The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled in favor of one of the firm’s clients in an appeal brought by the defendants. In Rawls v. Yellow Roadway Corporation, the Full Commission awarded Veran Rawls ongoing total disability compensation since his 2005 truck accident. Defendants argued that the Full Commission had erred in several findings of fact, claiming that they were not based on competent medical evidence. The Court rejected all of these arguments and affirmed in full the Commission’s decision. Hank Patterson and Narendra Ghosh represented Mr. Rawls in the appeal.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the North Carolina Industrial Commission in Ray v. NC Department of Transportation. The case involved the death of a motorist and her passengers in 2002 when an eroded section of pavement caused her vehicle to go off the roadway, she corrected, and hit an oncoming car head on. The plaintiff alleged that that NC DOT was negligent in maintaining the roadway and not repairing the eroded section which they knew was dangerous or should have known was a dangerous to motorists. The Commission dismissed the case based on the public duty doctrine which can be used as a defense by the State of North Carolina from certain tort claims. Reversing, the Court of Appeals concluded:
“ This case does not involve a failure to inspect or to police, but a failure to repair a defective section of roadway. There is no “hazard created by others” or important discretionary decision which requires the government to be protected under the public duty doctrine.”
Burton Craige wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice for this case. The brief can be accessed here.
In, Cape Fear Public Transit Authority v. Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1328, the Wilmington transit authority is challenging a labor arbitration in favor of the Union, which ordered a terminated employee be put back to work. This case is before federal Judge Boyle in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Yesterday, Judge Boyle ruled for the Union, concluding that there were no grounds to reverse the arbitration decision. Finding the city’s lawsuit to be “without justification,” Judge Boyle also awarded the Union its attorneys’ fees for defending this case. Here is the opinion. Mike Okun and Narendra Ghosh are representing the Union.
In Evans v. Hendrick Automotive Group, the North Carolina Court of Appeals published this opinion, ruling that defendants improperly appealed a non-final decision of the Industrial Commission, and dismissing their appeal. Ms. Evans was an office manager for a Hendrick dealership in Texas. She was injured during a business trip to Charlotte, while she was walking back from an employer-sponsored dinner to her hotel. The primary issue is whether the Industrial Commission correctly concluded that Ms. Evans’ accident arose out of and was in the course of her employment and properly awarded her workers’ compensation benefits. The case now returns to the Commission. Narendra Ghosh helped represent Ms. Evans.
On Monday, December 6, firm partners Leto Copeley (Chapel Hill) and Ann Groninger (Charlotte) obtained a $250,000.00 verdict in Forsyth County Superior Court on behalf of their client, Thomas M. Sprinkle, against Hammaker East Emulsions, LLC, an asphalt manufacturing company.
Mr. Sprinkle was working for his employer Blythe Industries as a tack distributor truck driver on December 3, 2008, the day of his injury. That morning his truck was empty and he drove to Hammaker East to have the truck loaded with tack. After directing him to the loading dock and inserting the pipe into his truck, a Hammaker employee told Mr. Sprinkle that the pipes were clogged and it would be a little while before the tack started flowing. Mr. Sprinkle remained on top of his truck, as he normally did, waiting for the tack to flow. What he did not know, because Hammaker employees failed to tell him, was that, when the clog loosened, it would come out with a big “kapow.” He also did not know that, in addition to blowing air through, and heating the pipes, the Hammaker employees left on the valve that allowed tack to flow from their system into Mr. Sprinkle’s truck. When the clog finally loosened, the pipe came bursting out of the truck, spraying tack all over the truck and Mr. Sprinkle and knocking Mr. Sprinkle more than 10 feet to the ground.
Mr. Sprinkle’s knee was “pulverized” according to his doctor. He had a complicated surgery to reconstruct his knee, a long period of recovery, and will likely need knee replacement surgery in the future. After knocking him off his truck, Hammaker employees left Mr. Sprinkle sitting outside in the below-freezing temperature, until his supervisor arrived and called 911. There was testimony that Hammaker’s plant manager, Bryan Miller, was slurring his words and reeked of alcohol immediately after Mr. Sprinkle’s fall.
Attorneys Valerie Johnson and Narendra Ghosh and paralegal Elizabeth Weatherspoon provided valuable assistance throughout the trial.
The North Carolina Supreme Court denied the defendants’ petition for discretionary review (PDR) in Taylor v. Town of Garner. The Court of Appeals decided earlier this year that Officer Taylor is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits from the Town of Garner for the injury he suffered while working as a mounter officer at an N.C. State football game. Because Officer Taylor was working pursuant to a mutual aid and assistance agreement between the Town of Garner and N.C. State, Garner remained responsible for his workers’ compensation. The Court’s denial of the PDR means that Officer Taylor will finally receive his benefits. Valerie Johnson and Narendra Ghosh represent Officer Taylor.
In this case, plaintiffs are bringing collective action claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) based on the under-payment of wages and overtime at Smithfield Packing’s Tar Heel, North Carolina meat processing facility. Magistrate Judge Gates issued an opinion last week recommending that defendant’s motion to decertify the FLSA collective action be denied. If his recommendation is approved by the district judge, the case will proceed to trial as a collective action. The plaintiffs are represented by several lawyers, including Ann Groninger.
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In a unanimous decision, the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s decision awarding Plaintiff Rebecca Davis joint custody of the child she raised with her former domestic partner:
Defendant Margaret Swan appeals from an order granting Plaintiff Rebecca Davis joint legal custody and secondary physical custody of Swan’s biological child (“minor child”). Swan argues that the trial court erred by applying the best interest standard to the child custody dispute between the parties. Because the record shows that Swan acted inconsistently with her constitutionally protected right to exclusive care and control of the minor child, we affirm the trial court’s decision to apply the best interest of the child standard.
On appeal, Davis was represented by Burton Craige, Narendra Ghosh, and Sharon Thompson of the Sharon Thompson Law Group.
On Friday, August 20, 2010, a Cleveland County jury returned a unanimous verdict for our client, Danny Rhodes. Danny was injured at work in 1992 while working for a long haul trucker for Hersek Express Incorporated. Since Hersek had no workers’ compensation insurance, Danny had to get a judgment from a Superior Court judge. When he tried to collect the judgment in 2002, he learned that Hersek had become a new company – Diamond H Incorporated – and that Diamond H now owned all of the assets. Danny’s former attorney filed a complaint against the companies and their individual owners alleging claims of fraudulent transfer, civil conspiracy and piercing the corporate veil.
We became involved in the case in 2008. We obtained documents from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the companies’ bank and their accountant to show how the companies and its owners moved money and assets around. The jury found that Hersek fraudulently transferred five trucks to the new company; they also found that Diamond H and the owners of the two companies controlled Hersek to the extent that it had no separate corporate identity. Danny is now entitled to collect his judgment from Diamond H and the individual owners as well as from Hersek. Danny was represented by Ann Groninger and Paige Kurtz of Sprouse & Kurtz, PLLC.
On behalf of two local IAM unions, Patterson Harkavy has prevailed in federal district court in a case challenging a labor arbitration decision. This case arises from Plaintiff UGL UNICCO’s termination of union member Ronald Corbett. UGL UNICCO provides facilities maintenance services at a tire plant in Wilson, North Carolina, owned by Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire. Corbett was employed by UGL UNICCO and worked at the Bridgestone Plant. Defendants Local 2541 and District 110 are constituent entities of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“IAM”). The IAM was represented in this case by Mike Okun and Narendra Ghosh.
The union challenged Corbett’s termination and the case was initially decided by an experienced labor arbitrator. Corbett, a 34-year employee, did nothing wrong in getting fired, but was terminated without just cause because of Bridgestone’s unilateral decision. This is commonly known as a persona non grata situation. The arbitrator found that this firing violated the union’s contract with UNICCO, and award Corbett 68 weeks of pay as damages because she could not order Bridgestone to return him to work. UNICCO challenged the arbitrator’s decision in federal court.