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Title: Staff Spotlight: Legal Assistant Emily Sosebee and Paralegal Mary Hemphill

Content:

People seeking legal representation become familiar with a firm’s attorneys. But it takes a larger team effort to ensure our clients receive the best possible service. 

Emily Sosebee

Emily Sosebee started with our firm as a receptionist, greeting all who walked through the doors of our East Memphis flagship office. Now a legal assistant for our real estate practice group, she is known for her ability to build and maintain relationships. Spend even a few moments with Emily and you will experience her professionalism and dedication to client service.

Although born in Charleston, South Carolina, Emily calls Mississippi home. Raised in a military family, she was given many opportunities to travel. But Emily continues to take pride in her Southern roots, which she credits for her stellar hospitality and relationship-building skills. 

Prior to joining our firm, Emily worked in the service industry as a bartender and event coordinator. She also served as a kennel technician and receptionist at several animal hospitals in Mississippi. In each of these roles, Emily excelled as a team player, honing her communications skills, dealing with confidential information, and establishing a rapport with her clients — all of which she continues to build upon as an integral part of the Harris Shelton team. 

Mary Hemphill

Our entire team works to ensure that ease and efficiency are hallmarks of the client experience. Mary Hemphill – a paralegal for our real estate practice group – has a legacy and familial connection to our firm that makes delivering top-notch legal services second nature.

Mary practically grew up at Harris Shelton where her mother, Mary Dinah Buchignani, worked for more than 60 years. By the time the younger Mary entered high school, her mother had brought her to the office so frequently that Mary began to build her own relationships with the Harris Shelton team. She became a trusted friend who would often babysit the children of our attorneys. When Mary met her husband years later, several of the members insisted on meeting John before their relationship evolved. Like her mother before her, Mary Hemphill shares a strong bond with our firm.

Mary officially began working for Harris Shelton as a runner when she was in high school – a role she continued until college. Upon graduating from Rhodes College, Mary moved to Washington D.C. before returning home to Memphis. She has remained a part of the Harris Shelton family ever since. 

Today, Mary works with both residential and commercial real estate clients, paying close attention to details, acting as a point of contact, listening to their needs, and building their trust. She also drafts documents for real estate closings and conducts research on real estate and corporate issues. Mary takes pride in her work and enjoys finding alternate solutions to problems through research and analysis. 

“My mother showed me by example the value of hard work and both of my parents encouraged me to be the best version of myself that I could be,” she said. “That meant living with honor, integrity, and loyalty. I feel like this firm embodies that sentiment.”

Harris Shelton is proud to have Emily and Mary. We extend our appreciation to these brilliant people and their dedication to our attorneys and clients.

Title: HARRIS SHELTON SUPPORTS BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH IN THE TOWN OF COLLIERVILLE

Content:

Harris Shelton attorneys joined Collierville business leaders last Saturday night at the Collierville Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala held at Ridgeway Country Club. Chad Roberts, a member of the firm’s Business Organizations and Taxation practice groups, serves as a member of the Board of the Collierville Chamber of Commerce. Harris Shelton represents a number of small and mid-sized businesses headquartered, or with offices in, Collierville and is proud to support the Chamber in its mission to help businesses grow and prosper in the Town of Collierville.

Title: A Night At The United States Supreme Court

Content:

The privilege of working alongside retired Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Lyle Reid was one I held for almost 10 years. As an associate, having him in the same practice where I was learning taught me more than I ever could’ve learned from books. Through the years, I watched as Justice Reid was invited annually to attend the Conference of Chief Justices event, in which Chief Justices from around the country are invited by the United States Supreme Court to convene, enjoy dinner, and learn from one another. One of the highlights of the event is attending dinner at the U.S. Supreme Court, along with several of the Supreme Court Justices.

In late 2019, Justice Reid’s annual invitation arrived once again. Surprisingly, he extended an invitation to me to join him at the banquet as his guest. Whether he heard the wistfulness in my voice as I peppered him with questions about past conferences, saw the stars in my eyes, or (more likely) grew tired of me reminding him that I could always fill in for him if he was unable to attend, I will never know. He told me that this conference would likely be his last, and that he would like me to accompany him. So, off we went to Washington, D.C.

The evening prior to the banquet, Justice Reid’s wife, Libba, who’s always the exquisite storyteller, regaled my husband and me with stories of past adventures. I was delighted to learn that a Tennessee judge would be honored at the banquet with the prestigious Rehnquist Award for his work against the opioid crisis. Justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court, along with other members of the bar and Tennessee government, attended the event in support of Judge Slone’s recognition for his judicial excellence.

Hors d’oeuvres were set up in the hallways of the United States Supreme Court building, where guests mingled before sitting down to dinner, which was served directly outside the United States Supreme Court. In 2016, I had been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court but had not returned since. It was an indescribable experience to sit right outside the courtroom and enjoy dinner with Chief Justices from around the country, as well as Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas. I soaked up each minute with our Tennessee Supreme Court justices, listened as Judge Slone’s hard work was recognized by Chief Justice Roberts, and observed Justice Reid in his element, as he graciously greeted and conversed with everyone in the room.

After dinner, conversation continued throughout the building. Standing before Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s portrait while having my photo snapped with two of the three women — Justice Clark and former Chief Justice Holder — who comprised the first female majority of Supreme Court justices in the country was absolutely surreal.

It was a humbling experience, and while I felt I was by far the least qualified person to be there, I am tremendously honored to have been able to attend.

Title: A RUNDOWN OF THE TENNESSEE COVID-19 RECOVERY ACT

Content:

The Tennessee House and Senate both passed the Tennessee COVID-19 Recovery Act, requiring a claimant filing a COVID-19 lawsuit against individuals, businesses, schools or healthcare providers in Tennessee to prove gross negligence or willful misconduct by clear and convincing evidence. On Monday, August 17, 2020, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law. 

Let’s take a deeper look at the key points of the bill:

What is the Burden of Proof?

The Act states that a Plaintiff with a claim against any person or entity for loss, damage, injury or death arising from COVID-19 must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the person or entity proximately caused the loss, damage, injury or death by an act or omission constituting gross negligence or willful misconduct. A plaintiff must also plead specific facts with particularity from which a finder of fact can reasonably conclude that the alleged loss, damage, injury or death was caused by the defendant’s gross negligence or willful misconduct.

A Certificate of Good Faith is Required.

Any COVID-19 claimant must file a certificate of good faith stating the claimant has consulted with a physician who believes the alleged injury was caused by the acts or omissions of the defendant.

What is the Applicable Timeframe?

The Act applies to any events occurring before July 1, 2022, except those for which a complaint or civil warrant was filed or pre-suit notice was given on or before August 3, 2020. The Act does NOT create a new or alter any existing statutes of limitations or repose.

Do Governmental and Higher Education Entities Have Immunity?

The Act also creates immunity for governmental entities from COVID-19 claims unless a claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that a government employee within the scope of his or her employment was willful, malicious, criminal or performed for personal financial gain. Furthermore, the state does not waive its sovereign immunity unless a state employee commits gross negligence.

Public institutions of higher learning have immunity from COVID-19 claims unless a claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the institution’s employee or agent acted with gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Is Worker’s Compensation Affected?

No. The Act does not create a cause of action, eliminate a required element of any existing cause of action or affect workers’ compensation claims.

Other states have taken similar legislative actions similar to the above-mentioned, including Mississippi, who passed a similar liability protection bill two months ago. A Federal COVID-19 liability protection bill was proposed as part of the next round of COVID-19 relief but failed to advance in the Senate. 

Harris Shelton continues to monitor updates on new and evolving legislation stemming from the pandemic. If you or your business are in need of legal guidance regarding recent COVID-19 legislation, please contact Harris Shelton, a full-service law firm, today.