Litigation

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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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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City of Memphis Denies Wrongdoing in Case of Dead Body in Police Impound Lot

The city of Memphis has denied any liability in the wrongful death case where the corpse of a man was found in a police impound lot 49 days after his death, The Commercial Appeal reports. Bardomiano Perez Hernandez was reportedly sitting in the vehicle drinking beer with his coworkers when they were approached by robbers who fired on the van killing Hernandez and critically wounding another passenger. In a response regarding the incident, the city claims that the people at fault for the death are the other men in the van and the accused robbers, also citing various legal protections it maintains limit liabilities for governments. Two men were eventually arrested and charged last June with first-degree murder in the killing of Hernandez.

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Workers Involved in Bean Station ICE Raid Sue for Discrimination, Excessive Force

Workers detained by ICE after an immigration enforcement raid on a Bean Station slaughterhouse are now suing the agency, Newsweek reports. In the lawsuit filed last Thursday, the workers contend that ICE agents — along with officials from Homeland Security Operations, Enforcement and Removal Operations and the Tennessee Highway Patrol — used excessive force, berated the workers with racial slurs, punched one worker in the face and shoved firearms in the faces of many others. In total, approximately 100 workers were detained and 11 were arrested during the raid, making it among the largest worksite-enforcement operations in recent years. Read the complaint using this link. Additionally, executive council member Bruce Buchanan wrote a recent blog post regarding the lawsuit.

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Defendants Ask for Dismissal of Lawsuit Involving Stalking by Dickson Police

Defendants in a lawsuit in which two former Dickson Police Officers sued the city, alleging that they were “routinely followed and stalked” after being fired, are asking that the case be thrown out, The Tennessean reports. The dispute stems from the dismissal of Robert Peeler and Justin Walton, former officers with the department who were sacked for their handling of an altercation outside of a local restaurant and evidence tampering — for which they were ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor. The defendants, Dickson Police Assistant Chief Seth Lyles and Capt. Todd Christian, maintain that any observations of Peeler and Walton took place in public places and that no constitutional violation occurred because there was no “search,” therefore the plaintiff's claim of invasion of privacy is unsubstantiated. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and District Attorney's office in the 17th Judicial District investigated the allegations made by Peeler and Walton, and determined that there was no reason to pursue charges on the matter.
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U.S. Supreme Court Considers Case Involving Tennessee Liquor Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments in Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair, considering whether states can pass laws with resident restrictions regarding the issuance of liquor licenses, Forbes reports. The dispute involves a family that owns a mom-and-pop liquor store, who moved to Tennessee from Utah and attempted to bring their business with them. Current Tennessee law requires license applicants to live in the state for at least two years. Additionally, the license expires in one year, and renewal requires residency of 10 consecutive years, effectively barring new Tennesseans from opening these types of businesses, which detractors claim stifles new business in favor of existing competitors. The Tennessee Alcohol and Beverage Commission recommended approving the license and declined to enforce the rule, leading the association to sue. The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision sometime this spring.

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Jury Leaves $4 to Family of Man Killed by Sheriff’s Deputy

A Florida jury last week awarded the estate of shooting death victim Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr. $4 in damages: $1 for funeral expenses and $1 for each of his three children’s loss, The New York Times reports. Hill was fatally shot by Christopher Newman, a sheriff’s deputy who had responded to a noise complaint about music Hill had been playing in his garage. The garage door was eventually closed and Newman fired four times through it, striking Hill once in the head and twice in the abdomen. Hill had a gun in his back pocket, which the deputies said he had been holding it during their confrontation, though that claim is in dispute. 
 
The wrongful-death lawsuit, filed in 2016, was asked to determine whether Hill’s constitutional rights had been violated and whether his estate should be awarded damages. Jurors determined that Newman had not used excessive force and concluded, but the St. Lucie County sheriff, Ken Mascara, had been ever so slightly negligent given Deputy Newman’s actions. A grand jury had previously determined not to bring criminal charges against Newman. The estate’s attorney, John M. Phillips, said that he is drafting a motion for a new trial and if the motion is denied, he will file an appeal.
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Southeast Complex Litigation Forum Set for Sept. 7

 
The Southeast Complex Litigation Forum, a TBA CLE offering four general credits, will be Sept. 7 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. The seminar will cover the latest developments in mass torts, class actions and multi-district litigation (MDLs). You will learn from national litigators about the latest in cutting-edge aggregate litigation, including emerging litigation involving opioids, medical devices, pharmaceutical drugs and consumer products. The discussions will also include litigation tips and best practices on how to approach discovery in the post-proportionality world. Learn more and register here.
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