Elder & Special Needs Law Section: Chair’s Comments

By David W. Silver

We had a successful Elder & Special Needs Law Symposium in Pinehurst in February. Thank you to the CLE committee who put the program together (Kara Gansmann, Nicki Applefield Engel, and Nancy Mayer).  If you were not able to attend, the materials can be acquired through the NCBA CLE. I have already utilized the materials and planning techniques provided during Eric Barnes’ presentation about the new rules and gifting penalty related to the VA’s Aid and Attendance program.

The location for the symposium needs to be reserved a couple of years in advance, so change happens slowly.  While Pinehurst has been a good host for quite a few years, we will be holding the symposium in Charlotte next year and then return to Pinehurst in 2021. The goal of the location change next year is to see if we can make the program more accessible and more enjoyable to more of our members.  Our CLE committee would be very interested in feedback regarding your opinion about the location of the symposium going forward.

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Pay ’Em Like Beckham: US Soccer Lawsuit Pushes Gender Discrimination in Athletics to the Forefront

By Sean F. Herrmann

Gender discrimination in international team sports has long been a fraught issue, and US soccer is no exception. The US Senior Men’s National Soccer Team (“MNT”) hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire. The MNT didn’t even qualify for the most recent World Cup. Yet, year after year, and decade after decade at this point, US soccer enthusiasts promise that the time for men’s soccer in this country lies just ahead. And it remains just ahead. This isn’t changing any time soon.

Meanwhile, the US Women’s National Soccer Team (“WNT”) is in an entirely different place. US women’s soccer has been globally dominant for some time. The WNT won the World Cup in 1991, 1999, and 2015. During that same time period, it never finished worse than third, and was the runner-up in 2011. Moreover, WNT players frequently become media sensations and legitimate stars. Many recognize names like Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Brandi Chastain, and Mia Hamm. Famous US male soccer stars are much more rare.

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Testing Well: Holding Drug Testers Accountable for False Positives

By Kevin P. Murphy

North Carolina law imposes stringent requirements on employee drug testing. But courts have long held that employers who fire employees on the basis of false positives are not liable for the employees’ harms and losses. Last week, the South Carolina Supreme Court changed all that. The Court held that laboratories owe a duty of reasonable care to the employees they are testing. Shaw v. Psychemedics Corp., No. 2017-002538 (S.C. Mar. 20, 2019). Now, wronged employees can recover directly from the labs who got them fired.

The Court recognized that these labs should be aware of the harm they cause employees by wrongly reporting positive test results. The Court agreed that these labs need to be incentives to take precautions aimed at eliminating false positives. Under pre-existing South Carolina law a wrongdoer is liable for harm to a third party arising out of his contract with another party, despite the absence of any contract between the wrongdoer and his victim.

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Paralegals In the Trademark Industry

By Matthew Schneller

In my experience, trademark paralegals take up a larger proportion of the head count, draft a greater percentage of substantive work product, and tend to have more direct contact with clients than they do in any other practice group.

Where many practices have large projects that take up most of an employee’s time over a day or weeks, like the rush of active litigation or a pending transaction, most trademark practitioners’ work lives are extremely broken up. Lots of little projects fill the day of the average trademark attorney or paralegal, and most of them have long life spans that require follow-up and additional steps, many of them years in the future. In busy practices, trademark paralegals are deeply involved not only in carrying individual projects through to completion, but also help shepherd along the many longer-term projects that are easy to lose sight of in the day-to-day bustle.

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The State of US Immigration Law From I to V (ICE to Visas)


By Jennifer Parser

The state of US immigration law is in the throes of tremendous change, under unprecedented stresses as an old system struggles to deal with today’s reality.  Mass migration is common and will only increase, the World Bank attributing 140 million alone due to climate change by 2050, seen today both by the professional seeking better career opportunities and the refugee grasping for personal security.  This article will parse through recent news and, due to article length constraints, focus on topics most relevant to employers and their counsel.

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The Value of Membership: Why Should You Join the Family Law Section of the NCBA?

By Lisa LeFante

I have been a member of the NCBA Family Law Section for nearly 22 years.  If you asked me why I joined back in 1997, I probably would have said, “because that’s what you’re supposed to do, and Marc Sokol is paying for it.”  If you ask me today, my answer is still the same (well, partially, Marc is no longer paying for it, although I wouldn’t mind if he did) because that’s what you are supposed to do.  The real question is why is joining the Section something we are “supposed to do?”

I am a member of a Section that is some 1,000+ lawyers strong, most of whom dedicate their careers to family law.  From this Section, I learn not only about developments in family law, but also about camaraderie, professionalism, and public service.  I learn how to be a better lawyer, and perhaps in turn, a better person.

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NC COA: Bezzek v. Bezzek

By Jeff Marshall

Domestic Violence, COA18-761, Feb. 19, 2019, Bezzek v. Bezzek, Orange County

Husband filed a complaint for absolute divorce and equitable distribution.  Wife admitted the allegations for absolute divorce but filed a motion to dismiss the claim for equitable distribution because the parties had previously executed a separation agreement addressing equitable distribution.  Husband responded with a motion to rescind the separation agreement and a motion for the establishment of child support.

After a trial, the lower court found the separation agreement to be void.  Wife appealed, claiming the trial court’s order was a “final judgment.”  However, because the equitable distribution claim was still pending, the trial court’s order was not final and the appeal is interlocutory.  In an interlocutory appeal, the appellant has the burden of providing sufficient facts and arguments that support appellate review on the ground that the challenged order affects a substantial right.  Here, Wife failed to make any argument regarding any deprivation of a substantial right and, therefore, failed to meet her burden.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeals dismissed Wife’s appeal.

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NC COA: Morgan v. Defeo

By Jeff Marshall

Equitable Distribution, COA 18-322, Feb. 5, 2019, Morgan v. Defeo, Iredell County

Plaintiff requested an ex parte Domestic Violence Protective Order against Defendant alleging the “defendant attempted to cause or has caused bodily injury and that the defendant continues to lie on social media about her.”  The trial court granted Plaintiff’s ex parte DVPO and ordered Defendant to refrain from all social media about Plaintiff and her family.  Plaintiff wrote in her original complaint that Defendant abused her and damaged her home in July of 2016, but her complaint was not filed until approximately one year later.  In her complaint, she attached screen shots of Defendant’s Facebook posts, Defendant’s text messages, and damage to the home from 2016.

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Think the CCPA Does Not Apply To You Or Your Clients? Better Think Again.

By Steven T. Snyder

In late February 2019, a new amendment to the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA,” “Act,” “title”) was proposed—SB-561. On its face this is a very significant amendment in that it changes the consumer’s private right of action from a very constrained set of circumstances to the violation of any “right under this title.”  But a closer look at this proposed amendment reveals that the impact is far more profound in that it greatly expands the scope of the potential defendants by extending the private right of action to violations not just by “businesses” but also any other third parties.

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Pro Bono Spotlight: Heather Culp


Pro Bono Volunteer Spotlight: Heather Culp
Pro Bono Project: NC Free Legal Answers

By Sarah Hill McIntyre

For Attorney Heather Culp of Essex Richards, P.A. in Charlotte, every year brings the same challenge: to complete at least 50 hours of pro bono work for her fellow North Carolinians.

Find out how you can volunteer with NC Free Legal Answers to do pro bono work at your own pace.

Culp has served as a volunteer attorney with Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Charlotte office since 2010. She was recognized in the inaugural 2016 class of the NC Pro Bono Honor Society, her prior law firm of Mitchell & Culp was awarded the Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont’s 2012 Outstanding Legal Services Award (Small Firm), and she is currently chairing the 2018-2019 Access to Justice Campaign in Mecklenburg County, to benefit Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Charlotte office. Culp strives to accomplish the 50-hour goal, set forth by Rule 6.1, sometimes even accepting pro bono cases through her own intake system in addition to assisting legal service providers. For Culp, doing pro bono work is an acknowledgement of the special skills and training unique to those in the legal profession and of the duty all attorneys have to serve the public.

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