Law office of Craig Wilkerson - January/February 2020

ROCK HILL 1050 College Avenue Extension Rock Hill, SC 29732 Phone: 803-324-7200 FORT MILL 852 Gold Hill Rd. Suite 102 Fort Mill, SC 29708 Phone: 803-396-5200

LANCASTER 103B South Catawba St. P.O. Box 477 Lancaster, SC 29721 Phone: 803-289-7202 UNION 209-B N. Duncan By-Pass Union, SC 29379 Phone: 864-466-5170

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The Carolina Advocate

January/February 2020

Ready to Jump Into the Ring The Shortcomings of Mandatory Mediation

A few years ago, South Carolina made alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mandatory in all 46 counties. ADR methods like mediation can resolve cases outside of the courtroom often in less time and at less cost to everyone involved. In mediation, a mediator (often an attorney or someone else with extensive experience in the type of law being discussed) facilitates communication between both parties. Unlike in litigation, a mediator doesn’t make any decisions but assists both parties in coming to an agreement. If both parties cannot agree, the case will move forward to litigation. To be honest, when South Carolina made ADR mandatory, I had my doubts. I didn’t think mandatory mediation would work. Mediation is a great method for resolving a case when both parties go into it willingly, but it only works if both parties are on board. Well, I saw pretty quickly that my skepticism was misplaced. Mandatory mediation has been a huge success for South Carolina. It’s reduced caseloads by 90% and resulted in most cases being resolved without the need to go to court. The change looked like it was saving everyone time and money — not to mention the emotional toll of going to court. However, over the last several months, I’ve also noticed an unintended outcome of the ADR mandate: Several insurance companies have

taken the lead in bringing more cases to court. In mediation, they’ll make an impossibly low settlement offer, knowing it will be rejected and the case will go to trial. Imagine I hit your brand-new F-150, causing severe damage. I offer you $500 to settle things. We both know that’s not even close to covering the damage. Do you take my offer, or do you take me to court? Nobody wants to go to court — not the clients, not the lawyers, and not even the insurance companies. What it seems like these insurance companies are banking on, though, is that the shift to mandatorymediation has a lot of lawyers out of practice in going to trial. Since cases are getting resolved in mediation, attorneys don’t have to go to court as often. It’s a benefit in most cases, but it’s also a drawback if you are a client who needs someone to fight for you when you’re being offered nowhere near what you deserve. It’s the client who suffers. While the courtroom isn’t anyone’s first choice, sometimes it’s necessary to show a company you won’t back down. When that multimillion- dollar company shows up to mediation and offers you no money, they need to be called out. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a lowball offer from an insurance company, you want an attorney who will call their bluff. No

one wants to be in court, but you need a legal team who’s prepared to pursue the case and fight for you when you’re being offered less than you deserve. In the coming year, based on what I’ve been seeing, I’m expecting more insurance companies to make it harder to settle a case in mediation. If you’re faced with that, know that you deserve an experienced trial attorney. At our firm, we pride ourselves on our extensive trial experience. We are not afraid to take insurance companies to court when they lowball our client. We’re ready to jump into the ring to secure what you’re owed.

–Craig Wilkerson

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What’s in Store for 2020 Sports?

Revamped Stadiums, Rivalries, and Basketball Legacies

As we wind down from the excitement of Christmas and New Year’s, avoid the post-holiday slump with some of the action-packed sporting events taking place over the next couplemonths. Here in South Carolina, current and upcoming seasons offer bigger and better rivalries, a revamped sports stadium, and a promising March Madness. Here are a few events to look forward to. Old Rivalry, New Location Upon seeing the 2020 baseball schedule, we couldn’t help but feel some anticipation for a first-of-its-kind matchup. This seasonwill feature a first-ever neutral site game between Clemson’s and the University of South Carolina’s baseball teams. Taking place at Segra Park, the home of the Columbia Fireflies, this is sure to be a spirited game in early spring. Play ball! Bigger and Better It’s going to be a big year for South Carolina football for many reasons, and nothing brought that home quite like the announcement of the revitalization of the Williams-Brice Stadium. After the school’s board of trustees approved the project, crews got ready to put things into action as the 2019 season concluded, with everything projected to be finished during 2020. Once the renovations are complete, modern comforts like climate-controlled seating should make the upcoming seasons more enjoyable than ever, no matter what team you’re rooting for.

Breaking Boundaries In 2017, the University of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team claimed the NCAA championship title. They entered that season as the four-time reigning SEC regular-season champions, becoming only the second team to reach that record following Tennessee. While the Gamecocks fell to Baylor in the Sweet 16 last year, the team is looking strong going into 2020. For the Clemson Tigers who are coming off of a notable year in 2018-19, 2020 offers another chance to excel under the leadership of head coach Amanda Butler. You could say both teams have nothing to lose and everything to prove.

Ctrl, Alt, Delete Your Clutter Tips for National Clean Up Your Computer Month

Everyone relies on technology. Computers, laptops, tablets, and phones are staples of modern life. However, it’s easy for these devices to become cluttered with old photos, files, and general disorganization. Luckily, January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month and an excellent time to get your technology in order.

Organize Your Files Naming and arranging the files on your computer in such a way that they’re easy for you to find can end up saving you a lot of time. Declutter your workspace by creating one file for pictures, one for Word documents, one for spreadsheets, and one for programs to eliminate the hassle of frantically searching for the files you need. Back Up Your Computer Be sure to back up your computer before you start deleting things. This acts as a safety net in case you delete something you didn’t mean to. Additionally, consider installing a second hard drive. The extra space can help with storing important files without having to worry about how much room is left. Clean Up Space Any files you’ll never use again should be deleted. Likewise, any programs you haven’t used in a while should be uninstalled. Check your hard drive for files that might be taking up unintended space on your computer. And remember to empty the recycling bin — it’s easy to forget just how much goes in there.

Start by Dusting Over time, computer towers can become clogged with dust, which creates additional, unwanted heat within your computer. Regular cleanings will increase the lifespan of your computer and protect its essential components. Compressed air is great for removing most of the dust and other particulates. If the fans or filters are too dirty, you can remove them from the tower to clean them better. If you use water or liquid cleaning products on them, be sure they are completely dry before placing them back into your computer.

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When It’s Time to Fight Don’t Take Denial for an Answer

only been added to her policy 10 weeks prior, the insurance company explained. Of course, they were absolutely right about the date — it was on Nov. 12, 2008, the date of his birth. Sadly, Julie’s story is one of many examples of insurance companies denying claims for ridiculous reasons. These companies look for any loophole or technicality to get out of paying up, and it happens more than anyone would like to think. Insurance companies use a range of tactics to reduce how much they’ll have to pay, hoping you’ll give up when your claim is denied. But when these tactics cross the line, the insurance company risks breaking the law. Acting on Bad Faith When an insurance company denies a legitimate claim, delays payments, ignores vital medical information, or uses other tactics to avoid paying your claim, they may be guilty of acting on bad faith. Under South Carolina law, injured

consumers can file a bad faith lawsuit against the insurance company to recover damages. By filing this lawsuit, you are holding them accountable for their unfair consumer practices. If you win your case, the insurance company may have to pay damages in excess of insurance policy limits. Bad faith damages include consequential damages, attorneys fees, and punitive damages. Trustworthy Representation If you believe your insurance claim was unfairly denied by your insurance company or if you’re simply getting the runaround, it is important to speak to one of our experienced South Carolina bad faith insurance attorneys today. Your insurance company may be in breach of contract, acting in bad faith. At the Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson, we believe in holdingunethical insurance companies accountable for unfairly denying accident claims. Call us today for a free case evaluation.

When coverage for her 10-week-old son’s open- heart surgery was denied, Julie Kehm was told it was because he had a preexisting condition. He’d

Simple Pancakes From Scratch

Inspired by The New York Times


● 2 cups all-purpose flour

2 eggs

● 2 tsp baking powder

1 3/4 cups milk

● 1/4 tsp salt

Unsalted butter or canola oil, to grease skillet

● 1 tbsp sugar, optional



Heat a griddle or skillet to medium-low.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (including sugar if you like a sweeter pancake). In a separate bowl, beat eggs into milk. Gently stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ones. Mix only until flour is moistened. Clumps are fine. 3. Add some butter or oil to the skillet. If the butter foams or oil shimmers, the temperature is correct. Pour in a pancake of any size, cooking until bubbles form, about 2–4 minutes.

Puzzle Time

4. Flip and cook other side for 2–4 minutes. Serve warm.

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1050 College Ave. Ext. Rock Hill, SC 29732


(803) 324-7200



A Deeper Look Into Mandatory Mediation


South Carolina Sports in 2020 Enter 2020 With an Organized Computer

What’s Next When Your Claim Is Denied? Simple Pancakes From Scratch



The Sweetest Crime in History

History’s Sweetest Theft The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist

Between 2011 and 2012, a group of thieves decided to liberate the syrup from an FPAQ facility in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec. Stealing syrup from Canada doesn’t sound as glamorous as stealing cash from a Vegas casino, but their plan could rival the plot of “Ocean’s Eleven.” At the FPAQ facility, syrup was stored in unmarked metal barrels and only inspected once a year. The heist, led by a man named Richard Vallières, involved transporting the barrels to a remote sugar shack in the Canadian wilderness, where they siphoned off the maple syrup, refilled the barrels with water, and returned the barrels to the facility. The stolen syrup was then trucked east to New Brunswick and south across the border into Vermont. Wisely, the thieves sold their ill-gotten goods in small batches, avoiding suspicion from legitimate syrup distributors.

In what is now known as the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist, thieves made offwith 10,000 barrels of maple syrup valued at $18.7 million. This remains one of the most costly heists in Canadian history. Vallières himself became a millionaire and took his family on three tropical vacations in one year. Unfortunately, the thieves got sloppy and stopped refilling the barrels with water. When an FPAQ inspector visited the targeted facility in the fall of 2012, he accidentally knocked over one of the empty barrels. The inspector alerted the police, who would go on to arrest 17 men in connection to the theft, including Vallières himself. Police were then able to recover hundreds of barrels of the stolen syrup, but most of it was never recovered — likely lost to pancake breakfasts far away.

Maple syrup holds a proud place in the history and culture of Quebec, Canada. It’s also a big part of Quebec’s economy, with 72% of the world’s maple syrup produced in Quebec alone. Due to tactics employed by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ), the NPR-backed podcast “The Indicator” estimates that maple syrup is valued at approximately $1,300 per barrel — over 20 times more than crude oil. The FPAQ controls the available syrup supply, never releasing enough maple syrup to meet demand, which increases the price. As a result, most of the world’s maple syrup is stored in various reserves.

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