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Appellate

Poyner Spruill’s reputation for advocacy is not limited to trial litigation. The firm’s Appellate Section has extensive experience arguing cases on appeal.

The Appellate Section has litigated hundreds of appellate matters spanning a wide range of industries and issues, often involving the most difficult legal hurdles our clients face. We regularly appear on behalf of clients before the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In addition to handling direct appeals, the Appellate Section has a wealth of experience arguing for and against discretionary review, and in pursuing and defending against nontraditional routes of appeal. We also routinely pursue and defend appeals of agency decisions on petitions for judicial review.

Our appellate practitioners know that success in appellate litigation is built on a thorough understanding of the appellate process and its decision makers. Many of the attorneys in the Appellate Section have state or federal clerkship experience. This Section also includes the former General Counsel to North Carolina's Governor, a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, and a former North Carolina Administrative Law Judge. In addition, the attorneys in this Section are heavily involved in professional activities related to appellate practice. They have served on committees related to the appellate courts, taught law school courses in appellate advocacy, and been frequent presenters on topics related to appellate practice.

Beyond briefing and arguing appeals on the merits, the Appellate Section also serves as a critical resource for the firm on various appellate matters that arise during and after trial. The firm’s team approach to appellate litigation combines the experience of our appellate attorneys with the firm’s various practice groups, resulting in efficient and effective advocacy with demonstrable value to our clients.

Representative cases:

United States v. MacDonald, 2011 U.S. App LEXIS 7914 (4th Cir. Apr. 19, 2011) (reversing in favor of our client, Jeffrey MacDonald, and remanding to district court for consideration of DNA evidence and witness statements bearing on Mr. MacDonald's innocence).

Stratton v. Royal Bank of Canada, 2011 N.C. App. LEXIS 733 (N.C. Ct. App. April 19, 2011) (affirming summary judgment in favor of our client Royal Bank of Canada against the plaintiff's claims that she was entitled to thousands of shares of Royal Bank common stock because she located, in 1982, a certificate for 5 shares of stock in her mother's name that had been purchased in 1927 in a distant predecessor of Royal Bank).

Parkway Urology, P.A. v. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 696 S.E.2nd 187 (N.C. Ct. App. 2010) (affirming decision of DHHS to award certificate of need to our client, a cancer center, to purchase a new linear accelerator for radiation therapy).

Laws v. Priority Trustee Services of N.C. LLC, 375 Fed. Appx. 345 (4th Cir. 2010) (holding for the first time in the Fourth Circuit that a violation of the ethics rules governing lawyers cannot be used in support of recovery in a civil action in North Carolina, and affirming the 12(b)(6) dismissal of a purported $11 million class action lawsuit against our client ).

Scarborough v. Dillard’s, Inc., 363 N.C. 715, 693 S. E. 2d 640 (2009) (adopting a “clear and convincing evidence” standard for determinations of whether a jury’s punitive damages verdict is supported by the evidence, and holding that the trial court properly set aside a jury award of punitive damages against our client in an action for malicious prosecution).

Whiteheart v. Waller, 199 N.C. App. 281, 681 S. E. 2d 419 (2009) (holding, for the first time in North Carolina, that the doctrine of in pari delecto [“in equal fault”] is a defense to a legal malpractice claim, and affirming a 12(b)(6) dismissal in favor of our client).

MLC Auto, LLC v. Town of Southern Pines, 532 F.3d 269 (4th Cir. 2008) (holding that the district court properly abstained from exercising federal jurisdiction because the case involved complex issues of North Carolina land use policy).

Champion v. Black & Decker, Inc., 550 F.3d 353 (4th Cir. 2008) (holding that an ERISA plan administrator did not abuse its discretion in terminating the employee’s benefits because it reasonably concluded that the employee’s seizures fell within the definition of a mental health disability).

Harris v. Matthews, 361 N.C. 265, 643 S.E.2d 566 (2007) (holding that the First Amendment precluded jurisdiction over a dispute between a church pastor and a minority of the church’s congregation because the dispute involved matters of religious doctrine and practice).






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