Tag Archives: attorney general

Paul Ney named deputy state AG

News release from attorney general’s office
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced Paul C. Ney, Jr. will join the Attorney General’s Office as Chief Deputy.

In his role as Chief Deputy Attorney General, Ney will coordinate and supervise the substantive legal work of all five sections of the office. Continue reading

New AG opinion: Cities not violating TN traffic camera law

Expanding on an opinion released in July, the Tennessee attorney general says cities that contract with red-light camera companies are not violating state law, reports the News Sentinel.

Attorney General Herbert Slatery, in his opinion Monday, said the state’s statute that requires a certified police officer determine whether laws were broken does not mean that others cannot examine video images. (Note: Full opinion HERE.)

“Vendors engaging in sorting or pre-screening of the video footage are not making a determination that a violation has occurred,” Slatery wrote. “Rather, they are simply ensuring that the law enforcement officers who make those determinations do so efficiently by reviewing only usable information.”

He concluded: “In short, the statute does not prevent a city from contracting with a private vendor to sort or screen the video information for footage that cannot form the basis for a citation.”

Knoxville earlier this month opted to extend its current red-light camera contract with Lasercraft Inc. for 60 days to give city staff time to study Slatery’s first ruling and wait for subsequent opinions. Continue reading

Haslam appoints top AG staffer as judge

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today appointed Bill Young of Nashville as chancellor in the 20th Judicial District, which serves Davidson County. Young replaces retiring Chancellor Carol McCoy, effective September 1.

Young, 59, has been in the Tennessee Attorney General’s office in Nashville, where he has been associate attorney general and part of the management team, since 2014. In that role, he was responsible for handling work related to the Tennessee General Assembly, the executive branch of state government and other state offices and responsible for special litigation and other projects assigned by the attorney general. Continue reading

AG joins lawsuit against insurance company merger

News release from Tennessee Attorney General’s Office
Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced that Tennessee has joined the U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys general from 11 states and the District of Columbia in litigation to block the merger between health insurance companies Anthem and Cigna, alleging that the transaction would increase concentration and harm competition in Tennessee and across the country.

The Justice Department and state attorneys general filed the merger challenge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint alleges that the merger, valued at $54 billion, would harm seniors, working families and individuals, employers, and doctors and other healthcare providers by limiting price competition, reducing benefits, decreasing incentives to provide innovative wellness programs, and lowering the quality of care.

“In what instance would Tennesseans want 4 instead of 5 competitors from which to choose insurance products or negotiate services? That is the question raised by the merger, whether one is a national employer comparing benefits and premiums, a health care provider like a hospital or physician practice, or an individual selecting a policy on an exchange. There are too many unanswered questions and too much at stake in reducing competition for Tennessee to support this merger,” Attorney General Slatery said.

Eleven states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Tennessee, and Virginia – along with the District of Columbia joined the department’s challenge of Anthem’s $54 billion acquisition of Cigna.

The suit against Anthem and Cigna alleges that their merger would substantially reduce competition for millions of consumers who receive commercial health insurance coverage from national employers throughout the United States. The complaint also alleges that the elimination of Cigna threatens competition among commercial insurers for the purchase of healthcare services from hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers.

Anthem, Inc. is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is the nation’s second-largest health insurer. It operates in every state and the District of Columbia, and provides health insurance to 39 million people. In 2015, Anthem reported over $79 billion in revenues.

Cigna Corp. is headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut. It is the nation’s fourth-largest health insurer. It operates in every state and the District of Columbia, and provides health insurance to 15 million people. In 2015, Cigna reported $38 billion in revenues.

AG sues paralegal selling fake court order

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee state judge has ordered a Knoxville paralegal to turn over his files and even the contents of his Facebook profile after the state attorney general accused him of ripping off legal customers.

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office has filed a lawsuit against paralegal Jonathan Trotter, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/29E18U8 ). The lawsuit alleges Trotter began advertising his legal services on Facebook after he completed a 17-week paralegal certificate program at the University of Tennessee in 2013.

Assistant Tennessee Attorney General Nate Casey says one woman paid Trotter $800 to help gain custody of her grandson. Trotter gave the woman a court order signed by a judge granting her custody. Casey said the order was a fake and Trotter had forged a judge’s signature.

The attorney general filed the lawsuit under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. No criminal charges have been filed, but the allegations have been referred to the Knox County district attorney general.

Trotter has not responded to the lawsuit.

Certified paralegals can perform some legal services, such as preparing court documents. But they cannot practice law, including setting fees, representing clients in and out of court and giving legal advice.

“(Trotter) was not supervised by an attorney and did not have an attorney review the legal documents he prepared for consumers,” the lawsuit stated. “As a result, (Trotter) has provided consumers with erroneous, deficient and ineffective legal advice and documents, and consumers have suffered substantial injury due to (his) unlawful conduct.”

In issuing the order, Knox County Circuit Court Judge Bill Ailor wrote “an injunction is necessary to protect consumers and legitimate business enterprises from defendant’s unfair and deceptive business model.”

Democrats question Haslam fundraiser at governor’s residence

News release from Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville
NASHVILLE – Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris and State Rep. John Ray Clemmons sent a letter to Attorney General Herbert Slatery today formally requesting his legal opinion on several issues surrounding the Governor’s planned fundraiser for Rep. Diane Black at the Executive Residence.

“In the spirit of responsibly representing Tennessee taxpayers, we are seeking answers to some serious concerns that we have about the Governor’s political activities on state property and his consistent refusal to release his schedule,” stated Rep. John Ray Clemmons. “Transparency has been an issue for this administration from day one. From Governor Haslam’s very first Executive Order that eliminated financial disclosure requirements for him and his top aides to his secretive out-sourcing scheme, he has consistently skirted the sunshine.”

“Today, we are posing some legitimate questions, such as, ‘Can the Governor host campaign fundraisers at the Executive Residence?'” stated Sen. Lee Harris. “We don’t think the Executive Residence is a place where campaign events should be held, but that is why we are seeking clarification. If President Obama used the White House to host campaign fundraisers, many on the other side of the aisle probably would be up in arms about it. This is the same thing.”

These questions come on the heels of media reports that the Governor will be hosting a campaign fundraiser at the Executive Residence for Congressman Diane Black’s re-election efforts on July 21, 2016.

A copy of the letter to General Slatery can be found here.

Judge rules against Durham, clears release of investigation report

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Nashville chancellor ruled Tuesday that it would not be in the public interest to block the release of an investigative report on allegations of sexual harassment by state Rep. Jeremy Durham.

Chancellor Russell Perkins heard arguments earlier in the day after Durham asked for an emergency ruling to block the report, arguing it would cause him irreparable damage. The report is expected to be released on Wednesday at a meeting of the Ad Hoc Select Committee appointed to look into Durham’s conduct.

In his ruling, Perkins said the Franklin Republican raised some legitimate questions about the way the investigation was conducted, but those concerns were insufficient to support a ruling blocking the report’s release or further work by the committee.

Durham’s attorney Bill Harbison had argued that the appointment of the attorney general’s office to conduct the investigation for the committee constituted an invasion of the legislative branch of government by the judicial branch. He said it sets a dangerous precedent for abuse of government power.

The timing of the report’s release, just two days before the start of early voting for upcoming primaries, shows that it is “transparently being done for political ends,” Harbison argued.

Several GOP leaders have urged Durham to resign his post, including House Speaker Beth Harwell, who appointed the ad hoc committee and requested the help of the attorney general’s office.

Steve Hart, special counsel for the Office of the Attorney General, said the office routinely acts as legal counsel for the legislature. On a previous occasion, the office investigated former Sen. John Ford at the request of the Senate Ethics Committee, Hart said.

He also argued that the House has a duty to protect its employees from harassment. After a preliminary report issued in April found Durham could pose a risk to “unsuspecting women” at the Capitol complex, Harwell moved Durham to another office building and limited his access to committee rooms and the House chambers.

“Although the Court recognizes that Rep. Durham may suffer harm,” Perkins wrote, “the Court concludes that it is in the public interest for the Attorney General and the Ad Hoc Committee to finish their work and for the results of their work to be made available to the public.”

Holt says AG Slatery agrees with him on traffic camera companies violating TN law

News release from state Rep. Andy Holt (with the headline, ‘Attorney General Sides with Rep. Holt)
NASHVILLE, Thursday, July 07, 2016– Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) has been on a crusade against the use of photo-enforcement cameras for many years, citing that they are illegal and turn the American justice system on its head. Giving a boost to Holt’s argument, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery responded to a request by Holt to opine on whether or not out-of-state traffic camera companies contracted by Tennessee cities were in violation of state law on Wednesday afternoon.

(Note: The opinion is HERE.)

At the heart of Holt’s issue, is the fact that out-of-state photo-enforcement companies contracted throughout the state of Tennessee have utilized non-law enforcement employees to preliminarily review video footage of supposed traffic violations, and are then making determinations regarding whether or not a violation has occurred. The scrubbed footage is then sent back to local law enforcement agencies with violations that are simply rubber-stamped by a POST-certified officer. Local law enforcement agencies often claim that an officer “witnessed” the supposed violator and by placing their signature on the ticket claim to validate the supposed violation. For all practical purposes, actual law enforcement personnel have been removed from the current photo-enforcement process, with the single exception of simply placing the signature of an officer on each ticket that has already been processed by the employees of these private companies.
Continue reading

Durham investigation to be finished ‘in near future’

Rep. Steve McDaniel, who chairs the ad hoc committee investigating alleged misconduct by Rep. Jeremy Durham, says he expects Attorney General Herbert Slatery is expected to have a report to the panel “in the near future,” reports The Tennessean. He’s asked other committee members to check their calendars with an eye toward setting another meeting date.

One of those members, Rep. Billy Spivey, R-Lewisburg, expressed concern about the fact that the final report could be released just days ahead of when early voting begins July 15.

“It certainly is just another point that doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Spivey, who previously called for an end to the investigation.

McDaniel, however, rejected concerns about the release of the investigation and the forthcoming election. “I don’t see anything political about this entire investigation,” he said.

The conclusion of Slatery’s investigation is expected to factor into whether the House of Representatives moves forward with possible expulsion proceedings.

…When asked for a comment, Durham told The Tennessean to stop contacting him.

Volkswagen paying $15B to settle lawsuits; TN gets millions

By Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin, AP Auto Writers
DETROIT (AP) — Volkswagen will spend more than $15 billion to settle consumer lawsuits and government allegations that it cheated on emissions tests in what lawyers are calling the largest auto-related class-action settlement in U.S. history.

Under the settlement revealed Tuesday by a U.S. District Court in San Francisco, VW will pay just over $10 billion to either buy back or repair about 475,000 vehicles with cheating 2-liter diesel engines. The company also will compensate owners with payments of $5,100 to $10,000, depending on the age of their vehicles.

Although the company has been working on a repair for the vehicles for months, it appears that VW may not be able to fix the cars and will have to buy them all back, according to the documents.

The German automaker also has to pay governments $2.7 billion for environmental mitigation and spend another $2 billion for research on zero-emissions vehicles.

Volkswagen also settled with 44 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, which also sued the company, agreeing to pay about $603 million. That brings the total settlements announced Tuesday to $15.3 billion. (Note: Tennessee was one of the states. Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s news release on the settlement is at the end of this AP story. Among other things, Tennessee is eligible for $42 million in environmental mitigation money and $12.6 million for violations of state consumer protection laws ) Continue reading