June 6th, 2011 • By: RPLLC Uncategorized

24-year-old Caitlin Elisabeth Braun has been charged with the May 16 accident that that killed 4-year-old Gabrielle Shumate and sent her severely injured father to the hospital. The collision happened on Ramblin Road in West Columbia.

On Monday, South Congaree Police Chief R. Jason Amodio verified that Braun has been served with warrants and charged with Felony DUI.

Investigation revealed that Braun was a hostess, serving alcoholic beverages to golfers playing in a tournament at Indian River Golf Course in West Columbia, prior to the collision.

Amodio says, “At some point during the tournament, she consumed alcoholic beverages herself.” Chief Amodio also said her blood alcohol level was .15 or greater.
Braun is detained at the Lexington County Detention Center and is currently awaiting her bond hearing which will occur today at 3:00 p.m.

Find more on this story here.

The lawyers at Rikard and Protopapas will gladly listen to your story. Call us today at 803.978.6111, or email us at

Man Gets 50 Years In Mall Shooting Case

April 19th, 2011 • By: RPLLC Uncategorized

A man who shot his estranged wife in a Columbiana Centre parking lot and killed her father, who was trying to protect her, has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 50 years, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Michael James Young Jr., 25, admitted his guilt Monday, April 11, 2011 in a Lexington County courtroom and will serve the next 46 years in prison. Young already has served nearly four years in the county jail while awaiting trial, prosecutor Colleen Dixon said.

Robert Lynn Bell, 49, died on June 13, 2007, from multiple gunshot wounds. His daughter, Shaunna Bell, then 21 and Young’s estranged wife, survived the shooting. She was shot twice by Young as she sat in her father’s car.

“I think about getting married and not having anyone to walk me down the aisle,” Shaunna Bell said in a written statement she read in court. “My father/daughter dance was taken from me. When my mom’s birthday or Mother’s Day comes around, I do not have anyone to secretly call for details of what she has been wanting.”

Robert Rikard of Rikard & Protopapas LLC represents the Bell family in a pending wrongful death case against Allied Barton Security Services LLC

Her father had been driving her to and from work for several weeks in an attempt to keep Young away from his daughter, said Rikard. The Bells have sued Allied Barton, the company that provides security at the regional shopping center, arguing company officials knew of the danger and did not adequately protect her. The company had banned Young from the mall and had his photo posted in the security office, but the supervisor working that day did not know that, said Rikard, citing a deposition.

To read the full article in The State Newspaper please click here.

Jury Awards Three Million To Plaintiff In Death Case

April 19th, 2011 • By: RPLLC Uncategorized

A Lancaster, South Carolina jury awarded Three Million dollars to the Plaintiffs in a wrongful death action against the S.C. Department of Transportation on Tuesday, August 31, 2010. It was the second largest verdict in Lancaster history. The Plaintiffs were represented by Robert G. Rikard of Rikard & Moses, LLC, based in Columbia, South Carolina and Mandy Powers-Norrell of Norrell & Powers-Norrell, LLC, based in Lancaster, South Carolina.

“This was a strong message sent by this jury that even if you are the State of South Carolina, you cannot violates the rules that are meant to protect us all,” said Robert Rikard. “This jury told the Department of Transportation that rules are important, they should be followed, and when they are not, people can be killed.”

This case involved a collision on Highway 903 in Lancaster County, where a SC DOT dump truck, with no rotating lights, strobe lights or markings of any kind other than standard brake lights, stopped in the eastbound lane of travel to pick up a dead deer that was 112 feet behind it in the westbound lane of travel.

“This is a heavily travelled road in Lancaster, and the evidence showed the DOT had a duty to warn motorists that they were stopped in the road, blocking a lane of travel, and the DOT breached that duty” said Mandy Powers-Norrell.

Anne Thompson as Personal Representative of the Estate of John Thompson brought the case on behalf of herself, her children, and her deceased husband. John Thompson was a retired welder on disability and was 60 years old at time of death. He was survived by Anne, his wife of 40 years and his two sons, Jeff and John.

This section of 903 was two lanes with a posted 55 mph speed limit and the DOT truck parked in the road at the top of a hill. Mr. Thompson was driving a pick-up truck, on his way to visit his son, John. The evidence showed, through a witness that was travelling behind him, that he hit his brakes and swerved, but he struck the tailgate of the DOT truck. The tailgate of the truck was down and extended, despite the truck being empty, and the tailgate came through Mr. Thompson’s windshield and struck him in the head and killed him.

Plaintiffs alleged that the DOT employee, Hazel Stevens, was improperly and illegally parked in the middle of the westbound lane of Highway 903 and that DOT, and its operator, did not use a rotating or flashing light, cones, signs triangles or flags, or any other signal to warn other motorists that it was stopped in the middle of the sole westbound lane of travel of the highway.

Plaintiffs also alleged there was no obstruction making it necessary for the DOT’s truck to stop in the sole westbound lane of the highway and the truck’s driver did not pull over to the shoulder of the road or otherwise leave room in the lane of traffic for vehicles to safely drive around it. Next to the accident scene was a drive way and across the street from the scene was a large church with a large parking lot. Also, next to the dead deer was the shoulder of the road that would fit three automobiles side by side.

The investigating state trooper in the case, Sergeant Harrison, testified that the DOT truck was parked in the middle of the lane and there was nothing that prevented the DOT truck from parking in the parking lot, wide shoulder or drive way. Sgt. Harrison testified there was no evidence that Mr. Thompson was distracted and the only evidence that he received indicated Mr. Thompson was following all state laws at the time of the crash and that Mr. Thompson attempted to swerve and brake but was unable to avoid the DOT truck. He also told the jury this DOT truck had no warnings of any kind either on the truck, in the road, or even available to them because they were not on the truck. He also testified there were shadows cast across the truck and road at the time of the collision and that the truck was filthy.

Plaintiffs also called the Driver of the DOT truck in their case. Hazel Stevens testified that he had no warning devices on the truck, knew he need to but didn’t use them, and did not park the truck in all these other places because he just didn’t think about it. He testified that although though he knew he was supposed to use warning devices when he parked in the road, he did not use them that day.

Mike Morris, the Lancaster county coroner, testified as to cause of death and that he has strobe lights in his car to warn others when he is working in the roadway.

Paul McGriff, the passenger in the SC DOT truck, testified the deer was off the road in the shoulder, that the tailgate was down and when down, you could not see the tail lights or hazard lights. He also testified that the hazard and tail lights were so dirty Mr. Thompson couldn’t see them, and that he never saw any cars behind the DOT truck until impact and that the sun was in his eyes as they were driving and you couldn’t look straight ahead.

The sons testified that they lost their best friend, fishing and hunting buddy, and Ms. Thompson testified that after being married 40 years, there is an emptiness that cannot be replaced. Her husband was her confidant and her friend and he could never be replaced.

SC DOT called one witness who was traveling right behind Mr. Thompson. She admitted to observing Mr. Thompson hit his brakes and swerving prior to the collision. She testified that Mr. Thompson did the best he could with what he was faced with.

The jury deliberated for close to two hours before handing down their verdict.

Contact info:

Robert G. Rikard
Post Office Box 5640
Columbia, South Carolina 29250
Telephone: 803.978.6111
Facsimile: 803.978.6112

Mortgage Foreclosure Fraud Cases

April 19th, 2011 • By: RPLLC Uncategorized

VIA comes this article.

It references some of the mortgage foreclosure fraud cases that Robert Rikard is pursing. This article and the cases that we are pursuing paint a very disturbing picture regarding how banks and other lends failed to follow the rules in the mortgage industry. Now the explosion of mortgage foreclosures around the country is shining a spotlight on the fraudulent practices of some of the nations largest banks.

If you have a case involving mortgage foreclosure fraud or violation of REMIC trust rules, please contact us.

What is legal malpractice?

March 10th, 2011 • By: RPLLC Legal Malpractice

Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney causes harm to his or her client through the attorney’s negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, or breach of contract during the course of representation. In order to prevail in a cause of action for legal malpractice in South Carolina, the plaintiff must prove: (1) the existence of an attorney-client relationship; (2) a breach of duty by the attorney; (3) damage to the client; and (4) proximate cause of the client’s damages by the breach. Rydde v. Morris, 381 S.C. 643, 646, 675 S.E.2d 431, 433 (2009). “In South Carolina, attorneys are required to render services with the degree of skill, care, knowledge, and judgment usually possessed and exercised by members of the profession,” Holy Loch Distribs., Inc. v. Hitchcock, 340 S.C. 20, 26, 531 S.E.2d 282, 285 (2000), and “[t]he standard to be applied in determining legal malpractice issues is statewide,” Smith v. Haynsworth, Marion, McKay & Geurard, 322 S.C. 433, 437-38, 472 S.E.2d 612, 614 (1996).

Further,  a plaintiff in a legal malpractice action in South Carolina must establish this standard of care by expert testimony.

If you believe that you have been injured or suffered damages as a result of legal malpractice, feel free to contact Robert G. Rikard or Peter Protopapas