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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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John Edwards’ lawyers ask judge to toss charges (access required)

Lawyers for John Edwards asked a federal judge last week to throw out criminal charges against the former Democratic presidential candidate. Edwards’ defense team filed five motions saying that federal prosecutors violated his rights under several constitutional amendments. The lawyers argue that the federal indictment against him was unconstitutionally vague and that the charges were pursued by a partisan prosecutor for political gain. They also contend that even if all the facts alleged in the federal indictment were true, he still didn’t commit a crime.

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Medical malpractice actions continue to fall  (access required)

The number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in North Carolina continued to decline in the first half of 2011, and many lawyers expect the trend to gain momentum when tort reform becomes effective next month. According to the latest statistics available from the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, 227 med-mal suits were filed in the state from the beginning of this year to June 30. Ten more cases were filed during the same period last year.

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Introducing North Carolina’s newest lawyers

Here are the names and hometowns of the people who’ve met the requirements to be licensed to practice law in North Carolina. They have passed the N.C. Bar Examination given in July, as well as the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination. North Carolina Lawyers Weekly extends its congratulations to all.

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Redefining “pro bono”   (access required)

Pro bono cases are often simple matters in which a lawyer donates a few hours to resolve a legal tangle on behalf of someone who can’t afford counsel. But sometimes the cases taken on for free can have a huge cost in time and emotion — and a huge payoff in personal and professional satisfaction. That was the kind of case two young Raleigh attorneys (Erin Mulligan Graber and Catherine Bailey, pictured) worked on for months and finally brought to a successful end this summer.

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Attorney: Sex offenders can still be good fathers (access required)

A young man who was sent to prison for having sex with an underage girl is not barred from seeking visitation with the child born as a result of the crime, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled. The Sept. 6 decision establishes that certain registered sex offenders cannot be deprived of their right to maintain a parental relationship with their children, said E. Clarke Dummit (pictured) of the Dummit Law Firm in Winston-Salem. “I don’t think anyone had addressed this issue at the Court of Appeals,” he said. “We wanted to try to raise awareness of the fact that there are people who are sex offenders and could be good fathers and who want to be good fathers. We need to have a system that looks at them appropriately.”

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Hitting close to home (access required)

Meet Walter Lamkin. Lamkin is a real estate attorney with Spencer Fane Britt & Browne, one of the largest firms in Missouri. The former managing member of title and money disbursing companies, he sits on a zoning board in his upscale St. Louis suburb of Frontenac. All in all, Lamkin is the last person you’d expect to have problems renegotiating his home loan. But he did. And now Lamkin shares a situation with hundreds of thousands of other Americans who don’t have his resources and knowledge: His home teeters on the precipice of foreclosure.

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Bank’s time is money for plaintiff   (access required)

The S.C. Court of Appeals has upheld a $1.5 million punitive damages award against Bank of America after a Williamsburg County jury found the bank negligent for allowing a boy’s aunt to misappropriate life insurance proceeds from his father’s estate. Cody Powell stood to receive $252,000 in life insurance proceeds after his father’s death. The money was to be held in a conservatorship account overseen by his aunt and uncle. But Cody’s aunt, Karen P. Unrue, transferred money from an account she set up for Cody at Bank of America into her personal checking account. Cody’s guardian brought suit on his behalf against Unrue, his uncle Travis Powell and Bank of America. A Williamsburg County jury awarded Cody $205,735 in actual damages and $1,583,000 in punitive damages against the bank.

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Drunk driver’s estate not liable under Dram Shop Act (access required)

By ruling the estate of an underage drunk driver is not liable for the death of one of her passengers who left behind a young son, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has rejected an argument to expand the scope of the state’s Dram Shop Act. The decision of first impression arises from a single-vehicle crash that killed the driver and her two passengers in Carolina Beach in 2008. The young son of one passenger sued the bar that served the 20-year-old driver the night of the wreck. The boy’s suit, brought on his behalf by a guardian ad litem, sought compensation under the state’s Dram Shop Act for his father’s death. The statute holds businesses that serve alcohol liable to anyone who is injured by a drunken patron.

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The diminishing value of equitable subrogation Court of Appeals decision latest rejection of lender’s remedy (access required)

Lenders who plead the remedy of equitable subrogation are scratching their heads after the Court of Appeals’ latest rejection of its use in an Aug. 16 unpublished opinion in Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, LP v. States Resources Corp. Equitable subrogation allows a lender to leapfrog ahead of an intervening lien holder to assume the position of first lien holder. The leading North Carolina case, the state Supreme Court’s 1931 decision in Wallace v. Benner, is still good law, but whether equitable subrogation remains a remedy to lenders is another question.

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