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Author Archives: Paul Tharp, Staff Writer

Judge rules in FTC’s favor in suit against NC Dental Board (access required)

Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell has ruled that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners engaged in illegal conduct by asking providers of teeth-whitening services to cease and desist from their activities. The providers were based largely in mall kiosks around the state. Chappell, a federal administrative judge, ruled that Federal Trade Commission staff attorneys had shown “by a preponderance of the evidence that dentist members of the Dental Board had a common scheme or design, and hence an agreement, to exclude non-dentists from the market for teeth whitening services and to deter potential providers of teeth whitening services from entering the market.” The decision followed a four-week trial in front of Chappell in April, according to Raleigh attorney A.P. Carlton (pictured), who represented the Board.

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Magistrate laments “really stupid” referrals to lawyer (access required)

A Charlotte judge has thrown out a driving-while-impaired case against a motorist because the magistrate who determined probable cause and set the conditions of the driver’s bond referred the accused man to his friend, an attorney. It is the second case in which a DWI case has been thrown out because of referrals by magistrate Francis G. Beer to his friend, Charlotte attorney Harrell G. Canning. District Court Judge Matt Osman threw out the most recent case on July 8 after hearing from Canning, Beer and the driver. Beer was under subpoena from the driver’s attorney. Canning said he came to testify voluntarily because he was aware of a pending motion to dismiss the case and understood “the portents of the underlying issue.”

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Surviving the downturn – Part 1  (access required)

The recession has affected lawyers and law firms of all stripes and sizes, altering relationships, changing expectations and forcing uncomfortable conversations between lawyers and clients about the way legal business used to be done, the way it’s done now and the way it will be done in the future. Most lawyers say they began to feel the recession’s effects in the first quarter of 2009. Practical changes in the handling of cases, dealings with clients and firm management quickly followed. Charlotte attorney Zipporah B. Edwards (pictured) said her practice group at Horack Talley, which provides legal services for title insurance companies, has seen what she calls a “counter-cyclical uptick in the last several years because of mortgage-related issues and foreclosures.” But she’s also seen some belt-tightening by clients.

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Surviving the downturn – Part 2  (access required)

Jerry Myers, the managing partner of Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, says that because of the recession his firm has "cut down on discretionary spending. We suspended a charity golf tournament we used to sponsor in 2009 and 2010. Our marketing and advertising ventures have been rolled out at a more deliberative pace than if things were normal." He and other North Carolina attorneys share their thoughts on the Great Recession in part 2 of this 3 part series.

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Surviving the downturn – Part 3 (access required)

Jeremy White is a 2009 graduate of Elon University School of Law. He planned to open a solo real estate practice, and did – in the Macon County town of Highlands. But with the real estate market tanking, White was forced to widen his practice. White says, "I’ve definitely modified my expectations. I understand that a six-figure income is still a long way off, but I am optimistic that the real estate market will eventually pick back up, and when it does I hope to be in a good position to finally earn enough to pay down my two-hundred-thousand-dollar-plus student loan debt." He and H. Monroe Whitesides of Charlotte share their thoughts on the Great Recession in the last of this 3 part series.

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New Jersey man thwarted in attempt to sue UK-based machinery maker (access required)

A U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down the same day as Goodyear suggests that the high court is seeking to clarify some blurry lines of jurisdiction. New Jersey attorney Jonathan W. Miller of the Philadelphia, Pa.-based Locks Law Firm, told Lawyers Weekly that the high court had not visited the jurisdictional issues raised in J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. Nicastro (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-17-0659, 47 pp.) since its 1987 opinion in Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court, 480 U.S. 102 (1987). Miller wrote an amicus brief for the American Association of Justice in the Nicastro case.

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Supreme Court clarifies jurisdiction (access required)

In a ruling sure to reverberate far beyond North Carolina’s borders, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 27 that parents of two 13-year-old boys killed in a 2004 bus crash outside Paris cannot subject the foreign makers of a tire that failed to a wrongful death lawsuit brought in Onslow County Superior Court. The high court rejected what it called a “sprawling view of general jurisdiction… embraced by the North Carolina Court of Appeals,” which in 2009 upheld Onslow Superior Court Judge Gary E. Trawick’s denial of motions to dismiss brought by Goodyear Luxembourg Tires, SA, Goodyear Lastikleri T.A.S. and Goodyear Dunlop Tires France, SA.

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Legislature attacks unauthorized practice of law (access required)

It isn’t every day a new cause of action comes along, but June 16 was one of them. That was the day both chambers of the North Carolina Legislature voted unanimously to pass Senate Bill 349, which provides a private cause of action to consumers who can show they were harmed by the unauthorized practice of law. As of press time, the bill had not been signed into law by Gov. Bev Perdue, but a spokesperson for the governor said it is one of several bills the governor is considering. Some attorneys say the legislation provides an opportunity for attorneys to prosecute claims on behalf of aggrieved clients, particularly those involved in real estate transactions.

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Foreclosure stories range from absurd to serious (access required)

Many of the problems uncovered in cases involving loan servicing and foreclosures feature mortgage loans that were bundled into securitized trusts. And the hatchlings spawned from servicing of securitized trusts have come home to roost in North Carolina. Shelby bankruptcy attorney O. Max Gardner III has seen his share of servicing absurdity, mostly in the form of violations of automatic stays in bankruptcy cases. But other matters are more serious.

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Setting aside foreclosures raises issues (access required)

The business practices of some mortgage loan servicers have led to some absurd results. Last year, Charlotte-based Bank of America foreclosed on Jason Grodensky’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla. home, even though Grodensky paid cash for the property. And this month a Naples, Fla. couple fighting a foreclosure action brought by Bank of America foreclosed on one of its bank branches. But while cases like this have exposed what attorneys say is a gaping weakness in the way lenders and servicers have made and serviced loans, some are warning of unintended consequences if foreclosures are set aside.

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