News release from Attorney General’s Office:
Tennesseans who bought electronic books (E-books) from Penguin Group (USA) Inc. in the past two years may be eligible for a refund as part of a multistate price-fixing agreement, Attorney General Bob Cooper announced today. Consumers in Tennessee along with 33 other states and territories will receive a total of $75 million in restitution.
Today’s agreement is the latest in a widespread investigation into allegations some of the largest publishers agreed with one another and some distributors to artificially set the prices of E-books sold in the United States.
The agreement with Penguin must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. When finalized, the agreement with Penguin will grant E-book outlets greater freedom to reduce the prices of their E-book titles.
Tennessee has previously settled with four other publishers–Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Simon & Schuster Inc., and Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan–for allegations relating to the same conduct.
An antitrust action based on the same allegations against Apple Inc., meanwhile, remains pending with a trial scheduled for June 3.
Specifically, the complaint states, the publishers agreed to increase retail E-book prices for all consumers and to eliminate E-book retail price competition between E-book outlets regardless of where the consumers bought their E-books.
“We hope this agreement will help stop anyone who attempts to gouge consumers in the future by artificially inflating prices for good and services,” Attorney General Cooper said. “As a result of this activity, consumers paid millions more than they should have in a naturally competitive marketplace.”
The lawsuit and today’s settlement stem from a two-year antitrust investigation conducted by the states and U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. That investigation developed evidence that the conspired to end E-Book retailers’ freedom to compete on price by taking control of pricing from E-Book retailers and substantially increasing the prices that consumers paid for E-Books. The States contend that the publishers prevented retail price competition resulting in consumers paying millions of dollars more for their e-books. Under the proposed settlement agreement, the publishers will compensate consumers who purchased E-books from any of the publishers cited during the period between April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012.
Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist and his ex-wife Karyn finalized their divorce last week, reports The City Paper, which also reviews court documents laying out the marital dissolution agreement. Karyn filed for the divorce due to “irreconcilable differences” in November. Documents filed in Davidson County Circuit Court reveal that she will receive a $2.1 million lump sum of cash, along with a split of other assets.
The ex-senator will retain the couples’ vacation homes in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Nantucket, Mass., while Karyn has the option of occupying the “marital residence” on Bowling Avenue for the next five years. Bill, however, must allow his ex-wife access to the Nantucket home for a quarter of the time over the summer months during the next five years. If he gets remarried, he’ll have to provide her comparable alternative housing at the beach.
The former couple will also split assets from the homes, with Bill gets the mounted buffalo head from the Nashville home, among other personal items from his time in the U.S. Senate. Karyn will receive art and furnishings from the homes — and even the bathroom door from the Nantucket home.
They will also divide up various stocks and investments, but financial details were not disclosed in the filing.
See also the Washington Post, which has a number of details. For example, the house is valued at $8 million but legally owned by three trusts set up to benefit the couple’s sons. And there are actually six country club memberships involved in the settlement.
A state task force charged with devising an ideal plan allowing parents to enroll their students in private schools on the taxpayer’s dime is still largely divided on the best way to go about it, reports The City Paper. At the group’s highly anticipated final meeting, the Opportunity Scholarship Task Force struggled to agree on the specifics of a program it plans to recommend to Gov. Bill Haslam to consider pitching to lawmakers next year.
“It’s not a question of if we have more time, then we’re going to come up with the perfect solution,” said Kevin Huffman, commissioner of the state Department of Education.
“It’s a question of there are different potential options and there are pros and cons to all of them, and ultimately the General Assembly and the governor have to decide what they think,” he said.
Huffman declined to say whether or not the state should pursue a voucher program, which allows parents to send their students to private school using public tax dollars. Huffman said his job is to lay out the options and would not offer the governor further recommendations than what is in the report.
News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the agreement between the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”), through the Davidson County Sheriff, and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) does not violate the Metro Charter or other state law.
In 2009, Metro authorized the Sheriff to enter into an agreement with ICE that allowed designated Sheriff’s officers to perform certain immigration officer duties after being trained and certified by ICE. Those duties included interrogating any person believed to be an alien as to his right to be, or remain, in the United States; processing any removable alien or those aliens who have been arrested for violating a federal, state or local offense for immigration violations; serving arrest warrants for immigration violations; and detaining and transporting arrested aliens subject to removal to ICE-approved detention facilities.
The agreement was challenged by plaintiffs Daniel Renteria-Villegas, David Ernesto Gutierrez-Turcios and Rosa Landaverde in a lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief filed in the United States District Court in Nashville against Metro and ICE. Renteria-Villegas and Gutierrez-Turcios alleged that Sherriff’s officers arrested and wrongfully interrogated and detained them while the officers investigated their immigration status and Landaverde alleged that removal proceedings were instituted against her son after he was processed by Sheriff’s officers pursuant to the agreement. The plaintiffs argued that provisions of the Metro Charter precluded the Sheriff’s office from performing the law enforcement duties in the agreement with ICE because, under the Charter, those duties are solely the responsibility of the Chief of Police. The United States District Court certified a question of law regarding the Sheriff’s authority to enter into the agreement to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Today, the Tennessee Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, answered the certified question by ruling that neither the Charter nor other state law precludes the Sheriff from performing immigration enforcement duties. Metro had the statutory authority to contract with ICE and authorized the actions of the Sheriff. While the Charter designates the Police Chief as the “principal conservator of the peace,” the Charter does not provide that the Chief is the only conservator of the peace for the Metro government and the Sheriff retained some law enforcement functions under the Charter.
To read the Daniel Renteria-Villegas et al. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County et al. opinion authored by Justice Sharon G. Lee, visit http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/renteria-villegasdanielopn.pdf
News release from Attorney General’s office:
Tennessee, along with 44 other states and the District of Columbia, has joined a $100 million multistate agreement with Abbott Laboratories over allegations of illegal off-label marketing of its Depakote drug, Attorney General Bob Cooper along with Commerce and Insurance’s (TDCI) Consumer Affairs Director Gary Cordell, announced today.
The agreement marks the largest consumer protection-based pharmaceutical agreement ever reached. Tennessee will receive $1.95 million and the Illinois-based Abbott will be restricted from marketing the drug for off-label uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“We are pleased to announce the resolution of this investigation into the off-label promotion of this drug,” Attorney General Cooper said. “We hope other companies will think twice before promoting drugs for uses that have not been approved.”
In a complaint filed today along with the agreement, the states alleged Abbott engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when it marketed Depakote for off-label uses. Depakote is approved for treatment of seizure disorders, mania associated with bipolar disorder and prophylaxis of migraines, but the attorneys general alleged Abbott marketed the drug for treating unapproved uses, including schizophrenia, agitated dementia and autism.
As a result of the states’ investigation, Abbott has agreed to significantly change how it markets Depakote and to cease promoting off-label uses.
Under the agreement, Abbott Laboratories is:
· Prohibited from making false or misleading claims about Depakote,
· Prohibited from promoting Depakote for off-label uses, and
· Required to ensure financial incentives on sales do not promote off-label uses of Depakote.
In addition, for a five-year period Abbott must:
Limit the creation and use of responses to requests by physicians for non-promotional information about off-label uses of Depakote,
Limit dissemination of reprints of clinical studies relating to off-label uses of Depakote,
Limit use of grants and CME,
Disclose payments to physicians, and
Register and disclose clinical trials.
The State’s Complaint and Agreed Final Judgment may be viewed by going online to
www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral and clicking on “Filings of Interest.”
Consumers may file complaints regarding prescription drug advertisements or any other deceptive conduct by going online to www.tn.gov/consumer or calling the TDCI Division of Consumer Affairs at (615) 741-4737 or toll-free in Tennessee at 1-800-342-8385.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Online retailer Amazon.com has begun emailing Tennessee customers, telling them they might owe taxes on their purchases.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/I681dj ) reported the notification follows the signing of a law about a month ago by Gov. Bill Haslam. The law requires Amazon to begin collecting sales tax on items sold to Tennessee residents, beginning in 2014.
In the interim, Tennessee consumers are liable for a “consumer use” tax that applies to goods purchased online from a company that doesn’t collect the sales tax.
The notice from the company informs customers they might owe the tax and details the various divisions of Amazon.com from which goods were purchased. It also provides a link to the Tennessee Department of Revenue’s consumer use tax return website, which explains the consumer use tax, who should file and how.
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE, TN), October 7, 2011 – Senate Finance Chairman Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said today he is very pleased with the agreement announced yesterday by Governor Bill Haslam, legislative leaders and Amazon officials regarding a sales tax solution. The agreement resulted in Amazon’s commitment to bring 2,000 more full-time jobs than were originally announced, as well as thousands of seasonal jobs.
Under the agreement, which will require legislative action to implement, Amazon will also begin to collect Tennessee sales taxes beginning January 1, 2014 unless a national solution is addressed before that time.
“I am very pleased that a solution has been reached and that Amazon will be home to more than 3,500 employees in Tennessee, which is 2,000 more than originally anticipated,” said Chairman McNally, who could not attend yesterday’s announcement due to a prior commitment. “It is a fair and equitable agreement which I fully support.”
“Having this discussion, we are in a far better position than we were left by the previous administration. Brick and mortar businesses are the backbone of our economy. I applaud Governor Haslam and his team, Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, Amazon officials, and others who worked diligently on this matter. I also appreciate the excellent advice provided by the Attorney General, who spent a lot of time working on this important issue. I look forward to working with all of these parties as we move forward during the upcoming legislative session to pass legislation to implement this agreement into law.”