To teach his students about forensic science, Wes Watson, an entomology professor at N.C. State University, likes to borrow a scene from an early episode of “CSI: Las Vegas.” In the episode, Gil Grissom, the night shift supervisor of the “CSI” team, pulls a cattle grub from the bullet wound of a shooting victim lying on the autopsy table. “Genus hypoderma,” Grissom, the show’s bug man, tells Dr. Al Robbins, the fictional Las Vegas chief medical examiner. “These are normally found in the intestinal tract of cows. These maggots aren’t found in humans.” The cattle grub is key to solving the TV case, because it leads Grissom to discover that the bullet was made from frozen ground beef.Read More »
A lawsuit filed in federal court in Raleigh by RBC Bank against two attorneys and Chicago Title Insurance Company, stemming from a massive mortgage fraud scheme in Myrtle Beach, has been transferred to federal court in South Carolina. In January, RBC sued South Carolina attorneys Robert A. Hedesh and Robert H. Gwin for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with their roles as closing attorneys for real estate purchases in the Myrtle Beach area. RBC was the lender in these deals. On the same day it filed suit in North Carolina, RBC also filed a multi-defendant civil racketeering lawsuit in South Carolina federal court, alleging that several individuals and entities had schemed to defraud the bank through transactions involving some of the same Myrtle Beach-area properties. The defendants in that action included real estate agents, developers, mortgage brokers, appraisers and others, including two RBC employees, who allegedly devised a scheme to induce the bank to fund purchases at inflated prices and then filtered the loan proceeds along to several people involved in the enterprise.Read More »
In a case pitting the right to a fair trial against the sanctity of the jury system, the N.C. Supreme Court has ruled that juror affidavits detailing a fellow juror’s misconduct cannot support a plaintiff’s bid for a new trial. The Oct. 7 decision reverses findings by the trial court and state Court of Appeals. Both courts determined that affidavits from two jurors who accused a fellow juror of misconduct were admissible. The affidavits alleged that a juror had announced during the trial, and before hearing the plaintiff’s evidence, that he was going to side with the defendant and any attempts to change his mind would be futile. Raleigh attorney Robert O. Crawford III (pictured), represented the defendants in their appeal.
Tagged with: Juror MisconductRead More »
Less than a year into his tenure as chief prosecutor for Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus counties, Jon M. David has already shown a knack for attracting controversy, criticism and praise. The 41-year-old from Florida pictures himself as an “outsider against an established machine,” taking control of an administration that his well-connected but embattled predecessor, Rex Gore, ran for 20 years. Now, David and his identical twin brother, Ben, who occupies the DA’s office in adjoining New Hanover County, are the top prosecutors on both sides of the Cape Fear River.Read More »
Win or lose, you pay. That’s been the regrettable truth for litigants here and elsewhere under the American rule of fee-shifting. Generally, unless your case arises under a statute that expressly provides for the recovery of attorneys’ fees, you’re on the hook. But some relief is in sight with the recent enactment of G.S. §6-21.6 which, as of October 1, allows businesses to agree to pay each others’ attorneys’ fees in any litigation arising from a contract between them. The new law does not adopt a trigger for the recovery of fees – such as automatically allowing the prevailing party to collect fees. Rather, it allows the court, or arbitrator, to award fees in those cases in which the contract at issue meets certain statutory requirements.
Tagged with: attorney's feesRead More »
LegalZoom sued the N.C. State Bar one day before a new law went into effect that allows a new cause of action against unauthorized practitioners. But the company says that was coincidence – not the impetus for the suit. LegalZoom general counsel Chas Rampenthal (pictured) said the new cause of action doesn’t apply to LegalZoom because the company is not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The company sued the Bar, he said, because the agency refused to withdraw a public cease-and-desist letter it sent LegalZoom three years ago and because it refuses to register the company’s prepaid legal service plans. In its suit, LegalZoom alleged that the impression that it engages in the unauthorized practice of law was fostered, at least in part, by the Bar’s May 5, 2008 cease-and-desist letter. That letter, LegalZoom alleged, has disparaged its name and caused it “incalculable” economic harm.
Tagged with: LegalZoomRead More »
LegalZoom has sued the N.C. State Bar, demanding that the agency register two of its prepaid legal services plans and publically withdraw statements it says have disparaged its name and caused “incalculable” economic harm. The Glendale, Calif.-based company filed the suit in Wake County Superior Court on Sept. 30, over three years after the Bar ordered LegalZoom to cease and desist from activities that the agency alleged constituted the unauthorized practice of law.Read More »
Doctors are told in medical school that if they hear hoofbeats approaching from behind they should expect to see horses, not zebras. Nine times out of ten they’ll be right in making the conventional diagnosis. But sometimes a rare disease will be lurking beneath common symptoms. In medical circles, Gloria K. Michael would be known as a zebra. Michael sued a Boone doctor for failing to make a timely diagnosis of rare bacteria that took root in a dog bite and began eating the flesh in her right leg. She was in the hospital for a week before the bacteria was finally identified and removed — along with a large chunk of her calf.
Tagged with: dog biteRead More »
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.
Tagged with: Commercial LeaseRead More »
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.Read More »