Experienced counsel having tried over a thousand jury cases
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Woodberry “Woody” Bowen now defends criminal cases where once he prosecuted for twelve years. In Robeson County North Carolina Bowen was on the prosecutorial staff of Joe Freeman Britt, the Guinness Book of Records “Deadliest DA”. Joe had more defendants on death row at one time than any other state prosecutor in the country.

Murders are frequent in and near Lumberton, Pembroke, Red Springs, Maxton, Fairmont and all the other little towns across North Carolina’s largest geographical county, Robeson County.

Situated on Interstate 95 North Carolina Highway Patrolmen write enough tickets to put sometimes more than 500 cases in one Robeson County District Courtroom in one day. Others prosecute those cases now, but Woodberry “Woody” Bowen worked those courtrooms for years. There is no substitute for the experience from those years. It provides a certain bond of shared experience with the lawyers who sit in those prosecutor chairs now.

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The Lumberton North Carolina Courts provide a good forum for Alienation of Affection cases. NC is only one a a handful of remaining states which allow an action against a third party for wrecking a marriage. The claim is called allienation of affections. Punitive damages are also allowed, subject to North Carolina’s cap on such damages. A companion charge of Criminal Conversation is usually pled alongside the alienation of affection charges.

To prevail on such a case the Plainitff must essentially prove that a third party almost preditorially stole away the affections of a marriage partner who had no prior inclination to be unfaithful.

A parallel action which is available is a claim for Criminal Conversation. Argueably easier to prove, this claim requires only that the jury find by the greater weight of the evidence that the third pary had sex with the Plaintiff’s marriage partner while the third party knew or had good reason to believe the partner was married to the Plaintiff. This claim also carries punitive damages. These cases often provide the victim a decided advantage in their divorce case against the marriage partner, especially if the illicit relationship is still ongoing.

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I was not long out of the DA’s office from a position as a state prosecutor. Fresh back in private practice those decades ago, no big cases were lining up at the door just yet. So I had to make the most of what I had.

A young mechanic from Red Springs NC came to me after being slandered in the local grocery store. He and his wife were checking out of the food store one Friday night with two full baskets of groceries. My client had a wad of bills to pay for the merchandise and he and his wife were regular shoppers in the store.

Still, the manager accosted my clients in the check-out line and accused the local mechanic of stealing six doughnuts. My client protested. He showed the money he had to buy all the merchandise. He then pulled out the lining of the pocket in his full length leather coat where the manager claimed he had concealed the donoughts. No doughnuts. Still the manager accused him, standing right in the front of the store in front of many citizens of Red Springs who knew him. The manager never asked my client to step to the back of the store or into a private office so they could talk about it. The manager never tried to place a six pack of donoughts in his coat pocket to see if the white carton would stick up above the coat pocket, clearly visible. We did just that at trial and the jury laughed at the manager when they saw the doughnut package protruding at least 4 inches over his coat pocket in plain view. Shoplifting is concealing merchandise inside the store. Nothing had been concealed and my client had not left the store when confronted by the insulting manager.

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Lumberton N. C. is situated on Interstate 95 where numbers of speeding and other traffic tickets are written by the Highway Patrolmen stationed in Robeson County, North Carolina. The numbers of tickets going to Robeson County Court are on the rise now that the state is in desperate need of revenue.

Officers are writing tickets for infractions as little as 8 or 9 miles over the speed limit.

Not only do these tickets cost motorists fines and costs in court, but they also jack up insurance premiums ten per cent or more for all cars on a policy. And these increases can affect motorists’ policies for three years.

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Atty Blog Jon Provost couch small elegantportraits.jpgBesides being a trail attorney, I am President of the Robeson County Humane Society. Four years ago RCHS began the annual tradition of the Puppy Love Valentine’s Dinner as a fund raiser. One of our most energetic officers stuck up an e-mail conversation with Bill Berloni, world famous animal trainer. Bill trained all the “Sandy” dogs for the movie and Broadway play, Annie. He trained the cat in Mr. Wilson’s War and Bruiser in Legally Blond. Lumberton is a small North Carolina town on Interstate 95 so we were thrilled to have someone of Bill stature.

RCHS has its own no-kill shelter near our small airport, but we are concerned always about conditions at the Robeson County pound. Since Bill advised all the public pounds in the State of New York we asked him to inspect our county pound on the way from Raleigh Durham Airport. He did so. But when Bill arrived early at the dinner I overheard him tell some folks that he was saddened that he had seen a little Collie mix puppy at the pound. He said his first dog was a Collie.

Little did he know that my wife Joan and I are Collie and Sheltie lovers. I could not sleep that night, imagining the pup. Next morning early I typed some signs and put them up at the pound on the way to a deposition. I encountered the pound director on the way out who told me he had orders to put down all the puppies immediately because of a distemper scare. I could not talk him into letting me have the playful Collie mix pup. So I called the County Veterinarian, Dr. Curt Locklear. I could almost see Dr. Locklear’s vexation when he heard they would not let me adopt the puppy. He said he knew I was going to get the dog isolated and vetted and that it would be alright if I took him. I had Dr. Locklear tell the pound folks what he had told me, and by mid morning RCHS volunteers had the dog safely in quarantine at Dr. Locklears animal hospital.

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No one much thought that tall, slender, Lumberton trial lawyer Woodberry (Woody) Bowen would be the type to roar across North America headed for Alaska on a Harley Davidson Motorcycle.

Call it a midlife crisis, I suppose. I had just finished a three month long trial defending Daniel Green, a man accused of the capital murder of Michael Jordan’s father, James Jordan. The jury spared his life, but mine had been in turmoil for those several months of intense trial and over a year of preparation. Worldwide press coverage was relentless as conspiracy theories flew.

Then a little over 50, I decided just after the trial that the trek of a lifetime was then or never, so I joined several of my lawyer friends, jumped on my Harley Davidson Soft Tail and headed for Alaska. The trip lasted 28 days and spanned 10,300 miles. My roommate was the former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the fellowship with him and several other lawyers and their families on our trip made for memories as incredible as the breathtaking scenery along roadways of the Western United States, Canada and the territories.

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My client was asleep is bed with his wife, his two year old child just in the next room. The phone rang about 3 a.m. His wife’s house which she inherited from her father was on fire an a neighboring town 30 minutes away. The house in North Carolina had recently been vacated by a renter. Much of the house was still furnished with the wife’s family furniture, priceless photos and family keepsakes.

The insurance company was notified. A public adjuster hired by my clients surveyed the damage and helped my clients present their claim. The police investigated. No arson was found; yet, Farm Bureau Insurance Company denied the claim, maintaining that my clients (respectable professional people without records of wrongdoing) had committed arson. Too many insurance companies are currently denying legitimate house fire cases by using unfair and deceptive claims practices.

My clients had no financial difficulties or other reason to burn the house. They had been having trouble with the propane gas central HVAC and the licensed gas company had worked on it. The system seemed to be using more gas than would be expected given the size of the house, the weather, and the type of system.

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Lumberton NC Insurance Bad Faith Attorney Woodberry (Woody) Bowen chuckled at the professionally lettered sign placed conspicuously in the front yard of a house on the way to Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, NC. The sign said:

Nationwide is not on your side.
If there’s a claim then you’re to blame.

As a veteran trial attorney for North Carolina insurance claims, Bowen knew that it was not just Nationwide about which this could be said.

Time was when insurance companies took seriously and ethically their duty to pay just and legitimate claims within a reasonable time. No longer for most insurers.

But some are worse than others. An independent organization published in 2008 an article entitled The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America in which bad faith practices of major insurance companies are catalogued. And take a moment to check out the story of a midwest school teacher who took on one of the nation’s largest insurance companies when she was denied just compensation from a house fire. Check out www.farmbureaulies.com.

The insurance industry commissioned the McKinsey Report in 2005 in order to find out how to make more money. The report concluded that since companies could squeeze little or no more work out of their adjusters and middle management employees and since the companies insisted on paying some of their senior management salaries in multi-millions, the only effective way to make more money was to deny more claims.

Following on after that conclusion, the McKenzie Report presented over 10,000 Power Point slides instructing the staffs of insurance companies how to delay, avoid and deny claims. The strategy involves delaying or obstructing the claim until the claimant simply gives up and takes a low ball offer rather than fight the insurance company.

Often the first line of insurance defense of a case is to get a claimant to give a recorded statement with the adjuster in which the adjuster uses special training to attempt to get the claimant to admit that he or she was in some way at fault when claimant was not.

Increasingly with harder economic times, insurance companies are succeeding in the unlawful and deceptive practice of lowballing claims. An unexpected emergency expense will often cause a claimant to accept an unfairly low offer just to be able to pay a bill.
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After your accident, are you really confused about whether to get a lawyer and if so, who?

So much depends on the lawyer you choose!

Does your new buddy, the, insurance adjuster, want to play “Let’s make a deal”?

Radio host Mark Handle, Handle on the Law, recently remarked to a lady calling to inquire if she needed a lawyer: “Lady, do you know that the adjuster goes to the insurance company’s school for hours just to learn how to get you to take too little for your case?”

Typical situation. You think the injuries aren’t too bad. After all, it didn’t even hurt much at the time you crashed. You may have even told the officer you were O.K. This is very normal. It is by that night that you really started to hurt, and by the next day you felt like you couldn’t move! Not only are you sore but you have some tingling or numbness in your arms or legs or both. The adjuster has looked at your car and knows you took a pretty hard blow. (Did you know that your head moves from still to over 90 miles per hour in the split second after just a 5 mile per hour impact in a simple fender bender?)

The adjuster offers to pay your medical expenses up to a year and gives you a small lump sum besides. Why? He knows you’re scared and probably need the money. He knows also that the numbness you are feeling may be an early symptom of serious disc problems in your back and/or neck, perhaps requiring surgery. He also knows that because of the expense and risks of surgery Doctors typically attempt more conservative approaches including chiropractic, physical therapy, injection therapy, massage and others. He knows, if you don’t, that these alternatives often take a year or more before surgery remains the only option. And an expensive option it is, often tens of thousands of dollars for neurosurgery.

And who pays? You do. Remember the deal you made with the adjuster? After a year his company is off the hook. And you’re on.

He has countless other tricks up his sleeve. Let’s take your demolished car. Say it’s a late model, well-kept, good car. Now its going under the wrench. It’s serious work that will brand your car with salvage history if the repairs total over 25% of the value of the car. Locked in a database somewhere under your car’s VIN number, that damage may come back to haunt you if you ever trade.

Often authorizing only used or “after market” parts, the adjuster will pay the repair bills, but will he pay you the fair value of the depreciation caused by the wreck, the diminished value to your car caused by his insured? No. Not unless he knows you will take him before a jury to get it.

You see, ours is an adversary legal system. This means you get only what you are willing to struggle and fight within the system to get. The insurance companies have swarms of lawyers well paid to protect their rights. Maybe that is why they only pay out around 42% of premiums the rest of us pay in.

If your car is totaled, the adjuster will offer you a price from a price book his company instructs him to use. Its prices are consistently lower than those in the widely accepted NADA book used by car dealers and banks.

Yet the adjuster will encourage you to go it alone. Don’t, he’s not on your side. His promotions and raises are based in part on how little he can get you and others like you to take for their cases.

Get a lawyer! And not just any lawyer, but an experienced courtroom veteran who knows how to persuade jurors the true value of your case, a lawyer who can get them to fill in the verdict sheet with an amount they would expect to receive for similar injuries.

Sign No Papers Until you have had your case fully evaluated by one of our experienced personal injury trial lawyers reviews you case.

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Are you curious as to the tactics used by many insruance companies when handling your case. Denied claims led to he publication of an interesting website. Click it and see for yourself if any of the tactics described from the McKinsey Report seem familiar. Click www.farmbureaulies.com.