April 2009

Holly Springs Family Files First North Carolina Chinese Drywall Lawsuit

April 22, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The first North Carolina defective Chinese drywall lawsuit has been filed. The plaintiffs are from Holly Springs and the complaint is against builder Stafford Custom Homes. Their lawsuit blames the corroding metals and putrid smell in their home on the toxic material in the walls of their residence that they say made them sick.

The plaintiffs, Mary and Daniel Flannigan, also contend that Stafford Custom Homes, in Southern Pines, should have known that the drywall could become dangerous and cause damage. The couple say they first noticed the “rotten eggs” odor before buying their residence in 2004. They said Stafford employees said that the smell was coming from the water heater.

The water heater coils were replaced and the couple later paid to have the water heater removed from under the house. Home inspectors became suspicious that mold might be growing, so Stafford Homes installed a layer of plastic in the basement to act as a vapor barrier. Despite all these changes, the smell wouldn’t go away and a number of family members began to experience chronic health issues. Also, guitar strings and jewelry are among the metals in their home that turned black.

In 2007, the evaporator coils connected to the gas furnace corroded and needed to be replaced. Last year, the Flannigans found out that their air and heating system was failing. The couple said that they were experiencing serious headaches and didn’t consider that the drywall in their home might be defective until they saw a tv news report about the Chinese-made product.

They are seeking North Carolina personal injury compensation for medical costs and to replace damaged property, including compensation for new drywall and the reconstruction of their home. They also want punitive damages.

Other North Carolina defective Chinese drywall lawsuits are expected. Just this February, the US Consumer Products Safety Commission started investigating complaints about Chinese drywall. They’ve been asking electrical engineers and toxicologists to collect samples so they could figure out the associated safety and health hazards.

In the last 10 years, millions of pounds of Chinese drywalls were installed in apartments and homes because they were costly and abundant and to meet the demands of the US housing boom. In the meantime, Congressional lawmakers have filed legislation to recall and ban drywall made in China until new safety standards for drywall are established.

Some 100,000 thousands homes in the US may be covered with Chinese drywall. The defective material has been linked to sinus and respiratory issues in some people.

North Carolina Sees First Chinese Drywall Lawsuit, NewsInferno.com, April 22, 2009

Holly Springs couple sues over Chinese drywall, The News and Observer, April 22, 2009

Related Web Resources:
CPSC: Chinese drywall poses potential risks to southeastern homes, WSLS, April 24, 2009

U.S. Lawmakers Seek Ban on Tainted Chinese Drywall, Insurance Journal, April 10, 2009

North Carolina Bill Banning Text Messaging While Driving Now Goes to Senate

April 18, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Now that the North Carolina House of Representatives has made it overwhelmingly clear—by a 104 to 5 vote—that texting and emailing while driving should be banned, the bill now heads to the state Senate and then Governor Bev Perdue. If the bill becomes law, anyone caught violating the ban would b fined $100 plus court expenses. Rescue workers and police are among those who would be exempted. An amendment to the bill helps determine when negligence might have occurred if someone was texting when a North Carolina car accident happened.

There are more people texting in North Carolina than ever before. According to the 2008 “Big City Wireless Use Study,” from April 2006 to April 2008, text messaging use increased among Verizon customers by over 600%. The International Wireless Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry says text message sending and receiving increased from 14.4 million in 2000 to 48.1 billion in 2007. That same year, a University of Utah study reported that texting while driving is similar to driving under the influence and is 50% more dangerous than talking on the phone while driving.

Even the American Medical Association has spoken out about texting while driving, calling the habit a health hazard. Another recent study says that texting while operating a motor vehicle forces a motorist to spend 400% more time with his or her eyes off the road—a dangerous practice whenever someone is driving.

In order to send or receive texts, a driver must take one if not both hands off the steering wheel, which can lead to catastrophic North Carolina motor vehicle crashes—especially if he or she has both eyes on his or her cell phone while reading or composing a text message.

Currently, in North Carolina, only minor drivers and school bus drivers are banned from texting while driving. They are also banned from speaking on cell phones any time they are operating a motor vehicle.

Texting while driving is negligent behavior.

N.C. bill would ban texting while driving, McclatchyDC.com, April 16, 2009

Texting While Driving Dangerous To Your Health, RedOrbit, November 2008

Related Web Resources:
Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association

National Safety Council

Family of North Carolina Woman Who Drowned in Car Files South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit

April 18, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The family of a 77-year-old North Carolina woman who died when she drowned in her car is suing three companies for her wrongful death. In mid-October 2008, Tecora Young left a birthday party at a South Carolina recreational facility and then disappeared. By Mid-December, Young’s car was found in the Broad River with her body inside.

According to a local coroner, the elderly woman died because she drowned. Foul play is not suspected and she may have accidentally ended up driving into the water.

Now, Young’s family is suing the Gaffney Board of Public Works, Duke Energy, and the Department of Natural Resources for her wrongful death. They contend that proper lighting, warning signs, a barricade, or another design change could have prevented Young’s drowning accident and she would still be alive today.

According to the family’s wrongful death lawyer, they are suing Duke Energy because it is in charge of the Broad River and all access to it. The Board of Public Works is in charge of the area near the river and made improvements. DNR approved a study conducted by Duke Energy that made improvements to the water area a number of years ago. Young’s family wants to receive a wrongful death settlement or a civil trial.

Proving liability in a North Carolina or South Carolina motor vehicle crash can be complicated—especially if the collision is one involving just one auto. However, there may be more than one party responsible for the personal injury or death. The best way to determine this is to hire an experienced car accident law firm to help you prove your case.

Wrongful Death
Losing a loved one is never easy. Not only will there be expenses to pay for and other financial losses, but there is also the loss of your loved one that can never be quantified. There are, however, ways to hold the responsible parties liable for your suffering and the loss of your loved one’s life.

Upstate Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit, WYFF.com, April 23, 2009

Body From Submerged Car Identified, WYFF.com, December 18, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Duke Energy

Gaffney Board of Public Works

North Carolina Highway Patrol Starts "Operation Buckle Up" to Reduce Motor Vehicle Injury Accidents and Deaths

April 13, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Operation Buckle Up begins in North Carolina today. The state and local initiative by law enforcement officers is designed to reduced the number of injury accidents and deaths, as well as prevent certain traffic violations. Over the next two weeks, police officers will crack down on motor vehicle drivers and riders that are in violation of North Carolina’s seat belt laws.


• 1558 people died on North Carolina’s roads in 2006.
• 48% of fatalities involved people that did not wear seat belts.
• 88.6% of people in cars and trucks are believed to be in compliance with North Carolina’s seat belt laws.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol has also been cracking down on drunk drivers. Police cited 2,905 drivers for driving while impaired between August 13 and through the Labor Day weekend ending September 3.

The areas where the largest number of drunk drivers were apprehended in North Carolina during the two-week initiative were Carteret (86), Mecklenburg, (100), and Wake (342). One Highway Patrol officer at the Lexington office says that his agency has arrested 182 people for DWI this year.

The James Madison University Web site offers the following facts and statistics about seat belt safety:

• Out of every five motor vehicle drivers, one driver will be in a traffic accident this year.
• About 35,000 people die in accidents involving a motor vehicle every year. About 50% would not have died if they were wearing seat belts at the time of the fatal crash.
• If just 172 of the 35,000 people did not die, some $100 million a year in personal injury and wrongful death recovery costs would be saved.
• Children have been known to die or be seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash because they were crushed by adults that were not wearing seatbelts.
• 80 out of every 100 children that die in a motor vehicle collision would have been saved if they had been a safety belt or child safety seat.

Many motor vehicle accidents happen because a car driver, truck driver, motorcyclist, or bus driver was negligent. If you were injured in a motor vehicle injury victim because another party was negligent—even if you were not wearing a seat belt—you should speak to a personal injury lawyer right away.

Your personal injury attorney can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit for you so that you can obtain the recovery that you need to cover your medical costs and other related damages.

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident because of a defective seat belt, you could have grounds to file a seat belt injury claim for your injuries.

Highway Patrol focuses on seat-belt usage, The Dispatch Online, September 17, 2007

Safety Belt Statistics, James Madison University

Related Web Resources:

NC Seat Belt Law, NC Crime Control.org

The Disaster Center’s Motor Vehicle Accident Death and Injury data Index, Disaster Center.com

North Carolina Traffic Fatalities Dropped 17% in 2008

April 7, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to the North Carolina Transportation Department, the number of people that died in motor vehicle accidents throughout the state in 2008 compared to 2007 decreased by 18%. State transportation officials say there were 1,406 traffic deaths last year, compared to 1,705 the year prior.

Traffic fatalities involving alcohol use also dropped, by 19.8% from 489 deaths in 2008 to 392 fatalities in 2007, while motorcycle deaths declined by 26% from 192 to 142.

N.C. Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti says that the decline in traffic deaths shows the state’s commitment to working with local agencies to ensure that North Carolina is a safe place for ground travel. So far, in 2009, North Carolina traffic deaths are down 12% compared to the same time period during 2008.

Earlier this year, South Carolina’s public safety department also reported a sharp drop in traffic deaths for 2008. While 1,077 people died in South Carolina motor vehicle crashes in 2007, 894 traffic fatalities occurred in 2008.

According to the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Highway Safety Research Center, the decrease in motor vehicle deaths in all of the US states last year can be attributed to the fact that there weren’t as many motorists on US roads. Yesterday, the US Department of Transportation reported that the number of motor vehicle deaths that occurred nationally for 2008 was the lowest figure since 1961.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says about 37,313 traffic fatalities occurred throughout the US last year. There were 41,059 motor vehicle deaths the year before. Seat belt use was slightly up in North Carolina, at 89.8% in 2008 compared to 88.8% in 2007. Safety belt use in South Carolina went up to 79% last year from 74.5% the year before.

Any decline in motor vehicle deaths is a positive step forward toward creating greater safety on US roads. However, if you have been involved in a North Carolina or a South Carolina motor vehicle accident that was someone else’s fault, you should consider your legal options regarding personal injury or wrongful death before settling with the negligent party’s insurer.

N.C. traffic deaths down in 2008, News-Record, January 7, 2009

SC traffic deaths plummet in 2008, The Post and Courier, January 2, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2008(PDF)

Seat Belt Use in 2008-Use Rates in the States and Territories, NHTSA (PDF)

North Carolina Department of Transportation


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