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No liability for device makers in Buncombe distracted driver crash (access required)

Two companies that manufacture communications devices for truck drivers have been dismissed from a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs injured in a 2008 accident on Interstate 40 in Buncombe County. U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Howell had recommended that Geologic Solutions, Inc.'s and Xata Corporation's 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss be allowed because the plaintiffs failed to state a recognized cause of action, and a U.S. district judge recently adopted that view. Asheville attorney Brady J. Fulton (pictured) said the ruling could be used as precedent by attorneys representing manufacturers in all manner of distracted driver injury cases.

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Web-based technology setting next stage for trial prep (access required)

Technology has revolutionized many parts of the legal industry, and trial presentation is no exception. Not long ago, hiring a trial presentation company was necessary for even the simplest needs due to high costs and the expertise required to operate software programs. Times have certainly changed. Now, myriad do-it-yourself solutions have hit the market, Microsoft PowerPoint is widely popular and hardware costs continue to shrink, all making it more feasible for law firms and corporate counsel to craft homespun solutions for their trial presentation needs.

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Experts for hire: Womble Carlyle’s litigation support team is not just in-house (access required)

When Cris Windham arrived at Womble Carlyle 25 years ago, he got involved in the firm's tobacco litigation and quickly began to see the need for in-house medical experts. A litigation support team that included nurses and other experts to assist the firm's attorneys in developing medical defenses was assembled. Over the years, it grew. And grew. Today, Womble Carlyle's litigation support team is not only an in-house function. It is a subsidiary of the law firm in the form of FirmLogic, with services available not only to Womble Carlyle but also to other lawyers and firms. It's an unusual set-up. Womble Carlyle is one of only a few large law firms in the nation that offers their own in-house support services to other lawyers.

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Iraqi plaintiffs in Blackwater case may get trial in Wake County (access required)

By PAUL THARP, Staff Writer paul.tharp@nc.lawyersweekly.com Foreign plaintiffs suing the N.C.-based company formerly known as Blackwater Security Consulting are prepared to return to Wake County Superior Court after a federal judge remanded the case from the U.S. District Court for ...

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4th Circuit: Offer letter didn’t moot overtime case (access required)

The "junior asset managers" of a Charlotte mortgage-servicing firm answered phones and collected payments. They didn't supervise others, didn't make final decisions on how to process accounts - and at one point they were asked to fill out time cards to document their hours. Yet the workers at United Mortgage and Loan Investment routinely were asked to work more than 40 hours a week and were deemed exempt from federal wage and hour laws that require overtime pay.

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Large Verdicts & Settlements Report 2010 (access required)

Compiling the top verdicts and settlements reported to Lawyers Weekly during the past 12 months underscores how, in the realm of civil litigation, almost nothing is ever certain, and jury verdicts are not the end of a case. They are a new beginning. That is underscored by two of the top three verdicts and settlements reported to Lawyers Weekly in the past year. In both of those cases - one a $37 million verdict in a dispute over a contract to build plasma centers, the other a $12.887 million verdict in a pharmaceutical liability action - defendants have moved for JNOVs or new trials. Finality is less tenuous in four of the $10 million-plus cases on this year's roundup because they involved either settlements or arbitration awards.

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Long-dead NC jurists still ‘speak’ to court’s historian (access required)

You might think Danny Moody is alone at his desk, housed in a cavernous room on the first floor of the Supreme Court building. But you'd be wrong. He's surrounded by history. And history speaks to Danny Moody (pictured). Oil paintings of former justices silently look on. Books that speak of our state's legal past are stacked around him. The marble bust of a 19th-century jurist sits across the room, not far from an exhibit on the accomplishments of women that includes former Chief Justice Susie Sharp's license plate: "J-1."

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Non-compliance with arbitration rules ends Blackwater case (access required)

Failure to abide by arbitration rules has resulted in the termination of arbitration proceedings in a case involving the estates of four Blackwater contractors killed in Iraq in 2004. Termination of the arbitration proceedings, in turn, may have ended the legal cases brought by the administrator of the estates of the contractors, as well as competing actions brought by Blackwater against the administrator. "Contractual arbitration obligations have meaning and are legally enforceable," said Raleigh attorney Kirk G. Warner (pictured), who represented Blackwater.

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Seminar better way to learn leadership than ‘screwing up’ (access required)

Attention young lawyers: Time is running out to apply for a spot in the North Carolina Bar Association's inaugural Leadership Academy. Qualified attorneys have until Friday to submit applications to become one of 15 lawyers in the state who will participate in a six-session leadership development program, which is one of the signature projects NCBA President Gene Pridgen (pictured) outlined when he took the helm of the organization last June.

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HUD, Trust Title headaches throb in North Carolina (access required)

Raleigh resident Michael Pennington is mad at Trust Title. The real estate broker's client was under contract with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to purchase a property in Durham. The contract was signed in August, and the closing was to occur no later than Nov. 10. Pennington's client remitted an earnest-money deposit of $1,000 to HUD's contractor, Reston, Va.-based Trust Title - but the deal never closed.

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