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Professional Negligence Defense

Overview

Our clients call on us for representation in professional negligence claims in state and federal courts in North Carolina and South Carolina. Because a professional's reputation is his or her most valuable asset, Parker Poe is at the forefront in finding creative ways to avoid litigation and publicity where possible through alternatives such as arbitration and mediation. These alternatives often result in early resolution and significant cost savings. We also understand that an allegation of professional negligence requires a vigorous defense, and our experience and knowledge enables us to defend professionals aggressively.

Featured Experience

We have extensive experience in defending professionals against malpractice claims across a wide range of fields including accounting, architecture, engineering, insurance, financial services, health care, legal services and surveying. Clients consistently rely upon our attorneys for advice on issues of risk management and review of professional liability insurance programs. By providing comprehensive services to our professional clients, Parker Poe attorneys have been successful in defending professional negligence litigation by minimizing clients' losses and costs through early intervention and favorable settlements and, where appropriate, through trial.

Our experience includes:

  • Representation of physicians and other health care providers for more than 30 years in medical cases arising from adverse drug reactions, complications of surgery, defective medical devices, complications from labor and delivery and assessment/diagnosis of disease
  • More than 30 years of experience in defending attorney malpractice claims
  • Defense of corporate officers, directors and accountants in securities fraud class actions, shareholder derivative suits and corporate governance disputes
  • Representation of clients within the financial services industry in claims of breach of fiduciary duty and alleged violations of applicable standards and regulations, including suitability, selling away, churning and failure to supervise
  • Defense of accounting firms in claims that audits were not conducted in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS) and that faulty audits or improper accounting advice has resulted in alleged economic losses
  • Representation of architects and engineers in design and construction disputes of all types and sizes including residential, commercial, industrial, heavy/highway and municipal and governmental contracting. We defend engineers of all disciplines and architects in design deficiency claims as well as construction administration/observation claims

Representative Matters

Accounting

  • Harrold v. Dowd et al., 149 N.C. App. 777 (N.C. App. 2002) – North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld dismissal of malpractice and fraud claims against accountants.
  • Ladd v. Ernst & Young. 1996 US Dist LEXIS 8253 (M.D.N.C. April 30, 1996); 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6585 (M.D.N.C. Apr. 23, 1997); 1998 WL 1093901, 41 Fed R Serv 3d 1633 (M.D.N.C .Aug. 27, 1998) – Securities and malpractice case involving acquisition.
  • Carousel Capital Partners, L.P v. Chappell et al. 5:98-CV-934 (E.D.N.C) – Professional malpractice claim filed in federal court, which was ultimately resolved in arbitration.

Architecture & Engineering

  • Min v. Ralph Whitehead Associates, Inc., et al. 4:02 CV 126 H(3) (E.D.N.C.) – Plaintiff brought personal injury action against our client, an engineering firm that designed a highway, and the general contractors responsible for construction of the highway alleging design and construction deficiencies. Through an aggressive defense and thorough understanding of the issues, we were able to obtain a voluntary dismissal with prejudice of all claims against our client.
  • Ellis-Don Construction Inc. v. Pease Associates, Inc. 5:04-CV-250-H(2) (E.D.N.C.) – General contractor for construction of Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina filed suit against our client, the project architect, alleging that it failed to properly administer the contract by failing to keep other prime contractors on schedule and failing to grant extensions of time to the general contractor. A separate lawsuit was filed against the State in a separate forum. A global settlement and release of all claims and all parties was efficiently and favorably negotiated on behalf of our client.
  • Grace Mills, et al. v. Bennie C. Baker, et al., 03-CVS-1539 (Lenoir County Superior Court) – Representation and defense of a planning, engineering and architectural firm that provided consulting services to a mid-sized municipality to revitalize and rehabilitate several older neighborhoods under a Community Development Block Grant. Reached extremely favorable settlement for our client early in the case.

Corporate Officers & Directors

  • In re Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Derivative Litigation, No. 546, 2003 (Del. Sup. Ct. May 12, 2004) – Plaintiff brought derivative claims of bad faith and breach of fiduciary duties arising out of the sale of an industrial park adjacent to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Chancery Court held that the defendant directors' decisions were protected by the business judgment rule and granted summary judgment in favor of our clients. The Chancery Court's ruling was upheld by the Delaware Supreme Court.
  • In re FAC Realty Securities Litigation, 990 F. Supp. 416 (E.D.N.C. 1997) – Plaintiff filed this 10b-5 securities class action in federal court against our individual client and other defendants. In the fall of 1997, the trial court granted motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and plaintiff did not appeal.
  • Whitacre Partners v. BioSignia, Inc., et al., 358 N.C. 1 (N.C. Sup. Ct. 2004) – Plaintiff sued our client asserting that it had improperly failed to acknowledge plaintiff's ownership of stock. The North Carolina Supreme Court recognized, for the first time, the doctrine of judicial estoppel in North Carolina and remanded the case. On remand, the trial court again granted our motion for summary judgment.

Financial Services

  • Cox v. Capital Investment Brokerage, Inc. (NASD Arbitration No. 03-05235) – Claimant alleged negligence by the broker-dealer and its registered representative for recommending unsuitable investments, recommending the claimant trade on margin and failure to supervise. The matter was settled favorably for our client.

Medical Negligence

  • Cestrone v. Miller Orthopedic Clinic, et al. – An orthopedic surgeon and his practice group were charged with medical negligence in the administration of lidocaine during the performance of a hematoma block so that a fracture could be reduced. The child developed grand mal seizures and was admitted to the ICU. Plaintiff claimed that the child had an anoxic brain injury that resulted in cognitive impairments, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. At the conclusion of a month-long trial, the jury returned a verdict of no negligence exonerating the medical provider clients. The family's lowest settlement demand had been $2 million. The family has not appealed the verdict. 
  • Strong v. Carolinas Healthcare System, et al. – The family of an adult back surgery patient brought a wrongful death action against Carolinas Healthcare System and one of its employed physicians claiming that the decedent received inappropriate doses of demerol for his postoperative pain causing the patient to experience cardiac arrest. It was alleged that the defendants failed to follow appropriate procedures to resuscitate the patient. At the conclusion of a three-week trial, the jury returned a verdict of no negligence in favor of the health care provider clients. Plaintiff's counsel asked the jury to award his client $4 million. There was no appeal.
  • Ugarte v. Carolinas Healthcare System, et al. – The family of a child born with cerebral palsy and severe mental retardation brought a damages action seeking multiples of millions of dollars for personal injury to the child and for reimbursement of the past and future expenses of caring for the child throughout his lifetime. The case was tried for five weeks. A jury returned a verdict in favor of the health care providers finding no negligence. The lowest settlement demand had been $4.5 million.

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Professionals

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