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Res judicata no bar to bad-faith claim against Allstate (access required)

An Allstate customer's unfair-trade-practices and bad-faith claims have been reinstated by the N.C. Court of Appeals in an unpublished decision. The case - Lee v. Allstate Insurance Company (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-16-0779 pp.) - may now go to trial in Cumberland County. An attorney representing the plaintiffs, Brenton D. Adams (pictured) of Dunn, said he doesn't anticipate a settlement in the case, which includes a claim for punitive damages.

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Lousy real estate market makes it harder for couples to split

The collapse of the real estate market and the effects of the recession have thrown the once relatively predictable practice of family law into turmoil, with attorneys having to learn new skills, work harder to calm down anxious clients, and even wait longer for payment. "It's presenting a whole new set of challenges, and we weren't especially well equipped to do that," said Lee Rosen, who practices family law with The Rosen Law Firm in Raleigh. "This is requiring us to relearn what we do. We have to be very creative."

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Gay lawyers say North Carolina’s climate is better but not perfect (access required)

Dan Ellison (pictured) graduated from UNC Law School in 1984 with the same anxiety about passing the bar exam that all lawyers-to-be face at the beginning of their careers. But it wasn't just a commonplace case of the nerves for him. On the contrary, he faced a worry that an unknown number of his classmates might have faced at the same time - whether being gay would affect his ability to become an attorney in North Carolina.

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Improving mediation in commercial cases (access required)

In most cases, the challenge in mediation doesn't lie with the mediator; it lies with the lawyers who walk into the room with little or no preparation, expecting the mediator to resolve the case for them. Commercial litigation is different from tort litigation in that it often hinges on contractual obligations and raises a host of business issues that do not arise in a typical tort case. Accordingly, mediation in the commercial litigation context should not be approached in the same manner as in tort litigation.

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Wrong address gets Calif. man new trial in heart-balm case (access required)

A California man targeted in a North Carolina alienation of affections case will get a new trial under an N.C. Court of Appeals ruling this week that threw out a $600,000 judgment against him. The reason: Court officials were one digit off in his five-digit San Juan Capistrano, Calif., street address, so he received only three days advance notice of his trial held in Guilford County. Keith Black, who represented the defendant in the case, said it was the only possible just outcome, seeing as his client didn't have enough notice to attend his own trial.

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No comp for woman who slipped on ice at employer’s back door (access required)

The long-established "coming and going rule" was the center of Tuesday's Court of Appeals ruling denying workers' comp benefits to a woman who slipped on black ice three steps away from the door of her employers' building just as she was preparing to unlock it. But a five-page dissent making the argument for a less narrow interpretation of the rule will likely bring the issue before the N.C. Supreme Court. Charlotte attorney Jason McConnell (pictured), who represented the employer and its insurance carrier in the claimant's appeal from the N.C. Industrial Commission, said he was pleased with the ruling.

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A decade in, IDS goes from controversial to institutional (access required)

Ten years ago, North Carolina's criminal justice system was in the Dark Ages. Today, it's seen the light. That's according to Raleigh defense attorney Joe Cheshire V, who still applauds the General Assembly for establishing an office to oversee the legal representation of the state's poorest defendants in 2000. The Office of Indigent Defense Services was created to fix "a criminal justice system that had absolutely no structure," said Cheshire, who served on the study group that recommended the agency's creation and is now IDS Commission chair.

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Attorney hopefuls must pass character test before taking exam (access required)

They lined up in the early-morning heat outside the Jim Graham building and the Exposition Center at the state fairgrounds, some with laptops, some empty-handed, all with an it's-now-or-never look on their faces. With two days of the bar exam ahead of them and three years of law school behind them, the applicants were facing the last hurdle in their quest to become North Carolina attorneys.

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