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Tag Archives: Attorneys

Tort/Negligence – Professional Liability – Real Property – Appraiser – Indirect Reliance – Attorneys – Revenue Stamps Amount – Developer — Breach of Contract – Fraud (access required)

Anderson v. Coastal Communities at Ocean Ridge Plantation, Inc. Where the plaintiff-buyers alleged, at most, that they relied on the bank’s acceptance of an appraisal report in making their decisions to buy property from the defendant-developers, such indirect reliance is insufficient to state a professional negligence claim against the defendant-appraisers.

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Criminal Practice – DWI – Constitutional – Attorneys – Effective Assistance – Opening & Closing Arguments – Prior Offenses – Stipulation (access required)

State v. Rouse Even though, in his opening and closing statements, defense counsel referred to the arresting officers as “very good officers,” counsel did so in the context of arguing that everyone makes mistakes. Counsel could have reasonably made a tactical decision to refrain from challenging the officers’ general professionalism and competence, while still encouraging the jury to find that the officers arrested defendant on May 23, 2010 as a result of their inadvertent mistakes.

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Labor & Employment – Unemployment Compensation – 9-Week Disqualification – Substantial Fault – Insubordination – Attorneys – Public Employees (access required)

Hershner v. Employment Security Commission Petitioner was repeatedly insubordinate to her supervisor in that she divulged confidential information to a complainant of her employer-agency without considering the possible consequences of such disclosure, violated a known policy of communicating with complainants about a determination in their case prior to the issuance of an agency determination, repeatedly communicated with a complainant after being directed not to so communicate, and failed to work on an appellate brief after repeatedly being instructed to focus solely on the brief by her supervisor. Petitioner violated reasonable job requirements that were within her control; therefore, the Employment Security Commission properly concluded that petitioner was terminated for substantial fault.

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Criminal Practice – Attorneys – Defendant’s Wishes – Frivolous Defenses – Ethics (access required)

State v. Jones Even though an attorney is bound to comply with his client’s lawful instructions, defendant sought to have his attorneys present claims that they felt had no merit. Thus, the impasse was over whether defendant could compel his counsel to file frivolous motions and assert theories that lacked any basis in fact. To do so would have been a violation of the attorneys’ professional ethics. Because nothing in our case law requires counsel to present theories unsupported in fact or law, the trial court did not err in failing to instruct counsel to defer to defendant’s wishes.

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Attorneys – Fees – Constitutional – Due Process Violations – Schools & School Boards – Alternative Schools (access required)

Rone v. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education The trial court lacked authority to award attorney fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988 when the case at issue was an action or proceeding brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 but did not involve one of the civil rights listed in that section.

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Attorneys – Consumer Protection – Solicitation – FOIA – S.C. DMV – Car Buyers – Potential Class Action — Driver Privacy – Litigation Exception (access required)

Maracich v. Spears Lawyers who used FOIA requests to the South Carolina DMV to find plaintiff car buyers for a potential class action against car dealers for collection of unlawful fees did not violate a federal privacy statute that protects drivers’ personal information; the 4th Circuit upholds summary judgment for the lawyers who satisfied the “litigation” exception to the driver privacy statute.

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Labor & Employment – Public Employees – Attorneys – Administrative Agency – Confidentiality – Insubordination Allegation (access required)

Hershner v. NC Department of Administration One of the reasons given for the petitioner-attorney’s termination was her alleged violation of a known work rule: a ban on discussing the possible outcomes of investigations with complainants. However, the written rule applied only to investigators – not to attorneys – and investigators had violated the rule in the past with no disciplinary action whatsoever taken against them. If such a rule did exist, it had not been enforced, and to use it as grounds for petitioner’s termination would be arbitrary and/or capricious.

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Attorneys – Labor & Employment – Fee-Splitting Contract – Quantum Meruit – Tort/Negligence – Fiduciary Duty – RPC Violation – Client’s Costs & Expenses (access required)

Crumley & Associates, P.C. v. Charles Peed & Associates, P.A. The plaintiff-law firm’s employment agreement with its associate required the associate – if he left the firm and took a client with him – to pay plaintiff 70 percent of the fees he received from his continued representation of the client. Even though this fee-splitting agreement violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, plaintiff was nevertheless entitled to recover in quantum meruit for the work performed by the associate while he was employed by plaintiff.

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Attorneys – Discipline – Disbarment – Constitutional – Due Process – Complaint Allegations – Different Evidence – Real Property – Closing Document (access required)

North Carolina State Bar v. Barrett The complaint alleged a single false representation by the defendant-attorney in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct: the entry of a $7,400 loan from the seller to the buyer as a “down payment” on a HUD-1 statement, which defendant contended was approved by the lender’s loan officer Paul Johnson. However, at the hearing, the State Bar presented evidence of different alleged acts of fraud and additional alleged misrepresentations: that defendant had produced and submitted to the lender a different HUD-1 statement, which contained different financial information and included a forged signature purporting to be the seller’s. The failure to give defendant notice of the misconduct with which she was charged violated her right to due process.

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