At Roberts & Stevens, success is defined by meeting or exceeding our clients’ expectations. While traditional notions of ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ do apply for certain cases and clients, more often success is achieved through the combination of legal expertise, strong communication and negotiation skills. At Roberts & Stevens, we put our clients’ true interests first. From the outset, we provide clear and realistic expectations, while offering best options or presenting opportunities.
The following cases are representative of some of our outcomes in some of our practice areas.
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Federal Court Awards Unanimous Defense Verdict in Products Liability Trial for Powdered Infant Formula Manufacturer
Roberts & Stevens’ attorneys Wyatt S. Stevens and Ann-Patton Hornthal, acting as local trial counsel with attorneys Dan Reidy and June Ghezzi from the Jones Day Law Firm, secured a unanimous defense verdict in favor of Abbott Laboratories in a product liability case in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
In Kimberly S. Sisk v. Abbott Laboratories, No. 1:11-cv-00159-MR-DLH (W.D.N.C., March 2014), the plaintiff sought compensatory damages of more than $50 million in negligence claims for defective manufacture, design and labeling, in addition to punitive damages involving powdered infant formula. The jury trial lasted one week in the Asheville Division before the Honorable Martin Reidinger.
Prior to trial, the attorneys were able to present evidence to the court that granted a number of defense motions, including Abbott's motion to dismiss breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, and North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act claims.
Roberts & Stevens Successfully Defends Major Trucking Company
Roberts & Stevens’ attorney, Mark C. Kurdys, member of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys and the Defense Research Institute, obtained summary judgment for a major trucking company when a plaintiff was severely injured while trying to help an employee driver get his truck on the road. The employee driver had driven the company-owned tractor-trailer in the opposite direction from his assigned destination, dropped the trailer in an unsecured location, stopped communicating with his dispatcher and got the tractor stuck in a rutted rural road in front of a relative’s home. Plaintiff, a neighbor of the relative, was assisting the employee in attempting to extricate the tractor from the deep ruts. The U.S. District Court agreed that the employee driver had diverted completely from his dispatched assignment and was engaged on a personal adventure which was contrary to his authority to operate the company’s truck. The case is Allen v. Werner Enterprises, United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
North Carolina Court of Appeals Reverses a $560,000 Jury Verdict for Roberts & Stevens’ Clients
The North Carolina Court of Appeals, in the case of Lorenz v. O’Haire, reversed a jury’s award of more than $560,000 against the owners of a 480 acre tract of land in Jackson County, North Carolina. The case involved the issue of whether the owners/sellers of the property were contractually liable to a realtor for his commission when a $10 million sale of the property never closed. The jury found that the owners/sellers had breached the purchase agreement with the buyers and were therefore liable to the realtor for $560,000 in commission even though the sale never occurred. The owners contacted attorney Zemp after the trial about appealing the verdict to the NC Court of Appeals. Attorneys Zemp and Hornthal were able to demonstrate to the Court of Appeals that the contracts at issue were unambiguous as a matter of law, warranting a reversal of the jury’s verdict and a successful outcome for their clients.
North Carolina Court of Appeals Upholds Enforcement of Conservation Easement
Roberts & Stevens' attorneys F. Lachicotte ("Lach") Zemp, Jr. and Ann-Patton Hornthal obtained a permanent injunction and punitive damages in a jury trial enforcing the terms of a Conservation Easement in Haywood County in 2008. The defendants appealed the jury's verdict and the Zemp/Hornthal team defended the verdict on behalf of their clients on appeal. On August 17, 2010, the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the jury's verdict in the case of Thomas L. Woltz, Trustee of the Crawford Creek Trust Agreement, et al. v. Donald S. Taylor, et al. The unanimous decision authored by Judge Barbara Jackson may be found here.
Zemp and Hornthal represented the landowner, The Crawford Creek Trust, and the co-holder of the conservation easement, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) headquartered in Asheville. The protected property is a 488-acre tract of undeveloped land in Haywood County adjacent to the Shining Rock Wilderness and included Crawford Creek, a spring-fed creek that is designated an outstanding watershed by the State of North Carolina. The property has been owned by the same family since 1917 and was placed in a conservation easement with SAHC and the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund in 2000. The case involved a variety of claims and issues, including the enforceability of a Conservation Easement, adverse possession, prescriptive easement, easement by necessity, and trespass. The jury trial and verdict were featured in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly.
Roberts & Stevens Successfully Defends Adventist Health Care System
Roberts & Stevens' attorney, Jacqueline Grant, with co-counsel from Mississippi, successfully defended a National Health Care System and its local hospital in a Federal lawsuit filed by three former physicians seeking declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages arising out of their loss of hospital privileges. Upon Motion to Dismiss and after numerous briefs, the Court dismissed all of the Plaintiffs' claims against the Defendants.
Roberts & Stevens’ Trial Victory for Employment Discrimination Case
Roberts & Stevens' attorney, Jacqueline Grant, with co-counsel from Georgia, successfully defended a security company and its president in a federal employment discrimination action. The plaintiff sued for discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act for not hiring him as a security guard. The plaintiff also sued his current employer and Ingles Supermarket for whom security services was provided. Upon Motion to Dismiss and after numerous briefs, the Court dismissed all of the Plaintiff's claims against her clients.
Roberts & Stevens Successfully Defends National Church Case
Roberts & Stevens' attorney, Jacqueline Grant, successfully obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a National Church (Church of God in Christ, Inc.), State Church, and Local Church in a civil action filed by five men. The plaintiffs sought over $35 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiffs alleged that the National, State, and Local Church were negligent in their selection, retention, and supervision of the Director. The plaintiffs also asserted a claim against the defendants for intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress. The jury returned a verdict on all counts in favor of the defendants.