Results - Walker Gressette Freeman & Linton Law Firm
The attorneys of WGFL are versatile and represent both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of cases. We also represent property owners who confront the daunting task of dealing with local governments and state agencies that wield authority over almost every aspect of their property. Below are some representative examples of previous cases handled by lawyers in the firm.
$1,200,000 Settlement-Motorcycle Accident
Following a motorcycle accident, our team represented both the driver and passenger who both sustained significant injuries. We worked with the injured clients to ensure that in addition to receiving proper medical treatment, their claims were vigorously advanced and comprehensively developed. By engaging a vocational rehabilitation expert, a life care planner, and an economist, our team was able to present the insurance carrier with a complete picture of the damages and its permanent consequences to our clients. In addition to providing the insurance adjustor with the expert analysis of damages, we prepared a lengthy and detailed narrative statement explaining the numerous changes to the clients’ daily lives and illustrating the impact the accident will have on both of them for the rest of their lives. As a result of our team’s extensive work up of the case, it settled without the added delays and expense of lengthy litigation.
Getting to know our clients is one of the privileges of our practice. Taking the time to understand the details of our clients’ stories also enables us to effectively present their claims. Going the extra mile to really know our clients is a rewarding part of our practice, but it also helps us fully understand the value of a client’s case.
$450,000 Jury Verdict-Condemnation Case
Our team successfully represented a landowner in a condemnation action brought by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to acquire, through its power of eminent domain, land for the widening of U.S. Highway 278 in Beaufort County. At trial, SCDOT argued to the jury that our client was only entitled to $8,600. We argued to the jury that the amount should be significantly higher. Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict of $450,000 for the landowner. This case involved a multitude of different types of damages to a remaining parcel, all supported by the convincing testimony of our expert witness.
This is but one result obtained by our lawyers in seeking “just compensation” for clients whose land is condemned. Often, the damages to a property owner from a condemnation of his land are not immediately apparent. In representing property owners, we make sure all the losses are ascertained and presented to the condemning authority and the jury, if necessary.
$2,400,000 Award in Favor of Client for Bad Investment Advice.
Every day people trust their stock brokers and investment advisers to give them good advice and to tell the truth about the investments they recommend. The law requires that these professionals make sure that the investments they propose are suitable for their clients. Most people depend on their investment accounts for their income needs especially for their retirement. Brokerage firms try to reduce their exposure for bad advice by preventing their clients from going to court and forcing them to agree to arbitration every time they open a new account.
Our lawyers successfully represented a business executive who was convinced by his broker to place $2,400,000 in a fixed income investment that turned out to be nothing more than worthless derivatives. The brokerage firm defended by asserting that the executive was a “big boy” and must have understood the risks even though they were never explained to him. The brokerage firm also claimed his losses were the result of the market crash of 2008. The brokerage firm refused to make any settlement offer. The case was tried before three arbitrators. After six days of hearings the arbitrators rejected the brokerage firm’s defenses. The arbitrators ruled that the investment was not suitable for the executive and should not have been recommended to him. The arbitrators required the brokerage firm to pay back the $2,400,000, plus interest. The year the case was decided this award was the largest arbitration award in favor of an individual in a securities case in the United States.
Trial and Appellate Victory-Defense of a Municipality in a Referendum Lawsuit
Our team successfully defended a local municipality that was sued by citizens who obtained the necessary signatures on a petition to require a referendum on a proposed ordinance they wanted. The municipality refused to conduct the referendum asserting that the proposed ordinance would be legally invalid even if it were approved by the voters. Some of the petitioners sued the municipality contending the municipality was required to conduct the referendum. We took the case to trial before a judge. Following the trial, the judge issued findings of fact and conclusions of law in the municipality’s favor. The case was appealed to the South Carolina Court of Appeals and the appellate court dismissed the appeal.
Success Obtaining Permits and Approvals
Our lawyers represent clients seeking permits and approvals as well as those opposing permits and approvals.
We have helped clients obtain the zoning approvals by preparing applications and appearing before local governmental boards. For more than twenty years we have aided clients in securing variances, zoning changes, and project design approvals. We have also worked on behalf of clients to obtain permits from the Department of Health and Environmental Control to construct docks or build bulkheads in the critical area. If a person or group appeals the permit or approval that we helped obtain, we represent the client throughout that appeal process. Depending on the type of permit or approval, the appeal is either to the circuit court or to the administrative law court and ultimately to out Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. Regardless, we have represented clients countless times through the entire process.
Our lawyers are equally versed in representing clients opposing these types of permits. Recently our lawyers wrapped up seven years of litigation representing a developer contesting a permit issued to a local government to double the size of a construction-debris landfill adjacent to the client’s development property. The case was tried two times in the administrative law court and went through two appeals to the court of appeals. Ultimately the administrative law court refused the permit to expand the landfill, and the court of appeals affirmed the decision in our client’s favor.
Helping Clients Obtain Development Agreements with Local Governments
Developing a large tract of land can easily require an investment of tens of millions of dollars. Yet, local governments have the power to change the rules of development half way through a project, drastically altering the development plan and seriously jeopardizing the project’s financial success. There is only one way in South Carolina for a property owner to secure certainty as to “rules” that govern his project. The property owner and the local government can enter a development agreement that fixes the local zoning ordinances governing a development if the project involves at least twenty-five acres.
Our lawyers were integrally involved in negotiating and obtaining one of the first development agreements in South Carolina within months of the passage of the law allowing development agreements in 1994. Since then, our lawyers have represented numerous property owners in securing development agreements with towns and cities. As a result, the rules did not change for these clients who found not only peace of mind but also relative financial certainty knowing the rules were not going to change regardless of who was elected to council or any future ordinances that might be adopted.
MDL Case Consolidations
Our attorneys have represented hundreds of plaintiffs injured by defective medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs. Most of these cases are filed as individual cases in state or federal court. However, because in most instances many people are harmed by these products, many suits are filed against the manufacturers. The suits are often combined together into a state court consolidation or transferred to a federal court MDL (Multidistrict Litigation) to assist with the administration of the cases.
Following is a partial list of the federal MDLs in which our lawyers have prosecuted pharmaceutical and medical device cases:
· Rezulin (MDL 1348, Southern District of New York)
· Phenylpropanolamine (MDL 1407, Western District of Washington, Seattle Division)
· Baycol MDL 1431, District of Minnesota, Minneapolis Division)
· Biomet Magnum Hip Implants (MDL 2391, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division)
· Wright Medical Conserve Hip Implants (MDL 2329, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division)
· Depuy Orthopaedics, Inc. ASR Hip Implants (MDL 2197, Northern District of Ohio, Western Division)
Our team’s MDL experience is not limited to personal injury claims. In fact, one of our members was actively involved in the MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether) Products Liability which was established as MDL 1358 in the Southern District of New York and presided over by the Honorable Shira Scheindlin. Among the allegations were claims that major oil companies (including ExxonMobil Corp., Phillips 66 Co., Chevron U.S.A., Shell Oil Co., and Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corp.) were liable because MTBE leaked from underground gasoline storage tanks into groundwater then dispersed quickly into formerly pristine water supplies. Clients represented in this MDL include the State of New Jersey and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Large Case Discovery Management and Electronic Discovery Expertise
Our team has experience managing cases that involve large numbers of plaintiffs and defendants. Our lawyers have coordinated discovery efforts for clients with multiple offices and departments. We have also designed discovery protocols for government agencies involving thousands of pages of documents and tremendous amounts of electronic data. That expertise is rare in a firm the size of WGFL, which means clients using WGFL for document and data intensive cases can access expertise usually limited to large firms. As a smaller firm, our clients work directly with the lawyer(s) and staff handling the day to day needs of their cases. This streamlined approach is efficient and economical while also keeping clients informed about the status of their cases.