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Bernhardt vs NC State Highway Patrol: Successful Verdict

Police officers keep us safe and make sure drivers obey the law. However, in some cases officers can overstep their bounds and use excessive force in extenuating circumstances. The Law Office of D. Hardison Wood obtained the necessary evidence and brought the claim before the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

On June 4, 2013, the North Carolina Court of Appeals found in our favor and upheld the verdict of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, awarding damages and attorneys’ fees to Richard Bernhardt for the unreasonable use of force used against him by a State Trooper. The North Carolina Attorney General’s office had appealed the Commission’s ruling on numerous grounds.

For example, they contended that expert witness testimony was required to prove what constitutes reasonable force, and that the claim should be dismissed for failure to identify which particular trooper was responsible for the arrest. The Court of Appeals found in Bernhardt v. North Carolina Dept. of Highway Safety/Highway Patrol, NC COA 12-1254 that the Commission’s ruling should be upheld. The Court’s ruling noted, among other things, that the trooper who arrested Mr. Bernhardt admitted at hearing that he had arrested Mr. Bernhardt, and admitted that the appropriate use of force was set out in a Use of Force Policy memo, which had been introduced as evidence.

Our attorneys are always extremely mindful that most appeals are based on technical issues, and they are experienced in carefully assuring that all technical requirements are met so that verdicts withstand such appeals. The truth is no two lawsuits are the same. Every client is unique. Though we may have handled a case similar to yours, we’ve never handled the one you have. Nor has anyone else.

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