• 04 Aug 2020 11:47 AM | Jennifer Edwards (Administrator)

    Over the past 24 hours, the eastern Piedmont and Coastal areas of our state were hit with devastating rain, wind, and in some areas, tornadoes. The impacts of Hurricane Isaias will be long lasting, and while property can be replaced, the lives lost cannot. 

    Please keep our members, their family members, and the communities impacted by the storm in your thoughts and prayers. The North Carolina Coast is still in the process of recovering from Hurricane Florence, and this latest storm will only add to the struggles faced by the residents of these areas.  

    Please reach out to your friends, family members, and fellow NCADA members in the impacted areas of our great state and let them know they have our support, attention, and prayers. 

    Allen Smith
    NCADA President 2020-2021

  • 30 Jul 2020 11:53 AM | Jennifer Edwards (Administrator)

    As the Covid-19 pandemic has dragged on and on and we have learned of more and more postponements and cancellations, my energy level has been depleted at times. Of course, this is normal in the practice of law and most professions; we all go through our peaks and valleys during the course of a work year. 
    However, this year has been different--finding diversions has been more difficult. One thing I look forward to each year is taking a trip with my two sons, ages 24 and 27. In the summer of 2018, we had a weekend visit to Boston that featured visits to the Harpoon and Sam Adams breweries during the day, an Eagles concert in TD Garden on Friday night, and a Foo Fighters concert in Fenway park on Saturday night. My younger son even made it to the front row about midway through the concert. In April of 2019, the Smith boys joined 80,000 other fans in MetLife Stadium to attend Wrestlemania 35. (Yes, there really were 80,000 fans there!) This summer, we had planned a trip to Chicago, and that fell through.  We had to find an alternative trip, so Nashville and Knoxville serve as substitutes for Chicago.
    What does this have to do with practicing law?  We all need to find ways to recharge our batteries. This year, we’re having to be more creative.  Our levels of interaction with others are much lower because of restrictions on live appearances in court, at depositions, and at mediations.  Attorneys need to recharge their batteries for the short term and long term. In the short term, call your clients, fellow defense counsel, or opposing counsel more often instead of sending just emails. Restaurants are open, so you can take a colleague to lunch. Walk up and down the stairs of your office or around your block if you’re working from home. You can even do a business call while doing some exercise. Little things like this can help attorneys get through the day. For the week, make sure you set aside some time for your family, your friends, and yourself.  
    Having some type of exercise routine is probably more important than ever. This helps in the short term and long term. Ideally, you can find somebody to join you for the exercise.
    Our profession and country will get through this pandemic. At some point, trials will resume and Wrestlemania will be back with 80,000 fans. Take care of yourself.


  • 16 Jul 2020 11:17 AM | Jennifer Edwards (Administrator)

    RALEIGH – Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has issued new emergency directives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that require the wearing of face coverings inside county courthouses and planning for the resumption of jury trials. 

    “I have issued several emergency directives calculated to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina's communities,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “Consistent with the Governor’s recommendations and the clear guidance of public health experts, requiring face coverings in courthouses is necessary to keep our courts open while protecting court personnel and the public.”

    Chief Justice Beasley announced that jury trials in North Carolina courts will be delayed through at least September, and has directed senior resident superior court judges to develop comprehensive plans for the eventual safe resumption of jury trials in their districts. Each Jury Trial Resumption Plan must ensure that all court operations are in compliance with each of the Chief Justice’s emergency directives and must be informed by the Best Safety Practices distributed by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

    Each Jury Trial Resumption Plan must include:

    • A confirmation that each court facility and any alternate facility to be used for court operations is in compliance with each of the Chief Justice’s emergency orders in response to the COVID-19 outbreak;
    • A plan for summoning and excusing jurors, which allows for as much of the process to be handled remotely as possible;
    • A plan for conducting voir dire with social distancing;
    • A plan for conducting trials with social distancing in the courtroom for all court participants, including the jury, and in the deliberation room;
    • A plan for daily screening of jurors, court personnel, attorneys, witnesses, and parties for COVID-19 exposure or infection;
    • A plan for making face coverings available to jurors, court personnel, attorneys, witnesses, and parties;
    • A plan for responding in the event that a juror, defendant, attorney, witness, judge, or other courtroom personnel becomes symptomatic, tests positive for COVID-19, or has a known exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 during the trial.

    Each Jury Trial Resumption Plan must be approved by the following officials in the county:

    • The chief district court judge;
    • The clerk of superior court;
    • The district attorney;
    • The public defender, or a criminal defense attorney chosen by the senior resident superior court judge in districts without a public defender;
    • The sheriff; and
    • The public health director.

  • 13 Jul 2020 1:58 PM | Jennifer Edwards (Administrator)

    N.C. Defense Fund Endorses Judicial Candidates for 2020 Appellate Races

    Raleigh, NC, July 13, 2020 --- The N.C. Defense Fund, the political action committee of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, endorses the following candidates seeking seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals:

    For Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses both

                  Cherie L. Beasley and Paul M. Newby for re-election to the Court.             

    For Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses

    For Seat 2:  Lucy N. Inman for election to the Court.
    For Seat 3: Mark A. Davis for election to the Court.

    For Associate Judge of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the N.C. Defense Fund endorses:

    For Seat 4:  Patricia P. Shields for election to the Court.
    For Seat 5:  No Endorsement
    For Seat 6:  R. Christopher Dillon for re-election to the Court.
    For Seat 7:  Reuben F. Young for election to the Court.
    For Seat 8:   Jefferson G. Griffin for election to the Court.

    The NC Defense Fund made the decision to endorse each judicial candidate based on the following criteria:

    •Substantial legal experience in and demonstrated understanding of civil litigation and issues recurrent in defense of claims;

    •A willingness to impartially apply the statutory law and rules as written and the common law, including the application of affirmative defenses, and the granting of dispositive motions when warranted;

    •A recognition of the legislature's exclusive role to enact statutes and the Court’s role in interpreting existing common law and statutes in a fair, consistent and predictable manner with respect for prior court rulings as compelled by stare decisis;

    •Exemplifying a high level of independence and integrity in applying the law impartially and in compliance with judicial standards and the Rules of Professional Conduct.

    The N.C. Defense Fund is the political action committee of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys. The North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys [NCADA] is a professional association for lawyers and paralegals defending the interests of individuals and businesses in civil litigation. Current membership stands at over 850 attorneys and paralegals from across the State.


  • 25 Jun 2020 10:03 AM | Jennifer Edwards (Administrator)

    The North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (NCADA) held its Virtual 43rd  Annual Meeting the week of June 9-12, 2020, in Asheville, NC, swearing in a new slate of Officers and Directors at the close of the meeting.

    Allen C. Smith assumes the position of President. Smith is a partner with Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garafalo, LLP in Charlotte. He is the leader of the Trucking and Transportation Practice Group and devotes much of his time to defending serious personal injury and wrongful death claims associated with truck accidents and major vehicle negligence. He also defends product liability, construction defect, and premises liability claims. Smith obtained his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1992. He previously served a three-year term on the Board of Directors and one year as Secretary.

    F. Lach Zemp is immediate Past President of the Association. Zemp, a partner of Roberts & Stevens, P.A., has over 25 years of experience trying cases and representing a variety of professional, outdoor-recreation, industry, and business interests in state and federal courts. He obtained his J.D. from Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1990.

    Sara R. Lincoln is President-Elect. Lincoln is a partner with Lincoln Derr, PLLC in Charlotte. She has an active trial practice ranging from medical malpractice defense to complex business litigation. Lincoln obtained her J.D. in 1993 from the University of Akron School of Law, magna cum laude. She has previously served a three-year term on the Board of Directors , and was chair of the Association’s Women Litigators Committee and the Medical Malpractice Group.

    Lincoln was instrumental in securing engaging and informative content and speakers for NCADA’s first Virtual Annual Meeting, including Michael Reddington of InQuasive and Jennifer Schenk, the Physician Counsel. Other panelists and speakers discussed and shared what made their defense practices successful. The change from a traditional in-person annual meeting to a virtual meeting was a challenge Sara met head-on, ensuring the meeting and the transition were successful and seamless.

    Ashley K. Brathwaite was elected Executive Vice President. Brathwaite practices with Ellis & Winters, LLP. Her practice is divided between the representation of health care providers, product manufacturers and distributors, and others facing allegations of liability for a catastrophic personal injury. She obtained her J.D. from Campbell University School of Law in 2005. Brathwaite has served on the Board since 2015 and previously chaired and co-chaired the Women Litigators Committee.

    JD Keister was elected Treasurer. Keister Practices with McAngus Goudelock & Courie, LLP in their Raleigh office. He routinely engages in the representation of parties in construction, professional liability, coverage and bad faith, real estate litigation, catastrophic loss, transportation and automobile litigation and commercial litigation, as well as first party defense for insurance carriers. JD’s construction practice includes the representation of contractors, subcontractors, designers, developers and their insurance companies. His professional liability experience includes the regular representation of architects and engineers, attorneys, real estate brokers and agents, insurance brokers and matters that stem from director and officer liability. JD obtained his juris doctorate from Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law (JD). He also serves as NCADA’s Chair of the Construction CLE Committee.

    Chris Kiger was re-elected Secretary. Chris practices with Smith Anderson, LLP. His focus is in the areas of products liability, mass tort, and commercial litigation. He has significant experience representing manufacturers, insurers, and other corporate clients in both state and federal courts, as well as in multi-district litigation. He has successfully handled the defense of litigation involving a broad array of automotive, industrial, consumer, and medical products.

    The NCADA welcomed the following new members to the Board of Directors to serve a three-year term ending in 2022:

    • ·       Patrick Flanagan, Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog, LLP
    • ·       Tracey Jones, Teague Campbell Dennis & Gorham, LLP
    • ·       Kimberly Marston, Brooks Pierce, LLP
    • ·       Daniel Nunn, Caudle & Spears, LLP
    • ·       Brady Yntema, Goldberg Segalla, LLP

    About the NCADA: North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (NCADA) is a professional organization of nearly 800 attorneys and paralegals who devote a majority of their time representing the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation. For more information about the NCADA, please contact (919)239-4463 or visit

  • 11 Jun 2020 2:42 PM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    NCADA is pleased to announce the recipients for the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence and the Award for Excellence in Trial Advocacy for 2020.

    Patricia P. Shields is this year’s recipient of the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence, which recognizes contributions to the organized Bar as a whole and to their community. Shields is a partner with Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo, LLP practicing in the firm’s Raleigh office. Shields has earned a reputation as a highly-experienced trial attorney who represents her clients with the highest level of competence and skill, honors the system of justice through outstanding preparation and the keenest of intellects, and maintains professional and courteous behavior toward all. Her litigation practice includes complex commercial, malpractice and professional responsibility, products liability, and civil rights claims.

    David N. Allen will receive this year’s Award for Trial Advocacy and is the third recipient of this Award recognizing members who are eminently qualified to advocate for clients in state and federal courtrooms. Recipients of this Award are considered by the NCADA as among the finest trial lawyers in the state. Allen is a partner with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough practicing in the firm’s Charlotte office. Allen represents a broad variety of clients in his trial practice. He has been trying lawsuits for more than 30 years with close to 100 juries empaneled during that time. Allen is a recognized leader for his outstanding commitment and contributions to trial and appellate advocacy – a true courtroom lawyer.

    The Awards will presented at a later date this year. Please join us in congratulating Patricia Shields and David Allen as we recognize both as leaders in the NCADA and the civil trial bar.

  • 01 Jun 2020 3:04 PM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    For the past week, we’ve been home with our families trying to absorb and explain the graphically violent and inexplicable death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer while other officers stood by. Whether locally, nationally, or internationally, the resulting expressions of horror, anger, despair, and anguish have been real, genuine, and strong. The acts of the former police officers with the Minneapolis Police Department require universal condemnation. These issues demand the attention of all of us, and that we not remain silent in the face of such horrific conduct and acts.

    The NCADA recognizes and embraces our place as a role model in the legal community. We are proud of our history of inclusion of all members of the civil defense community, regardless of race, gender identification, religion, sexual orientation, skin color, or ethnicity. The diversity of our members and our profession is at the heart of what makes the NCADA the wonderful organization it is. Supporting and embracing that diversity benefits all of us. And although we don’t always understand what other people are feeling or experiencing, we as individuals should always seek a way to try. The NCADA denounces implicit bias, sexism, homophobia, and racism in all forms. The NCADA also supports peaceful protests and the rule of law; these are important rights in civilized society. We encourage our members to begin the sometimes difficult conversation of our how we can each work to improve our society as a whole.

    Please consider what you, your colleagues, and your firm can do to further a positive and constructive dialog.


    F. Lach Zemp, Jr.
    President, 2019-2020

  • 26 May 2020 3:06 PM | Jennifer Edwards (Administrator)

    The Special Appellate Candidates' Issue of The Resource is now available! Please visit the link below to read up on all the candidates running for North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

    2020 Appellate Issue of The Resource

  • 26 May 2020 2:00 PM | Lynette Pitt (Administrator)

    The North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys (“NCADA”) will hold a Judicial Candidates' Forum on Friday, June 12, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. via Zoom.  The Forum will feature judicial candidates running in statewide elections for seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court and the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The appellate races are statewide races that impact all citizens of North Carolina.

    Sixteen candidates seek election for eight open appellate level judicial seats - three seats on the North Carolina Supreme Court and five seats on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. A special appellate candidates publication providing information about each candidate may be found here.

    This year's Judicial Candidates' Forum will be held virtually via Zoom closing out the 43rd Annual Meeting.  

    The Forum gives members of the public and the bar a rare opportunity to learn about the candidates who wish to serve the state at the appellate court level. Each candidate will have the opportunity to answer a question germane to the members of the civil defense trial bar and to briefly discuss his or her qualifications for the position.

    The NCADA is a statewide association of lawyers defending the interests of individuals and businesses in North Carolina. For more information about the NCADA or the Judicial Candidates' Forum, please contact the Association office at 919-239-4463 or


  • 22 May 2020 12:31 PM | Jennifer Edwards (Administrator)

    Lynette asked if I would provide a brief update on what is happening at DRI during these trying times, and I am happy to do so. 

    First, we hope you, your families, and your colleagues are all healthy and safe. I have found a need to reach out and virtually touch someone on a regular basis. I hope you are all staying in touch with your friends and colleagues, and it need not be by Zoom. Make a point to reach out to someone, you both will feel better for doing so. 

    And, as far as staying connected goes, although many DRI seminars were and will be canceled, most substantive law committees are actively putting on webinars or hosting calls by Zoom or otherwise. This is a great time to get involved. If you are unsure if your favorite seminar is cancelled, the DRI home page  has a link to a list of all cancellations. If your favorite one is not on there, check back for updates. Notwithstanding the cancellations, DRI has been putting on webinars for members and non-members. For example, DRI recently hosted two webinars on how to reopen your office, which identified some of the issues you may need to confront as we begin to resume our more normal lives. Both were free, and if they are not already on the DRI website, they should be soon. In addition, a third webinar is coming the first week of June, hopefully. As soon as we know more, we will push it out to Lynette for distribution. These have been available for both members and non-members. I realize the notice sometimes has been a bit short, but to get content out timely, short notice will likely be the norm not only about COVID-19, but also for new webinars. The pandemic has shown that technology is easier to use than we thought, so we hope to get cutting-edge information to you while it is still cutting edge.

    In addition, the DRI home page has a coronavirus information link. It includes health information, stay at home orders, and some court information. It also has a direct link to DRI for Life. It should have tips on how to stay sane, or how to try to stay sane, while we juggle, dogs, cats, hamsters, goldfish, children, as well as clients. 

    Next, as many of you know, John Kouris, DRI's long-time executive director, recently stepped down. After a nationwide search, DRI has hired Dean Martinez as the new Chief Executive Officer. Dean started Monday, April 27. What a time to start, right? Dean is energetic and full of new ideas to increase the value of a DRI membership. I hope you get to meet him at the next DRI in-person event.

    DRI service projects continued during the pandemic with a virtual 5-K through DRI Cares. In this time of crisis, many food banks have been wiped out. What better time to have a food drive, fund-raising challenge, or other fund raiser for food banks or similar deserving organizations. 

    The NCADA Annual Meeting is around the corner.  Lynette would have my hide if I did not encourage you to attend, so ATTEND.

    Speaking of annual meetings, I would be remiss if I did not mention the Summit, formerly known as the DRI annual meeting. It remains scheduled for October 21-24 in Washington, DC, and we remain hopeful that we can pull this off. If it happens, we will have a regional dinner, cocktails and mocktails, and hope you can attend.

    Please be safe,

    Jon Berkelhammer

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