Erin Shea Elected as Fellow by the Memphis Bar Foundation

erin shea

Erin Shea Elected as Fellow by the Memphis Bar Foundation

Patterson Bray is proud to announce that Erin Shea was recently elected a Fellow by the Memphis Bar Foundation.

The Memphis Bar Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Memphis Bar Association with the mission of promoting philanthropy among members of the Bar; advocating and supporting public awareness of the legal system; promoting social justice and legal education; and encouraging and recognizing professionalism among members of the Bar. Fellows are elected in recognition of devoted and distinguished service to the legal profession and the administration of justice and adherence to the highest standards of professional ethics and personal conduct.

More About Erin Shea

Erin is married to Martin F. Shea, Jr., and has two children, Elin (4) and Martin, III (19 months). Read more about Erin by clicking here.

Local Goverment Alert: TN Supreme Court acknowledges expansive rights of governing boards to sue & be sued

Local Goverment Alert: TN Supreme Court acknowledges expansive rights of governing boards to sue & be sued

local governmentTwo recent opinions give real insight into the Tennessee Supreme Court’s thinking about the ability of the components of local government to sue each other.

In the first case, the Court confirmed Metro Nashville’s ability to sue its own Board of Zoning Appeals.  In the second case, the Court confirmed the Coffee County School Board’s right to sue two cities over funding issues.

These opinions are especially timely considering the battle brewing in Memphis about whether or not a County Commission can retain its own counsel, separate and apart from the county attorney.

State of TN holding $725M in unclaimed property – click to see if any belongs to you

State of TN holding $725M in unclaimed property – click to see if any belongs to you



Ever wonder what happens to money or property that gets “lost in the shuffle” so to speak?


  • an old utility or lease deposit you forgot to follow up on before you moved
  • the last interest payment due in an old savings account you closed
  • a final paycheck at an old job
  • an old safety deposit box your grandmother never told anyone about


This is referred to as “unclaimed property,” and by law the holder of the property (i.e. the bank, the landlord, utility, company, etc.) must turn it over to the State along with information about the name and last known address of the owner. They CANNOT keep the property; however, they are not required to track down the owner, either. They can simply turn it over to the State and be done with it.


Literally MILLIONS of dollars in unclaimed funds are turned over to the State of Tennessee each year.  Over $40 million was turned in just last year alone.


But here’s the good news — the State maintains a website where you can do a simple name search and then claim your property at no cost. Check out your prospects ( You can search for yourself, your parents, your kids, your friends, etc., and then your (or they) can submit a claim form with identifying information as needed and the State will turn the property over to you.


As noted above, it is QUITE common for people to forget about small deposits here and there. I once learned about an old utility deposit from back when I was in college and got my refund! It wasn’t much, but it was free money!


Use the Comment section below and share any success stories you have finding old/lost property or funds.


[TIP: Be sure to also search in other states where you may have lived, transacted business, or maintained accounts. Just type in Google the words “unclaimed property” and the state you want to search.]


Click the “Share” or “Retweet” buttons below to let your friends know about this post.

Apartment Complex Crime -Negligent Security-Memphis

crime victim lawyers, apartment complex crime attorney

Apartment Complex Crime -Negligent Security-Memphis

Memphis has more than its share of violence. Apartment complex crime in Memphis is serious. Recently, another man lost his life after being gunned down as he was walking back into his apartment at the Prescott Place Apartments located in the 1700 block of Morlye Street. Not all crime is preventable, but many times property managers and apartment complexes do not have adequate security to deter and prevent crime.

We have significant experience in handling apartment crime and negligent security cases. Investigating and prosecuting these claims can be complex. We often learn that  large out-of-town companies own and operate apartments in high-crime neighborhoods, and do little to protect their residents and visitors. Why do these companies ignore the crime? It’s simple: spending money on security measures cuts into the bottom line.

An apartment complex presents unique security issues that don’t exist in single-family neighborhoods. The layout of the premises often makes it challenging for local police to monitor and patrol the area. Because of this, it is even more important for apartment companies and property managers to be intentional about the security on their property.

Unfortunately, many times security measures such as increased lighting, properly maintained landscaping, and security guard patrols are ignored and residents are left to fend for themselves. When this happens, you can be sure that criminals learn which properties are prime targets. Indeed, in one case we worked on, three criminals actually rode their bikes past several other commercial and residential areas to specifically find a victim at the defendant apartment complex because they knew it was dark and no security guards worked at night. The failure of the apartment complex and property management to implement and maintain reasonable security measures resulted in the complex having a reputation for being a good place to commit crime without getting caught, and our client suffered a catastrophic gunshot wound because of it.

We represent victims of apartment complex crime.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of apartment complex crime in Memphis or if you have been a crime victim on a commercial property and you think that the security measures may not have been reasonable, please feel free to call our firm to see if we can help. We are attorneys for crime victims. Call us at 901-372-5003.

Patterson Bray PLLC

8001 Centerview Parkway, Suite 103

Memphis, Tennessee 38018

(901) 372-5003

engagement ring after break up

Who keeps the Engagement Ring After a Break-Up?

engagement ring lawyer

Who keeps the Engagement Ring After a Break-Up?

I enjoy listening to the “Mike & Mike Show” on ESPN Radio during my morning commute.  I remember on one show that they were discussing a lawsuit filed by NFL player, Mario Williams, against his ex-fiancee seeking the return of a $785,000 engagement ring. So they posed the question for each of their in-studio guests:  Should the ex-fiancee get to keep the engagement ring?

Opinions varied, but the general consensus was that she should have to return the ring, unless the engagement ended because of infidelity by Williams. Interesting opinions.  And actually not that far off from what the law actually requires.

Auto Accident Lawyer Memphis, TN 

Interesting TN Law Prohibiting Tracking Devices on Vehicles

Interesting TN Law Prohibiting Tracking Devices on Vehicles

I ran across an interesting TN statute the other day, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-606, which states in pertinent part that:

It is an offense for a person to knowingly install, conceal or otherwise place an electronic tracking device in or on a motor vehicle without the consent of all owners of the vehicle for the purpose of monitoring or following an occupant or occupants of the vehicle.

In other words, you should probably think twice before purchasing a tracking device from one of the those “I Spy” type stores in an effort to keep tabs on, or gather evidence against, a spouse or partner.  Not only does violation of the statute constitute a Class C misdemeanor, but I also imagine that any illegally secured evidence would be subject to challenge in civil court as well.  In other words, that smoking gun evidence you think you’re getting from the tracking device might actually end up getting thrown out anyway.

Gun Trusts: Feinstein’s Bill Addresses Handguns Too.

Gun Trusts: Feinstein’s Bill Addresses Handguns Too.

According to the Washington Post, Senator Feinstein’s gun control bill not only seeks to severely restrict the sale and transfer of modern sporting rifles, but also “prohibits the sale or transfer of high-capacity, ammunition-feeding devices currently in existence” – a clear reference to gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

While most gun owners don’t own an AR-15, millions of Americans own handguns for personal defense.  Many if not most of these “regular” handguns are sold with magazines that hold 10 rounds.  It’s these personal defense weapons that Senator Feinstein seeks to restrict.  If her bill becomes law, millions of Americans will no longer be able to sell, give away or pass their handgun to their family in their will.

It is unlikely that the entirety of the proposed bill will become law.  However, is seems probable that portions of the proposed legislation will.  If you are interested in maintaining control of your firearms, call us now to set up a Gun Trust at 901-372-5003.

For more info, click here for our previous blog post about Gun Trusts.

Reminder: Final 2012 Estimated Tax Payment due TODAY! (Jan. 15)

Reminder: Final 2012 Estimated Tax Payment due TODAY! (Jan. 15)

For all you estimated tax filers, here’s a friendly reminder that your next payment (using IRS Form 1040-ES) is due TODAY, January 15, 2013.

NOTE: Estimated taxes are generally paid by self-employed persons, although others are potentially required to file. According to the IRS website instructions: “Estimated tax is the method used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding. This includes income from self-employment, interest, dividends, alimony, rent, gains from the sale of assets, prizes and awards. You also may have to pay estimated tax if the amount of income tax being withheld from your salary, pension, or other income is not enough.”

MORE:  Previous Blog Post — What is an Estimated Tax Payment, and Who is Required to Make Them?

Halloween Safety — Homeowners, Trick-or-Treaters, and the Law

How to Prepare This Halloween

Halloween is a great time of year – costumes, hayrides, haunted houses and candy!  However, homeowners should be mindful of the legal responsibilities they owe visitors to their property.

Later this month, homeowners  will have a variety of ghosts, princesses, vampires, and angry birds trick-or-treating at their doorstep.  Halloween night poses many risks for homeowners because you are essentially opening your home and property to the public.  As you may or may not know, you owe what lawyers call a ‘duty of reasonable care’ to each child or visitor that comes onto your property.

Here are some commonsense tips to fulfill your duty of care and protect visitors to your property this year:

  1. Keep Your Property Well-Lit – Be mindful that trick-or-treaters will be cutting through all parts of your property to find your front door, so try to make sure that your front porch is adequately lit for them to easily find their destination.  By keeping the path to your home and front step well-lit, you can prevent potential slip-and-falls by trick-or-treaters wondering into other parts of your yard.  Also, those who are up to no good on Halloween are typically less likely to bother well-lit property.
  2. Keep Property Unobstructed – Keep your property unobstructed since trick-or-treaters will seek the most direct path across yards to get to the next house.  This includes such ideas as picking up yard debris, filling gopher holes, putting up hoses, and picking up toys left in the yard.
  3. Restrain Pets – Keep your pets away from the front porch, as they might get excited and jump on, knock down, or bite trick-or-treaters.
  4. Pumpkin Safety – The traditional Jack-O-Lantern presents many potential hazards.  For example, it is often very easy for a guest or child to kick the pumpkin and candle over if they’re not looking where they’re going.  This type of accident could cause a slip-and-fall or present a fire hazard.  One way that you could protect the trick-or-treaters, your family, and your home is to consider purchasing a battery-powered light for your pumpkin instead of a traditional candle.
  5. Use Your Home Security System – Halloween presents a prime opportunity for vandals and burglars to damage your property.  Thus, it is recommended that you make sure that you have a reliable home security system that can deter others from causing harm to your home.
  6. Check Homeowners Insurance – Lastly, Halloween is a good time to contact your insurance agent and discuss your policy limits, needs, and any changes or additional homeowners coverage that you might need.

Halloween is a great and fun holiday.  Just make sure to eliminate the potential risks for injury to a child by keeping your property clean and safe.

Have a fun and safe Halloween!

Chancellor Overturns Election, Rules that Millington Referendum Passed (Court Order attached)

Chancellor Overturns Election, Rules that Millington Referendum Passed (Court Order attached)

As we earlier hoped and predicted in previous blog posts here and here, the Chancery Court today overturned the Election Commission’s initial certification and finding that the recent Millington Sales Tax Referendum failed.  The Court further declared that after accounting for the unlawful votes that were cast during the election, the Referendum did, in fact, actually pass.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal report is here.