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Outgoing Mecklenburg D.A. sued over firing (access required)

Outgoing Mecklenburg County District Attorney Peter S. Gilchrist III was sued Dec. 15 by former Assistant District Attorney Sean P. Smith in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. Smith was elected district court judge in November. Gilchrist terminated Smith in July after Smith gave an interview to Charlotte's FOX affiliate about a driving school program Gilchrist developed with the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina in the 1990s.

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Jury discounts contrib defense in trucker’s P.I. case (access required)

It was a cold day in December 2008 when Mike Sprinkle backed his tanker truck up to the loading dock at an asphalt plant in Greensboro and, like he had done many times before, climbed a ladder to the top of the truck and guided a pipe into an opening for a refill. An employee of the plant, Hammaker East, told Sprinkle that the pipes were clogged and it would be a short while before the asphalt started flowing. But when the clog was dislodged, the burst of asphalt was so strong it caused the pipe to fly out of the truck, spraying asphalt all over Sprinkle and knocking him to the ground, shattering his knee in the process.

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Real estate lawyers wonder if low rates will resurrect refinancings (access required)

With interest rates at historic lows, homeowners should be rushing to refinance. But that is not happening in North Carolina, real estate lawyers say. Why? According to two large national lenders, a number of factors may be affecting refinancing volume, but the problem may be in part a matter of misperception. Thomas A. Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, said it may be harder for some homeowners to qualify for a refinancing because their income or credit history may have declined. Kelly also cited shrinking home values and tighter documentation and lending standards for the slow refinancing volume.

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Court: ‘Apply’ means apply, get a hearing, get a ruling (access required)

If a client needs a temporary restraining order, get one. If it can't wait until a hearing date, find a judge. "You can find a judge anywhere in the state," said Wilmington attorney Ryal Tayloe of Ward & Smith. "I've heard of stories of judges being called off golf courses and tennis courts to sign an order. I've paid visits to a judge's home to get an order signed." That's what Marlon Goad should have done if he wanted to stop the foreclosure of his Sunset Beach property, the Court of Appeals ruled Dec. 7 in Goad v. Chase Home Finance, LLC.

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McCullough edges Thigpen in instant runoff for appeals court (access required)

In a surprise turnaround, former Court of Appeals Judge Doug McCullough has narrowly edged out Judge Cressie Thigpen Jr., apparently winning the seat. With all 100 counties reporting the results of a second round of ballot-counting, McCullough has a 5,988-vote lead over Thigpen. A spokesman for Thigpen said his campaign will ask for a recount, with a letter being delivered to the state Board of Elections this afternoon.

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Feds settle negligent-entrustment claim over ether-huffing marine (access required)

In a negligent-entrustment case that took a turn when discovery revealed new evidence, the U.S. government has agreed to a $6.675 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by families involved in a fatal car crash caused by a Camp Lejeune marine who was high on ether from the base. Plaintiffs' attorney Joseph Anderson said the case took a dramatic turn earlier this year when discovery revealed "an unexpected cache of documents" and he learned that one of the witnesses he was set to depose had evidence showing that military officials knew the marine, Pvt. Lucas Borges, was a habitual substance abuser and had questioned his ability to serve in the military.

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Doctors, lawyers find common ground helping elderly (access required)

Experts say wariness of medical-malpractice claims and a discomfort that arises from occupations with different bodies of training has historically led physicians and attorneys to operate on separate playing fields. "There's been a mutual suspicion of the other profession," said Dr. Stephen Kramer (pictured), professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. "They're both highly traditional and learned professions, and you'd think they'd have a lot in common, but the mindset is very different.

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Ex-Camp Lejeune resident’s cancer claims can proceed (access required)

A lawsuit brought by a woman who was one of perhaps a half-million people exposed to cancer-causing pollutants and contaminants in drinking and bathwater at Camp Lejeune has withstood a salvo of dismissal motions filed by the government. But now a new motion is pending. The plaintiff, Laura J. Jones of Iowa, lived with her husband, a marine, at Camp Lejeune from 1980 to 1983. In 2003 Jones was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. She didn't learn about problems with Camp Lejeune's water supply until 2005.

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Counties still counting votes in 13-way appeals court race (access required)

Court of Appeals Judge Cressie Thigpen Jr. is maintaining his lead over challenger Doug McCullough as workers at county elections boards across the state continue to count second- and third-place votes to determine the winner of the seat that went up for grabs when Judge James A. Wynn Jr. was confirmed to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. As of Thursday evening, elections officials in 52 of North Carolina's 100 counties had completed their counting. But state elections board officials said they didn't have a good breakdown on which counties were reporting, and it would be impossible to project a winner.

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Novartis hit with nearly $13M verdict in failure-to-warn case (access required)

A federal jury in Winston-Salem has returned a verdict of nearly $13 million against pharmaceutical giant Novartis, saying the company failed to adequately warn patients and doctors about the risks of taking the bone-strengthening drugs Zometa and Aredia. The estate of Rita Fussman of Chapel Hill had sued Novartis after Fussman came down with what at first appeared to be a mysterious jaw disease after she had been taking the drugs for several years. Fussman discovered her complications with the drug when she had a CT scan on her jaw. "The guy said, ‘You have exposed bone in your mouth,'" said Vernon Glenn (pictured) of Winston-Salem, a second-chair attorney for Fussman.

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