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Mecklenburg stays on top for NC brownfield redevelopments (access required)

When it comes to air quality, Charlotte is the worst in the state. But the area is environmentally friendly in other ways, particularly when it comes to redeveloping and cleaning brownfields - sites, such as former gasoline stations, that tend to repel developers because of concerns about contamination. Indeed, Charlotte continues to lead North Carolina in brownfield development since being the first city in the state to receive a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfields assessment demonstration grant in 1996.

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Firms find creative ways to celebrate the season (access required)

Law firms across the state tightened their belts in 2009 after a year of recession-forced layoffs and cutbacks. This year, although the slow economy is still staring the profession in the face, some firms decided to loosen up the purse strings a little, while others continued to scale back. At Smith Moore Leatherwood's Raleigh office, Brad Risinger said the firm wanted to be frugal. "The emphasis is to protect a nice bonus for the staff," said Risinger, the managing partner of the Raleigh office. At the firm's Greensboro office, employees are traditionally treated to a catered lunch. But one of the real hits of the holiday season was attorney Kent Auberry's (pictured) portrayal of Santa Claus.

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Recount shows McCullough bested Thigpen by wider margin (access required)

A recount of votes requested by Judge Cressie Thigpen Jr. was completed late Monday, with the results showing that Doug McCullough is the winner of the Court of Appeals seat, with the gap between the two widening slightly. McCullough, a former Court of Appeals judge, narrowly edged out Thigpen when the second- and third-place ballots were counted in the instant-runoff election. In the 13-way race to determine the top two vote-getters, Thigpen was in first place with 20.3 percent of the vote compared to McCullough's 15.2 percent.

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Dispute over plasma centers results in $37 million verdict

After two years of litigation and a two-week trial, it took a Wake County jury two days to deliberate a breach-of-contract lawsuit brought by Plasma Centers of America. The wait paid off for Plasma Centers, which sued Research Triangle Park-based Talecris Plasma Resources in 2009 after Talecris sued Plasma Centers' manager in federal court in 2008. A Wake County jury returned a verdict in Plasma Centers' favor on Dec. 13. It awarded the Orange County, Calif.-based company $37 million. Michael Mitchell (pictured), who represented Plasma Centers, said Talecris uses plasma to develop medications commonly used for immunodeficiency and obstetrical illnesses.

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Attorneys could copyright their documents, but should they? (access required)

Of course, lawyers don't need anyone's blessing to copyright their own work. The question is, when they do, are their claimed rights enforceable? The short answer is yes, maybe. Intellectual property attorney John C. Nipp of Charlotte-based Summa, Additon & Ashe told Lawyers Weekly that the requirements for obtaining a copyright are not strict.

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Scam targets NC lawyers, but Oxford attorney doesn’t bite (access required)

Attorney General Roy Cooper has issued an alert to lawyers across the state to be on the lookout for check scams that are targeting law firms. The scams involve what appear to be authentic checks for large sums for money. Although such scams usually start with an e-mail, in two recent cases, counterfeit checks have been sent directly to attorneys in North Carolina, including one for $295,500 sent by FedEx from a phony New York address. Lawyers in Oxford and Gastonia have reported to the AG's office that they have received checks.

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Outgoing Mecklenburg D.A. sued over firing (access required)

Outgoing Mecklenburg County District Attorney Peter S. Gilchrist III was sued Dec. 15 by former Assistant District Attorney Sean P. Smith in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. Smith was elected district court judge in November. Gilchrist terminated Smith in July after Smith gave an interview to Charlotte's FOX affiliate about a driving school program Gilchrist developed with the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina in the 1990s.

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Jury discounts contrib defense in trucker’s P.I. case (access required)

It was a cold day in December 2008 when Mike Sprinkle backed his tanker truck up to the loading dock at an asphalt plant in Greensboro and, like he had done many times before, climbed a ladder to the top of the truck and guided a pipe into an opening for a refill. An employee of the plant, Hammaker East, told Sprinkle that the pipes were clogged and it would be a short while before the asphalt started flowing. But when the clog was dislodged, the burst of asphalt was so strong it caused the pipe to fly out of the truck, spraying asphalt all over Sprinkle and knocking him to the ground, shattering his knee in the process.

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Real estate lawyers wonder if low rates will resurrect refinancings (access required)

With interest rates at historic lows, homeowners should be rushing to refinance. But that is not happening in North Carolina, real estate lawyers say. Why? According to two large national lenders, a number of factors may be affecting refinancing volume, but the problem may be in part a matter of misperception. Thomas A. Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, said it may be harder for some homeowners to qualify for a refinancing because their income or credit history may have declined. Kelly also cited shrinking home values and tighter documentation and lending standards for the slow refinancing volume.

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Court: ‘Apply’ means apply, get a hearing, get a ruling (access required)

If a client needs a temporary restraining order, get one. If it can't wait until a hearing date, find a judge. "You can find a judge anywhere in the state," said Wilmington attorney Ryal Tayloe of Ward & Smith. "I've heard of stories of judges being called off golf courses and tennis courts to sign an order. I've paid visits to a judge's home to get an order signed." That's what Marlon Goad should have done if he wanted to stop the foreclosure of his Sunset Beach property, the Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 7 in Goad v. Chase Home Finance, LLC.

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