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Law school websites don’t score well for transparency (access required)

Like most of the country’s law schools, those in South Carolina and North Carolina stumble when it comes to reporting clear and accurate information about post-graduate employment on their websites, according to a new survey by the advocacy group Law School Transparency. The nonprofit policy organization issued the Transparency Index on its website (www.lawschooltransparency.com) earlier this month. The exhaustive evaluation is LST’s latest effort to cajole law schools into providing prospective and current law students with more realistic portraits of the economic conditions awaiting them after graduation.

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Camp counselor’s choking ‘game’ results in $1M verdict   (access required)

When the mothers of Dylan Walker and Austin Maness, then 9 and 12, picked up their sons from Clemson University’s Camp Military Kid — a program held at Camp Bob Cooper in Summerton, S.C. for children of deployed soldiers — something was clearly wrong. Dylan was sitting by himself in the back of an otherwise full cafeteria, his eyes bloodshot. Austin was noticeably irritable. Once home, both boys couldn’t sleep. Dylan was wetting the bed and began sleeping with his mother. Austin was distant and angry towards his mother. Neither would say what was wrong until Austin’s mother caught him strangling his younger brother, then 8. That’s when they learned about Ronald “Eddie” Riley, a 17-year old camper who’d been elevated to the role of junior counselor and was in charge of a group of four boys, including Walker and Maness.

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Is this any way to build a road?   (access required)

When Paula Smith and her husband put their house in Winston-Salem up for sale nine years ago, they had plenty of lookers, but no buyers. They couldn’t figure out why, until they learned that the state planned to route the eastern loop of the Northern Beltway close to their neighbor’s house. The neighbor’s property would just be for green space, they were told, so the Smiths figured they’d get a buyer eventually. Two years later, when they tried to sell again, their real estate agent told them that the road had moved. Now it would run right through their house. Matthew Bryant (pictured), an attorney with the Hendrick Law Firm in Winston-Salem, represents plaintiffs in class actions against the DOT pending in Forsyth and Wake counties. “You can’t tie pieces of property up for the express purpose of denuding them of any marketability or any use,” he said.

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Judge dismisses class action against Family Dollar   (access required)

A U.S. District Court judge in Charlotte has dismissed a class-action lawsuit that accuses the Family Dollar discount-store chain of discriminating against female employees. The plaintiffs in Scott v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc. failed to meet the standard for class claims set by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. determined in a Jan. 13 order.

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Law gives plaintiffs right to know details of defendant’s insurance coverage   (access required)

A provision tucked inside the S.C. Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011 quietly became law earlier this month, and is expected to reduce the number of personal injury lawsuits filed in the state’s courts. The law took effect Jan. 1 as part of the tort reform bill and requires auto insurers that may be liable for any part of a claim to disclose coverage limits to plaintiffs prior to the filing of a lawsuit. Plaintiffs seeking the information must first file a certified written request that includes the accident report tied to their claims. Insurers have 30 days to reply. Defense litigator Jack D. Griffeth (pictured) of Collins & Lacy in Greenville said the disclosure law is not particularly bad news for the insurers he often represents, as long as they stay in compliance with the new criteria.

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Rx overdose victim can sidestep pre-filing requirement, judge rules (access required)

A pharmacy customer survived a motion to dismiss her complaint against Rite Aid for negligent dispensing of a prescription, sidestepping for the moment South Carolina’s pre-filing requirements for medical malpractice actions. In an order dated Jan. 11, U.S. District Judge R. Bryan Harwell found that to the extent plaintiff Cyremthia Alexander had alleged facts which, if true, stated a claim for negligence by non-pharmacist employees, she could proceed with her case.

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Over-sedation leads to $851,000 settlement  (access required)

A young woman who was unnecessarily sedated by health care workers at a South Carolina surgery center has collected $851,000 to settle a medical-malpractice lawsuit, according to her attorneys. David B. Yarborough Jr. (pictured) of Yarborough Applegate in Mount Pleasant and John D. Clark of the Clark Law Firm in Sumter say their client suffered brain damage as a result of the botched procedure in 2007. The woman, who was 20 at the time of her injury, sued the center along with the gynecologist and certified registered nurse anesthetist, or CRNA, who treated her.

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Judge’s ruling leaves door open to ‘indirect’ lobbying  (access required)

The back channels are open. That’s the takeaway from North Carolina Superior Court Judge Paul C. Ridgeway’s recent ruling reversing the assessment of penalties against former lobbyist Don Beason. In 2007, Beason had registered to lobby on behalf of a N.J. manufacturer of steel products, but not four other companies and a trade association — all of which sought a repeal of the state’s Buy America Act. When a probe by the N.C. Secretary of State’s office revealed that Beason, through intermediaries, had pushed for that repeal, Secretary Elaine Marshall fined him $110,000 for failing to disclose his relationship with those entities.

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ABA study focuses new attention on legislation to allow nonlawyer firm ownership in NC (access required)

The American Bar Association is poised to endorse nonlawyer ownership of law firms, which could jump-start stalled legislation in North Carolina that calls for allowing alternative practice structures. The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 announced in early December that it was mulling tweaks to its model rules of professional conduct in response to U.S. firms increasingly doing business in countries that allow blended law firms. The District of Columbia is the only jurisdiction in the nation that permits nonlawyer ownership.

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Ann education  (access required)

Ann Majestic arrived at the National Press Club in Washington with little time to spare. “How was lunch?” the Wake County School Board attorney asked the audience. “We weren’t allowed to leave North Carolina until we could bring the weather, so we arrived just in time with lots of weather.” She was there on a snowy Thursday to speak about public school choice and integration – along with New York Times reporter Steven Holmes, American Federation of Teachers president Sandra Feldman and Century Foundation Senior Fellow Richard Kahlenberg, whose new book, All Together Now: Creating Middle Class Schools through Public School Choice, grounded the forum.

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