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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one of them pulled out, leaving two people in competition for the top spot at the school, which has been plagued by outdated facilities and slipping rankings.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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‘Tyger River’ demand nets woman hit by shorn-off tire $489K (access required)

Mount Pleasant sweetgrass basket maker Geneva Gathers was tending her stand on U.S. Highway 17 when a tire that was shorn off a Lexus in a collision with a truck bowled her over. Gathers later threatened to sue the driver of the Lexus, who was alleged to be at fault in the crash. "We made a Tyger River demand," attorney D. Nathan Hughey, who represented Gathers, told Lawyers Weekly. The claim settled for $489,613 last month before any suit was filed.

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Ready, aim, CLE: Course combines primer on gun law with target practice, weapons permits (access required)

Get ready to channel your inner Daniel Boone or Annie Oakley. There's still time to sign up for two South Carolina Bar-sponsored courses that will teach attorneys the ins and outs of gun law - and allow them to spend their afternoons firing weapons to qualify for concealed-weapons permits. Incorporating target practice is a newfangled twist on the average firearms CLE, which is offered by bars in several states. But "the South really likes their guns," said Doug Kim, an intellectual property attorney who is helping coordinate the May 6 CLE in Greenville.

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$4.4 million verdict over power line that stayed live after crash

An Upstate teen who emerged unhurt from a single-vehicle wreck only to suffer electrocution when he touched a downed power line has won a $4.4 million verdict against Duke Power Co. in a negligence suit. A Greenville County jury awarded actual damages to plaintiff Xavier Massey on March 11 in Massey v. Duke Power Co., civil action No. 2009-CP-23-7220. Judge Robin Stilwell pre-sided in the Greenville County Court of Common Pleas. Massey's lawyers said a key factor in winning the verdict was countering a corporate policy under which Duke claimed evidence from the scene wasn't subject to disclosure.

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Leadership In Law 2011

South Carolina Lawyers Weekly recognized 15 outstanding members of the state's legal community at the Leadership In Law awards presentation and dinner, on Thursday March 24, at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston. Presenting the awards were Tonya Mathis, South Carolina Lawyers Weekly Publisher and Managing Editor Greg Froom. Among the honorees were: Laurie A. Becker, W. Howard Boyd, Jr., Robert T. Bockman, Rita Bragg Cullum, Anne S. Ellefson, Ronald L. Motley, J. Bennett Mullinax, Edward W. Mullins, Jr., David T. Pearlman, Steven J. Pugh, Louis T. Runge, Jr., Carl L. Solomon, Daniel R. Unumb, Robertson H. Wendt, Jr. and Marguerite S. Willis.
Click here to read the event publication online.

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