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Appellate Clinic wins Industrial Commission Appeal

The Full Commission of the North Carolina Industrial Commission recently ruled in favor of the Wake Forest University School of Law Appellate Advocacy Clinic, in the case of David Crump and Sharon L. Crump v. N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services.  The Full Commission is a group of appellate judges who review decisions by trial judges in the Industrial Commission, which has jurisdiction over state tort and workers compensation claims.

The Crumps sued the State for negligence after an environmental inspector issued a septic tank permit upon which they relied in buying property.  It was later discovered that the property would not support a septic tank, and the Crumps had to buy neighboring property to support the first lot.  The Crumps won at the trial level, and the State then appealed to the Full Commission.

As part of their work for last year’s Appellate Advocacy Clinic, Will Morgan (’10) and Jimmy Byars (’10) drafted a brief for the Crumps, which was filed in April.  In May, Morgan argued to the Full Commission in Raleigh, the first time ever that a law student has argued to the Full Commission.  Nicole Dupre (’10), who helped Morgan prepare, attended the argument to lend moral support.  Morgan’s sister Elizabeth, who had just completed her first year at the University of North Carolina School of Law, also attended.

In its recent opinion, the Full Commission concluded that the State is liable for negligence and owes the Crumps damages.  The Full Commission rejected various defenses raised by the State, including no duty under the public duty doctrine, failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and intentional act of its employee (rather than negligence).  The State has now appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the next step after the Full Commission, which means that this year’s Appellate Advocacy Clinic will continue to represent the Crumps.

The Appellate Advocacy Clinic is a clinical course for third-year students interested in appellate practice.  The Clinic has represented clients in the United States Supreme Court, Fourth Circuit, Seventh Circuit, North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the North Carolina Industrial Commission.  In addition, the Clinic has assisted the Delaware Department of Justice in appeals to the United States Supreme Court and the Delaware Supreme Court.  Contact Professor John Korzen for more information about the Appellate Advocacy Clinic.