LEGAL PRACTICE AREAS: COMPLEX CIVIL LITIGATION
Complex Civil Litigation
Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC, represent individual and corporate clients in a wide range of complex civil litigation cases. Due to the complexity of these types of cases, it is important to have seasoned attorneys with extensive trial experience on your side.
What You Need to Know About Complex Civil Litigation:
Complex civil litigation cases are those involving multiple parties, large amounts of money, lengthy trials or complex legal issues and are heard by a single judge from the beginning to end.
Civil litigation involves several stages, including investigation, pleadings, discovery, pretrial proceedings, potential settlement or trial and appeal.
- Investigation—The first stage of the complex civil litigation process, investigation, involves a deep-dive into the case facts and a careful review of evidence and documentation that will be necessary during settlement negotiations or a trial.
- Pleadings—Pleadings is the stage that outlines what issues will be addressed within the case. Both parties put together a pleading, or a formal written statement, of their claims or defenses to the opposing party’s claims. The plaintiff is the first to file their pleading, in what it termed a complaint.
- Discovery—Typically the longest and most labor-intensive stage of a case, the discovery stage consists of the exchange of information pertinent to the case through depositions, interrogatories and subpoenas. Depositions and interrogatories involve questions posed under penalty of perjury to the parties in a lawsuit.
- Pretrial proceedings—Pretrial proceedings consist of conferences and motions between both parties and the trial judge involved in the trial. These proceedings are intended to help the court establish managerial control over the case, discourage any useless pretrial activities, improve overall trial quality and, potentially, facilitate a settlement.
- Potential settlement or trial—In most cases, a settlement is preferred by both parties, in which they are able to come to a mutual agreement without stepping into the courtroom. Should the case move forward to trial, the judge will determine what information will be heard in the courtroom, based off of the rules of evidence.
- Appeal—Should either party be disappointed with the ruling handed down during a trial, they can move forward in the appeals process, in which the case is reviewed in the hopes of having the decision changed or reversed. The appeals process serves as error correction and clarifying and interpreting the law.
Complex civil litigation is time intensive, labor intensive and involves complex legal and factual issues. Complex litigation may also involve multiple parties, attorneys, geographically dispersed plaintiffs and defendants, numerous expert witnesses and subject matter experts, complicated testimony and extensive discovery. You need an attorney who can provide strategic guidance at each stage of the process.
Given the complexity of these cases, you need an attorney with substantial knowledge of the law, impressive trial presence, ability to manage voluminous electronic discovery and solid negotiation skills.
The complex civil litigation attorneys at Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey have the skills, resources and experience necessary to prepare a successful case no matter how complex. We approach each civil litigation case seeking amicable solutions that allow our clients to avoid needless expenses and/or risks of litigation. When necessary, we have extensive court room experience with bold trial techniques.
Our attorneys are highly respected trial lawyers with a wealth of experience in a wide range of complex civil litigation cases. We are well positioned to help litigate a diverse range of legal matters no matter the level of complexity. Contact the attorneys at Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey today for your free consultation at (864) 298-0084 or online.
In 2016, Bruce Bannister, Jim Bannister and Alex Stalvey, along with attorneys Mitch Willoughby and Chad Johnston of Willoughby & Hoeffer obtained an award of $12.2 million against BB&T on behalf of Francis Maybank, a former investment advisor whose assets with the bank were mismanaged. After a two week trial in 2014, the jury determined that BB&T breached its fiduciary duty to Mr. Maybank in advising him on the handling of his investments with the bank and included $5 million dollars in punitive damages. In a subsequent appeal, the S.C. Supreme Court reversed the jury’s punitive damages award, however upheld the trial court’s $9.3 million award of treble damages as well as attorneys’ fees and costs which exceeded $3 million.
Tax Evasion and Federal White Collar Criminal Defense
Bill Bannister, Jim Bannister and Alex Stalvey have extensive experience in defending clients in complex white collar criminal litigation. These cases include representing clients who have been accused of violating tax and securities laws which often span several years and involve millions of dollars. Several of our recent cases involve high profile litigants and have received extensive coverage in the media. In addition to providing the highest level of representation in court, these cases also demand professionalism and skill in handling the media and managing public relations on behalf of our clients.
Video Poker Defense
In the late 1990’s video poker was still legal in South Carolina but was under attack politically and through the court system. When the legislature refused to enact laws outlawing video poker, the state attorney general along with other citizens sought to shut down the practice through the court system. Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey attorneys Jim Bannister and Bill Bannister successfully defended the video poker operators in the federal courts and ultimately the S.C. Supreme Court who agreed that unless the legislature changed the law, video poker would remain legal. Abba Equipment, Inc. v. Thomason, 335 S.C. 477, 517 S.E.2d 335 (1999) and Johnson v. Collins Entertainment Co., Inc. 199 F.3d 710 (1999).
Class Action Litigation
Homegold/Carolina Investors (Defense)
Bannister, Wyatt and Stalvey represented two corporate executives who worked for Carolina Investors. When Carolina Investors filed bankruptcy, these two executives were accused of securities fraud for making false representations in the sale of notes.
The case involved individual investments made with Carolina Investors, the accompanying prospectus, multiple corporate relationships, and the level of knowledge attributed to executives with Carolina Investors.
Ultimately, the case went to trial. During the course of the trial, the defense of the case revolved in part around the idea that the prosecuting authority, the Attorney General’s office, had knowledge that was equivalent to the information that the two executives had. When the Court determined that it would allow evidence about this issue into trial, the case very quickly got worked out in a plea bargain for both defendants.
Johnson v. Collins (Defense)
A class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of all individuals who lost money on video poker. The class action sought all money back from the video poker distributors. As part of the lawsuit, the individuals accused the video poker distributors of racketeering.
Interlocutory issues went to the 4th Circuit and the South Carolina Supreme Court. First, an injunction that the district court had granted was appealed by Collins. The 4th Circuit ruled in Collins’ favor and overturned the injunction in a landmark decision focused on the limitations of a Federal Court’s jurisdiction to intervene in State matters.
Second, the South Carolina Court ruled video poker machines did not constitute lotteries and, therefore, were not in violation of the State’s constitutional prohibition on engaging in lotteries.
Ultimately, Collins was the only defendant in the case to go to trial. The case was tried twice. The jury was split at the conclusion of the first trial and could not return a verdict. A mistrial was declared and a second trial scheduled. At the end of the second trial, the jury was split again. With the prospect of a third trial looming, the parties reached a settlement that ended the matter.
Duke Sandwich Co, Inc. & PYA Monarch (Plaintiff)
Contaminated eggs were delivered to Duke Sandwich Co. and used in its deviled-egg sandwiches. A large number of people became sick with salmonella poisoning as a result of eating the contaminated sandwiches. A class action suit followed which resulted in a class settlement.
Crawford v. American Federal Bank, FSB (97-CP-42-2179) (Defense)
In this class action lawsuit, an individual claimed he did not receive the appropriate return on investment from American Federal Bank. Representing the Bank, we contested the class action designation and the claimed damages. Ultimately, the class action was denied and claimed damages dropped to less than $1,500. The case was settled shortly thereafter.
Dooney & Burke v. DB Trading Corp. (CA 6:96-2239-20) (Plaintiff)
In this federal court case, DB Trading Corp was selling fake Dooney & Burke pocket books and knew the pocket books were not authenticated. During the three-day trial, we presented evidence on behalf of Dooney & Burke to show that the fake items were being sold deliberately with knowledge of the fraud. The jury reached a verdict in favor of Dooney & Burke and awarded a verdict for $2.5 million.
Rigg v. Brandt & Sedgwick Claims Management (98-CP-04-2195) (Plaintiff)
Bill Rigg was a former Deputy Sheriff who herniated a disk in his neck during the arrest of a kidnapping suspect. There were several avoidable insurance delays while Rigg awaited surgery on his neck. Unfortunately, the third-party insurance administrator purposefully delayed the surgery, resulting in permanent nerve damage and total disability.
As Rigg could have had a complete recovery and now was totally disabled, the case was handled like a medical malpractice case and settled for a significant amount after the Defendant lost their motion to have the case thrown out. In addition, we were able to secure a one-time payment for disabled officers of $100,000 after an initial denial of the claim.
Joytime v. Orr., 98-CP-23-831
Henry Orr purchased a business so that he could remove Joytime’s coin operated machines and replace them with his own machines. Joytime, however, had secured an agreement with the previous business owner that prevented the removal of their machines.
Representing Joytime, we sued Orr under a then-novel theory that there was no mitigation of damages for Joytime because it could not replace this business location. Joytime won the trial and won its appeal. The Defendant finally paid the judgment of $250,000 after he was sent to jail for violating the Court’s Order.
Joytime v. Federal Ins. Co. (6:00-2228)
Joytime v. Federal Insurance Company dealt with an insurance coverage issue from the Johnson v. Collins case. The issue was whether or not Federal Ins. Co. should pay attorneys’ fees for Joytime’s defense in this video poker class action suit in Federal Court. The case was resolved with a settlement.
BSI v. Joytime (CA No. 6:00-3275-13)
Bowling Services claimed it was entitled to a portion of the proceeds from one of Joytime’s gaming devices as stated in its contract. The contract was under dispute and during the discovery process of the case, there were several issues that came to light. In particular, discovery revealed that the contract was unenforceable as against public policy. The plaintiff had to dismiss the case as they were unwilling to go to court and risk exposure.
Any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.