December 22, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Tips & Ideas

Christmas Shopping.jpgFor those of you like me who still have some, or all, or your Christmas shopping to do, here are a few tips and ideas that should help you 'git er done' before jolly Ole St. Nick takes to the air.

First, last minute shopping requires a certain mindset or philosophy: understand going in that you are likely to encounter crowds and potentially long lines. If you accept this from the beginning and anticipate it, you are less likely to become frustrated and upset. If you find yourself stuck in a long line, rather than digging out your smart phone and sending a text message, try striking up a friendly conversation with someone standing near you. This will help pass the time, and you might actually make a new friend. If you're uptight, meditate before you go out into the crowds, and then, once there, remember to breathe.

If you don't know what to buy, try putting together a homemade gift basket. You can buy a simple basket at any major department store and then fill it with all kinds of small gifts and treats! Fancy coffees, imported chocolates, earrings, DVDs and lots of other fun gifts can be used to fill up your gift basket.

If you're low on cash, how about giving the gift of yourself! Such gifts are both personal and easy to execute on a deadline. Take a few minutes and create some colorful "coupons" for services you can provide in the weeks after the holiday season. Some good ideas include coupons for an amazing multi-course meal, yard work services, pet-care services, romantic massages, car repairs, painting and other handyman services around the house.

Finally, if you are shopping in the final days leading up to Christmas, the crowds can get quite large, but if you do your shopping during the daytime, the crowds will be smaller than at night. If you are heading out into the big crowds, be sure to leave unnecessary credit cards and cash at home, as pick-pockets can prey on busy last minute shoppers. Happy shopping and Merry Christmas from Davis Law Group!


December 13, 2010

How To Avoid A Truck Accident In Asheville

truck accident avoid.jpgWith over 5,000 people dying in truck crashes each year on our nation's highways, it is important for every driver to understand all of the ways to avoid being involved in such a collision.

1. Stay Out Of The Truck's Blind Spots - If you are sharing the road with a commercial motor vehicle such as a tractor-trailer, either trail behind the truck at a safe distance or pass it quickly. Do not ride along beside the truck! Most crashes between cars and trucks occur when a truck changes lanes and collides with a passenger vehicle. Don't get caught in the blind spot.

2. Leave Yourself An Escape Zone - When passing a tractor-trailer, you should always plan on the truck coming over on you in your lane. If you plan for such an emergency, then you will be prepared in the event it happens and have a plan for what to do. The most important thing to plan for is where to move your car. For example, if you are passing a large truck on an interstate highway, do not attempt to pass while you are crossing a bridge. Why? Because there is no where to move your vehicle in the event a truck comes over into your lane. Instead, wait until you have an open stretch of highway with a wide shoulder before you start your passing maneuver.

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December 8, 2010

Chewing Tobacco Lawsuit Nets $5 Million In 1st Ever Settlement

Big Tobacco recently paid $5 Million to settle a wrongful death claim to the Estate of Bobby Hill. A resident of Canton, North Carolina, Hill died from mouth cancer in 2003 at the young age of 42. He had been dipping since age 13. Altria makes and sells Skoal and Copenhagen. This is the first settlement of its kind in the smokeless tobacco arena.

Many familiar with the cigarette litigation say that this settlement will cause plaintiff's lawyers to start filing more cases against the smokeless tobacco giant. Hill dipped tobacco made and sold by U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co -- which Altria acquired in 2009. The deal was struck before the acquisition. A spokesperson for Altria says this was a special situation, honoring the prior deal, and the tobacco giant does not plan to settle any other pending cases.

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November 28, 2010

Car Strikes And Kills Female Cyclist In Asheville

bike crash.jpgFriday evening, around 6:30pm, a car driven by Patricia Harvey, 48, struck a bicyclist from behind causing a tragic crash on Piney Mountain Drive off of Chungs Cove Road in east Asheville. Police have indicated that the cyclist, Tami Rene Leaven, 35, died at the scene from massive head injuries.

Police say that Leaven did not have any lights on her bike, although the law does not require a bicyclist to have a light on the rear of a bicycle - only a reflector that can be seen from 200 feet behind. Most bicycles are sold with a reflector that satisfies state law in this regard. Police have not said whether the bike ridden by Leaven had the required reflector. A police spokesperson said that the area where the collision happened on Piney Mountain Drive was a dark section of road and not well lit.

In North Carolina, the law requires motorists to see what can be seen and to keep a proper lookout. It is unclear at this time whether Leaven was visible to motorists approaching from behind or not. If the bicycle she was riding did not have the required reflector, then Harvey may not have seen her in time to avoid the collision. If the bike did have a reflector visible from the rear, then the question will be 'why did Harvey fail to see it?' These are questions the District Attorney's Office must grapple with, and the DA will have to decide whether the facts justify bringing criminal charges against Harvey.

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November 21, 2010

FDA Targets High Engergy Alcohol Drinks As Being Dangerous

drinklineup.jpgThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to four manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic drinks, directing them to stop adding caffeine to the popular drinks within 15 days or face stop selling them altogether.

FDA warned four companies that the caffeine added to their alcoholic malt beverages is an "unsafe food additive" and said that further action, including seizure of their products, is possible under federal law. Warning letters were issued to the following companies:

Charge Beverages Corp.: Core High Gravity HG Green, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked

New Century Brewing Co., LLC: Moonshot

Phusion Projects, LLC (doing business as Drink Four Brewing Co.): Four Loko

United Brands Company Inc.: Joose and Max

The FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, asserted that the drinks appeared to pose a serious public health threat because the caffeine masked the effects of the alcohol, leading to "a state of wide-awake drunk." The drinks at issue are carbonated malt beverages with fruit flavors and very high levels of alcohol; Four Loko is 12 percent alcohol by volume and has up to 156 milligrams of caffeine per can. The effect of consuming alcohol and caffeine is that people get more intoxicated and engage in more dangerous behavior when they drink the combination beverages than when they drink alcohol alone.

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November 14, 2010

Robbinsville Pit Bull Attack - Who's Responsible? Dogs, Owner or Town?

pit-bull-attack1.jpgPeople are rarely attacked by vicious dogs, but when those attacks happen to young children or the elderly they can be deadly. Particular breeds, like pit bulls, Rottweilers, Akitas and German shepherds are publicized as being more aggressive and dangerous than other breeds. While that is probably true, there is no question that pit bulls have been bred to be aggressive and strong.

A two year old Robbinsville boy remains in critical condition after being attacked and mauled by as many as 6 pit bulls that lived at the child's grandmother's home. The Asheville Citizen Times reported that the incident took place around 3:15pm last Saturday at a house on North Main Street across from the Robbinsville Elementary School. Neighbors and teachers at the school reported having seen the dogs running lose in town.

Someone at the school had complained to Town officials recently when he saw the dogs running down the sidewalk after a couple of kids on bikes. In the rural town, no leash law existed to prohibit a dog owner from allowing their dog to run loose. Approximately one week prior to the attack, the Robbinsville Town Council had considered passing a leash law but failed to do so. The mayor pro tem, Bobby Smith, admitted to feeling guilty that they did not already have such a law. A simple leash law might have prevented this tragedy.

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November 11, 2010

Education Is The Key To Stopping North Carolina Teens From Distracted Driving

distracted driving.jpgDistracted driving is killing teenagers at an alarming rate. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been on a rampage against distracted driving by teens for more than a year, but studies show that distracted driving by teens continues despite teenagers' knowledge of its dangers. Last month, teenage drivers nationwide pledged to take two seconds to turn off their cell phones and other wireless devices before driving a motor vehicle. These pledges were part of a National Two-Second Turnoff Day sponsored by AAA, Seventeen and the US Department of Transportation. A recent survey by AAA and the popular teen magazine Seventeen showed that nearly 9 our of 10 teen drivers have driven while distracted, even though almost 85% of them know its dangerous.

The key to stopping distracted driving is not telling teen drivers how dangerous it is, that is just preaching to the choir. They all know how dangerous it is, but they do not think anything bad could happen to them. Education on this topic must involve and engage teenagers. The below video is a great place to start this education:

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November 6, 2010

War Hero Dies After Being Hit By Asheville Bus

Asheville Bus Hit Pedestrian.jpgAfter traveling all over the world and serving his country in three wars, David Stroupe, 86 of Leicester, died Friday while still being treated for injuries he received after being struck by an Asheville Transit Authority bus. The bus collided with Stroupe in the Westgate parking lot outside of Earth Fare.

An eyewitness, Karess Walker, of Asheville told authorities that Stroupe "was just coming out of the corner and he just stopped in the middle of the road." From her view, Walker felt that Stroupe "must have assumed the bus was going to stop. But it kept on going, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, please don't hit the man.' I thought he was going to stop right before it got to the man. But he just ran him right over."

Stroupe suffered a head injury and a foot injury in the incident. When the bus finally stopped, it landed on Stroupe's foot. EMS transported Stroupe to Memorial Mission for emergency treatment.

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October 22, 2010

Former President Bill Clinton Stumps For Shuler in Asheville

Clinton 1.JPGOn a cloudless Thursday afternoon in downtown Asheville, thousands waited patiently as former President Bill Clinton made his way to the podium to pump up the crowd and western North Carolina for incumbent Senator Heath Shuler. We arrived in Pack Square Park around 11am after having stood in line for approximately 30 minutes. The day before, I had been handed a VIP ticket outside the early voting center downtown. Little did I know then that I would have a 4th row seat to Clinton's speech.

Clinton was awesome in person. Having always likely his casual, commonsense demeanor, I was impressed by his in person persona as he entertained the crowd with hilarious anecdotes ("I couldn't make this up...") from his past while also making a strong case in support of Shuler. Clinton told the crowd that "Shuler is the only real choice voters have" if they want to create jobs and knock down the country's runaway debt.

Clinton repeatedly said that "it's important to America" and North Carolina that Shuler, D-Waynesville, return to Washington. Shuler faces stiff competition for his Senate seat from Republican challenger Jeff Miller, a Hendersonville business owner, in the Nov. 2 election.

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October 18, 2010

2010 North Carolina Judicial Races - How To Vote

Asheville courthouse.jpgJudicial elections are extremely important. The decisions that judges make directly impact the lives of many people. This is particularly true if you happen to be one of the almost 3 million people who happen to have a case in the North Carolina court system each year. This means that many voters will look a judge in the eye at some point, whether in the context of divorce, child custody, child support, civil suit (personal injury, property dispute) or even the penalty side of misdemeanors (traffic) or criminal charges. In many cases, the judge decides who wins and who loses. In all cases, the judge can have an impact on how the case is decided. Therefore, who gets elected as judge may directly affect your life.

Since the North Carolina Legislature decided that judicial races are to be non-partisan, it is hard to know who to vote for, unless you personally know the person who's running for judge. If you do not know the candidate, and you do not know what party (Republican, Democrat or other) they belong to, how can you intelligently cast your vote? The best way is to ask a lawyer who has experience in the courtroom trying cases before the judge.

Here is how I plan to vote in the judicial elections based upon my personal knowledge of the candidates, their legal experience, and their known or perceived judicial temperament. Please print this list and take it with you when you vote:

NC Supreme Court
Judge Robert C. "Bob" Hunter (Brady seat)

NC Court of Appeals
Judge Rick Elmore (incumbent)
Judge Martha Geer (incumbent)
Judge Jane Gray (Calabria seat)
Judge Sanford Steelman (incumbent; unopposed)

NC Court of Appeals (Wynn seat - 13 candidate "instant runoff" race)
#1 choice - Judge Cressie Thigpen
#2 choice - Stan Hammer
#3 choice - Harry Payne

Buncombe County:

Superior Court (seat No. 1)
Alan Thornburg: thornburgforjudge.com

Superior Court (seat No. 2, instant runoff)
Heather Whitaker Goldstein: heatherforsuperiorcourtjudge.com

District Court (Barrett seat)
Sharon Barrett: N/A

District Court (Brown seat)
Shirley Brown: judgeshirleybrown.com

District Court (Cash seat)
Julie Kepple: julieforjudgecampaign.com

District Court (Knight seat)
Rebecca Knight: N/A

District Court (Young seat)
Patricia Kaufmann Young: re-electjudgeyoung.com

October 14, 2010

Safety Violations Caused Young Mother's Death in Pitt County Flatbed Trailer Crash

trailer safety violation.jpgEarly Tuesday afternoon, John David Ross, 29, of 2909 Royce Lane, near Winterville, drove his roofing crew toward a job site on northbound NC Highway 43. Behind Ross' Chevrolet pick-up truck was a home-made flatbed trailer loaded with shingles and other roofing materials. The investigating State Trooper said that the trailer lacked proper safety devices required by state law, such as a properly sized hitch pin and safety chains connecting the trailer to the truck.

As Ross' truck and trailer crested a short hill, the trailer suddenly detached from the truck and veered into the oncoming lane. Tragically, Lisa Langemann, 27, of 2005 Wallace Lane and her two young daughters were headed southbound in their SUV on NC Highway 43 at the same time. Langemann must have seen the trailer coming because witnesses say the SUV swerved to the right to try and avoid the collision, but the out of control trailer struck the SUV head-on. After the sudden impact, the SUV hit a ditch and flipped over.

Langemann died at the scene. Her 8 year old daughter is listed in serious condition at Pitt Memorial Hospital, and her one month old daughter was treated and released. Her family is devastated by her loss. Langemann was a second grade teacher at Bethel Elementary School in Pitt County. She was in her third year of teaching at the school. The teachers, administrators and students were shocked when they learned of the wreck.

Langemann's family could pursue a wrongful death claim against Ross and his roofing company. Given the type of safety violations that caused this crash, pursuing such a case could help provide for the care and upbringing of her two young children. While financial compensation could never bring back this wonderful teacher and mother, it might make a difference in her childrens' lives. While Ross certainly feels terrible about what happened, he is still legally responsible for the outcome.

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October 6, 2010

Mandy Kirkconnell - A Tragic Loss For The Asheville Community

manie kirkconnell.jpgLast Saturday morning, shortly before 3a.m., an intoxicated Jennifer N. Kessler, of Arden, drove her vehicle the wrong way on Interstate 240 in Asheville. As Kessler neared the Brevard Road exit, her vehicle collided head-on into a vehicle operated by Mandie Kirkconnell, 29, of Asheville. Kessler suffered serious injuries, but Ms. Kirkconnell died at the scene. This is the second wrong way collision in Asheville this year.

As a result, authorities have charged Kessler with felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired and reckless driving to endanger. She faces prison time for what she did.

Kirkconnell was a remarkable woman who positively touched every person with whom she came in contact. A devout Christian and a talented musician with an incredible voice, Ms. Kirkconnell was very active in her church at King of Glory Christian Church in Swannanoa as well as at many other churches in the Asheville area, including Relate Church and the Melchizadek House of Prayer.

Kirkconnell's friends say that in light of her strong faith and belief in the healing power of the love of Christ, she would want everyone to forgive Kessler for her horrible mistake in judgment. A tall order for even those with a strong faith. Those who knew her were clearly blessed if but for the short time she was here.

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September 30, 2010

Westville Pub Attack Creates Civil Liability

Tuesday night, a Candler woman, Jessica Renee Hall, 32, of Reeves Cove Road, crashed her SUV into the barriers separating the outdoor patio from the parking lot at the Westville Pub in West Asheville. Hall intentionally rammed her vehicle into the huge metal radiators that create a wall beside the patio where patrons often enjoy their food and beverages.

Witnesses say that Hall backed her SUV up approximately 20 feet from the patio, then jammed the vehicle in drive and then accelerated toward Amy Nicole Roberts and several others on the patio. The collision pinned Roberts under the radiators and the front of the SUV, causing serious injuries to her left leg. Hall then backed the SUV up, screamed out the vehicle's window, "that's what you get for f+++++g with me, b+++h!" and fled the scene. A witness ran after the SUV and got the license tag number and called 911. Police later contacted Hall at her home, and she was subsequently arrested and charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. She is out of jail on a $9,000 bond. The motive for the assault appears to be that Ms. Roberts was friends with Hall's ex-husband.

Ms. Roberts is still in the hospital receiving treatment for her mangled left leg. Doctors are hopeful that she will recover to the point that she can use the leg again, but there is still a possibility that she might have to have the leg amputated. Doctors expect that she will need multiple surgeries to address the severity of her injuries.

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September 26, 2010

Former Crew Chief Kohuth Cops Plea Deal

Nascar crew chief.jpgFormer Nascar Ultra Motorsports pit crew chief, Timothy Kohuth, 49, pleaded guilty to 2nd Degree Murder last week in Iredell County Superior Court. As a result, he will spend at least the next 9 years in jail. The maximum he could serve is 12 years. The plea deal arises out of the fatal crash Kohuth caused in 2008.

On July 31, 2008, Kohuth drank to the point he was severely intoxicated and then drove a rollback wrecker on Brawley School Road, crossed the center line, and then collided with a vehicle driven by Wesley Worden. The head-on impact killed Mr. Worden instantly and severely injured his wife, Gail.

At the plea deal hearing in court, District Attorney Sarah Kirkman said, "Witnesses said he got out of the truck and a 24-ounce beer fell out of his lap." After the crash, EMS took Kohuth to the hospital, but he refused to take either a breath or blood test to determine the amount of alcohol in his blood. State Troopers sought and obtained a search warrant and forced Kohuth to submit to a blood test. Approximately six hours after the fatal crash and after receiving a substantial amount of IV fluids, the test showed Kohuth's blood alcohol level to be .08, the legal limit in North Carolina.

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September 21, 2010

Supreme Court May Rock & Roll On Illegal Music Download Case

Kazaa.jpgOver the last several years, the 4 big record labels (Sony BMG, Universal Music, Warner Music and EMI) have aggressively pursued file sharing companies like KaZaA and Grokster as well as those who downloaded the music for their personal use.

The US Supreme Court recently took the first step toward hearing one of the more than 40,000 music download cases that have been filed by the music industry companies against individuals who downloaded music from the internet.

In each of these law suits, the music companies allege that the person downloading the music violated US copyright laws, which imposes shockingly strong penalties, up to $150,000 per violation. In these music download cases, many young people downloaded hundreds of songs, and the music companies contend that each downloaded song constitutes a violation.

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