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Win for Burton and Narendra: Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of District Attorney Tracey Cline

The North Carolina Court of Appeals has affirmed a trial court order removing Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline from her office.  In re Cline, __ N.C. App. ___, 749 S.E.2d 91 (2013).  Patterson Harkavy attorney Burton Craige acted as court appointed counsel responding to Cline’s appeal of her dismissal.

The controversy has its roots in late 2011, when Cline began making numerous false and outrageous accusations against Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson, Jr. in public pleadings.  Cline’s behavior lead attorney Kerstin Sutton to petition for Cline’s removal under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-66, which establishes a number of grounds on which a district attorney can be removed from office.  Sutton was appointed to present evidence against Cline at a hearing before Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood.  On March 2, 2012, Judge Hobgood found that Cline had engaged in conduct “prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the office into disrepute” under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-66(6), and removed her from office.  Cline appealed.

The court appointed Burton Craige to manage the response to Cline’s appeal.  Burton worked with Sutton and Patterson Harkavy attorney Narendra Ghosh to defend Judge Hobgood’s removal order.  On October 1, a unanimous panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals published an opinion affirming Judge Hobgood’s order removing Cline from her office.

The News and Observer has engaged in extensive coverage of the controversy, including an investigative series entitled “Twisted Truth: a Prosecutor Under Attack.”  More recent articles explore Burton’s role as court appointed independent counsel and discuss Monday’s Court of Appeals decision.

Categories: Judicial Decisions, Results Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hank and Narendra to Present Paper at Workers’ Comp CLE

Hank Patterson and Narendra Ghosh will present a paper they co-wrote at the upcoming 18th Annual Workplace Torts & Workers’ Comp CLE, which is put on by the NCAJ and will be held at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill on Friday December 2, 2011.  Their paper is entitled “Future Medical Treatment: Substance and Procedure for § 97-25.1”.  Hank is also a co-chair of the CLE.

Introduction:

“The provision for extending the two-year time limitation for medical treatment is not often discussed, but it can make a profound difference for claimants who need medical care in the future. This paper discusses the development of this provision in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-25.1, as well as the substantive and procedural issues raised by the statute.”

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Jon Harkavy Presents Annual Paper on SCOTUS Employment Law Decisions

On October 21st, at the 27th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina Labor and Employment Law CLE held in Charleston, South Carolina, Jonathan Harkavy presented his 2010-11 annual review of the Supreme Court’s employment law cases.  His paper is entitled “Supreme Court of the United States Employment Law Commentary, 2010 Term.”  (Please download his article from here.)

 Introduction:  The 2010 Term of the Supreme Court of the United States put a spotlight on the significant – though oddly unheralded – role that employment law plays in our country’s economy and in our citizens’ daily lives. One of the nation’s keenest (and self-described “obsessive”) Court observers recently characterized this term as “straight-up dull.” Emily Bazelon, “Chamber of Pain,” The New York Times Magazine, p. 9 (August 7, 2011.) My own judgment, however, is that what the Justices did in the employment area was consequential, if not downright exciting.  Through a number of employment-related cases, a cohesive and assertive majority of the Court fashioned the law to fit its socio-economic (if not overtly political) view that the employment relationship ought to be deregulated.  In doing so, the Court continued to pursue what the Reagan revolution began and the Tea Party followers hope to complete.  But more about that later.  For Court observers of all political stripes, the 2010 Term’s smorgasbord of decisions provides a feast to be savored and debated for months to come.

Categories: Judicial Decisions, News of the Firm Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hank Presents Paper on 2011 Changes to Workers’ Comp Law

At a recent CLE addressing changes to North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law put on by the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, Hank Patterson presented his paper entitled “Changes to G.S. §97-29: Limitations on Total Disability Benefits – Cap and Credit”.  In the paper Hank summarizes and discusses the amendments to N.C. G.S. §97-29 in House Bill 709, which was signed into law June 24, 2011.

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Burton Speaks About the New Medical Malpractice Legislation

Burton Craige addressed another bill passed in the North Carolina General Assembly this session with his paper entitled “SB 33: The Brave New World of Malpractice Litigation” where he summarizes Senate Bill 33, shows its evolution and addresses some of the possible constitutional challenges that it may face.  He spoke about his paper at a CLE hosted by the North Carolina Advocates for Justice in Raleigh on August 31, 2011.

Introduction:

On July 25, 2011, the North Carolina House of Representatives, by a vote of 74-42, overrode Governor Perdue’s veto of the medical malpractice bill (SB 33). The enactment of SB 33 culminated an intense six-month legislative battle.

When the Act becomes effective on October 1, 2011, a new era of malpractice litigation in North Carolina will begin. Injured patients, who already face formidable barriers, will find it harder to find a lawyer, pursue their claims, and recover adequate compensatory damages. Lawyers and judges will be forced to decipher complex new statutory language.  Courts will confront constitutional challenges to the bill’s most controversial provision, the $500,000 cap on noneconomic damages.

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Burton Presents “Billed v. Paid” Paper

Burton Craige authored a paper this month titled “Billed v. Paid: Present, Past, Future”.  Burton presented his paper this month at the North Carolina Advocates for Justice CLE, “Bill v. Paid: Counting the True Cost.”  His paper discusses the way the “Billed v. Paid” issue is handled in other states and how North Carolina’s law has changed over the years.

Introduction:

In June 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted HB 542, titled “Tort Reform for Citizens and Businesses.”  Section 1.1 of HB 542 creates a new rule of evidence (Rule 414) that limits evidence of past medical expenses to “the amounts actually paid to satisfy the bills” and “the amounts actually necessary to satisfy the bills that have been incurred but not yet satisfied.”  Section 1.2 amends G.S. § 8-58.1, limiting the plaintiff’s testimony about reasonable medical expenses to the amount “paid or required to be paid in full satisfaction” of the charges. In combination, the new provisions, commonly referred to as “billed v. paid,” will significantly reduce the amount that injured plaintiffs can recover for their medical expenses.  The billed v. paid provisions are effective for all actions “arising on or after” October 1, 2011.

In the past decade, many states have confronted the billed v. paid issue in their appellate courts.  A handful of states have addressed the issue legislatively.  This paper reviews the experience in other jurisdictions, traces the evolution of billed v. paid in North Carolina, and identifies a potential constitutional challenge to the new legislation.

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Fourth Circuit Supports Sex Harassment and Retaliation Claims

The Fourth Circuit recently issued an excellent decision in Okoli v. City of Baltimore.  This case presents claims under Title VII action for sexual harassment and retaliation (termination) for reporting the harassment.  Amazingly, the trial court dismissed the case.  The Fourth Circuit reversed, concluding that the plaintiff’s allegations that her boss forcibly kissed her, fondled her leg, propositioned her, asked sexually explicit questions, described sexual activities he wished to perform, and then, after she spurned the advances and filed a harassment complaint, fired her are sufficient to support claims of hostile work environment, quid pro quo sex harassment, and retaliation.

Categories: Judicial Decisions Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Burton’s News & Observer Op-Ed on Medical Errors

On Thursday, the News and Observer published an opinion piece by Dr. James Bryan and Burton Craige entitled Harmed in the Hospital.  It begins: “In 1999, the Institute of Medicine reported that medical errors in American hospitals cause up to 98,000 deaths and more than 1 million injuries each year. In response to the institute’s report, hospitals in North Carolina and around the country announced initiatives to improve patient safety.  A recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine assessed the efficacy of these initiatives. Looking exclusively at hospitals in North Carolina, the article reported a shockingly high rate of preventable injuries to patients, and little or no improvement over time.”

Check out the whole article.

Categories: General News, News of the Firm Tags: , , , ,

Harkavy Presents 2009-10 Annual Supreme Court Review of Employment Law Cases

At the 26th Annual North Carolina/South Carolina Labor and Employment Law CLE held in Asheville, North Carolina, Jonathan Harkavy will present his 2009-10 annual review of the Supreme Court’s employment law cases.  His paper is entitled Supreme Court Employment Law Decisions, 2009 Term.

Introduction: The 2009 Term of the Supreme Court of the United States illustrated in unmistakable fashion the central role that workplace regulation plays in the lives of our citizens. The Court’s determination of a broad range of employment-related issues maintained its focus on employment law that began several terms ago. Not only do this term’s decisions affect a variety of policies and rules applicable to workers, employers and benefit providers, but the Roberts Court’s unabashed interest in doctrinal development, revealed by a deeper look at its decisions, also is reshaping the employment relationship itself and altering how work-related disputes are to be resolved.  Read more…

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Burton Speaking at NCAJ Conference This Weekend

Burton Craige and Leto Copeley are speaking this weekend at the North Carolina Advocates for Justice Mountain Magic Conference.  Burton is leading a panel entitled “Collateral Attack on the Collateral Source Rule.”  He will lead a discussion about the national trend to allow defendants to introduce evidence of the amount actually paid for medical expenses, rather than limiting the evidence to the amount billed.

Leto will be speaking about employment law issues that workers’ compensation practitioners should be aware of, such as the ADA and FMLA.  Wage and hour issues are also important ones to consider.  As this short paper prepared by Leto and Narendra Ghosh states, “Workers’ compensation practitioners should remain vigilant for potential wage and hour violations as they pursue claims for their clients. When getting information on a client’s average weekly wage, for instance, it is important to at least consider whether your client is getting paid fully, including for overtime, under the wage and hour laws.”

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