Wilmington, NC Business Litigation

Serving Businesses Across the State of North Carolina in Litigation Matters

When it comes to business litigation in North Carolina, Kerner Law Firm, PLLC consists of experienced advocates with an excellent track record of successful outcomes on behalf of its clients. Our business litigation attorneys strive for a quick and beneficial resolution to each lawsuit, working tirelessly with you throughout the entire legal process.

Representative Clients:

This is a short list of just some of the clients we regularly represent, to provide an idea of the types of clients and industries we serve:

  • Alliance Construction Corp of NC
  • SVR Construction
  • Equalizer, Inc.
  • Cape Fear Solar Systems
  • TrustAtlantic Bank
  • Shaw Motorsports, Inc.
  • Tony's Foreign Auto
  • J. Thomas Builders, LLC
  • Maultsby Construction
  • New Directions Group Care Management, LLC
  • Scott Motorcars

Litigation Representation

Kerner Law Firm, PLLC can represent your business in the following kinds of cases:

The firm can practice in any court in any county in the State. In addition, we can represent you in Federal Court. In some cases, you may have the option to file either in State or Federal Courts. When those situations arise, we advise our clients not just on the law, but on practical questions such as which court will be more advantageous for the client. Sometimes these strategic decisions are the most important moments in your case. Accordingly, we take great care in selecting the most advantageous forum for hearing your case.

It is not uncommon for business litigation matters to be appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, particularly cases that begin in the Superior Court system. This is because very often, business law cases typically involve numerous complex legal issues, in cases where the financial stakes are high.

North Carolina has a specialized court called the North Carolina Business Court. The key feature of the Business Court is that the judges there are specialists in the complex area of business law. Specifically, the Business Court hears cases involving shareholder suits, business dissolutions, internet law, securities cases, and others.

A division of the District Court where cases involving no more than $5,000.00 can be heard. At first you might be tempted to think Small Claims Court might not be important, but it is: a judgment in Small Claims Court counts against your credit just as a judgment in any other court. And unlike District or Superior Court, there are very few procedural elements to a Small Claims case -- often you get served with a summons and have to show up for court in 10 or 12 days -- sometimes even less! Even worse, you only have 10 days from after the dateof a judgment against you to appeal it. And for most people, $5,000.00 is a lot of money to lose (or win). Understanding the unique procedures and unusual rules and appeal scenarios in Small Claims Court is extremely important, particularly for small businesses who cannot afford to simply "write off" a $3,000.00 debt, or ignore a summons when they're being sued for $1,800.00.

At Kerner Law Firm, PLLC, we understand what you're about. Big Picture. Bottom Line. (sm). We will handle your business' litigation needs. Call us at 910-509-7241 or email us.

Representative Cases

The following are examples of the types of business litigation matters we handle and have handled in the past.

PPD, Inc. v. Laughlin, 08 CVS 2531 (New Hanover County) (represented former financial officer of publicly traded corporation in case involving allegations regarding breach of stock option agreement based on alleged solicitation of employees and non-compete violations).

David Long & Assocs v. Kwiatek, et al, 10 CVS 4623 (New Hanover County) defeated employer's motion for preliminary injunction in case alleging violation of the North Carolina Trade Secrets Act, Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices, Conversion, and Tortious Interference with Contract.)

Day-Lewis v. Lumber Liquidators, Inc., et al., 08 CVS 2850 (New Hanover County) (represented national wood flooring inspection company against claims alleging Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices, Breach of Contract, Breach of Warranty and other claims. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed without settlement shortly before our motions for Summary Judgment and Rule 11 sanctions were to be heard)

Bank of America, N.A. v. HP, Inc., et al. 09 CVS 755 (New Hanover County Superior Court) (represented multiple corporate Defendants and guarantors in 8-figure breach of contract case also alleging fraudulent transfer claims under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, among other claims).

State ex rel. Cooper v. Heil, et al (08 CVS 09961 Wake County) (represented Defendant in Attorney General action for Deceptive Trade Practices alleging actions in multiple counties and seeking in excess of $1.4 million in damages; settled for $50,400.00

Marosi v. M.F. Harris Research, Inc. (NC Business Court, 08-CVS-4546 New Hanover Co.) (Represented corporation in case alleging violation of shareholder subscription agreement.)

DHHS v. Columbus Group Homes, Inc. 10 DHR 7220 (defending group care home in case involving $10,000.00 administrative penalty by State DHHS; following discovery, State dismissed case and client paid no fine)

NCDOL v. Alliance Construction Corp. of NC, OSHANC 2011-5139, (defending builder in case involving administrative penalties for alleged OSHA violations)

Erichsen v. RBC Capital Markets, LLC, 7:11-cv-190 (E.D.N.C.) (representing high-volume stock trader in Federal case against broker alleging Fraud, Deceptive Trade Practices, and other allegations)

Oxford Street Properties, LLC v. Urban Smart Growth-Belville, LLC, et al (10 CVS 45) New Hanover County) (represented a California developer in a politically sensitive high-profile claim alleging violation of Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act as part of multi state effort to collect on a $29 million arbitration award; case was settled confidentially)

Lee v. Equalizer, Inc., et al., 10 CVS 4700 (New Hanover County) (represented Wilmington, NC corporation, its President and a shareholder, in an action by another shareholder seeking dissolution, and alleging Deceptive Trade Practices, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, and seeking injunctive relief and the appointment of a receiver; after our Motion to Stay Pending Corporate Investigation, pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stats. § 55-7-43, Plaintiff failed to comply with various court orders and was held in civil contempt; Complaint was later involuntarily dismissed with prejudice as a contempt sanction against the Plaintiff in September 2011.)

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Not all business litigation matters need go to court. Some can be successfully settled out of court through arbitration or mediation (which are collectively referred to as “alternative dispute resolution”). The attorneys at Kerner Law Firm, PLLC are experienced and skilled in each of these types of alternative dispute resolutions.


Through arbitration and mediation, our Wilmington NC business lawyers mediation of your business dispute. The benefits of mediation are:

Tom Kerner has represented numerous parties during mediations. Nearly all of these mediations have resulted in solutions his clients were extremely happy with. He is also a Certified Superior Court mediator himself, having completed a 40 hour course at Mediation Inc. in Raleigh.


In addition to all of the above, Mr. Kerner is a Certified Superior Court arbitrator for the Fifth Judicial District of North Carolina. He is appointed by the court to hear cases arising out of the District Court systems of both New Hanover and Pender Counties, to help alleviate the burden on judges. Serving as an arbitrator provides a "from the bench" perspective on litigation that is impossible to get any other way. Listening to the parties' arguments, evaluating their presentations, and understanding that both sides expect a quick, fair and accurate ruling, provides a healthy understanding for what judges go through on the bench, and what they expect from attorneys appearing in their courts.

Mr. Kerner applies that experience when presenting his clients' cases in a courtroom, or in front of another arbitrator.

How an Arbitration Works

In an arbitration, the parties generally agree to or set the rules for how the case will be decided. An arbitrator is selected -- either by agreement, or by appointment by a group of other arbitrators. There are pre-hearing submissions that present each side's view of the law and the facts.

At the arbitration itself, witnesses may appear and testify, and be cross examined by the attorneys. After the evidence is presented, the case is over, and the arbitrator issues a ruling. The entire proceeding is conducted in private, rather than in the public forum of a courthouse.

An arbitration is more like a trial than a mediation. At an arbitrator a neutral third party actually hears and decides the case. In contrast, in a mediation, the third party is a mediator whose job is to simply assist the parties in finding common ground for a resolution.

While arbitrations are in theory less expensive than trials, they can be just as complex and time consuming. Their primary advantage lies in two factors: (1) the proceedings are private, and (2) the parties can select who is going to hear their case.

In business litigation matters, privacy is often critical in cases involving things like trade secrets, intellectual property, business plans, and other proprietary information. And because the matters are often complex, they are not cases that one would ordinarily want to present to a juror. Remember, the general public is very familiar with crime, accidents, and things of that nature. So trying to explain the details of a corporate merger or executive stock options to twelve people with no background in these things adds an enormous layer of difficulty to the case. Whereas having an arbitrator with solid knowledge of these areas of law enables the parties to focus on the issues themselves, rather than having to teach an entire course in business law or corporate finance before moving on with their actual case.


  • Cases.
  • Appeals.
  • Business Court.
  • Small Claims Court

    Nothing that takes place during a mediation can be disclosed in a related litigation proceeding. This is true during court-ordered mediations, which occur within the courts of most civil suits in North Carolina. That is, after a suit is filed, at some stage in the case a judge will order the parties to mediate their case. Parties can also agree, privately, to conduct mediation before a lawsuit is ever filed. In those situations, you must be sure to know the applicable mediation rules, as confidentiality in privately-agreed-to mediations is not necessarily assured in the same way that it would be during a court-ordered mediation.

    Meditations in business litigation cases generally last around one business day day, sometimes only half a day. Compare this with the amount of time and expense involved in a trial. Trials are by far the parties' largest expense in a civil case. Even a simple civil trial takes more than a week of full time preparation to put on. The trial itself usually spans a minimum of two full working days, as a jury must be selected, various motions are heard, and a number of items must be completed and given to the judge several days before the trial is set to start. Add to that the fact that attorneys must be ready before the trial even starts with exhaustive lists of questions to ask each of the parties, and each of their witnesses, plus researching and writing legal opinions on all the law and evidence that applies, and you see that trials are massively time-consuming for attorneys, and therefore quite expensive for clients. In contrast in a mediation, the approach is much different, and far less time-consuming. At a mediation, you go in with the goal of tailoring a settlement agreement that all parties can accept. Instead of thinking about how to emphasize or downplay various bits of testimony or evidence, everyone is instead thinking about how to resolve the case. This usually comes down to dollars -- how many of them are to be paid to whom, and over how long a time period. Getting creative with problem solving frees everyone to quickly reach a resolution, by keeping the focus on solving the problem in the case, rather than amplifying it. As a result, a mediation will often resolve a case in a tiny fraction of the cost of a trial.

    For many of the same reasons related to mediation being less expensive than trials, so to are mediations less time-consuming. Most cases do settle within one mediation session, which in 80% or so of business litigation cases will last somewhere between to 10 hours. Compare that with the hundreds of hours that go into (a) trial preparation and then (b) trial itself, and you can quickly see that mediation resolves cases in -- truly-- a tiny fraction of the time it takes to litigate them.

    This aspect of mediation appeals to business owners in particular. You are by nature a "wheeler and dealer." You like to "horse trade" and can size up a good deal quickly when you see one. You know when to cut your losses and move on. At mediation you can put all of those business skills to use in ending your litigation matter, on terms you set and you agree with. The certainty of the agreements reached at mediation is nearly always preferable to waiting and wondering what a judge or jury is going to decide.

    • Confidential Process.
    • Less Expensive.
    • Less Time-Consuming.
    • You Control the Result.