In The News

James Crumlin Recognized for Best Free Community Workout in Nashville and Second Best Ambassador to Nashville’s Health and Fitness Community

James A Crumlin Jr Attorney at Bone McAllester Norton Professional indexJames A. Crumlin Jr.On January 3rd, 2018 Bone McAllester Norton’s attorney, James Crumlin was recognized for hosting the Best Free Community Workout in Nashville of 2017 by Nashville Fit Magazine. “Capitol Steps Workout” meets every Monday and Thursday at 6pm. Here you will find James leading a group through a challenging workout session that will push their limits. The participants form a community that keeps the group encouraged and ready for the challenge. All are welcome to join the fun, free of cost, no matter their skill level.

Crumlin was also recognized as the second Best Ambassador to Nashville’s Health and Fitness Community. When receiving the recognition, Crumlin said, “I am blessed beyond measure and so grateful for your continued support! There are SO many people to thank. I humbly thank and so appreciate everyone who helps/has helped with, attends/has attended the workouts over the last 5 ½ years. Without YOU, there would be no Capitol Steps Workout.”

We are proud of the many ways James serves and leads our community through Bone McAllester Norton and from the steps of the capitol building.

James Crumlin Best Free Community Workout

James Crumlin on Instagram bio instagram icon

Bone McAllester Norton Attorneys Recognized as Healthcare Leaders

In January’s Nashville Medical News magazine, “2018 In Charge Health Care,” Bone McAllester Norton attorneys Anne Sumpter Arney and Stacey Garrett Koju are recognized as leaders – “leaders who keep Music City’s $84 billion healthcare industry humming along.”

Anne Sumpter Arney Attorney at Bone McAllester Norton Professional indexAnne Sumpter ArneyWith over 30 years of experience, Anne Arney continues to work with healthcare companies and medical professionals on a wide variety of legal matters. She advises her healthcare clients on business law and transactional issues, as well as assisting them in navigating ever-changing healthcare laws and regulations. Anne regularly counsels both healthcare and non-healthcare entrepreneurs who are seeking to start, grow, operate, and sell their businesses. She publishes the “Physicians’ Legal Update” newsletter to help her clients stayed informed on legal matters.

Stacey Garrett Koju Attorney at Bone McAllester Norton Professional indexStacey Garrett KojuStacey Garrett Koju is a founding member of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC and serves as the chair of the firm’s board of directors. Stacey concentrates her practice in the areas of healthcare, higher education, labor and employment, and corporate transactions. Stacey’s clients include physicians, medical practice groups, and other healthcare entities. She is currently a board member of Abe’s Garden, National Museum of African American Music, and Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc., and also serves as chair of Leadership Tennessee’s Advisory Council.

We are grateful for the hard work and service Anne Arney and Stacey Koju provide to Bone McAllester Norton and the Nashville community.

Learn more - Bone Law - Healthcare Law

Bone McAllester Norton Ranks High with U.S. News Best Law Firms

Bone McAllester Norton continues to earn top recognition in the 2017 edition of U.S. News & World Report & Best Lawyers “Best Law Firm” rankings—a comprehensive survey of America's top law firms—with 20 overall practice rankings. Bonelaw added several new rankings, including Healthcare, Corporate, Mergers and Acquisition, Environmental, and Securitization and Structured Finance. The survey also resulted in 14 individual rankings for Bonelaw attorneys, 10 of those ranked in more than one practice area.

Practice rankings include:

The U.S.News – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.

Bone McAllester Norton is also pleased to announce Anne C. Martin was named Best Lawyers© “Lawyer of the Year” for Litigation – Labor and Employment. Anne Martin has been a member of Best Lawyers since 2007 and a “Lawyer of the Year” since 2013. Only one attorney in the Nashville area is named “Lawyer of the Year” for Labor and Employment. Anne advocates for employees wrongly treated by employers and also advises employers how to comply with complex federal and state employment laws.

“We are pleased to have so many of our attorneys named to Best Lawyers in their areas of practice” said Charles W. Bone, Chairman, Bone McAllester Norton.

Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. The attorneys included in the 2017 The Best Lawyers in America list are:

Trace Blankenship

  • Banking and Finance Law
  • Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Non-Profit / Charities Law

Charles Robert Bone

  • Administrative / Regulatory Law
  • Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships)
  • Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs

Charles W. Bone

  • Administrative / Regulatory Law

John P. Branham

Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs

William T. Cheek III

  • Food and Beverage Law
  • Non-Profit / Charities Law

Glen A. Civitts

  • Corporate Law
  • Healthcare Law
  • Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Real Estate Law
  • Securitization and Structured Finance Law

William J. Haynes III

  • Employment Law – Individuals

Sharon O. Jacobs

  • Environmental Law

Paul W. Kruse

  • Copyright Law
  • Trademark Law

Anne C. Martin

  • Best Lawyers© Lawyer of the Year 2017
  • Employment Law – Individuals
  • Employment Law – Management
  • Litigation – Labor and Employment

Sam J. McAllester III

  • Banking and Finance Law
  • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law

Jack F. Stringham II

  • Banking and Finance Law
  • Real Estate Law

Edward M. Yarbrough

  • Criminal Defense: General Practice
  • Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • DUI/DWI Defense

Stephen J. Zralek

  • Commercial Litigation
  • Copyright Law
  • Litigation – Intellectual Property

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Over 83,000 leading attorneys globally are eligible to vote, and we have received more than 13 million votes to date on the legal abilities of other lawyers based on their specific practice areas around the world. For the 2017 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America, 7.3 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in almost 55,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.

Join us for the Business Studio Legal Series!

Throughout the month of October Bone McAllester Norton is partnering with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce for their Business Studio Legal Series. The series is designed to shape the legal plan for business of all sizes. 

Dates and topics include: 

October 7: Protecting your business relationships, goods and services 

Sean Kirk will teach you how to negotiate contracts that protect your business relationships with suppliers, vendors, customers and others. Register here.

Sean C. KirkSean C. Kirk

October 13: Permitting for events and alcohol service

Learn best practices with Rob Pinson while partnering with breweries, distilleries and wineries as well as the most frequently asked questions small businesses have when working with the Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Register here.

Robert D. PinsonRobert D. Pinson













October 20: Benefiting from business structure

 Make sure your organization has the optimum business structure in this session with Chris Raybeck, especially as we approach the holidays and tax season. Register here.

Christopher J. RaybeckChristopher J. Raybeck












October 27: Labor and employment law for small business

Join us as Anne Martin guides small business owners and HR professionals through the labor and employment law world, covering a wide range of topics from harassment policies to maternity leave to changes in overtime. Register here.

Anne C. MartinAnne C. Martin

Trace Blankenship and Sarah Lodge Tally represent Brentwood-based CEP, Inc., controlling shareholder of Fortune Industries, Inc., in sale to Oasis Outsourcing

Bone McAllester Norton attorneys Trace Blankenship and Sarah Lodge Tally represented Brentwood-based CEP, Inc. in its sale to Oasis Outsourcing, Inc. CEP, Inc. is the controlling shareholder of Fortune Industries, Inc. (OTCMKTS: FDVF), which CEP acquired in a management-led buyout in 2013. The transaction was structured as a merger, which was effective on September 16, 2016. Blankenship, along with Charles W. Bone, also represented CEP’s management team in the 2013 acquisition transaction.

Fortune Industries is a professional employer organization (PEO) group providing full-service human resources and employment-related services to its diverse client base throughout the country through Century II, Inc., Employer Solutions Group, Inc., and Professional Staff Management, Inc. Oasis Outsourcing is the nation’s largest privately-held PEO and currently serves almost 6,000 clients and more than 200,000 worksite employees nationwide. This transaction will add over 14,000 worksite employees in 47 states to the Oasis platform.

Trace Blankenship, member and general counsel of Bone McAllester Norton, served as lead counsel on this transaction. His practice is focused on mergers and acquisitions, securities/venture funding/private placements and company governance and board strategy. Sarah Lodge Tally is an attorney at Bone McAllester Norton and assisted with the transaction. Sarah’s practice is focused on corporate matters advising in strategy and execution of complex transactions.

To read our client’s press release, click here.
To read an article about the transaction in the Nashville Post, click here.

Bone McAllester Norton Named to Top Workplace List

TWP_Tennessee_Portrait_2016_Gray_AWWe're honored to have made the list of The Tennessean's Top Workplaces!

Bone McAllester Norton has been awarded a 2016 Top Workplace honor by The Tennessean.  The Top Workplaces lists are based solely on the results of an employee feedback survey administered by Workplace Dynamics, LLC.  Several aspects of workplace culture were measured with rankings and essay questions where data was compiled, compared and provided back to the firm for process improvement as well as training and retention programs.

“The Top Workplaces award is not a popularity contest. And oftentimes, people assume it’s all about fancy perks and benefits.” says Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics. “But to be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day—the employees. Time and time again, our research has proven that what’s most important to them is a strong belief in where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and the feeling that everyone is in it together. Claffey adds, “Without this sense of connection, an organization doesn’t have a shot at being named a Top Workplace.”

For the full article, click here.

Experienced Business Lawyer and Litigator Joins Bone McAllester Norton

W. Justin AdamsW. Justin AdamsNASHVILLE, TN –Bone McAllester Norton is pleased to announce the addition of W. Justin Adams. Justin Adams is an experienced business lawyer and litigator who represents companies and individuals in corporate, health care, and employment transactions and disputes, often in the role of outside general counsel. He also represents individuals in criminal and civil investigations.

As a business lawyer, Justin has served as outside general counsel to health care and other businesses, represented buyers and sellers in multi-million dollar health care transactions, and advised health care companies on Stark and Anti-Kickback issues. As a litigator, he has helped businesses and individuals win victories and negotiate favorable settlements in complex commercial, employment, and regulatory disputes as well as state and federal criminal cases and government investigations.

“Justin will be an enormous asset for our corporate, health care, employment, and dispute resolution groups,” said Chairman Charles W. Bone. “He has an impressive track record of advising businesses and individuals in a broad range of complex transactions and disputes.”

Justin holds a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School (2001, Order of the Coif) and a B.A. in English from Sewanee: The University of the South (1998, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa). Before beginning legal practice, he clerked for the Honorable Andrew J. Kleinfeld of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Before joining Bone McAllester Norton, Justin practiced thirteen years with Trauger & Tuke, where he began his career and focused on corporate, healthcare, and employment law as well as civil litigation and criminal defense.

Charles Robert Bone appointed President and CEO of Bone McAllester Norton

Charles Robert BoneCharles Robert BoneNASHVILLE – Charles Robert Bone has been named President and CEO of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC, Nashville’s sixth largest law firm. The board of directors of the firm elected Mr. Bone to his new role, which was previously held by the late founding member, Mike Norton. Charles W. Bone continues as Chairman of the firm, and Sam J. McAllester III will continue serving as Vice Chairman.

“Charles Robert is a perfect fit to lead the firm,” said Stacey Garrett Koju, founding Member and Chairperson, Board of Directors, Bone McAllester Norton.  “He is an active community leader and business person, well-known throughout Tennessee, and he is an effective collaborator.  We look forward to his leadership at the firm.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Megan Barry appointed Charles Robert Bone to the board of directors of MDHA, the Metropolitan Development Housing Agency.

Mr. Bone was the featured “Attorney of the Month” for the inaugural issue of Attorney at Law Magazine’s Middle Tennessee edition in 2015.  In recent years, he has been recognized by the Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers in America©; Best of the Bar, Nashville Business Journal; In Charge, Nashville Post; Top 40 Under 40, The Tennessean; Top 10 Influences for Tennessee, Campaigns and Elections; and Mid-South Super Lawyers among many others.

He concentrates his law practice in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and advising emerging businesses, entrepreneurs, officers and directors and governmental entities, including serving as general counsel for the Convention Center Authority of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. He also has represented clients in various complex litigation matters in both state and federal courts across Tennessee.

Mr. Bone has been instrumental in developing several Tennessee-based companies as an entrepreneur, investor and board member, including as a founder of Phoenix Boats (Winchester, Tennessee), the Southern Steak & Oyster restaurant and Acme Feed & Seed.

He serves a number of non-profit and civic organizations, including Hands on Nashville, Oasis Center, Best Buddies, and Discover Madison.

He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College and his Juris Doctorate degree from Vanderbilt University Law School. A Middle Tennessee native and seventh-generation Tennessean, Mr. Bone is married with four children.

For more information, visit

About Bone McAllester Norton PLLC

Bone McAllester Norton PLLC is a full-service law firm with 40 attorneys and offices in Nashville, Sumner County, and Williamson County of Tennessee. Our attorneys focus on 18 distinct practice areas, providing the wide range of legal services ordinarily required by established and growing businesses and entrepreneurs. Among our practices, we represent clients in business and capital formation, mergers and acquisitions, securities matters, commercial lending and creditors’ rights, commercial real estate and development, governmental regulatory matters, commercial litigation and dispute resolution, intellectual property strategy and enforcement, entertainment and environmental matters.   Our client base reflects the firm’s deep understanding and coverage of today’s leading industry and business segments. For more information, call 615-238-6300 or visit

House of Alba presentation at The Frist Center

Don Carlos Fitz-James Stuart, the 19th Duke of Alba, was the guest of honor for the more than 140 works of art belonging to one of the most prominent noble families in the political and cultural history of Spain.  It is truly one of the most delightful collections in Europe - Nashville is honored to be the first city to host this collection outside of Spain.

For more information about the latest Frist Center exhibit, click here.

For the article in The Tennessean, click here.


Bone McAllester Norton attorneys Anne Sumpter Arney and Stacey Garrett Koju named to Nashville Medical News InCharge Healthcare 2016

Bone McAllester Norton attorneys Anne Sumpter Arney and Stacey Garrett Koju have been named to the 2016 Nashville Medical News InCharge Healthcare list.  This list includes a wealth of impressive leaders impacting the education and training of the next generation of providers.

These leaders across the healthcare spectrum are working together to incite positive change in the medical community.  Thank you and congratulations!

Bone McAllester Norton PLLC is a full-service law firm with 40 attorneys and offices in Nashville, Sumner and Williamson counties, Tennessee. Our attorneys focus on 18 distinct practice areas, providing the wide range of legal services ordinarily required by established and growing businesses and entrepreneurs. Among our practices, we represent clients in business and capital formation, mergers and acquisitions, securities matters, commercial lending and creditors’ rights, commercial real estate and development, governmental regulatory matters, commercial litigation and dispute resolution, intellectual property strategy and enforcement, entertainment and environmental matters. Our client base reflects the firm’s deep understanding and coverage of today’s leading industry and business segments. For more information, visit



James Mackler Recognized on “Forty Under 40” List by Nashville Business Journal

Bone McAllester Norton is proud to announce that James Mackler was named to the Nashville Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” list.

The annual awards go to young professionals who are making a difference in their companies and their community in Middle Tennessee.

Click here* read James's profile featured in the Nashville Business Journal.

*A subscription is required to read the entire article.

James Mackler Recognized on “Forty Under 40” List by Nashville Business Journal

Bone McAllester Norton is proud to announce that James Mackler was named to the Nashville Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” list.

The annual awards go to young professionals who are making a difference in their companies and their community in Middle Tennessee.

Click here* read James's profile featured in the Nashville Business Journal.

*A subscription is required to read the entire article.

Bone McAllester Norton is Presenting Sponsor of the Nashville Business Journal’s Entrepreneur Panel Series

Bone McAllester Norton is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor of the Nashville Business Journal's 2012 Entrepreneur Panel Series, sponsored by LBMC in cooperation with the Entrepreneur Center. The second panel in a three-series event is called
"From Nowhere to Somewhere: How to Grow Your Business"
Taking an idea and creating a business plan is certainly challenging. Raising money is no easy task either. But executing the plan - actually launching a business and getting early momentum - is likely the most difficult challenge of all. We want to share the stories of success - and the difficulties - in executing a plan and successfully launching a new business in our community.
We invite you to attend.
Friday, November 16th

Renaissance Nashville Hotel
Registration 7:30 - 8:00 am
Breakfast & Panel Discussion 8:00 - 9:00 am
Ticket Price: $40
Sign Up Here
Bonelaw attorney, Charles Robert Bone, is a panelist. He concentrates his law practice in the areas of transactions, corporate governance and advising governmental entities, officers and directors, small businesses and entrepreneurs.
In addition to his law practice, Charles Robert has been instrumental in developing several Tennessee-based companies as an investor and board member.
For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Attorney Will Cheek Co-Chairs High Rises and Honky Tonks Progressive Party

Will Cheek is co-chairing this year’s High Rises and Honky Tonks progressive party. Bone McAllester Norton is a sponsor.

The party starts Thursday October 25, at the historic Ryman Alley at 6 pm, travels to One Eleven, Nashville’s premier rooftop venue, and concludes with a silent auction and live music at the newly restored Silver Dollar Saloon.  Proceeds benefit The District, Downtown Nashville’s nonprofit association to promote, preserve and protect the businesses, residents and historic buildings on Lower Broad, Second Avenue and Printer’s Alley.

To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, click here.


Bone McAllester Norton Hosts Vanderbilt Homecoming Tailgate

BMN is excited to host a tailgate on Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 2pm. Bring your gameday spirit and join us before the game for some BBQ and a drink. Look for the Bone McAllester Norton sign marking the tailgate spot located in Vandyville. We are tent #6 on Natchez Trace, next to the track, on the way to the stadium.

For more information contact Casey Savell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Bone McAllester Norton Client Sam's Sports Bar Is One of America's Best Sports Bars

The Tennessean features Bone McAllester Norton client Sam's Sports Bar as one of America's Best Sports Bars. Congratulations to Sam Sanchez and his staff. Bone attorney Will Cheek worked closely with Sam's in the Guns and Bars litigation and Mr. Sanchez's testimony was key to the Court tossing out the 2009 law as being unconstitutional.

For the record, both Sam Sanchez and Will Cheek are strong proponents of the right to bear arms but believe that guns and alcohol do not mix.


Stephen Zralek Speaks on Copyright Fair Use and User Generated Content at BarCamp

Stephen led a session called “All is Fair (Use) in Love and Copyright” where the audience looked at close calls and were the judge on what’s infringement and what’s fair use.  This session was designed as an intro to fair use for anyone who creates or posts content.

He also served on a panel with Rob Robinson, Nissan’s Senior Specialist for Social Media, called “Laughs & Likes: Using User-Generated Content and Comedy to Drive Business & Build Excitement,” where they looked at a real world example in which Nissan invited fans to submit ideas to promote the new 2013 Nissan Pathfinder, then partnered with The Second City comedy troupe to generate improv music videos.

BarCamp is a free, technology-focused “unconference” that is equal parts networking, knowledge-building and fun. BarCamp has become the premier technology and digital event in the city, bringing together the best minds and representations of the hottest companies in the digital, entrepreneurial and software industries, among others.

BMN Healthcare Practice Group Presents Panel Discussion about Life Stages of Estate and Tax Planning

The Nashville Academy of Medicine, Bone McAllester Norton and Regions Bank presented a panel discussion about The Life Stages of Estate and Tax Planning: What You Need to Know Before the End of 2012 on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 6:00pm at the University Club of Nashville.


Was Dope the First Step to End the ABC?

By: Will Cheek
The Legislature considered curtailing the authority of ABC agents to enforce marijuana laws and eliminate their authority to arrest for criminal drug offenses. This seemingly innocuous change could have been the first step toward eliminating the ABC as a stand-alone agency. The change could have easily impacted the training and pay of ABC agents.

ABC agents have historically been active in marijuana eradication in Tennessee, benefiting from both federal and state funding, and being active in major raids. We presume that marijuana eradication is an important reason behind funding for higher salaries and more-comprehensive training for ABC agents.

The legislation failed this year, but we encourage industry insiders to closely monitor this issue in upcoming legislative sessions. Nationally, many states have considered merging their state ABC into other agencies, largely as a cost saving measure. Liquor experts generally agree that combining ABC functions with other state agencies is bad for the industry. Very bad.

In a heavily regulated industry, having dedicated trained experts in the field is generally seen as a necessary evil. If nothing else, it provides a relatively level playing field for competitors that might otherwise openly break laws to make money, if no one were watching.

With competition driving sales practices, instead of law enforcement, insiders see movement to a more reckless environment that could easily cause major increases in insurance, and eventually to overly restrictive legislative responses. Anyone remember Prohibition?

Eliminating the law enforcement duties of ABC agents simplifies merging the ABC with other state agencies. We saw this as a first step toward eliminating the Tennessee ABC, which from all signs is not good for the alcoholic beverage industry.

2012 Liquor Legislative Recap

By Will Cheek

As usual, alcohol-induced legislation was popular with the 2012 Tennessee General Assembly. Legislators quaffed mass quantities of liquor legislation. Some made it to the state bar; others fizzled. We distill the most interesting and important beer and liquor laws of the 2012 Session.
Wine Fails Again
Most visible was the failure of Wine in Food Stores legislation to gain traction. According to an MTSU poll, 69% of Tennesseans favor wine in groceries.
This year, some supporters revamped the legislation to allow citizens to vote on wine in grocery stores with a local option election. Local option election is the way that cities, towns and counties decide to allow package stores and liquor-by-the-drink in restaurants.
Local option responded to criticism that the state should not be telling local folks whether Kroger and Mapco could sell wine. The thought was that major cities would legalize wine sales in food stores, based on the popularity of the issue, but that more conservative, generally smaller towns, would not be forced to swallow something that was not palatable to more conservative voters.
The new wine legislation died early in the legislative session. Many observers were not surprised, given the upcoming elections this fall and the fear among incumbents of primaries that almost certainly will focus on conservative values – including an anti-alcohol constituency that remains very important in more rural districts.
Discounts: Game Changing Marketing Rules?
Some liquor stores quietly offered small discounts to military personnel and elderly citizens. Technically, the practice was not legal. Someone asked the ABC and was told to stop.
In response, the legislature created a huge exception to the ABC prohibition against coupons and other discounts at the retail level. It is now legal for package stores – as well as bars, restaurants and other LBD licenses – to offer discounts, as long as the price is not below wholesale cost.
Specifically struck down are the limitations on case discounts at package stores. There are no case discount rules, as long as the price is not below cost. The impact on LBD could be sweeping, depending on how the ABC harmonizes the new law with existing laws and ABC Regs. For example, the new discount rule appears to allow happy hour beyond 10 pm, which will put considerable pressure on marketing to binge drinkers late at night.
It also opens up the possibility of selling drinks at multiple prices, at the same time, allowing preferred pricing to groups or preferred patrons. Allowing multiple prices on drinks could create headaches for tax collection and new tools for unscrupulous owners to cheat the tax man.
The open-ended discounting law could be this year’s Pandora’s box. PC 947.
Package Store Tastings
Following the 2011 passage of a law that allowed tastings at retail package stores – without any rules – 2012 legislation clarified that retail tastings are subject to very few rules:
• Liquor stores do not have to file a notice with the ABC for each tasting. Retail stores are required to give the ABC an annual notice of intent to conduct tastings, concurrent with renewals. The notice does not have to specify when tastings might occur. The ABC cannot charge a fee for the notice.
• Tastings may be offered at any time the retail liquor store is open for business.
• The size of each sample may not exceed “approximately two ounces” for tastings of wine or high-alcohol beer. Samples of spirits are limited to “approximately one-half ounce.”
• Retail liquor stores are responsible for limiting the number of tastings per customer and the number of products available for tasting.
• A retail licensee or employee of the licensee “may participate” in tastings. The change apparently overrides the general prohibition against licensees and employees drinking on the job.
• A server permit is not required for employees conducting tastings, if the employee has an employee permit for the retail store.
The new legislation does not address whether liquor stores may pair food with tastings, or offer guidance about mixers and other critical details. Keep in mind that liquor stores can only sell liquor, lottery tickets and cash checks. The ABC could easily take the position that since mixers and ice cannot be sold, mixers and ice cannot be used in tastings. Of course, liquor stores cannot sell glassware or Red Solo Cups, which if banned, would complicate tastings.
Although the new law makes it clear that notices are not required for each tasting, the legislation is ambiguous about annual notices. To be safe, we encourage owners to give a general notice of intent to conduct tastings now, and then give the same notice again each time the license is renewed.
Plaintiff’s lawyers could have a field day with the open-ended language allowing stores to set their own policies about how much a consumer can taste, how many samples can be available at any given time and how much alcohol staff consumes while conducting a tasting. We encourage store owners to impose the same controls a responsible restaurant imposes concerning consumption of alcohol. Dram shop liability is a logical concern and owners should have insurance coverage.
Allowing owners and employees to sample wines and spirits at tastings is fraught with danger. For example, what if the tasting lasts all day and the imbibing employee is also selling alcohol at the register. After a tasting, we encourage employees that have sampled alcoholic beverages not to return to regular duty selling wine and spirits. Bottom line, it is apparently legal to be under the influence and sell alcohol, provided the owner or employee is “participating” in a tasting. We say it is a bad idea. PC 947.
ABC Gets the Hammer for Admin Hearings
The ABC can now be awarded costs at administrative hearings. This puts considerable power into the hands of the ABC to press for settlement of citations. The ABC can use the threat of being awarded costs at an administrative hearing as a hammer to convince reluctant licensees to pony up for settlement or close the doors for a suspension.
Under the new law, in any administrative proceeding where sanctions are imposed, the ABC can be awarded costs. Costs include legal fees for the investigating and prosecuting attorney (generally the ABC Director or Assistant Director), the administrative judge, experts, and agents and other “persons” investigating and prosecuting the charges. Rates were not set, but are required to be “reasonable.”
“Reasonable” legal fees can be horrendously expensive. We expect that the hammer will be especially effective against licensees that try to ignore citations. We do not foresee a change for the vast majority of licensees that respond to citations. PC 1063.
Help Me, I’m Hungry
Tipped employees are no longer entitled to a 30 minute break for meals. The new law imposes a complex set of rules for employers to institute a “voluntary” program for tipped employee’s to waive their right to a 30 minute meal break. We see this law as fodder for bottom-feeding plaintiff’s employment attorneys. PC 760.
Limited Service License Fees
Previously, new limited service restaurants, commonly known as bars, were automatically presumed to sell less than 20% food and therefore had to pay the maximum $4,000 license fee. The law now allows new bars to submit a business plan projecting their percentage of alcohol and food sales. This should help future aspiring bar owners that plan on selling more than 20% food.
At renewal, the limited service licensee must file a sworn statement of food sales. If the projection in the business plan does not match the percentage in the sworn statement, the restaurant will either retroactively pay the difference between the higher license fee or receive a refund.
Buried in the change is language that arguably strips the ABC of authority to investigate the accuracy of the business plan and sworn statement. This favors the unscrupulous at the expense of honest bar owners. PC 947.
Farmer Brown’s Wine Bar
Tennessee’s bucolic farm country is now ripe for wine tastings and sales of farm wines. Farmers can now become farm wine producers. A farm winery grows its own grapes and contracts with a licensed winery to make wine from the grapes and bottle the wine in custom labeling for the farm.
Back on the farm, Farmer Brown can offer tastings of the wine and sell the wine by the bottle, in a separate room. There are no location restrictions, which we read as opening up dry rural areas to wine sales for Farmer Brown. Perhaps the most interesting provision of the farm wine producer law is the omission of the wholesale tier. Wineries can transport wine directly to the farm. Farm wine does not have to pass through wholesalers.
The farm wine law imposes almost no restrictions on sales. Hours are not set and server permits are not required for tastings, for example. The law does not expressly allow a charge for tastings, although the law does not prohibit charging admission to a tour that includes
As expected, a handful of dry restaurants were licensed as a premier type tourist resort and are now able to serve booze. Included are:
1) Catfish Place in Cheatham County. PC 661. 2) Long Branch on Dale Hollow Lake. PC 1005. 3) East Fork Stables. PC 0503. 4) Blue River Resort in Perry County had its license revised. PC 0440.
Cocke County can roll out the red carpet for distilleries. Cocke County, home of world famous moonshiner Popcorn Sutton, is now allowed to have distilleries in their county. PC 515. Four new specific businesses were added to the list of special licenses for LBD:
1. Woodland Golf Club. PC 136. 2. National Ornamental Museum in Memphis. PC 110. 3. Franklin Theater. PC 053. 4. The convention center at Tellico Lake. PC 1035.
If You Can’t Buy… Stay Out of the Liquor Store
The law for many years has outlawed people under 21 and people who are “visibly intoxicated” from buying liquor in liquor stores. The law has been extended. Now anyone “visibly intoxicated,” under the age of 21 or otherwise disruptive can be criminally charged, if asked to leave to store. Anyone under the age of 18 without a parent can be criminally charged just for entering a liquor store.
We wonder if the change has anything to do with wine in grocery store legislation. We doubt Publix will restrict minors from its stores, if groceries are allowed to sell wine. PC 899.
Criminals Rejoice
The prohibition against hiring LBD employees for eight years after conviction of a felony was reduced to four years. Employees convicted of crimes involving the sale, manufacture or transportation of alcohol are still precluded from holding sever permits for eight years.
The law muddied an age-old ABC practice of disregarding crimes resolved by “judicial diversion,” a common way for someone with a good record to dismiss criminal charges after doing community service and avoiding a subsequent arrest for a few months. The new law specifically approved of disregarding non-alcoholic beverage crimes resolved by judicial diversion. By omitting judicial diversion for alcoholic beverage crimes, does the law require the ABC to deny a server permit where a sale to minor was resolved by judicial diversion?
Note that the law does not apply to employee permits for retail liquor stores. Judicial diversion may not be an option for package store clerks. PC 1063.
Hours for Beer Sales
Two laws change the hours for beer sales in many cities and counties, most likely impacting more rural areas. For establishments holding LBD licenses, the hours for the sale of beer are now the same as the hours for the sale of wine and liquor. PC 027.
Another law expands the areas for Sunday 10 am sales to the entire county, where one city has LBD. Counties can opt out by 2/3 vote of the county commission.
We were astonished to see legislation that mentioned Sunday and alcoholic beverages in the same legislation. The general wisdom is that bills that expand the availability of alcoholic beverages on the Lord’s Day are dead on arrival. Perhaps it confirms that Legislators treat beer differently than alcoholic beverages, presumably based on antiquated assumptions that beer poses a lower risk than wine or spirits. Need we remind Legislators that this is an election year? PC 231.
Smoking Bath Salts and Plant Food
Unscrupulous convenience stores across Tennessee have been selling plant food, incense, bath salts and other seemingly innocuous products that have a popular use among youth bound for a buzz. When smoked, inhaled or injected, these substances create marijuana and hallucinogenic-type effects. The downside? The stuff is really dangerous, all too often leading to hospitalization and sometimes serious permanent injury. Every now and then, someone dies.
The Legislature created a new Class E felony to manufacture, sell or posses for sale an “imitation controlled substance.” Importantly, the law declares the building where the substance was sold to be a public nuisance. Beer boards should be able to close public nuisances by suspending or revoking beer permits.
It is very difficult to criminalize variations of synthetic drugs. Manufacturers tweak the formula to avoid criminal laws and suddenly have a legal product. With this law, Legislators took a broad approach, seeking to ban all “imitation controlled substances.” Look for court challenges by defendants. PC 843.
Important Technical Changes
• Full Bars in Smaller Restaurants. This new law fixes an inconsistency that came about with the adoption of limited service restaurants. Now, a restaurant with as few as 40 seats can sell alcohol, even if the restaurant sells more than 50% food. Two years ago, the limited service license lowered the seating requirement to 40 for bars, but not for restaurants. Restaurants with 40 seats could only serve wine. PC 790.
• Charities in the Hinterland? Special occasion licenses can now be issued to dry areas of a county that contains at least one city that has LBD. Charities can now hold special events in dry areas of major counties with wine and spirits. The law does not address beer. PC 447.
• Alcohol on Golf Courses Legalized? The premises for a private club now includes the golf course, tennis courts and areas immediately surrounding the swimming pool. Previously, many clubs allowed patrons to imbibe while golfing, but technically, the practice was not legal at most clubs. The law did not legalize duffing with beer and does not apply to for profit clubs.
• Due Process? Legislators developed a pilot program that authorizes the beer boards in Hancock, Union, Grainger, Claiborne, Cocke, Jefferson, Hawkins, Hamilton and Knox counties to suspend or revoke the beer permits if the ABC suspends or revokes alcohol licenses of any establishment. The law is complicated and amends an existing attempt to coordinate prosecution against establishments charged with selling alcohol to patrons under the age of 21. PC 881.
• Report Cards for Beer Boards. Beer boards are required to file yearly reports with statistical information identifying: (a) the number of beer permits issued, (b) information surrounding violations for the sale of beer for off-premises consumption and (c) any penalties imposed by the beer board for these violations. The ABC is required to compile the data and file a report with the Legislature by March 15. Copies of the report are available upon request. We suspect a number of beer boards will ignore the law, saying that the beer board does not have access to the information required pursuant to the law, which is a specific exception to the unfunded mandate. The other problem with this law is constitutional: the law goes far beyond the caption of the bill. PC 964.
• ABC’s High Alcohol Research Project. This law was created in response to the death of an 18 year old from consuming Everclear. This law requires the ABC to research and report information regarding beverages with high alcohol content to state and local government committees by January 30, 2013. New laws may come from this research next year. Stay Tuned? PC 730.
• ABC Regs. The ABC is now required to file a report by March 1 each session covering each new Reg enacted in the previous year and specifying the rationale for the new Reg. PC 947.
• Fines. The ABC is required to state the particular rule or statute in all citations, codifying a process that we believe has been in effect for decades at the ABC. PC 947.
• What’s better than receiving a letter from a loved one in the military? Receiving a bottle of wine with that letter. Tennessee passed a law allowing military men and women overseas to ship wine to Tennessee for personal consumption, but only once, and with a $100 license. PC 968.
• Wholesale Importing Now Legit. The law specifically provides for licensed wholesalers to become importers. Tennessee wholesalers can import wine and spirits from abroad and sell the spirits to other wholesalers throughout the US, with proper federal permitting and an ABC permit. PC 448.
• Jack Trucks. Manufacturers are now allowed to transport product out of state without using common carries. Jack, George and other Tennessee distilleries can use their own trucks to haul spirits out of state. Manufacturers and wineries can also store product at other locations in the county where their manufacturing facility is located. PC 448.
• Nonresident Sellers. The scope of the nonresident seller permit was modified and we encourage holders to view the changes in Section 6 of PC 448. • The exemption for wholesalers selling to out of state wholesalers was reduced from 20 to 10 years. The Attorney General has since thrown out the residency requirement, which makes the law meaningless, in our humble opinion. Read our story here. PC 592.
• High Alc Beer. Beginning at Section 7, Public Chapter 448 cleared up a number of provisions of the high alc beer laws and brewers are encouraged to review the changes. PC 448.
• Open container law fails again. For the fifth consecutive year, a bill regarding open containers in motor vehicles has failed. This year, the bill limited the offense to only passengers sitting in the front seat, yet it still failed. Many think the General Assembly’s love for golf and UT football is to thank for the bill’s failure.
• A bill redefining beer to include beverages with up to 12 % alcohol failed, mostly because of the fiscal impact on the state. High alcohol beverages have a different tax structure, and this would decrease state revenue’s by nearly $800,000 per year, which we think would grow significantly over time. With such a fiscal impact, do not expect to see high gravity beers in gas stations anytime soon.
• Self-checkout beer purchases remain legal. The apparent purpose behind this bill was to prevent minors from using the “swipe and swap” method. This is where someone “swipes” a 12 pack of cokes and “swaps” it for a 12 pack of booze. This failed, primarily because it would be easier for minors to simply steal the beer. Also, almost all grocery stores monitor self-checkout services. The main impact of the law would have made it more inconvenient for the vast majority of purchasers that are of age.
• Another bill with the purpose of protecting minors authorized the commissioner of revenue to revoke business licenses for the illegal sale of synthetic drugs and the local beer boards to revoke the beer license of a business selling such drugs.
• In response to many high profile drinking and driving accidents, investigating officers of fatal traffic accidents involving alcohol would have been required to forward the accident report to the ABC. One of the primary reasons this failed is because it is unnecessary, since the ABC can simply read about high profile drunk driving accidents in the newspaper.
• The ABC will continue to randomly conduct background checks on alcohol permit/license holders, as a bill requiring checks on all holders failed.
• It is currently a Class E felony for persons without a direct shipper’s license to ship alcohol in this state. A law requiring the ABC to contact the Federal Alcohol and tobacco tax trade bureau was introduced, but defeated this year.
• Pick TN/ Don’t Pick TN. Two bills were introduced with the intent of preserving the authenticity of Tennessee alcohol products. The first would have prohibited labeling whiskey, rum, and other “spirits” from being advertised as Tennessee products, unless they were actually distilled in Tennessee. The second required products sold as “Tennessee Wine” or “Tennessee Sour Mash whiskey” to contain a certain percentage of products grown in Tennessee.
We have seen at least one Tennessee-style whiskey that appears to have absolutely no connection to Tennessee – it is not distilled, aged or bottled in Tennessee. This is an issue that probably requires a fix at the federal level, since Tennessee cannot regulate what folks do in other states.
• Wineries - The law in Tennessee will continue to prevent wineries from having more than one location after a bill authorizing satellite locations was defeated. Coincidentally, the sponsors of this bill happen to be from the areas where Arrington Vineyards, (Williamson County) and Tennessee Valley Winery (Loudon County) areas.

*Special thanks to Bone McAllester Norton law clerk Thomas Austin for his assistance with this year’s summary.