— Posts About Leto Copeley

Forsyth County Win!

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.

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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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Burton, Hank, Mike, and Jonathan Recognized as North Carolina “Super Lawyers”

Four of Patterson Harkavy’s attorneys have been named North Carolina “Super Lawyers” for 2010 in a recent study by Law & Politics magazine.  The findings are published in the February 2010 edition of the North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine.

Patterson Harkavy’s 2010 North Carolina “Super Lawyers” are:

  • Burton Craige — Personal Injury: Medical Malpractice
  • Hank Patterson — Workers’ Compensation
  • Michael Okun — Labor & Employment Law
  • Jonathan Harkavy — Alternative Dispute Resolution

In addition, Jonathan Harkavy was named to the list of the Top 100 attorneys in North Carolina.

Law & Politics conducts a regional survey of lawyers who have been in practice for at least five years, asking them to nominate the best attorneys they’ve personally observed in action.  In addition, the magazine’s attorney-led research department reviews nominees’ credentials based on a set of evaluation criteria.  To ensure a diverse and well-balanced list, the research staff considers factors such as firm size, practice area and geographic location.

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Patterson Harkavy Wins Workers Compensation Case in Court of Appeals

In Hojnacki v. Last Rebel Trucking, the Court of Appeals reversed the Industrial Commission, and ruled that one of the defendant-companies, Last Rebel Trucking, was also one of the plaintiff’s employers under the Workers’ Compensation Act.  The plaintiff, Mr. Hojnacki, was an interstate truck driver who was hired by Last Rebel Trucking, a local North Carolina company, to drive its truck under the dispatch of Comtrak Logistics, a large trucking company based in Tennessee.  On appeal, it was admitted that Comtrak was one of Mr. Hojnacki’s employers.  In its opinion, the Court found that Last Rebel was also an employer because it paid Mr. Hojnacki for driving its truck following its general directions.  The Court then remanded the case back to the Commission for a revised determination about jurisdiction and what benefits are owed to Mr. Hojnacki.  Leto Copeley and Narendra Ghosh are representing Mr. Hojnacki.

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

Briefs Filed for Truck Driver in Workers’ Compensation Appeal

In Hojnacki v. Last Rebel Trucking, we have filed an opening brief and a reply brief to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in this workers’ compensation case. Mr. Hojnacki is an interstate truck driver who was severely injured while loading his truck. The primary issue on appeal is whether North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act covers Mr. Hojnacki. Though he was injured in South Carolina, he was jointly employed by two trucking companies, one of which is based in North Carolina. Because our Act has a special provision for truck drivers, N.C.G.S. 97-19.1, and the Act can apply to out-of-state injuries, the court should find that the Act applies. Leto Copeley and Narendra Ghosh are representing Mr. Hojnacki.

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Patterson Harkavy Wins Workers’ Compensation Appeal

In Masood v. Erwin Oil Company, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Industrial Commission regarding the payment of interest on an award of medical benefits to the plaintiff.  This is the second Court of Appeals decision in Mr Masood’s case, which began because he was denied workers’ compensation benefits after being shot while working at a gas station.

Under N.C.G.S. 97-86.2, plaintiffs are entitled to interest on their workers’ compensation awards if they prevail upon appeal.  Mr. Masood was ultimately awarded disability and medical benefits after his case was taken all the way to the North Carolina Supreme Court.  While the Commission included interest for his award of disability, it said he was not entitled to any interest on the award of medical benefits.  The Court of Appeals disagreed, concluding that Mr. Masood would be entitled to interest if he could show that he was disadvantaged by the inability to pay for care because the company denied his claim after he was injured.  The court remanded the case to the Commission for additional findings on “whether there was medically necessary treatment that plaintiff was unable to procure, and whether plaintiff had the ability to pay for this treatment during the time period that it was medically necessary.”

Leto Copeley and Narendra Ghosh represent Mr. Masood.

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