loophole for Major Companies

A Bloomberg News investigation recently exposed a loophole that allows big-name companies, like Target and Walmart, to utilize cheap, undocumented labor through contractors. One such contractor that has been partnered with Target since 2003, Diversified Maintenance Systems LLC, has faced allegations of labor violations in the past, including putting undocumented immigrants to work by utilizing pay cards under assumed names in order to hide the illegal status of the employee. The article profiles Martha Lopez, an illegal immigrant working at a Target in Brentwood, Tenn. who experienced a loss of an entire month’s worth of wages due to the pay card practice. When she confronted her employer regarding the missing pay, she was told no one would listen to her because she did not exist on their system due to her working under an assumed name, like a ghost. Since these contracted employees do not work directly for the large companies, the company is able to benefit from this source of illegal, cheap labor without fear of penalty. Bloomberg inquired with Target regarding Lopez’s case and the labor practices of Diversified; within a couple days Target decided to cancel its contract with the company in the state of Tennessee.

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Forum Selection Provision in Corporate Charter or Bylaws Deemed Unenforceable Under Delaware Law for Securities Claims

While Delaware statutes permit corporations to include bylaws provisions specifying a forum for “internal affairs claims,” such provisions in corporate documents do not apply to external relationships. In a Dec. 19 opinion, the Delaware Chancery Court ruled in the case of Sciabacucchi v. Salzberg that a provision in an incorporation certificate stating that any claim under the Securities Act of 1933 must be brought in federal court was unenforceable. The court noted the fundamental principle that corporate charters are not ordinary contracts binding the rights and obligations of private individuals, but rather are instruments creating a corporate entity, whose existence is recognized and regulated by a state. Delaware’s authority over the internal affairs of corporations “does not extend to (a corporation’s) external relationships.”

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Venezuela Sued Over Unpaid Bonds

Florida-based firm Casa Express Corp. filed suit in New York federal court yesterday against Venezuela for unpaid debt, Reuters reports. The firm via a trust of the same name represents bondholders who are demanding payment on over $34 million of unpaid principal and interest. This may be the first legal action taken by creditors since the nation defaulted on its debt. The article notes that "the government of President Nicolas Maduro stopped making payments on nearly all bonds issued by Venezuela and state oil company PDVSA this year and has accumulated some $8 billion in pending interest and principal." Last month, a group of creditors demanded payment on a $1.5 billion defaulted bond, but no claims have been taken to court. 

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