Smith Anderson lawyers Addie Ries and Matt Rhoad, serving as pro bono counsel, helped an evicted family recover damages from a landlord who had unlawfully removed and disposed of the family's belongings. In a case of first impression, a district court in Wake County ruled that the landlord improperly deprived the family--a mother and her two young children--of the full ten-day period allowed by North Carolina law to remove their personal items following an eviction. The court also ruled that the landlord would be liable for treble damages based upon the violation of state law. After the court's ruling, and facing a trial to determine the amount of damages for this wrongful action, the landlord agreed to pay damages through a settlement. As a result of the landlord's actions, the family was forced to do without such essential items as beds and clothing for the children, and will never recover other items like the family's pictures. "It was really a sad situation," said Ms. Ries. "At the time the matter was finally resolved, the children were still sleeping on air mattresses and had few clothes. The mother was very happy to collect damages to allow the family to start over."
Smith Anderson is very proud of the work of its lawyers, like Ms. Ries and Mr. Rhoad, who devote their time to pro bono legal work to help meet the needs of individuals and families who cannot afford legal representation. Ms. Ries and Mr. Rhoad accepted this case through the Wake County Volunteer Lawyers Program, which works with Legal Aid of North Carolina to find lawyers to represent the indigent. Firm lawyers participate in many other pro bono activities, including handling appeals on behalf of the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program and providing legal services to non-profit organizations that assist those in need.