It is easy to list the large financial awards we have secured for our clients: a $7.52 million settlement for a man wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit; a $1.1 million settlement for the victim of sexual harassment. But we are just as proud of how we have fought to advance all citizens’ civil rights: a consent decree desegregating the entire UNC system; Class actions compensating thousands of workers who suffered from race and sex discrimination. All too often, it seems the law exists to protect the rich and powerful. At Patterson Harkavy, we fight to make sure that it also protects working people.
Beyond winning individual cases, our attorneys have secured some of the most important appellate decisions defining and expanding the scope of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system.
For example, In Pickrell v. Motor Convoy, Inc., 322 N.C. 363, 366, 368 S.E.2d 582, 584 (1988), we secured a ruling making it easier for surviving next-of-kin to recover death benefits.
In Shoemaker v. Creative Builders, 150 N.C. App. 523, 528, 563 S.E.2d 622, 625 (2002), we secured a ruling that workers are not required to participate in vocational rehabilitation when it is futile.
In Wilkes v. City of Greenville, 369 N.C. 730, 746, 799 S.E.2d 838, 849 (2017), we secured a ruling that workers need not rely on expert testimony to establish that a work search would be futile.
Our attorneys know how to fight for your workers’ compensation benefits because we have spent decades shaping workers’ compensation law.
Our attorneys are also at the forefront of the fight for workers’ rights, expanding workers’ legal protections and securing some of the largest settlements and jury verdicts in state history.
For example, in Randleman v. Johnson, we secured a settlement valued at more than $600,000 on behalf of an Alamance County deputy sheriff who believed he was terminated because he testified truthfully in a trial alleging the sheriff’s department engaged in racial discrimination.
We have also advanced the rights of large groups of employees through class actions and challenges to unconstitutional government conduct.
For example, in Bazemore v. Friday, Burton Craige represented the United States at trial and on appeal in a suit on behalf of black employees of the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service, resulting in a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court and compensation for victims of racial discrimination in salaries and promotions.
In Grogan v. The American Tobacco Company, we successfully litigated a class action on behalf of hundreds of victims of sex discrimination at the defendant’s headquarters plant in Reidsville.
In North Carolina Association of Educators v. North Carolina, we obtained a unanimous ruling from the North Carolina Supreme Court restoring public school teachers’ employment protections.
We supported the successful unionization campaign at the Smithfield Foods plant in Bladen County, stood beside workers fighting for a higher minimum wage in the Fight for 15 campaign, and represented Duke University’s adjunct faculty in one of the first successful union campaigns of private university faculty in the South.
We also regularly secure victories for labor unions in private arbitration, before the National Labor Relations Board, and in federal court. See, e.g., Elon Univeristy and SEIU Workers United Southern Region, 370 NLRB No. 91 (2021) (finding adjunct faculty are eligible to unionize); Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, Local 289 v. Verizon S., Inc., 533 F. App’x 319, 320 (4th Cir. 2013) (affirming an order compelling arbitration); UGL UNICCO v. Local Lodge No. 2541, 723 F. Supp. 2d 844 (E.D.N.C. 2010) (enforcing labor arbitration award over an employer’s objections).
Patterson Harkavy has a proud record of fighting for North Carolinians’ constitutional rights and civil Liberties.
We have obtained six- and seven-figure jury verdicts and settlements in cases involving abuse of authority, police shootings, excessive force, and racially-motivated policing. In recent years, we have obtained numerous multi-million dollar settlements on behalf of those wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit, including Dwayne Dail, ($7.52 million); Greg Taylor ($4.6 million); Willie Grimes ($5.4 million); and Joseph Sledge ($6.9 million).
We also engage in impact litigation to ensure the government respects all peoples’ rights. For example, in Atkins v. Scott, we were lead counsel in a case resulting in a consent decree desegregating the entire UNC system. In Small v. Martin, we secured a ruling from the Eastern District of North Carolina improving the conditions in state prisons. In Willie M. v. Hunt, we secured a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that established a statewide right to treatment services for troubled youths.
Our attorneys have also helped ensure that elections are fair and equitable. We successfully changed the method of electing county commissioners, city councils, and boards of education in many North Carolina communities, most recently through a 2017 consent decree ensuring that African American residents of Jones County have representation on their county commission. In Edwards v. Board of Elections, we obtained an injunction preventing the North Carolina General Assembly from retroactively changing the rules to the 2018 general election.
Read more about some of Patterson Harkavy’s most notable civil rights cases.
At Patterson Harkavy, we are proud of our success representing criminal defendants at trial, on appeal, and in post-conviction proceedings.
At the criminal investigation and trial court level, for over 20 years Brad Bannon has helped clients avoid charges, convictions, and maximum punishments in cases ranging from misdemeanor assaults to first-degree murder. His successful work on behalf of clients has been featured in the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary film Fantastic Lies, Episode 10 of the Netflix documentary series The Staircase, and the 48 Hours documentary episode A Killer Defense.
Our attorneys have also successfully pursued capital appeals and post-conviction proceedings on behalf of those sentenced to death. For example, in State v. Gregory, 342 N.C. 580, 467 S.E.2d 28, (1996), we obtained a new trial for a man sentenced to death after the North Carolina Supreme Court agreed that a conversation between the sentencing judge and a juror denied the defendant his right to a fair trial.
In State v. White, 135 N.C. App. 349, 520 S.E.2d 70, (1999), a thirteen-year old child was convicted of first-degree rape and sentenced to up to twenty years in prison. The North Carolina Court of Appeals vacated the conviction, finding that the trial court erroneously permitted the introduction of allegations of another offense.
In State v. Everrette, 256 N.C.App. 244, 807 S.E.2d 168 (2017), a criminal defendant was convicted of obtaining property by false pretenses. On direct appeal, we obtained a ruling from the North Carolina Court of Appeals that vacated the convictions based on fatal flaws in the criminal indictments.
In State v. Stanley, 259 N.C.App. 708, 817 S.E.2d 107 (2018), a criminal defendant was convicted of narcotics offenses after the trial court denied his motion to suppress evidence. We obtained a ruling from the North Carolina Court of Appeals finding that investigating officers violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Court suppressed all relevant evidence and vacated the defendant’s criminal convictions.