News

Customers File Class Action Lawsuit After Chattanooga Water Outage

A class action lawsuit has been filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court regarding a water main break last week that left thousands in Chattanooga and north Georgia without water, WTVC Chattanooga reports. The suit names several utility companies, maintaining that plaintiffs suffered from the loss of potable water because of “substantial annoyance and inconvenience, out-of-pocket expenses for replacement water, (and) lost profits and lost wages.” The complaint does not indicate a specific amount for damages sought.

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Violent Juvenile Crime on the Rise in Memphis

Despite an overall decrease in juvenile crime, Memphis is experiencing a rise in violent juvenile crime, the Daily Memphian reports. According to the Memphis Shelby County Juvenile Court, the number of charges for violent juvenile crime has risen from 282 in 2018 to 463 in 2019 — a 64.2% increase. Memphis and Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael says something has to be done to help juveniles charged with violent crimes, which include charges of murder, aggravated assault and aggravated robbery. Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich also says the community needs to commit “to reducing these numbers.”

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Investors, HOAs Battle Over Neighborhood Rentals

As Tennessee experiences record growth, real estate investments are causing friction between homeowner associations (HOAs) and absentee corporate landlords overseeing long-term rentals, sparking state lawmakers to seek ways to address this issue, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. HOAs are typically opposed to this practice over concerns that these companies generally have no ties to the neighborhood and are not concerned by nuisance tenants or upkeep. This has led some HOAs to instill new rules to mitigate or curb these types of rentals. Investment companies deny these allegations and argue that the associations keep moving the sticks and are interfering with their property rights. Tennessee Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, appears to be listening to investors’ arguments, and has amended a bill he introduced — SB1429/HB1290 — to include language allowing current investment properties to continue renting despite any new rules imposed by HOAs. Bell’s bill is currently under consideration by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

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Nashville DA Asks Police to Bring Back ‘Murder Squad’

Citing a decrease in the clearance rates of homicides since 2004, the Davidson County District Attorney’s office has asked local police to re-create a centralized “murder squad” to focus solely on murders in the city. A similar unit was disbanded in 2005. A letter sent to the police argues that the current system of precinct detectives working together and with the cold case unit “has not resulted in an improvement in homicide clearances.” The police department has downplayed the need for a special unit arguing the number of unsolved cases “fluctuates daily.” News4 has details on the story.

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Jones, Pool Top Bar Association Poll for City Judge Seats

Incumbent Memphis City Court Judge Teresa Jones and a challenger to another seat won top marks in a Memphis Bar Association poll of candidates for races on the Oct. 3 ballot. Jones, who is being challenged by LaTrena Davis-Ingram for the Division 1 seat, was ranked best qualified by 56% of respondents while six percent chose Davis-Ingram. For the Division 3 seat, Judicial Commissioner David Pool was ranked best qualified by 54% of respondents over 23% who gave that ranking to incumbent Judge Jayne Chandler. In the nine-way race for city court clerk, 44% of respondents had no opinion about who was the best qualified, but former Memphis City Council member and Interim Mayor Myron Lowery polled the highest with 18% ranking him as best qualified. The Daily Memphian has the full breakdown of responses.

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Judge Blocks New State Voter Registration Rules

A series of new restrictions for Tennessee voter registration groups won't take effect Oct. 1 after a federal judge blocked the new law in an injunction today, the Tennessean reports. The court must still decide the case on the merits. Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger rejected the state’s attempt to dismiss the suit brought by voter registration groups, calling the law a “complex and punitive regulatory scheme.”

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State Questions Nashville Mayor’s Immigration Order

Tennessee officials are questioning whether a new executive order from Nashville Mayor David Briley violates a previous commitment not to interfere in immigration investigations. In a letter sent Tuesday to Briley, the state Office of Criminal Justice Programs questioned whether Executive Order 11 violates previously signed certifications that the city has no “sanctuary city” policies. The Sept. 3 order states that “no person acting in their capacity as a Metro employee or agent shall assist or cooperate with, or allow any Metro agency funds or resources to be used to assist, cooperate with, or facilitate any federal agency in any immigration enforcement operation, except where legally required to do so by state or federal law or by court order.” The mayor’s office contends that the order does not violate any state or federal law. News Channel 5 has the story.

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Wilson County Names School Facility for Judge Tatum

Wilson County Schools has named an alternative learning facility in honor of Wilson County General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge C. Barry Tatum, the Wilson Post reports. The school says that Judge Tatum has for years worked with local students, including those who have appeared in his court, and he has been a positive influence in the lives of many. The “Barry Tatum Academy” is located on Stumpy Lane in Lebanon and houses the Modified Academic Program as well as the Tennessee Virtual Online Schools Program.

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Clients Moving from High-tax States Face Increased Likelihood of Residency Audit

For clients with a significant net worth who seek to move from high-tax states to keep their pastures greener, planners should consider the strong possibility of a residency audit, The Washington Post reports. State governments have become particularly focused on the trend following the Trump Administration's cap on deductions of state and local taxes, which hits higher earning and taxed residents the hardest. Experts say red flags increasing the likelihood of an audit include moving to a state with a much lower tax burden, still having a home or business ties in the old state, a recent move before selling a business, and possessing a large number of stock or other valuable assets.

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Legal Aid Society to Celebrate 50-Year Anniversary

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands will hold its 50th Anniversary Celebration “An Evening at the Frist” on Nov. 9 at the Frist Museum in downtown Nashville. The event will feature cocktails, live music and a gallery exhibition, and provide a unique opportunity to honor the group’s distinguished 50-year legacy of providing “justice for all.” Tickets are available online.

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Federal Program Working to Reduce Violent Crime in Memphis

Three years ago, the Memphis Police Department was one of the first agencies to receive federal assistance through the National Public Safety Partnership to help combat violent crime. Since then, violent crime has decreased seven percent, including a reduction in carjackings and gun-related crimes. Last week, law enforcement officials from across the country were in Memphis to learn more about the program, the Daily Memphian reports. Today, more than 30 cities have joined the program with the federal government dedicating $28 million in funding.

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Governor Urges ‘Operating Under the Law’ After ICE Raids, Shooting

Gov. Bill Lee said Friday he believes the state must follow the law and try to avert tension in immigrant communities, even as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conduct searches for undocumented residents. “I think that the message to all Tennesseans is that we are committed in this state to operating under the law and fulfilling what those laws are,” Lee said following an incident Thursday in Nashville in which ICE agents shot and wounded a Mexican national. The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition said ICE did not have an arrest warrant for the man and is calling for a thorough investigation of the incident. The group also contends that ICE agents are creating “a climate of immense fear that is terrorizing and traumatizing the entire community.” The Daily Memphian has more on the story.

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September Episode Of TBA BarBuzz Podcast Now Available

Get a monthly recap of bar association news and upcoming events on this month’s episode of BarBuzz, part of the Tennessee Bar Association Podcast Network. Also included in the network are Sidebar, a show covering human interest stories from attorneys in Tennessee and HealthyBar, a podcast centered on attorney wellbeing. The shows are now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn and the TBA’s website. Simply search the show title or “Tennessee Bar Association” wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Nashville Mayor Brings Scrutiny to Probation Department

Scrutiny of the city's probation department intensified this week, with Mayor David Briley and a broad swath of the Metro Council demanding investigations into the department's cooperation with federal immigration agents seeking to deport immigrants in the country illegally, the Tennessean reports. Briley is calling for an investigation and performance audit of the General Sessions Probation Department following reports that the agency is sharing information on probationers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Briley is expected to sign an executive order that outlines what Metro departments and employees should do when contacted by ICE.
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Judge Blackburn Cautions Against Scapegoating Probation Officers for Cooperating with ICE

The presiding judge of the Metro Nashville General Sessions Court is firing back on city leaders who have called for an investigation into the city's probation department in the wake of reports that its officers were working to assist federal immigration officials, the Tennessean reports. Judge Melissa Blackburn on Thursday afternoon cautioned the Metro Council against using the Probation Department as a "scapegoat," when probation officers were operating with the approval of Metro Legal. Recent reports show that probation director Robert Green and probation officers have provided Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with addresses and contact information on individuals.
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Hollabaugh Selected as a Top Woman in Litigation

TBA Litigation Section member and managing partner of the Nashville office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Lela M. Hollabaugh has been selected for the Top 250 Women in Litigation 2019 by Benchmark Litigation. Hollabaugh is a renowned product liability and mass tort practitioner and currently serves as lead counsel for Amazon in a products liability case regarding the sale of hoverboards by third-party sellers. She has served as the lead trial lawyer in more than a dozen jury trials, as well as more than two dozen bench trials, arbitrations and administrative hearings. 

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Solo Attorney Interested in Group Health Insurance? Here's Help

You’re in luck! As a solo attorney, you’re eligible for the new association group health insurance plan if you have at least one W-2 employee working 30+ hours per week. Rates may be as much as 30% less than what you’re paying today! Guaranteed issue coverage, no health questions and no pre-existing condition exclusions! Enroll or get a quote today. Contact the TBA for more information or call 423-629-2400 x264.

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New TBA Member Benefit: Group Health Insurance!

The Tennessee Bar Association and TBA Member Insurance Solutions have been diligently working with Humana to bring TBA employer members an affordable association group health insurance plan. The fully-funded plan is available exclusively to TBA members. Enrollment is open now and ends Dec. 1. Get a quote or enroll today. Have questions? Contact us at tbams@tnbar.org or call 423-629-2400 x264.

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Knoxville Mayor Race Down to Runoff Between Mannis, Kincannon

Eddie Mannis and Indya Kincannon will be squaring off in November to become the next mayor of Knoxville after the two bested a crowded field Tuesday night, Knoxnews reports. Mannis, a conservative businessman, earned 7,005 votes, while Kincannon, a former school board member and staffer to Mayor Madeline Rogero, earned 5,568 votes, just edging out at-large council member Marshall Stair.
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Lawsuit Challenges Montgomery County Ban on Livestreaming Meetings

When the Montgomery County Commission convenes next week in its monthly informal session, it will mark the first time the full commission has met with a ban on unlimited livestream broadcasts of its meetings in effect, the Leaf Chronicle reports. In the meantime, a lawsuit is ongoing, challenging whether Montgomery County's ban, enacted earlier this month, might be a violation of constitutional free speech and the First Amendment. The suit has been filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville.
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Volunteers Needed for New Nashville Legal Clinic

Legal Aid Society will host its Downtown Free Legal Clinic at the Nashville Public Library on Sept. 4 from 4 – 6 p.m., CDT. This is a new monthly service where lawyers can provide counsel and advice to those who otherwise could not afford it. The legal clinic will be held the first Wednesday of each month at this same time and location. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Kendra Cheek, 615-780-7131.

When: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 4 – 6 p.m., CDT

Where: Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St., Nashville

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Shelby County to Stop Billing, Waive Debt for Juvenile Detainee Families

Shelby County will officially discontinue the practice of charging juvenile detention costs to families, unless otherwise mandated by Tennessee law, the Commercial Appeal reports. The county will also waive all court fees for juveniles, as well as the $50 fee for public defenders and appointed attorneys in the majority of cases. In January 2018, the juvenile clerk's office was told to stop collecting the detention fee, though it remained in the official list of costs.
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Group Calls on Hamilton County DA to Remove Sheriff

A group of Hamilton County pastors and concerned residents are calling on District Attorney Neal Pinkston to oust Sheriff Jim Hammond and prosecute two of his deputies seen on camera punching, kneeing and allegedly conducting a body-cavity search on a handcuffed man on the side of a road, the Times Free Press reports. Pastor Tim Careathers stood behind a podium on the steps of the Hamilton County Chattanooga Courts Building, where Pinkston works, to demand the actions after a failed attempt to get the sheriff to resign last month. The sheriff reiterated Monday afternoon that he will not resign.
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Nashville Faces Huge Backlog of Airbnb Codes Violations

Short-term rental violations and complaints are flooding Metro Nashville's Codes Administration so quickly that new investigations into problematic Airbnbs are delayed up to four months, the Tennessean reports. Since 2017, Nashville has brought 1,084 enforcement cases against homeowners operating short-term rentals without permits in the past two years, and there are 512 Metro cases involving rentals that advertised higher occupancy or more bedrooms than their permits allow them to offer. An Environmental Court judge issued the first Metro-area jail sentence to an Airbnb operator in February when he refused to stop running an unpermitted rental.
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Nashville Council Set to Approve Lawsuit Settlement After Exposing Employees' Private Data

The Nashville Metro Council is set to approve a $22,000 payment tomorrow to settle a lawsuit stemming from a 2015 incident that exposed the personal data of several Metro employees, the Nashville Scene reports. Twenty-one employees saw their social security numbers exposed after Metro posted them online in its human resources training manual, and two employees became victims of identity theft.
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