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Author Archives: Sharon McCloskey

More time, more money   (access required)

William Sanders was not yet 60 years old when the state Department of Transportation first identified his 700 acres as being in the path of the planned Fayetteville outer loop highway. This November, his lawyers, George and Stephanie Autry (pictured), finally settled the state’s claim on his property for an unprecedented $15.8 million. Sanders is now 78. Though he received a fair price, Sanders suffered from the passage of time. For close to 20 years he was deprived of the use and enjoyment of his property, prohibited by state law from selling, developing or disposing of it as he wished.

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Water authority wanted a do-over on property seizure, but didn’t get it  (access required)

There are no refunds in condemnation actions. That’s the hard lesson the Onslow County Water and Sewer Authority learned recently when it tried to back out of a deal for some 350 acres needed to expand a wastewater treatment facility. In April 2008, the authority condemned four tracts of land just outside of Richlands, owned by the Rogers and Boggs families. The authority appraised the tracts as farmland, and deposited $1.9 million as just compensation. Shortly after, the owners discovered that two of the tracts had significant limestone deposits underneath, and brought in a geologist to take samples.

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Court tells DOT to take whole parcel, not just a portion of land  (access required)

Seventeen years after the state Department of Transportation first identified her property as in the path of Raleigh’s 540 Outer Loop extension, Blanche Morris will finally get her just compensation. Morris, now almost 90, lived in the same farmhouse on Jenks Road in Apex for more than 60 years and moved out last year, after the Turnpike Authority filed its condemnation action and deposited $1,216,500. At that time, the authority took only a 27-acre parcel that fronted Jenks Road and through which the roadway passed directly.

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Annexation debate focuses on ‘cities first’ philosophy  (access required)

Lawyers for Wilmington and four other North Carolina cities challenging the constitutionality of new provisions of the state’s annexation laws are due back in Wake County Superior Court on Thursday, when they will ask Special Superior Court Judge William Pittman to block enforcement of the new laws pending a hearing and ruling on their claims. While the challenge is based on a specific legal question – whether only property owners should have a say in a proposed annexation – there’s a larger play here. The new provisions threaten to upend North Carolina’s longstanding policy of putting the financial health of its cities ahead of the wishes of property owners, and the pending court case is the venue in which that underlying philosophical tension will be exposed.

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Landowners face mortgage, title issues when gas leases are sold (access required)

The gas men were coming. That’s what Susan Condlin needed to tell Ted Feitshans when she called his office in January 2010. Condlin, the Lee County director for the N.C. Cooperative Extension, had seen advertisements in the newspaper from companies looking to sign up gas leases, and suspected residents needed help. Feitshans, an extension associate professor in the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department, was the man for the job.

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Two years and thousands of dollars later, dental woes persisted   (access required)

In January 2007, when Teresa Henson first checked in as a patient of dentist Robert Labusohr, she already had a mouthful of problems. Almost two years and $16,000 later, those problems had only multiplied. “This was a single mom who saved her money to go into this dentist’s office, to the tune of $16,000 and a hole in her mouth,” said her attorney Jodee Sparkman Larcade of Raleigh’s Larcade & Heiskell. After five days of trial in November, a jury awarded Henson $200,000 in damages on her dental malpractice claims.

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New direction, same old fighting spirit

After spending the past several years as the founding executive director of the N. C. Institute for Constitutional Law, former Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr is returning to private practice, joining Raleigh’s Poyner Spruill. It’s the next step in the career of a man who shows little interest in retiring and little inclination to retreat from the issues that fuel his passion. And one who, throughout his career, has defied labels and expectations. Although a Republican, Orr opposes the use of economic incentives to lure businesses to the state, and wrote the dissent in the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the use of such incentives, Maready v. Winston-Salem. When he left the bench, Orr took that fight to the Institute for Constitutional Law.

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Federal civil trials teeter on the edge of extinction  (access required)

In the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2010, only one civil jury trial took place in federal court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. That wasn’t because of a lack of cases. In fact, there were plenty — 1,780 cases were pending during that time period. The Middle District fared a little better, with four civil jury trials. The Western District saw nine civil jury trials in that period. South Carolina thrived, in relative terms, with 46 civil jury trials.

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The Achilles heel of e-records (access required)

In a decision likely to add to the legal woes of beleaguered brokerage firm Morgan Keegan, the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by the state’s Business Court that the firm had failed to establish the existence of an investor’s arbitration agreement. As a result, and barring a reversal on further appeal, the case will proceed to a jury trial. The decision in Capps v. Blondeau is significant for other Morgan Keegan investors, who have largely had to confine their claims to arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), with mixed results. It may also have larger implications as it calls into question Morgan Keegan’s record-keeping and document retention practices – which may be common at other brokerage firms.

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Tough times, bad legislation face new Bar president (access required)

Jim Foxx may be the first corporate general counsel to take the helm at the North Carolina State Bar, but there’s nothing corporate about his agenda. His small town roots, some big firm experience and years spent growing his North Carolina practice have rendered Foxx both mindful of the needs of his colleagues and committed to preserving the Bar’s singular mandate: protecting the public. “We wrestle with ethical and disciplinary issues all the time,” Foxx says. “But our mandate is not to protect lawyers; it’s to protect the public. Certainly if we can help a lawyer with emotional or medical issues – substance abuse, for example – we try to do that. But it’s the public that has to come first.”

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