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Author Archives: Paul Tharp

Simple lease dispute requires SC high court’s attention   (access required)

A simple commercial lease involving a simple mistake led to a simple disagreement. That led all the way to the S.C. Supreme Court in Atlantic Coast Builders and Contractors v. Lewis, where the high court’s justices disagreed over simple appellate procedural rules that ended the case, for now. In a Sept. 26 opinion, the high court majority, applying the “two issue” and “law of the case” rules, upheld Beaufort County Circuit Court Judge Curtis L. Coltrane’s ruling in favor of Atlantic Coast Builders and Contractors in its dispute with landlord Laura Lewis. The issue in Atlantic came down to who – landlord or tenant – was responsible for checking applicable zoning regulations before entering into a lease agreement. Atlantic sued Lewis after a zoning officer told the company it needed zoning permits to use the property for a building and construction office. Columbia attorney Hemphill Pride II (pictured) represented Lewis.

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Mother’s attempt at a deed do-over rejected by appeals court   (access required)

A family battle over a Beaufort “home place” may have ground to a halt after the N.C. Court of Appeals found that a mother was not mistaken when she signed a deed granting her son an interest in her property. The mother, Janice Willis, sought to reform the deed when her son, Edward Willis, died and the interest in the property passed to his two children. Janice Willis argued unsuccessfully that she never intended that result. The Court of Appeals focused in its Sept. 20 opinion in Willis v. Willis on the issue of whether Janice Willis made a unilateral mistake when she signed the deed, even though the trial court premised its decision to grant Robert and Robin Willis’ directed verdict motion on the grounds of consideration – that Janice Willis had gotten something in return for deeding the home to her son.

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Man could be liable for indirectly transmitting STD to his neighbor (access required)

A Chapel Hill man can proceed with an action against his former neighbor for negligently infecting him with a sexually transmitted disease by having an affair with his wife, the Court of Appeals has ruled. It is the first time a North Carolina appellate court has recognized a cause of action for the indirect transmission of a venereal disease. Orange County Superior Court Judge Carl R. Fox dismissed the negligent transmission claim last October, but the man, Joseph Carsanaro, appealed. At least four other states recognize the cause of action, according to Carsanaro’s lawyer, Nathaniel Smith (pictured) of Chapel Hill.

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Experts debate cost involved in demolition of home’s costly addition   (access required)

A dispute over the remodeling of a million-dollar Charlotte home, which has pitted neighbor against neighbor and already reached state Court of Appeals once, may come down to a simple bit of algebra: how much demolition, and at what price. But experts who testified for neighbors Pierce and Cindy Irby and the owner of the remodeled home, Elaine Freese, couldn’t agree on how much it would cost to demolish and rebuild a half-million dollar addition Freese built on the front and side of her home in Myers Park in 2008.

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Lender sanctioned for repeated violations of automatic stay (access required)

A lender that repeatedly entered a couple's property despite the fact that an automatic stay had been imposed during bankruptcy proceedings has been sanctioned for the violation. The sanction came in In re Sands, a matter in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. HSBC bank was ordered to pay the Sands' $1,200 in attorney's fees incurred when Winston-Salem attorney Kristen S. Nardone brought the motion for sanctions and appeared at two hearings on the motion.

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Push for ban on cell phone use while driving is on (access required)

With texting behind the wheel already outlawed in North Carolina for more than a year, two new bills have been introduced in the legislature this year to ban cell phone use while driving. H. 31, titled "An act to make using a mobile phone unlawful while driving a motor vehicle on a public street or highway or public vehicular area," sponsored by Reps. Garland E. Pierce, D-Hoke, and Charles Graham, D-Robeson, was filed in the house on Feb. 2 and passed first reading on Feb. 3. It was referred to the committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House.

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Class action challenges LPS’ grip on foreclosures (access required)

Ever heard of LPS? Many attorneys haven't. But LPS - Lender Processing Services, Inc. - and like business entities exercise more day-to-day control over the conduct of bankruptcy, default and foreclosure cases in North Carolina and beyond than actual "clients." At least that is what several recent lawsuits allege. Shelby-based bankruptcy and foreclosure defense attorney O. Max Gardner III (pictured) said LPS and other providers are "very concerned about network lawyers discussing anything with outside entities."

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