Read Our Clients’ Stories
The following are stories are from real clients who wanted to share what they went through and how we were able to help.
Disclaimer: Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results.
As the owner of Leo’s Seafood in Durham, Donald (affectionately known as “Leo”) did right by his customers and his community. For 37 years. That is, until one day, he was given 30 days to halt his life’s work and close his business so the state could widen Alston Avenue in Durham.
Why does the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) make lowball offers? In many situations, it may be because they are in a hurry or get careless.
Maybe it’s a little bit of both, maybe it’s neither.
No matter the situation, the government always has to justly compensate the owner based upon the impact to the highest and most valuable use of the property being taken.
If you were to ask Carl Fischer* where he was born, you wouldn’t hear the name of a town or hospital. All he would have to do is point over at the old farm house that sits some yards away from the home he lives in now.
“The old house that I was raised up in…” began Carl, “in 1942 when I was born, the doctors came out and delivered the children back then.”
Ferondo Moore is a 3rd generation entrepreneur in Wilmington, NC.
His grandfather owned a country store – the kind with splintered front steps where you kicked the snow and mud off your boots in wintertime, and came in sandy and barefooted in summer. A store that sold everything you needed and nothing you didn’t.
Who is going to stop at a KFC with one 5-foot drive-thru, minimal room to turn around or park, and encircled by a chain link fence? The width of a compact car is more than 5 feet and a standard SUV is 6-feet wide.
That’s exactly what our clients Nick Potter and Steve Paris, owners of this KFC, asked.
When Glenn T. learned the state would be taking several of his properties to build the new Highway 70 Bypass near Goldsboro, he knew he would need a good lawyer. A lot was at stake.
About 40 years ago, Grover Smith and his wife, Katherine, bought a farm and began raising cattle. The land had once belonged to Grover’s grandfather.
When the Smiths learned the state had their eye on the farm for a potential project, the idea didn’t really gel until a North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) official showed up at their house with the final plans for a four-lane highway bypass running right through the middle of their farm!
For many years, Herbert and Joanne Corey ran their restaurant equipment business in the older section of downtown Greenville, out of a building that sat on nearly an acre of land. They had been thinking about closing the business and selling the building.
Then, in 1991, the Coreys and their downtown neighbors began hearing rumors that the state was optioning property in that area for a road project. Once the rumors spread, it was too late for the Coreys to sell or rent; no one was interested in buying property they knew was on the state’s radar.
Jay Lewis – How We Got the NCDOT to Pay for All Costs and Attorney’s Fees
Every once in a while in this business you get a case that is beyond frustrating for the client simply because the NCDOT decides to drag its feet. It makes you wonder if they are hoping some clients will simply give up and go away.
This case was one of them. Our client, Jay, first received a letter from the NCDOT in 2011 stating that they would be widening the highway and that it would come close to the back doorstep of his townhome.
Marty R – Good People to Have on Your Side
Marty recalled family stories of how they came to own some of this land, “So many farmers took out loans before the Depression to expand their operations and then they went broke and lost their farms. I don’t know if my grandfather saw it coming or he just didn’t need the land or didn’t need the money that badly, but he had cash when the Depression came. He was able to purchase some land from his neighbor.”
Fast forward almost 100 years, and a portion of that family land would be condemned under eminent domain by the City of Kannapolis to construct a water tower.
Melvin and Sandra McLawhorn owned and ran a daycare for about 18 years. “Lots of Love Daycare” was a labor of love – catering to low-income families in the surrounding area. Sandra McLawhorn did what she could to help out working parents and make sure their children were cared for.
“You had people who came in,” Melvin said, “who just didn’t have the financial means, and sometimes we were able to afford them daycare and work with them according to their income. Sometimes we’d let them come in free of charge, and we were able to get them Social Services, and they were able to continue with daycare. We have fond memories of things like that we were able to do.” The McLawhorns got notice about a year in advance that the NCDOT and the City of Greenville were planning on expanding the road behind the daycare. The project was going to require a part of the playground land. Under North Carolina law, daycares have to maintain a certain amount of playground space per child enrolled at the school.
Many years ago, Patrick Johnson bought 13-acres in Wayne County that once belonged to his grandfather and had been in the family for hundreds of years. Having lived in Atlanta for many years, Patrick was ready to move back to the old home place and build a nice little house in the woods where he could have a bit of privacy.
It wasn’t too long ago that a professional musician named Ron Norwood had to say goodbye. It was a hard goodbye. He hasn’t written a song about it, but he might one day.
“My grandma’s house in Durham,” he said. “The state was taking it. I had to let it go.”
In the summer of 2012, Sadie Legrand walked to her mailbox just as she did every day. She saw that she had a letter from Progress Energy, announcing that it was running an easement for some utility lines across the property.
The letter was about the farm land Sadie lived adjacent to, land that had been in her family for more than one-hundred fifty years. Her great-great-great grandfather had been, she says, the first black farmer to own his own land in her area of Richmond County.
“I was scared when I read the letter,” Sadie said.
The Smiths are a retired couple who have worked hard all their lives. Mr. Smith worked for 40 years and drove a Coca-Cola truck for 30 of them. Mrs. Smith was a Medicare specialist in the local hospital for 25 years. They raised two children who now have kids of their own.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.