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NC giant Womble Carlyle to take on Charleston’s Buist Moore (access required)

North Carolina powerhouse Womble Carlyle is entering the Charleston market by acquiring the city's largest law firm. In a merger fueled by the prospect of rapid economic growth in the Charleston area, North Carolina's largest law firm is joining forces with Buist Moore Smythe McGee. They will complete the deal on April 30, partners at both firms told Lawyers Weekly. "We're just very excited. We think this is a great opportunity," said Henry B. Smythe Jr. (pictured), managing director of Buist Moore.

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High court awards fees in failed election challenge (access required)

Political candidates who protested election results in Fairfield County are paying a price for taking their cases to the state Supreme Court after two election commissions already had rejected their protests unanimously. Justices decided that three candidates who sued the county after losing elections last November had to pay part of the county's defense costs. A lawyer for the county, John Moylan of Columbia, said it may have been the first time the Supreme Court had ever exacted such a penalty in an election protest case.

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FLSA retaliation ruling could impact other cases (access required)

The U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling that oral complaints about workplace conditions made to a company supervisor are covered by the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act has employment lawyers taking notice. The decision in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. not only clarifies the protections against retaliation in the FSLA, it could also apply to other statutes with similar wording. Plaintiffs' attorneys cheered the ruling, which is the latest in a series of employee wins in retaliation claims before the court.

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Colloquium to mark 60th anniversary of ‘Briggs’ trial (access required)

Almost 60 years ago, African-American citizens encircled a federal courthouse in Charleston and held vigil throughout a trial destined to become a landmark in American civil rights history. It was May 28, 1951, the first day of trial in Briggs v. Elliot. Plaintiffs from Clarendon County were challenging state-imposed racial segregation of schools, and their supporters, hailing from around the state, had started arriving at sunrise.

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And then there were two: USC dean race narrows (access required)

One day after the University of South Carolina announced its short list of candidates for law school dean, one of them pulled out, leaving two people in competition for the top spot at the school, which has been plagued by outdated facilities and slipping rankings. Michael Amiridis (pictured), provost at USC, said that the name of the new dean could be made public in the next two or three weeks. The university's search committee had narrowed the field of candidates to five in February, and on March 31 announced that three top contenders had emerged. The next day, one of those, Stephen Mazza of the University of Kansas, announced that he had accepted the job of law school dean at Kansas.

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Court: Recklessness should be weighed in comparative negligence (access required)

A homeowner who has workers performing maintenance on her home allegedly refuses to turn off her automatic sprinkler system despite workers' requests. Later, a worker slips on a wet ladder and falls. He sues, claiming the homeowner was reckless, and the homeowner asserts the worker was negligent. In a real-life suit from Florence County, that scenario raised a novel question under South Carolina's comparative negligence system: Could a jury compare and offset the plaintiff's alleged ordinary negligence against the defendant's alleged recklessness? It could indeed, the state Supreme Court said in an April 4 first-impression decision. Edward L. Graham (pictured), a lawyer for the worker, hailed the decision.

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Dispute over purchase of bottler nets shut-out businessman $1.2M (access required)

Charlotte businessman Clifford Hansen isn't going to get the water bottling company he dreamed of owning and struggled to buy. Instead, he's getting nearly $1.2 million in damages in a suit against business advisers whom, he claimed, ditched him and used his work to help purchase the company for themselves. In a case with roots going back to 2003, Hansen sued Beechwood Development Group of South Carolina, LLC, and other defendants on claims that they hijacked his deal to buy an Orangeburg County bottling company. The man's lawyer, Billy Hopkins (pictured) of Montgomery, Ala., said his client "certainly feels vindicated."

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$1M verdict for fatal bowel death after ER sent patient home (access required)

A York County jury awarded a $1 million medical-malpractice verdict to a man who claimed his wife died two days after a doctor failed to notice a dangerous increase in her heart rate during an emergency room visit. The plaintiff's lawyer said 51-year-old Deborah Kirksey was suffering from an inflamed and enlarged bowel when she went to the ER at Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill on June 1, 2008. During a seven-hour visit that included tests, Kirksey's heart rate accelerated from 88 beats per minute to about 113. That should have been a clue that something was wrong, lawyer Chad McGowan (pictured) said, but a doctor sent her home after failing to notice the rapid heart rate on a chart.

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A drug by any other name? Supreme Court considers if generic drug suits are federally preempted (access required)

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Wyeth v. Levine that state law failure-to-warn claims against brand-name drug makers are not automatically preempted by federal law, the justices are considering whether that same rule applies to generic drug makers. The plaintiffs in PLIVA. v. Mensing and consolidated cases allege that the makers of the drug metoclopramide, the generic version of the diabetes drug Reglan, should have amended its label to include stronger warnings of the risk of tardive dyskinesia, a severe neurological movement disorder.

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Peer-review privilege keeps file locked (access required)

A confidential file on a patient who was injured while trying to escape a Beaufort hospital in 1999 wasn't discoverable, even though it held evidence that the hospital knew the patient was a danger to himself. So said the S.C. Court of Appeals in a ruling that centered on the patient's battle to unlock a statutory peer-review privilege that rendered the file confidential. The patient, Danny R. Prince, sued Beaufort Memorial Hospital after suffering injuries in a fall from the window of his room in 1999. He sought disclosure of the file because it contained the findings of the hospital's quality-assurance committee that investigated his fall.

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