Category Archives: Trial Attorney

45 Year Old Murder Leads to Wrongful Death Suit

Wrongful death lawyer in South Carolina discusses lawsuit filed by mother of murder victim, John McCabe, in Massachusetts.  In 1969, John McCabe was a normal 15 year old boy.  It was around the end of  September when he attended the Knights of Columbus dance in his hometown.  When the dance was over, he had no ride home, so John decided to hitchhike.  He was spotted by three older teenagers driving that evening and was “picked up.”  This would be one of the last things John would do before his untimely demise.  John’s family would have to wait almost 45 years to find out what happened to their son.

Allegedly, John wasn’t picked up by anyone with good intentions that night after the dance.  He was forced into the back seat of the vehicle the three teenagers were in, then he was physically assaulted by one of them as they drove around.  Next, the men took John to an open field and tied his ankles to his neck.  They left him there, to teach him some sort of lesson, and returned about 45 minutes later to untie him.  The men didn’t expect to find John unconscious and not breathing.  They got back in their car, vowing to never tell anyone what happened that night.  John’s body was found the next morning by two passersby and authorities were alerted.  No one seemed to know anything about the case, and it went cold until 2008.

That is when the investigation started focusing around three men, Walter Shelley, Ed Brown and Michael Ferreira.  Brown actually came forward before the others, confessing to police investigators that he and his two friends had decided to “rough John up” because they were fighting over a girl.  Ferreira has since been cleared of any murder charges, Brown acted as a states witness, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received no jail time, and Shelley seemed to have been the focus of police attention and he faces charges of fist degree murder.  However, defense attorneys for Shelley argued that Brown was the actual killer.

That aside, as he awaits his sentencing hearing, Shelley’s future is now in question due to a 2012 Supreme Court ruling in a similar case that “defendants who commit murder before their 18th birthday cannot face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole because it violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.”  Shelley was three months away from his 18th birthday when the murder was committed.  The court’s decision does apply to all defendants convicted of murder who are under the age of 18, but it does not work as a get-out-of-jail-free card.  The decision simply prevents a mandatory life sentence without parole for those who commit murder as minors.  For Shelley, one likelihood is that he could be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.  His sentencing hearing is scheduled for next week.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by John’s 81-year-old mother names all three men and asks for $10 million in damages.  The suit is seeking compensations for the “loss of consortium, pain and suffering, negligence, gross negligence and/or intentional acts in the death of McCabe.”  Mrs. McCabe stated that “it’s not about the money.  I would like to have the whole truth come out.  I want to know what happened to my son.  I promised my husband I would see it through to the end.”  She also stated that police officers for the case did a “remarkable job” in solving the case in 2011, but she is now ready for the civil process to begin.  Since the lawsuit has been filed, the wrongful death lawyer will be able to depose the men involved, under oath, to have Mrs. McCabe’s questions answered.

When a loved one is taken from a family too soon, speaking with an experienced wrongful death lawyer will hopefully help to ease your mind a bit.  Following your free consultation, should the wrongful death attorney find that your case has merit, work will begin immediately on your case so that you may receive the compensation and justice that is deserved for your injury or loss.  The attorney will also fully investigate the incident, visit the scene of the incident and interview witnesses for your case.

If you or someone you know would like to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to speak with a good wrongful death lawyer in your area. Call an experienced Myrtle Beach wrongful death lawyer at The Mace Firm for South Carolina legal services. One of The Mace Firm’s Charleston injury lawyers is ready to speak with you about your case.


Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Audrie Pott Case

Audrie Pott was 15 years old in September 2012 and getting ready to enter her sophomore year in high school.  One night on the weekend before school was scheduled to begin, she told her mother that she would be spending the night at her friend’s house, but the two girls would actually be attending a party that night.  When she and her friend arrived at the party, they drank whatever they could get their hands on, even stolen alcohol from the local grocery store.  They sipped on vodka and tequila, usually with Gatorade as a chaser, but some were drinking it straight from the bottle.  Audrie was allegedly drinking pretty heavily that night.  That is when things started getting extremely out of hand.

Three boys and one girl, all known to Audrie from school, helped Audrie upstairs into an empty bedroom.  According to court documents, the girl left the room and the three boys started taking off Audrie’s clothes and drawing on her naked body with permanent marker.  The boys admitted to drawing all over the girl, and even admitted to writing inappropriate sexual language on her body in addition to sexually assaulting her.  The boys took photos and video of the assault and distributed them to their other classmates.  It would only be a matter of time before Audrie would find out what was being passed around.  She even pleaded with one of the boys who was present at the time of the assault to delete any photos or video from that night.

Two days following the party, the school year began at Saratoga High School.  Audrie’s friends noticed some cuts on her arm, like she had been self-mutilating, but she seemed happy.  She only missed one day of school on her first week, and even went to a party with some girlfriends over the weekend.  Everything seemed fine with Audrie.  Until two days later when her mother found her in her bathroom unresponsive, she had hanged herself.  Police in the area decided to wait about a week to start an investigation so that students and staff could mourn and grieve properly.  However, before the week was over, one of Audrie’s friends met with administrators at her school regarding what she knew.  She told them about the party and the photos of Audrie that were circulating.  She even told them about some Facebook messages that may contain evidence of who started spreading the images around.

Police started to question some of the people who attended that party and cited three boys with  misdemeanors for their involvement in spreading the images.  When police finally obtained search warrants for the boys, they found that their cellular phones were either broken or had gone missing.  It could be argued that the boys destroyed the phones purposefully so they could not be implemented in any crime that may have taken place.  The Pott family felt that the phone destruction caused an unnecessary seven-month delay in the investigation as “police tried to recover enough evidence to charge the teens with sexual battery and possession of child pornography.”  Following the misdemeanor charge, one of the boys moved to another city and enrolled in a different high school.  The other two remained in the area.

Over a year later, it is still hard to say how many people actually saw the nude images of Audrie.  Attorneys who represent the boys who were criminally charged maintain that their clients “had nothing to do with Audrie’s suicide.”  In Saratoga, there seems to be quite a few people on both sides of this case.  Half think the boys should be punished and that they are responsible for Audrie’s death.  The other half think the boys are only guilty of pulling a stupid prank and that Audrie’s death had other causes.

In April 2013, police arrested the three boys and seized the cell phones they were currently using.  On those phones, police found new photos of other nude teen females and even saw that one of the boys was trying to earn a profit by selling them.  Today, two of the boys are awaiting their sentencing hearings for this case.  The third boy may be moved to adult court and face a harsher sentence than the others.  The Pott family then announced that they would be filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the boys and their families.  They also filed an administrative claim against the Saratoga High School District which alleges that the administrators “were lax in responding to bullying against Audrie.”  Bizarrely, the school stated that the bullying claims were never brought to their attention.

Those who are violated like Audrie was have very little protection under the law.  In fact, “section 230 of the Communications Decency Act effectively means that no Internet provider can be forced to take down content for invading a person’s privacy or even defaming them.”  Sounds a little odd that one can sue, for instance, a national newspaper for invading their privacy or defaming them, but one cannot sue to get their photograph taken off a particular website.  This issue plagues prosecutors across the country since they are unsure of how to protect young women “from not just sexual assault but the magnification of those assaults via the Internet.”

After a loved one is taken from a family too soon, speaking with an experienced wrongful death lawyer will hopefully help to ease your mind a bit.  Following your free consultation, should the wrongful death attorney find that your case has merit, work will begin immediately on your case so that you may receive the compensation and justice that is deserved for your injury or loss.  The attorney will also fully investigate the incident, visit the scene of the incident and interview witnesses for your case.

If you or someone you know would like to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to speak with a good wrongful death lawyer in your area. Call an experienced wrongful death lawyer at The Mace Firm for South Carolina legal services. One of The Mace Firm’s Charleston injury lawyers is ready to speak with you about your case.


Wrongful Death Lawyer Files Suit for Family of NC Man

In September 2013, 24 year old Jonathan Ferrell is a former Florida A&M football player who was about to turn 25 and engaged to be married.  His family called him “the shepherd” because he was always looking out for those around him.  On September 14, 2013 around 2:00 a.m., Ferrell dropped off a co-worker and began traveling home.  It is unclear why, but Ferrell’s vehicle veered off the roadway and crashed.  He was alive after the incident and had enough strength to kick out one of the windows to escape the wreckage.  Then, he began to walk to find help.  Ferrell walked about a half-mile until he finally reached some houses where he expected to knock on a door and ask for help.  Ferrell had no idea that the had probably knocked on the wrong door.  Inside the home, a woman with her infant waited for her husband to arrive home from work.  When she heard some noise outside the front door, she expected that it was him.  Instead when she opened it, there was Ferrell.  The woman was startled and quickly shut her door, then she alerted police through her home security system that “there’s a guy breaking in my front door.”  According to the family’s wrongful death lawyer, Ferrell was never attempting to harm the woman or break into her home, and the events that followed should have never played out in such a deadly manner.

Once the woman contacted police about the potential burglary in progress, they made their way to the home.  Officers approached the home with caution.  Once Ferrell noticed the officers, he allegedly ran towards them, likely to get help for his injuries from the crash.  One officer used his taser to attempt to stop Ferrell from approaching them, but he did not stop.  This caused officer Randall Kerrick to feel as though he needed to protect himself by drawing his firearm and unloading 12 shots.  Of those shots, 10 of them hit Ferrell — 8 in the chest, 1 in his left arm and the last in his abdomen.  With Kerrick being the only officer to draw his weapon, in addition to the lack of evidence that Ferrell did anything wrong, the officer was arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter.  This charge means that Kerrick “acted with imperfect self-defense.”  The department did an investigation which revealed that “Mr. Ferrell did advance on Officer Kerrick and the subsequent shooting of Mr. Ferrell was excessive.  Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”

According to the wrongful death lawsuit filed by his family, “Ferrell never behaved in a way that met the Charlotte police standard of ‘aggravated active aggression’ required to justify the use of force.”  The lawsuit goes on to accuse Officer Kerrick of several mistakes which lead to the incident.  Those include failure to identify himself as he approached, using “stealth and surprise” while approaching Ferrell with is gun drawn, and failure to notice that Ferrell was, in fact, complying with his commands.  Furthermore, as Ferrell lay mortally wounded on the ground, he remained handcuffed.  The family’s wrongful death attorney compared the incident to “when you go hunting for game.”  The attorney went on to say that Kerrick “was a murderer who was acting while on duty.  Taxpayers were paying him, and he murdered someone.”  Not only does this lawsuit seek monetary damages, the attorney plans to “use subpoena power” to make police release records that have been kept from the family.  One of those items is the police dash-cam video from the night of the incident.  The dash-cam video has not been released to the public as the officers trial and this suit is still pending, but it is said to clearly show that Ferrell was not in possession of a weapon and that Officer Kerrick used excessive force.  Kerrick is the first Charlotte police officer in 30 years to be criminally charged in connection to a shooting while on-duty.

After a loved one is taken from a family too soon and at the hands of someone else, speaking with an experienced wrongful death lawyer will hopefully help to ease your mind a bit.  Following your free consultation, should the wrongful death attorney find that your case has merit, work will begin immediately on your case so that you may receive the compensation and justice that is deserved for your injury or loss.  The attorney will also fully investigate the incident, visit the scene of the incident and interview witnesses for your case.

If you or someone you know would like to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to speak with a good wrongful death lawyer in your area. Call an experienced wrongful death lawyer at The Mace Firm for South Carolina legal services. One of The Mace Firm’s Charleston injury lawyers is ready to speak with you about your case.


Murder-Suicide Leads to $8 Million Verdict

In June 2009, something inside James Morrin’s head went terribly wrong.  Something inside him snapped when he shot and killed his wife Alice, then turned the gun on himself while their two children, ages 9 and 15, were at the home.  However, circumstances are a bit different in this case compared to other murder-suicides: a wrongful death lawyer was retained for the killer’s estate and a third party would eventually be held responsible for his death.  In fact, Mr. Morrin’s physician, Carl Koplin, and his employers were found by a jury to be liable in the death of the couple and they awarded the estate over $8 million in damages.  Although the jury found that Koplin was liable for only the suicide of Mr. Morrin, the family’s wrongful death lawyer stated that the murder-suicide “was an indivisible act.”

Morrin and his wife Alice had fallen on rough times and decided it was best to move forward with a divorce.  Alice filed for the divorce in April of 2009 and even changed jobs.  Allegedly, Alice also started dating, unbeknownst to James.  James also began to see a doctor, who treated him for over two months up until the violent incident occurred.  At the time, James also didn’t know that he was putting his trust in a doctor who had no business practicing medicine.  As it turns out, Dr. Koplin is a very sick man.  Unrelated to this incident, he is currently serving four years in federal prison for child pornography.  Not only did Koplin work as a doctor, he is a former Boy Scouts leader who “amassed one of the largest child pornography collections ever discovered in Connecticut.”  Once he plead guilty for the federal crime, Koplin surrendered his medical license.

According to filings in the wrongful death lawsuit, Dr. Koplin and three medical groups that employed him were named as defendants.  The complaint stated that the defendants “failed to exercise that degree of care and skill ordinarily and customarily used by physicians specializing in family practice medicine.”  There are many examples in the complaint, including one very important fact: Dr. Koplin never properly evaluated Morrin’s mental state and failed to recognize suicidal tendencies.  The doctor also failed to perform any type of mental evaluation and never referred Morrin to an alternate doctor who could help him.  Instead, the doctor just prescribed an anti-depressant to Morrin and sent him on his way.  If Morrin’s doctor had performed his job correctly with the care necessary, Morrin may have received the help he needed instead of going off the deep end and ending two lives.  That is exactly the reason this jury found that he was liable and the $8 million verdict was issued.

If someone you know was injured or killed by medical recklessness or negligence, call a wrongful death attorney in your area to discuss your case.  Following your free consultation, should the wrongful death attorney find that your case has merit, work will begin immediately on your case so that you may receive the compensation and justice that is deserved for your injury or loss.  The attorney will also fully investigate the incident, visit the scene of the incident and interview witnesses for your case.

If you or someone you know would like to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to speak with a good wrongful death lawyer in your area. Call an experienced South Carolina wrongful death lawyer at The Mace Firm to schedule your free consultation. One of The Mace Firm’s injury attorneys is ready to speak with you about your case.


Wrongful Death at SeaWorld

SeaWorld Florida has, once again, come under fire for their policies regarding orca whale trainers and their interactions with the whales.  According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), SeaWorld is being fined again for failing to comply with a federal court order and for continuing to “run a workplace with recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”  Speculation into SeaWorld’s practices began in 2010 when an orca trainer was killed during a show with guests present.  Even after the death of a top trainer and a pending wrongful death lawsuit, SeaWorld continued to use the whale in their shows.

The orca whale obtained by SeaWorld named Tilikum was captured off the coast of Iceland in 1983 when he was approximately two years old.  Orcas in the wild live with their families for their entire lives, but this orca (Tilikum) had been taken from his family to be used at a marine park.  Capturing orca whales for this purpose seems to be common practice in the industry.  Once Tilikum was captured, he was moved to a holding tank in Iceland before he was transported to a park in Canada.  Once he arrived at the park, he was placed in his new home:  a 35-foot pool.  Keep in mind that Tilikum is a 12,000-pound whale.  As a training technique, food was withheld from the whale and he was made to perform shows eight times per day, every single day.  As Tilikum was not the only orca at the marine park, once the day was over, three orcas would have to share a small metal tank until the next day when the park would reopen.  According to staff members, Tilikum was not treated very well by his tank-mates at night.  He would even have long rake marks all over his body from being bullied by the two other whales.  Over time, this understandably caused tension between the animals and caused Tilikum and other whales to act out.

In 1991, a trainer named Keltie Byrne was walking around the pool where the three whales were swimming.  She accidentally slipped into the pool, which should have been a small mistake, but it actually turned deadly.  When she fell in, Tilikum grabbed her to the bottom of the pool and the two other whales joined in to “toss her around.”  Byrne ultimately drowned and it took two hours to try to retrieve Byrne’s body from the whales.  Little did anyone know that this would be the first of three tragedies caused by an over-stressed and over-worked animal.  Not long after her death, the Canadian marine park closed down and Tilikum was put up for sale.

Once SeaWorld found out that he was for sale, and that he was the largest orca in captivity, they quickly purchased him with the intent of using him for breeding purposes.  SeaWorld was made aware that the whale had been involved in a fatal incident when they purchased Tilikum. Even with his aggressive behavior, SeaWorld continued use him in their breeding program and today, 54 percent of the orcas held there have Tilikum’s genes.  Then, eight years after Tilikum’s initial signs of aggression towards humans, another trainer was attacked and killed.  In 1999, Daniel Dukes, a South Carolina man, had climbed into the tank with Tilikum after the park had closed.  No one really knows what happened to Dukes, however, the next morning when staff arrived at the park, they found Dukes dead, naked and draped over the whales back as he swam around the tank.  Somehow, SeaWorld thought it best to tell the public that the man must have been under the influence and that he died of hypothermia.  Injuries listed on Dukes’ autopsy report point lead us to believe otherwise.

SeaWorld pushed on, though.  Despite the killings, they released statements that the incidents were not the whale’s fault and that the whales kept in captivity are very well behaved and friendly.  So, years later in 2010, Tilikum struck again.  This time, the attack was against top trainer Dawn Brancheau, and again, in front of a live audience.  Dawn was doing a show with Tilikum, but something went wrong when he failed to receive a reward for doing a trick.  Dawn had no idea that because the treat was not given, Tilikum was about to pull her under, scalp and dismember her body.  After this occurred, SeaWorld decided that Tilikum needed to be kept in a smaller enclosure that did not allow him to swim as usual and did not allow him to communicate with other orcas or humans.  Reportedly, he was seen just floating for hours at a time.  This behavior has never been witnessed in wild orca whales.  He stayed in isolation for a year, then returned to performing.

SeaWorld’s records indicate that Tilikum isn’t the only aggressive whale held there.  The park has more than 600 pages of incident reports related to “dangerous and unanticipated orca behavior with trainers.”  What research shows us is that aggression towards humans by orca whales does not happen in the wild, and neither does collapsed dorsal fins.  In fact, less than 1 percent of orcas in the wild have a collapsed dorsal fin.  Research also shows us that orca whales have an expected lifespan similar to humans.  To the contrary, if you ask SeaWorld staff, they will tell you that orcas only live to be about 35 years old and that a collapsed dorsal fin is seen in the wild very frequently.  They will also give any and every excuse as to why these whales are not responsible for any deaths.  That may be true; maybe SeaWorld is entirely responsible.  With all the knowledge of the aggression towards humans, why continue to allow trainers to swim with them?  Even further, why would SeaWorld Florida continue to willfully violate occupational and safety health standards, even after being fined twice?  Today, OSHA is fighting to keep trainers safely distanced from the whales during training and shows.  It appears that SeaWorld is fighting this because keeping the trainers out of the water during live shows would potentially decrease the show’s appeal.  They released a statement, wherein they exclaimed that “the safety of guests and employees and the welfare of animals are SeaWorld’s highest priorities.  OSHA’s enforcement activities and the new citation demonstrate the agency’s continued and fundamental misunderstanding of how to properly and safely care for and work around these animals.”  It is clear that SeaWorld did recognize the inherent risk, but still required its employees to work with the orcas within pool walls where they may have been subject to dangerous behavior.

If someone you know was injured or killed while working in conditions that are known to be dangerous, call a wrongful death attorney in your area to discuss your case.  Following your free consultation, should the wrongful death attorney find that your case has merit, work will begin immediately on your case so that you may receive the compensation and justice that is deserved for your injury or loss.  The attorney will also fully investigate the incident, visit the scene of the incident and interview witnesses for your case.

If you or someone you know would like to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to speak with a good wrongful death lawyer in your area. Call an experienced South Carolina wrongful death lawyer at The Mace Firm to schedule your free consultation. One of The Mace Firm’s injury attorneys is ready to speak with you about your case.


Injury Lawyers and Highchair Safety: The Facts

Aside from choking, falling may be the next thing feared most by parents of small children.  Parents and injury lawyers alike cringe at the thought of a youngster falling onto hard floors beneath their highchair, especially when it may have been avoided by following the listed safety precautions.  Sometimes, a highchair may malfunction due to it being improperly manufactured, not due to user error. For instance, the chair’s safety harness may malfunction causing the parent to believe their child is properly restrained and potentially causing the child to fall from the chair.  In fact, over the recent years in the U.S., millions of highchairs have been recalled because they did not meet safety standards.  However, an extremely low percentage of those recalled products are ever returned.

According to a recent study on the subject, approximately 9,400 injuries occur per year due to children aged 3 years or less falling out or off of highchairs.  In addition to that, the study found that the rate of these highchair injuries had increased by 22 percent over the 10-year study period.  Of the injuries sustained by the children, it appears that head injuries were the most common type associated with falling from the highchairs.  One doctor who worked as a researcher for this study is questioning exactly what is going on since “the rate of head injuries has increased by almost 90 percent” within the 10-year study period.  The study also found that the highchair falls lead to more head injuries than falls from chairs with no restraints.  Typically when a child falls from a traditional chair with no restraints, injuries sustained are listed as broken bones, cuts and bruises rather than a potentially serious head injury.

Highchairs are not the only risk related to children; chairs in general seem to be pretty dangerous.  Considering a ten year period, over 40,000 injuries were reported which were related to chairs.  That figure means that each hour, four children are sustaining injuries associated with chairs.  Researchers will now use this data to reveal the causes into the increase in chair-related injuries, which will hopefully cause parents to use more precautions.  Failing to use the chair’s safety features are one of the main causes for injury.  Additionally, not only are the parents failing to properly secure the children, they are allowing them to climb on, stand in and jump off of the chairs.

However, a child’s chair injury isn’t always the fault of the parent.  Sometimes faulty chairs may be the reason an injury is sustained.  Although a law went into effect in 2011 that imposed more strict safety testing procedures on a variety of household items, highchairs included, some parents may be using older models.  Some parents are even unaware that many highchair models have been recalled due to their failure to meet safety standards.  This is why it is important to note the lifespan of highchairs, children’s car seats and the like; over the years, many of these products have been recalled because they are malfunctioning or unsafe to use.  There are tons of resources for parents to double check their equipment to be sure it is safe, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Here are some considerations for parents who are using a highchair:

1.  Be sure your child is able to sit up on his own, this will be the only way he can safely sit in a highchair by himself without falling out unintentionally.

2.  Read up on the latest safety standards.  Currently, all highchair models purchased should conform to safety standard BS14988.

3.  The highchair will need a sturdy, wide base so that it is fully stable.

4. Check and re-check the safety harness.  Always remember to use this safety feature each time your child is in the chair.  Harnesses on highchairs must be compliant with safety standard BS6684.

5.  Always have an eye on your child while he is seated and strapped into the chair.  As we know, children may “rock” their highchairs, making it easier to tip over.

6.  Never place your highchair on any surface which is raised or slippery.

If someone you know was injured due to highchair use, call a personal injury attorney in Myrtle Beach to discuss your case.  Following your free consultation, should the injury lawyers find that your case has merit, work will begin immediately on your case so that you may receive the compensation and justice that is deserved for your injury or loss.  The attorney will also fully investigate the incident and interview experts and witnesses for your case.

If you or someone you know would like to file a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to speak with a good injury lawyer in your area. Call an experienced South Carolina accident lawyer at The Mace Firm to schedule your free consultation. One of The Mace Firm’s injury attorneys is ready to speak with you about your case.


South Carolina Condemnation Lawyers and I-73

Carolina residents may soon have the need to reach out to South Carolina condemnation lawyers soon. Those of us living in South Carolina may not know that the heavily-debated roadway project began in 1982 when Congress passed an appropriation bill that required designating and constructing a highway that would connect I-95 South to US 17 near Myrtle Beach.  Some may know this plan as the “Florence to Myrtle Beach highway” project.  By the early 1990’s, the highway had been incorporated into further legislation with a route from Detroit to Charleston, SC.  Fast forward seven years, I-73 became part of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, and the road was shortened from Charleston to Georgetown.

Early in 1998, the chairman for the I-73 committee stated that “the SCDOT Commission has endorsed a corridor from the state line to near Georgetown, following US-1 to Wallace, SC-9 to Bennettsville, SC-38 and US-501 near Marion, US-501 to Conway and US-701 to near Georgetown.  I-73 will provide a lifeline to economic stability to the area.”  As time went on, more and more route changes from within South Carolina kept occurring, with SCDOT and state legislature constantly butting heads.

As plans and ideas continued to change, 2004 saw awareness of the Interstate project rise significantly.  Two rallies were held to help with this: one in Washington DC and another in Myrtle Beach SC.  The purpose of both rallies was to spread the word that the Interstate would increase job growth and tourism in addition to providing another hurricane evacuation route.  Regarding Myrtle Beach specifically, some find it difficult to travel to the area because once they exit I-95, there are more than 90 miles remaining to get to Myrtle, all on small roadways.  Having an Interstate closer to that area could really boost tourism and the ease of travel.

Later in 2004, state legislators filed their notices of intent with the federal government.  The two notices stated that studies would be performed on two proposed routes: one from I-95 North to the NC state line and the second from I-95 South to Myrtle Beach.  At their many meetings regarding all the issues, some were more focused on the conversion of existing highways to I-73 standards rather than building a new highway.

In 2005, an agreement between the states was reached: NC would build a 3.7-mile link to the state line from the existing I-74 south of Rockingham, and SC would build a 5-mile extension of the existing SC-31 that will link up with I-74 in NC.  Following this agreement, SCDOT began organizing public meetings in areas north of I-95 in NC.  At those meetings, most seemed to be in support of aligning the project with an existing roadway: SC-38.

However, tension surrounding the project was increasing in the South.  Horry County residents and leaders were wanting a more southern routing of I-73, and those living in Aynor and Cool Springs felt that the highway would run too close to their town.  With the new objections coming to the forefront, more studies would be required of the State, which would take more time.  This would ultimately delay the progress yet again.  Not only was time going to be an issue now, but environmental impacts of the southern routing of I-73 were coming into play.  The Coastal Conservation League said that they will support the highway, as long as it is not built south of US-501.

Due to all the new concerns, SCDOT ended up denying requests to study a route south of US-501.  Instead, a state legislator proposed a “bubble route” which would be built south of US-501 but more within Marion County.  This and other minor adjustments made it so the residents of Aynor and Cool Springs were no longer concerned with plans to move forward.  Finally in 2006, the state was able to announce their preferred plan for I-73 and announced that the route would affect approximately 81 homes, 7 businesses, 1,700 farmland acres and 384 wetland acres.

Not everyone was happy, though.  Dillon County residents and officials saw downsides to the I-73 project.  Residents were upset about the effect on homes and land, and officials were angry because the highway does not seem to serve the town of Dillon at all.  They would like the highway to run closer to the town.  This problem in Dillon and in a broader sense, any changes made to the preferred route that was presented, would cause more delays to the project and possible delays with federal funding.

It has been a long road for the planners on this project, which is scheduled to begin work in 2016.  Today, there are two alternatives for the highway which have yet to be completely decided on; both will affect the locations of some homes and businesses.  Those who have received notice that their land will be taken for the Interstate project may be wondering what their rights are.

Those who are being forced to move from their property due to I-73 are legally entitled to just compensation for their loss.  The State cannot make you accept an amount that is a “low-ball” offer; therefore, before you accept any offer for your land, speak with an experienced condemnation lawyer in South CarolinaSouth Carolina condemnation lawyers will be able to educate you on your rights and how you can get the money you deserve for your land.  If you are having eminent domain issues, call one of the condemnation lawyers at The Mace Firm to schedule your free consultation.


Common Law Marriage in South Carolina

South Carolina is one of the few states that still recognizes common law marriages.  A common law marriage can be defined as a marriage without a marriage license or ceremony.  With the assumption that each spouse is competent to marry, a man and woman who live together as husband and wife with the intent to be married and holding themselves out to the public as married have a common law marriage.  This type of marriage is legally the same as any other marriage, with the only difference being they way the marriages were created.  There is also no specific time period that the couple must live together to be considered married.  It is a typical assumption in the state that the couple who is common law married must have been residing together for at least seven years; however, this is untrue.

What must be proven in a common law marriage is the presence of intent to be married by both parties involved.  Examples of evidence that proves intent would likely include living together as a married couple, telling their friends and family that they are married, filing joint tax returns or a woman using the man’s last name in place of her own.

For a common law marriage to be valid, an informal and mutually understood agreement between the man and woman to be married must exist.  Once criteria have been met for a valid common law marriage, nothing less than death or a judgment of divorce can dissolve the relationship.

As mentioned above, cohabitation alone is not enough to constitute a valid marriage without the mutual agreement between the parties.  In Johnson v. Johnson, the Court stated that “the difference between marriage and concubinage rests in the intent of the cohabiting parties.”  Furthermore, the Court stated reasoning as to why no common law marriage existed in Cathcart v. Cathcart.  In this matter, the former husband was trying to prove that his former wife and her paramour had entered into a common law marriage so that he could stop paying alimony to her.  The Court found that no common law marriage had been created due to the fact that the wife and her paramour “did not refer to each other as husband and wife.  Both testified they had no intent to be married to each other.  [In fact], the man testified he dated other women.  Additionally, they did not file joint tax returns, did not have a joint bank account, and did not receive mail at the same address.”

The impediment to forming a valid common law marriage exists if a couple had been living together as husband and wife before moving to South Carolina in jurisdictions that did not recognize common law marriages at the times they lived there.  When this type of couple moves to South Carolina, “it is presumed that their relationship remains non-marital.”  For their relationship to become marital, a new mutual agreement either by way of civil ceremony or by way of recognition of the illicit relationship and a new agreement to enter into a common law marriage.”

The issues related to common law marriage typically come up most when the couple decides to divorce.  At this point, the Court would be left to decide whether a marriage existed between the parties based on all the evidence, and if it did exist, a South Carolina divorce must be obtained.  If the Court were to find that a common law marriage did not exist, the parties would not be bound to each other and neither person would be able to claim belongings or money which belong to the other person because there is no such thing as a common law divorce.

A South Carolina family lawyer can assist you if you have questions about whether you are or have been common law married in South Carolina. The family attorney will review the facts of your case and advise you on your rights under South Carolina law.

If you or someone you know would like to file for divorce, you will need to speak with a good family  lawyer in your area. Call an experienced Myrtle Beach divorce lawyer at The Mace Firm to schedule your consultation. One of The Mace Firm’s family lawyers is ready to speak with you about your case.


Lawsuit Filed Against Hospital

One year ago at Eastern State Hospital, patient Duane Charley was murdered while in his hospital room.  He was found beaten and strangled to death.  The next morning, another patient, Amber Roberts, informed hospital staff that she had murdered someone.  Roberts was being housed indefinitely at the Hospital and had been determined legally insane.  Several claims were made in the wrongful death lawsuit, filed in federal court.  One claim accuses the Hospital of allowing patients in the criminally insane ward to “freely roam…at all hours of the night.”  In addition to that, the suit claims that the Hospital also failed to safely store items that could be used to hurt or kill patients by “violently insane patients.” According to the suit, the Hospital is allegedly has “deficient policies and practices, among other failures, that allowed patients to freely enter patients’ rooms at all times of the day and night, and failed to restrict patients’ access to cords and other strangulation devices.”  Wrongful death lawyers for the family also claim in their lawsuit that the Hospital was formally warned in 2006 and in 2009 regarding those issues and were advised to change their practices so they may better protect their patients.  Had they made these changes, Roberts would not have gained access to Charley’s room to commit the murder, especially not in the middle of the night without being detected by staffers.

To make any changes to patient safety policies, the Hospital had to be threatened with losing their accreditation and funding.  The purpose of this wrongful death lawsuit is to push the Hospital to review their policies and make changes so that incidents like this do not happen in the future.  The wrongful death lawyers stated that the Hospital “has shown itself unwilling to voluntarily correct the many problems posed by its lax policies towards patient safety and supervision.”

Following your free consultation, should the wrongful death lawyer find that your case has merit, work will begin immediately on your case so that you may receive the compensation and justice that is deserved for your injury or loss.  The attorney will also fully investigate the incident, visit the scene of the incident and interview witnesses for your case.

If you or someone you know would like to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to speak with a good injury lawyer in your area. Call an experienced Myrtle Beach wrongful death lawyer at The Mace Firm to schedule your free consultation. One of The Mace Firm’s injury attorneys is ready to speak with you about your case.


Miami Wrongful Death Lawyer: Taser Case

Earlier this year on August 6, 18 year old Isreal Hernandez-Llach of Miami was “tagging,” or spray painting graffiti onto, a building at 71st Street and Collins Avenue.  Isreal was spotted by police officers while he was defacing the building and they approached him; however, Isreal had no intentions of being caught that day and decided to flee the scene.  When the officers saw that he was not going to cooperate, they chased him down and ended the pursuit by using a taser gun to stop him.  Isreal died following the incident and his autopsy is currently pending.  The family of Isreal has now hired a Miami wrongful death lawyer to file the lawsuit against the Miami Beach Police Department.

In their complaint, Isreal’s family alleges that the Police Department deprived the victim of his rights under the 4th and 14th Amendments.  It also claims that the officers who tasered Isreal were high-fiving after the incident.  According to the Complaint, the Police Department “had no reasonable basis to believe that Isreal posed a threat to the public.”  In addition to that, the officers had no basis to use such “unnecessary, aggressive, excessive and unconstitutional force to apprehend the teenager” who was committing an offense which would likely be deemed as a second-degree misdemeanor.

In their own defense, the Miami Beach Police Department referred to their use-of-force policy which states that “the use of force, both deadly and non-deadly, is justified when officers reasonably believe it to be necessary to affect an arrest or to defend themselves or another from bodily harm.  However, the family’s wrongful death lawyer feels otherwise, stating that “a policy that permits or accepts the use of force and such under these circumstances is not okay and must change.”

This case can be viewed from both sides.  Fortunately, Isreal’s family has retained a wrongful death lawyer to help them through this difficult time.  Following your free consultation, should the wrongful death attorney find that your case has merit, work will begin immediately on your case so that you may receive the compensation and justice that is deserved for your injury or loss.  The attorney will also fully investigate the incident, visit the scene of the incident and interview witnesses for your case.

If you or someone you know would like to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to speak with a good injury lawyer in your area. Call an experienced Miami wrongful death lawyer at The Mace Firm to schedule your free consultation. One of The Mace Firm’s injury attorneys is ready to speak with you about your case.


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