S&W Client Relieved of “Spousal Guaranty”: Jury Finds Regions Bank Violated the ECOA and Returns Verdict in Favor of S&W Client Relieving her of $4 Million (appx) Obligation
Shipman & Wright Attorney, Matthew Buckmiller, received a favorable verdict for our client in a case involving Regions Bank and a “spousal guaranty.” At issue in the case was whether Regions Bank violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and its interpretative regulation, Regulation B, by requiring the spouses of partners in a company to personally guarantee the debts of that company. Under the ECOA, an applicant’s spouse may serve as an additional party, but a creditor shall not require that the spouse be the additional party. After deliberation the jury determined that Regions did require that a spouse of partners in a company personally guarantee the debts of that company. Based on the Jury’s Verdict the Court in following the law determined that Regions had violated the ECOA and that the Plaintiff, RL Regi North Carolina (aka Rialto who purchased the distressed debt from Regions Bank) could not recover one cent from the spouse who guaranteed the approximately $4,000,000.00 in loans and voided the spousal guarantees.
This is the first known jury verdict in North Carolina finding a violation of the ECOA and Regulation by a Bank. Shipman & Wright, LLP will be asking the Court to have Rialto pay their client’s attorney’s fees and costs. Click here to view blog
$750,000.00 Verdict Obtained for S&W Client in Columbus County
S&W is pleased to announce that it has obtained on behalf of its client Alexis Barkley a $750,000.00 Verdict in a Columbus County case stemming from her accidental shooting by the defendant on December 20, 2007. Ms. Barkley was shot in the head and immediately transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment. Alexis made a remarkable recovery after being shot. Matt Buckmiller represented Ms. Barkley in the two day trial which included the testimony of Ms. Barkley, the defendant, witnesses to the shooting, and experts in firearms. The highest offer to settle by the defendant was $10,000.00 with defendant’s position being that Ms. Barkley carelessly walked into the path of the gun while the defendant was pulling the trigger. One of the seminal issues in the case was whether the actions of the defendant were negligent (an action which could have been discharged in bankruptcy) or grossly or culpably negligent (which could not have been discharged in bankruptcy). The Verdict found that the Defendant’s actions were grossly negligent such as to supply the intent required for the intentional tort of battery, thereby making the judgment against the defendant non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. S&W is pleased with the Verdict, especially in a county like Columbus County where verdict amounts are traditionally low.
Client Wins Verdict In Heart – Balm Case
On October 23, 2008, a New Hanover County jury returned a verdict in favor of our client in a “breach of promise to marry” claim. Our client, alleged that he began a romantic relationship with the Defendant in the early 1990′s, and they eventually agreed to marry, with our client buying, and the Defendant wearing, an engagement ring, and both parties held themselves out to the public as being engaged. In anticipation of their marriage, and the various other promises made to him by the Defendant, our client alleged that he transferred an interest in the home that he separately owned; title to a 1997 motor home; and a stock interest in his closely held corporation, to the Defendant. The Defendant broke off her relationship with our client, and what ensued, over the next eight (8) years, was protracted litigation between the parties over the custody of a child that the Defendant had after breaking off the relationship with our client. Our Client did not discover the existence of his child until nearly two (2) years after birth, when our client sued for custody and/or visitation with the child. The Defendant contended that the birth of the child was a result of our client having raped her, and convinced a Brunswick County Sheriff’s deputy to have him arrested for rape. The criminal charges were ultimately dismissed by the District Attorney’s office in Brunswick County for “lack of evidence” and Orders by District Court Judges in the custody litigation found that the Defendant had intentionally concealed the child from our client; had fabricated the rape allegations; and that the Defendant and her sister had discussed wanting our client “dead”, resulting in the Defendant’s sister soliciting a third party to kill him, backed by $10,000.00 cash.
Shipman & Wright, LLP was retained by the Plaintiff in 2007, and he was represented at trial by two of our firm’s attorneys. Prior to the start of the trial, a counterclaim brought by the Defendant against our client’s closely held corporation, was dismissed. During the course of the trial, the Plaintiff’s position to the jury was that all that he sought was to have returned to him the property that he transferred to the Defendant in anticipation of their marriage. While the Plaintiff would have been entitled to an instruction on damages, including punitive damages, the strategy was to simplify the issue for the jury, given especially the inability to collect any judgment from the Defendant. After approximately 2 ½ days of testimony, a jury determined that the Defendant had breached her promise to marry the Plaintiff, and that the Plaintiff was entitled to a return of his property.
$675,000.00 Settlement: Domestic Abuse/Intentional Tort
A women who had been a victim of domestic abuse walked into the office of Shipman & Wright for help. She had filed a lawsuit against her boyfriend who had physically and mentally abused her but her previous attorneys had told her a week before the trial that they would no longer represent her and that she should accept the small sum the abuser had offered for settlement. Shipman & Wright conducted a thorough examination of her case and took immediate action to “save” her case which included amending the pleadings to ensure her claim was not barred by the statute of limitations and conducting an investigation of the Defendant and the instances of alleged abuse. Based on the pressure exerted by Shipman & Wright on Defendant’s initial counsel in the case the Defendant hired one of the largest firms in the State of North Carolina to represent him. Undeterred, we vigorously represented our client not only to give our client the justice she deserved but to send a message that abuse against women should not be tolerated in our society. Initially the Defendant, under oath, denied all wrongdoing but later admitted to the abuse after presentment by Shipman & Wright of overwhelming and extensive evidence that the abuse had occurred. Shipman & Wright was able to negotiate a successful settlement for their client.
$20 million Settlement: Homeowners’ Class Action Case
What started out as a single residential family lawsuit in Wilmington, North Carolina, quickly turned into a nationally known homeowners’ class-action lawsuit. Shipman & Wright, L.L.P. represented the homeowners and filed the class-action lawsuit in the state court, allowing the suffering victims who couldn’t afford to hire attorneys, a chance to appropriately recover from the damages. The lawsuit involved dozens of homeowners as the victims and dozens of synthetic stucco manufacturers were to be held responsible. The homeowners experienced rotting of their homes’ structure due to the defective synthetic stucco that was used and resulting in thousands of dollars in damages per home. We took action and controlled this ground breaking class-action suit by focusing on every aspect of the case and more importantly by focusing on the goal of compensating the homeowners for the damages done and making sure the manufactures were held accountable. The manufacturer’s attorneys attempted to delay the process as long as possible as a third party involvement had even been suggested to be at blame. Lawsuits against the stucco manufactures were surfacing in South Carolina and even Florida while the class-action suit spiraled out of control, on its way to a national class-action. All of which would have prolonged the reimbursement that our clients rightfully deserved. Our firm’s careful preparation, persistence, and experience lead to an agreed principal of a $20 million settlement with one manufacturer and success and justice for our clients.
$335,000 Settlement: Medical Malpractice
A nurse practitioner in a local women’s health clinic accidentally used “unwashed” sperm to inseminate our client. The sperm had been left over from another patient’s procedure 2 days earlier. Immediately our client fell violently ill as it caused her uterus to contract, inflicting unbearable pain, along with vomiting and other side effects. The physical pain she suffered was not comparable to the emotional pain she would continue to struggle through for the next two years of her life. We represented our client in a breakthrough lawsuit, making it the first medical malpractice suit that went to court in New Hanover County. Our firm wanted to not only give our client the justice she deserved but also to make a statement by helping others pursue malpractice cases in this very conservative county. While the health clinic was undeniably at fault, we had to break the preconceived notion of doctors and convince the jury that when protocol is not followed and complacency occurs, even doctors can make mistakes and do more harm than good. We researched the typical protocol used in insemination procedures and what the nurse failed to follow. Emphasis was put on the fact that if even one step had been taken in the required protocol, than the botched procedure would have never happened and our client would have avoided all the pain and suffering. In result our client was rewarded $85,000 in compensatory damages and due to the state cap, $250,000 in punitive damages. None of which would have been possible if our firm had not challenged the system and taken this high risk case on, with confidence and belief in causing awareness and holding the medical industry accountable.