All Blog Posts

Extraordinary Cause Excuses Non-Compliance

Courts are not quick to find that extraordinary cause should excuse compliance with the pre-suit notice requirements in a medical malpractice lawsuit, so lawyers take notice when the appellate courts give  guidance on when exceptions will apply.

[Read more…]

Facebook Commentary Not Defamatory

The legal system continues to grapple with the intersection of tort law and social media.  The recent Tennessee Court of Appeals case Weidlich v. Rung examines the circumstances under which a Facebook post could constitute defamation.

[Read more…]

Supreme Court Reaffirms Collateral Source Rule

          On June 2, 2016, the Tennessee Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Dedmon v. Steelman, et al., an opinion which was a shot heard around the State of Tennessee regarding its possible impact on the collateral source rule in Tennessee in thousands of personal injury cases. The majority opinion was authored by Judge Brandon Gibson, with a concurrence by Special Judge Joe G. Riley.  Since that time, parties and lawyers took sides on the meaning of the case, and so did both federal and state trial courts.  On one side were those courts who found that the collateral source rule remained in force in Tennessee, and that the Dedmon opinion had changed nothing.  On the other side were those courts who found that the amount of medical bills that could be proven by the plaintiff as reasonable was only the amount that was actually paid, or took a hybrid approach, allowing the jury to hear both the full, undiscounted amount of bills as well as the discounted amount.

As more and more parties in settlement negotiations–and more and more courts–took sides, the  bench and bar waited with bated breath once the Tennessee Supreme Court accepted the application for permission to appeal on October 21, 2016.  Almost exactly 13 months later, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Holly Kirby in Dedmon v. Steelman, ____ S.W.3d ____, 2017 WL 5505409 (Tenn. Nov. 17, 2017).  Its holding reaffirmed the collateral source rule completely, reinstating the law in Tennessee prior to Dedmon, and adopting the majority rule in the United States on the application of the collateral source rule in personal injury cases.  It is a landmark decision, and the opinion was more anticipated than perhaps any tort opinion since the Supreme Court in McIntyre v. Balentine adopted comparative fault in 1992.

[Read more…]

Supreme Court Reaffirms Collateral Source Rule

       On June 2, 2016, the Tennessee Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Dedmon v. Steelman,  an opinion which was a shot heard around the State of Tennessee regarding its possible impact on the collateral source rule in Tennessee in thousands of personal injury cases. The majority opinion was authored by Judge Brandon Gibson, with a concurrence by Special Judge Joe G. Riley.  The impact of the opinion quickly became a heated topic of debate among parties, practitioners, and the bench.  Some courts found that the collateral source rule remained in force in Tennessee, and that the Dedmon opinion had changed nothing.  Others determined that the collateral source rule had been augmented such that the amount of medical bills that could be proven by the plaintiff as reasonable was only the amount that was actually paid.  Some took a hybrid approach, allowing the jury to hear both the full, un-discounted amount of bills as well as the discounted amount. The entire bench and bar waited with baited breath for the Supreme Court to weigh in… [Read more…]

State Judicial Reformation of Trust Sufficient to Prevent Asset Inclusion for Federal Tax Purposes

A state law provision that enables a court to reform errors in a trust document was sufficient for IRS purposes under I.R.C. § 2041 to prevent the inclusion of the trust assets in the estate.  While letter rulings are, of course, limited to their facts, this is generally good news for the correction of errors and the implementation of tax-planning in Tennessee.

[Read more…]

Making Charitable Distributions from IRAs

Charitable distributions from an IRA provide a tax benefit for eligible senior citizens, but the rules can be tricky.   [Read more…]

Don’t Forget to Define Separate Property in Your Prenup

Many prenuptial agreements contemplate that one spouse will receive alimony, and it is difficult to imagine a prenup that does not establish an intention to delineate between separate and marital property.  However, a failure to define terms can result in confusion.  The recent Tennessee Court of Appeals case Seifert v. Seifert presented just such a situation. [Read more…]

Avoiding Private Foundation 507(c) Termination Tax Means Less Pain for the Gain

Becky Farr Seidel of the Leaffer Law Group wrote a great piece recently for Bloomberg BNA’s Estates, Gifts and Trusts Journal addressing issues in terminating private foundations.  Here are some salient points, and you can read the entire article here[Read more…]

Guidance Issued for Private Foundations with Foreign Grantees

New guidance for private foundations from the IRS addresses treatment of foreign grantees.  The groups may wish to treat grants to foreign grantees as qualifying distributions that satisfy the minimum distribution requirements rather than as expenditures requiring expenditure responsibility.  [Read more…]

No Medical Deduction for IVF Expenses; I.R.C. § 213 Doesn’t Apply for All Surrogacy Situations

Under I.R.C. § 213, a deduction is available for medical services provided to a taxpayer, his/her spouse, and dependents.  But this doesn’t mean that all  IVF procedures and other pregnancy-related costs are covered simply because the taxpayer’s dependent is ultimately conceived by virtue of the procedures…

[Read more…]