Legal Support in the Growing Esports IndustryBelong-Arena-2-300x225

The global esports industry has grown rapidly, from an underground movement to current events at Madison Square Garden. For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, esports is the world of competitive video gaming. No longer is it confined to the bedrooms of teenagers or the basement of parental homes. The newly popular industry now garners hundreds of millions of viewers each year and is estimated to bring in $2 billion in revenue in 2022. The industry has captured the attention of companies such as Amazon, NASCAR, and Mastercard, all of which committed themselves to sponsorship deals with various esports events in August 2021.[i]

Here in Tennessee alone, the esports industry has already developed a foothold, and it is only getting stronger. Belong Gaming Arenas, a massive UK-based esports gaming company, is on a mission to open 500 arenas in the United States, with one recent opening in Franklin, Tennessee at Cool Springs Galleria – right across the interstate from our Cole Law Group office. Martyn Gibbs, CEO of Belong Gaming Arenas, expressed that “Nashville has developed an incredible gaming scene and we can’t wait to provide a home for the Middle Tennessee gaming community to continue growing.”

paul-2-300x199One topic in military law important to many veterans is Veterans Affairs (VA) disability. Federal law established the US Department of Veterans Affairs with several important missions to serve our veterans.[i] One of those missions is to provide disability benefits to eligible veterans who are disabled due to injuries or illnesses that have been caused by or made worse through the veteran’s military service.[ii]

What Is VA Disability Compensation?

The VA defines disability compensation as “a tax free monetary benefit paid to Veterans with disabilities that are the result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. Compensation may also be paid for post-service disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may arise after service.”[iii] The VA also provides additional compensation benefits such as dependency and indemnity compensation, special monthly compensation, adapted housing grants, service-disabled veterans’ insurance, and veterans’ mortgage life insurance.

pexels-energepiccom-313690-300x225When an employee departs from a company either voluntarily or involuntarily, the parties often agree to enter into a separation agreement whereupon the employer pays the employee an amount of severance pay in exchange for a release of legal claims against the employer.

On the one hand a separation agreement can be a fair and amicable way to end an employment relationship. It benefits the departing employee who receives some form of compensation. It also gives the employer peace of mind because the agreement, if written concisely and in detail, will greatly reduce the likelihood of post termination lawsuits.

However, on the other hand, upon signing a separation agreement, an employee may be waiving or resolving valuable claims for substantially less than what he or she is owed. Alternatively, an employer who has entered into an employee separation agreement without legal counsel might find that the separation agreement resulted in   severance compensation for the employee that was unnecessarily generous.

pexels-printexstar-11623657-300x200Legal assistance can be crucial to the success of all types of immigration proceedings.  However, the Remain in Mexico program, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, is beginning to lose support and assistance.[i] Certain legal aid groups along the border between Mexico and the United States are no longer willing to provide legal representation to migrants trying to enter the United States. Without this legal representation, many migrants will not have the opportunity to present effective arguments in favor of their cases for asylum.

What is the Remain in Mexico program?

The United States government introduced the Migrant Protection Protocols policy via memorandum on January 25, 2019.[ii] The policy itself requires those who seek asylum and arrive by land at the border between the United States and Mexico, who also complete a credible fear screening with a United States asylum officer, to return to Mexico until their asylum hearing. This asylum hearing will take place in a U.S. Immigration Court. The policy was instituted for a multitude of reasons, including the enforcement of immigration and customs laws, the facilitation of legal trade and travel, to counter traffickers, smugglers, and those involved in transnational criminal organizations, and to prevent drugs and illegal contraband from entering the United States border. The program is meant to help reinstate a secure and systematic immigration process for migrants entering the country, as well as ensuring that migrants receive the protections they need. The program was shut down temporarily during the Biden Administration and was restarted on December 2, 2021.

pexels-curtis-adams-3935350-300x200Does Each Co-Tenant Have the Right to Use 100% of Joint Property?

In Tennessee, 95.2% of the land is privately owned.[i] In many cases, private land is concurrently owned by two or more individuals as tenants in common. Although each co-tenant in a tenancy in common holds an undivided interest in the property and retains the right to use and enjoy the property in its entirety, the co-tenants do not necessarily hold equal interests in the total value of the property. For example, one co-tenant may hold a 60% share of the property’s interest while two other co-tenants hold a 20% share; despite this, each tenant has the right to use 100% of the property.

What Is a Recurring Legal Issue That Impacts Tenancies In Common?

Is Operating a Business Out of Your Home Illegal in Nashville? 

With over 1,600 home-based businesses operating in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, could it be true that many of them are illegal?¹ Section 17.16.250 of Title 17 of the Metropolitan Code of Laws that governs residential zoning ordinances contains a provision regarding “home occupations”.² The term home occupations refers to the practice of individuals operating small businesses from their residential homes. The provision prohibits the home occupations, or home businesses, from performing services for customers on their residential property. For many home businesses, customers and customer interaction are the sole source of profit. In “Music City,” a community full of artists, musicians, and other creative professionals, this ordinance presents several problems for those wanting to teach music and art or even to create music and art with other professionals in the industry.  

This exact zoning ordinance presented an issue for a local Nashville music producer, Lij Shaw. Since 2015, Mr. Shaw has been in a battle with the City of Nashville to shut down the prosperous music studio located in his residential home. Mr. Shaw first received a letter from the city demanding his home music studio be closed and no longer open for business. Two years later, Mr. Shaw partnered with Pat Raynor, an individual running a hair salon out of her home and protested the residential zoning ordinance in court. The legal battle between Mr. Shaw and the City of Nashville was recently heard by the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The decision of the Supreme Court of Tennessee will not be released for several months.  

On November 12, 2021, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a new law addressing several issues related to the response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and COVID-19 vaccinations. The new law became effective immediately upon being signed by Gov. Lee on November 12, 2021. Among other things, the new law significantly curtails the government’s ability to impose mask mandates and prohibits the government and most private businesses from compelling individuals from providing proof of vaccination if the person objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason. This article discusses some of the important changes the new law brings to public policy surrounding the response to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout Tennessee. 

At the outset, some of the most significant changes brought about by the new law concern restrictions on the ability of government and private businesses to require individuals to provide proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccination. Specifically, the new law states that “[a] private business, governmental entity, school, or local education agency shall not compel or otherwise take an adverse action against a person to compel the person to provide proof of vaccination if the person objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason.”¹ Importantly, the new law contains a broad definition of “private business,” and includes individuals, sole proprietorships, corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, trusts, associations, and non-profit entities.² In addition, the new law contains a broad definition of “adverse action,” and includes discrimination “against a person by denying the person employment, privileges, credit, insurance, access, products, services, or other benefits.”³ As a result, under the new law, most private businesses and governmental entities in Tennessee are prohibited from requiring any individual from providing proof of vaccination in the event the person objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason, and this prohibition is applicable to employees, customers, or just about any individual who accesses products or services of a private business or covered governmental entity. 

Nevertheless, the new law does contain several important exceptions to the general prohibition of requiring proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccination. The new law does not prevent the implementation of COVID-19 vaccine mandates for Medicare and Medicaid providers, or assisted-care living facilities, federal government contractors or subcontractors, schools, or employers that submit notice in writing to the comptroller of the treasury that compliance with the new law would result in a loss of federal funding.4 Moreover, the new law does not prohibit “a place of entertainment” in Tennessee from requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to gain admission, or to allow a person to voluntarily provide proof of vaccination or proof of COVID-19 antibodies in lieu of presenting a negative COVID-19 test in order to gain admission to a “place of entertainment.”5 

U.S. Military retirement benefits allow military service members to elect to purchase a Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP”).¹ SBP was created by Congress in 1972 and has been amended several times. The SBP is a monthly annuity that, upon the service member’s death, will be paid to the service member’s designated beneficiary, such as a surviving spouse, former spouse, surviving children, or dependent children. If the designated beneficiary is a spouse or former spouse, the annuity is terminated upon death of the spouse or remarriage of the former spouse before age 55. Under the SBP, premiums are deducted from a participating service member’s pay (including retirement pay). The military service member may or may not elect to provide this annuity and may change that election. 

Can SBP Be Distributed In A Divorce Settlement? 

Yes, SBP can be distributed in divorce. The most common way this is done is by execution of a military Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO”). The QDRO should specify if the spouse is awarded a portion of the service member’s military retirement. It should correctly follow the format prescribed by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS”) to show how the military retirement is to be calculated.² Further if SBP is awarded to the former spouse, it should clearly state that designation and order the military service member to execute whatever document is required by DFAS to notify them of this action. Further, the QDRO should state that the military service member may not change the SBP beneficiary without written approval of the court or the former spouse.   

Cole Law Group Blog

Military Law Attorney Paul Tennison

The main concern of most parents in Tennessee is the welfare of their child.  However, occasionally a single parent or a family will find themselves in the unfortunate and often heart-wrenching situation of dealing with the legal issue of emergency child custody. Emergency custody matters may arise due to any of the following:  the commitment of a serious offense by a minor child, the death of one or both parents, the incarceration of one or both parents, or the severe abuse or neglect of a minor child. In such cases, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) is mandated to investigate. The DCS mission is to “provide high quality prevention and support services to children and families that promote safety, permanency, and well-being.”¹

Tennessee custody laws are statutory. Thus, reading the section of Tennessee law that governs Juvenile Courts and Proceedings affords the reader a good idea of what law applies in specific emergency custody situations.²

You may be familiar with the moment, while driving in your vehicle, that you see those blue lights and hear that siren.  And your first thought is something along the lines of “Wow! I hope that’s not for me.”

For the uninitiated, the question of what happens after getting a traffic ticket can be a scary unknown. For some minor offenses in Tennessee, the driver may simply pay a fine and move on. However, more serious violations can have repercussions that require further consideration and warrant the assistance of an attorney.

How Many Points Will Result in Suspension of My Driver’s License?

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