Tag Archives: lawsuits

Slatery won’t sue feds over refugees in TN despite legislative mandate

By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery won’t sue the federal government over its refugee resettlement program.

A General Assembly resolution passed earlier this year had demanded legal action. Gov. Bill Haslam allowed it to take effect without his signature in May.

“I have constitutional concerns about one branch of government telling another what to do,” Haslam wrote to lawmakers at the time.

In a Tuesday letter to the clerks of the state Senate and House of Representatives, Slatery outlined what he sees as lawmakers’ two concerns about refugee resettlement. One is that federal officials are not properly consulting with state and local officials, as required by law. The other is that the federal government is confiscating state resources by coercing Tennessee to accept refugees.

Slatery notes in the letter that the consulting issue already has been dismissed in federal court. He says the coerced spending issue is an untested legal theory that is unlikely to succeed. Continue reading

Judge dismisses gun show operator’s lawsuit against Nashville fairgrounds

A Nashville judge Tuesday threw out a lawsuit brought by a gun show operator who has held events at Nashville Fairgrounds and fears they will be stopped under a new policy, according to The Tennessean.

Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy, in a ruling from the bench, granted Metro’s motion to dismiss the case and denied the motion of plaintiff David Goodman of Bill Goodman’s Gun and Knife Shows for injunctive relief.

…McCoy said that Goodman does not face immediate and irreparable harm to warrant an injunction and also lacked standing to bring the lawsuit because she said his rights had not been violated. Goodman, whose company has rented space at the fairgrounds for gun shows for more than 30 years, filed the lawsuit against Metro in April with a co-plaintiff, the Tennessee Firearms Association.

The ruling, which came after more than two hours of oral arguments, marked the first time a judge has weighed in on the Metro fair board’s controversial vote in December to halt future gun shows beginning next year unless new rules are in place for the events. McCoy found that the board was within its authority.

“I cannot find that there is a right to contract with Metro,” McCoy said. “You can try to contract with Metro. You can be the best business person in the world, but there is no right that the courts can enforce to require Metro to contract with that person or that entity.

“It may be that they decide to lease to Mr. Goodman. They may decide to lease to Mr. Goodman’s competitor. They may decide to lease to an entity that is not fully unknown at this point in time. But it’s not for the court to interfere with dictating to the fairgrounds and its board how those premises should be used through injunctive relief.”

Goodman’s attorney, Timothy Rudd, would not say whether he plans to appeal the decision.

UT paying $2.48M to settle sexual harassment lawsuit

The University of Tennessee will pay $2.48 million to settle a federal Title IX lawsuit alleging the university maintains a “hostile sexual environment,” reports the News Sentinel.

Lawyers for UT and the eight unidentified female plaintiffs agreed to the settlement, announced Tuesday, two days before a response to the lawsuit from UT lawyers was due in U.S. District Court.

The settlement, to be paid half by the athletics department and half by the Knoxville campus, still needs to be approved by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger of Nashville.

The lawsuit alleges UT violates Title IX in handling of sexual assault cases, especially accusations against student athletes. The February filing spurred a wave of media attention and brought recent sexual assault cases involving UT athletes as well as allegations against former UT and National Football League quarterback Peyton Manning back into the spotlight.

The lawsuit’s plaintiffs include the accusers in sexual assault cases against former basketball player Yemi Makanjuola and former football players A.J. Johnson, Michael Williams, Von Pearson, Alexis Johnson and Riyahd Jones. A trial had been set for May 2018.

The settlement amount, just under half of the maximum UT expected to pay had its defense failed, was discussed for months, according to UT.

The settlement required approval from a long list of UT and state officials and comes after Trauger denied motions by the university to dismiss the case, to move the trial from Nashville to Knoxville and to remove references to Manning.

The agreement means UT has paid roughly $4.01 million in settlements and attorney fees for athletics-related lawsuits in the past two years.

In announcing the agreement, UT officials and lawyers called settling the lawsuit “the right thing to do” to prevent an emotional toll on those involved, protect the reputation of UT and avoid added legal costs that the university estimated could reach $5.5 million.

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

U.S. Supreme Court abortion ruling likely to impact TN laws

By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The U.S. Supreme Court’s Monday ruling on abortion restrictions in Texas could affect the outcome of a federal court challenge to two Tennessee laws.

“It seems like this will be a slam-dunk in Tennessee,” said Ilene Jaroslaw, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents plaintiffs in both states.

The Tennessee laws under challenge “are indistinguishable in practice from the two that were judged unconstitutional in Texas,” she said.

In the Texas case, the Supreme Court struck down laws requiring abortion clinics to meet hospital-like standards and requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Tennessee’s admitting privileges requirement became law in 2012 and resulted in the closure of two of Tennessee’s eight clinics that provided surgical abortions, according to court records. Of the six remaining clinics, two face possible closure because of the strict new clinic standards adopted by the legislature in 2015. Continue reading

Environmentalist lawsuit says chemicals polluting TN River

A nonprofit environmental organization has filed a federal lawsuit against two companies, along with three governmental entities, over the dumping of chemicals, reports the Decatur Daily.

Tennessee Riverkeeper Inc. filed the suit against 3M, BFI Waste Systems, the city of Decatur, Decatur Utilities and Morgan County because of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) being dumped in the Tennessee River and landfills, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges the dumping has contaminated groundwater, private water supplies, the river and its tributaries and wildlife, and public drinking water supplies.

The organization claims the dumping has created an “imminent and substantial endangerment to health and the environment,” Executive Director David Whiteside said in a statement.

The chemicals were used at 3M to make nonstick coatings until 2000, when the company voluntarily announced it would phase them out. Before then, 3M believed the chemicals were not hazardous, said the company’s attorney, Travis Carter, of Dallas.

The company no longer produces PFOS or PFOA in Decatur, so any presence of the chemicals is from prior manufacturing, Carter said.

3M said it has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to reduce or eliminate the presence of the chemicals at the plant and in the Decatur area. Remediation began in 2006 and will continue through 2019, the company said.

However, the EPA and ADEM have not established regulations that prohibit the discharge of the chemicals, so 3M always has operated “legally and in compliance with regulations,” Carter said.

The attorney for the city and county, which jointly own the Morgan County Regional Landfill, said the entities also are working to reduce the amount of chemicals released into the environment through the landfill and the DU Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Attorney Barney Lovelace said the city and county also haven’t violated any regulations in the discharge of the chemicals.

Lovelace said his clients believe the cost of removing the chemicals from the environment should be placed on the companies that dumped the waste in the landfill and through DU’s wastewater plant.

3M said it has studied the effects of the chemicals in its own employees and found no adverse health effects from exposure.

Tennesseans to receive $8.5M in E-book price fixing case

News release from the attorney general’s office:
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III today announced Tennessee residents who purchased electronic books (E-books) could begin receiving account credits or checks this week. Payments are the result of the successful prosecution of a price-fixing case against Apple, Inc. in 2013.

Tennessee joined a group of 33 states, led by Connecticut and Texas, in investigating and prosecuting Apple for its participation in the conspiracy to artificially inflate E-book prices. Apple is obligated to pay $400 million in nationwide consumer compensation after the United States Supreme Court denied Apple’s request to review a lower court’s finding that the company violated antitrust laws.

“Returning the hard-earned money of Tennessee consumers was the primary goal in this litigation,” Attorney General Slatery said. “I appreciate the hard work of our office, along with our colleagues in other states, to make certain all companies compete fairly and play by the same rules.” Continue reading

Judge dismisses one state lawsuit against same-sex marriage

A Williamson County judge says last summer’s same-sex marriage ruling represents one of the worst examples of courts “ignoring their proper role” and legislating from the bench, reports WPLN. But he’s nonetheless thrown out a long-shot attempt to overturn the Supreme Court decision.

Chancellor Joseph Woodruff accused five Supreme Court justices of overturning the will of democratically elected state lawmakers. ut Woodruff added he wasn’t going to make the same mistake by trying to reverse their decision to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage. Woodruff said if anyone was going to respond to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision with new laws, it ought to be state lawmakers.

“Our function is to apply the law, not to create it,” Woodruff said of judges. “The present lawsuit invites us to answer the legislative excesses of the Supreme Court with legislation of our own. This we must not do.”

That spells the end to one of the suits filed by conservative lawyer David Fowler that tries to challenge the same-sex marriage ruling.

Fowler argued that when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriages, it took the rest of Tennessee’s marriage laws down with it. That means all marriage in Tennessee is invalid — not just the state’s ban on gay marriage.

But Woodruff determined the plaintiffs — three ministers and two other people who live in Williamson County — couldn’t show they’d been harmed by the Obergefell ruling. That means they couldn’t sue the Williamson County clerk and other authorities for issuing marriage licenses.

Note: Fowler commentary via email below. Continue reading

Texas refugee lawsuit dismissed; Legislators pushing for TN lawsuit

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Texas against resettlement of Syrian refugees within the state’s borders as some Tennessee lawmakers contend health concerns show the need for similar legal action as mandated by the Legislature in April.

“This Texas decision is a strong rebuke of efforts to block refugee resettlement,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee in an email.

“It sends the clear message to other states that such attempts are not only un-American, they are contrary to the law and will fail in court. We continue to urge the state of Tennessee not to engage in litigation that contradicts our values and violates the law of the land,” she said.

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, on the other hand, said http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/06/16/tennessee-state-senate-leader-ag-must-act-without-delay-protect-public-health-risk-refugees/ declaring that 27 percent of refugees sent to Tennessee between 2011 and 2015 tested positive for latent tuberculosis infection shows a new justification for Tennessee filing a lawsuit over refugee resettlement in Tennessee.
Continue reading

Lawsuits on toilet paper leads judge to block prisoner’s filings

East Tennessee’s chief federal judge has banned an imprisoned crack dealer from filing any court action without his approval, reports the News Sentinel.

The unusual move came after Eric Houston has filed more than 100 civil petitions in federal courts across the U.S. — all handwritten, filled with profanities, and some drafted on toilet paper.

Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan this week issued a permanent injunction that bars Houston “from filing any motion, letter or civil action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee without first obtaining approval from the chief district judge.”

The injunction also bars court clerks from accepting any filings by Houston without Varlan’s approval and threatens to hold Houston in contempt if he violates the order.