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North Carolina Torts

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North Carolina Torts


second edition

David A. Logan
Roger Williams University
Ralph R. Papitto
School of Law

Wayne A. Logan
William Mitchell
College of Law

Carolina Academic Press


Durham, North Carolina

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Copyright 2004
David A. Logan
Wayne A. Logan
All Rights Reserved

ISBN 0-89089-847-2
LCCN 2003115021

Carolina Academic Press


700 Kent Street
Durham, North Carolina 27701
Telephone (919) 489-7486
Fax (919) 493-5668
www.cap-press.com

Printed in the United States of America

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To our students, who keep us learning.

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Contents
Preface
Acknowledgments
Part I

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The Basic Negligence Cause of Action

Chapter 1 Duty
1.10 Duty
1.20 Misfeasance and Nonfeasance
[1] Special Applications of the Misfeasance Rule
[a] Negligent Entrustment of Chattel
[b] Negligent Entrustment and Alcohol
[c] Spoliation of Evidence

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8
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15
19
22

Chapter 2 Duty Despite Nonfeasance: The Special Relationship Exceptions


2.10 Duty Despite Nonfeasance
2.20 Duty Because of a Special Relationship between the Plaintiff
and the Defendant
2.30 Duty to Control Another for the Benefit of the Plaintiff

25
27
27
33

Chapter 3 No Duty Despite Misfeasance: Negligent Infliction


of Emotional Distress and Negligent Infliction
of Pure Economic Harm
3.10 No Duty Despite Misfeasance
3.20 Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
[1] The Early Cases
[2] Johnson v. Ruark Obstetrics and Its Progeny
[3] Pre-Impact Fear of Dying
[4] Fear of Contracting Medical Condition
3.30 Negligent Infliction of Pure Economic Harm

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Chapter 4 No Duty Because of the Defendants Status: Immunities


4.10 Recovery for Torts Committed by the Government
[1] The Federal Tort Claims Act:
Suing the Federal Government and Its Agents
[a] The Discretionary Function Exception
[b] Intentional Tort Exception
[c] The Feres Doctrine

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[2] 42 U.S.C. 1983: Suing State and Local Governments and


Their Agents for Civil Rights Violations
[a] The 1983 Action in General
[b] Suing Local Governments under 1983
[c] Qualified Immunity for State Actors
[d] Particular Subject Areas of 1983 Litigation
[i] Free Speech Rights
[ii] Violations by Law Enforcement
[iii] Prisoner Cases
[iv] Failure to Protect
[v] Failure to Train
[vi] Other Constitutional Tort Claims
[e] Absolute Immunity
[3] The North Carolina Tort Claims Act:
Suing the State Government and Its Agents
[a] Suits against Government Officials and Employees
[i] Officials
[ii] Employees
[b] Special Protections Afforded State Actors
[i] State Provision of Defense to Employees
[ii] State Provision of Insurance
[4] Suing City and County Governments
[a] Waiver of Immunity Because of Insurance or
Participation in a Risk Pool
[b] Punitive Damages
[5] Persons Liable on Their Bond
[6] Suing Local Boards of Education
[7] Particular Immunities in North Carolina
[a] Statutory Immunities
[b] Common Law Absolute Immunity
4.20 Family Relationships
[1] Children and Parents
[2] Spouses
4.30 Charitable Institutions

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Chapter 5 Limited Duty Because of the Defendants Status: The Liability


of Landowners and Occupiers for Injuries on the Premises
5.10 Premises Liability
5.20 Persons on Land with Permission
5.30 Trespassers

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Chapter 6 Breach of the Duty Owed


6.10 The Standard of Care
[1] Lowering the Standard of Care
[2] Raising the Standard of Care
6.20 Higher Levels of Culpability
6.30 Proof of Breach
[1] The Judge/Jury Relationship
[2] Evidence of Custom

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[3] Violations of Legislative and Executive Enactments


Negligence Per Se
[4] Circumstantial Evidence Res Ipsa Loquitur

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Chapter 7 Causation
7.10 Causation-Generally
7.20 Cause-in-Fact
[1] Unidentifiable Cause
[2] Unidentifiable Defendant
[3] Evidentiary Challenges to Exp ert Testimony on Cause-in-Fact
7.30 Legal Cause
[1] Unforeseeable Results
[2] Intervening Acts
[3] The Rescue Doctrine
[4] Act of God
[5] Subsequent Medical Malpractice
[6] Eggshell Plaintiffs
[7] Plaintiff s Unusual Reaction
[8] Statutory Violations

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Chapter 8 Damages
8.10 Introduction
8.20 Compensatory Damages
[1] General and Special Damages
[2] Pecuniary and Nonpecuniary Damages
[a] Medical Expenses
[b] Lost Wages and Loss of Capacity to Earn
[c] Harm to Property
[d] Pain and Suffering
[e] Consortium
[f] Hedonic Damages
[g] Scars and Disfigurement
[h] Permanent Injury
[2] Wrongful Death
[3] The Bases for Damage Amounts
[a] Stipulation
[b] Witnesses
[4] Special Pleading Requirements
[5] Mitigation of Damages
[6] The Collateral Source Rule
[7] Contribution and Indemnity
8.30 Nominal Damages
8.40 Punitive Damages
[1] North Carolina Law
[2] Federal Constitutional Law
[3] General Observations
8.50 Statutory Penalties
8.60 Improper Damage Awards Remittitur and Additur
8.70 Attorneys Fees

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Chapter 9 Defenses
9.10 Defenses
9.20 Contributory Negligence
[1] Last Clear Chance
[2] Imputed Contributory Negligence
9.30 Assumption of the Risk
9.40 Waiver and Release
9.50 Claim and Issue Preclusion
9.60 Time Bars: Statutes of Limitation and Repose

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Chapter 10 Special Problems Associated with Suing Multiple Defendants


10.10 Joint Liability and Concert of Action
10.20 Joint Enterprises
10.30 Vicarious Liability
[1] Respondeat Superior
[2] Independent Contractors
[3] Automobiles and Vicarious Liability
[4] Damages

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293
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Part II

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Negligence Law in Particular Contexts

Chapter 11 The Tort Liability of Professionals


11.10 Malpractice

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Chapter 12 Medical Malpractice


12.10 When a Duty Attaches
[1] Federal Legislation Imposing a Duty to Treat
[2] North Carolina Common Law
[3] Raising the Standard of Care
[a] Contractual Agreements
[b] Holding Oneself Out as a Specialist
[4] Lowering the Standard of Care
[a] Good Samaritan Statutes
[b] Contractual Agreements to Limit the Scope of Duty
[5] Specific Aspects of the Duty of Care
[a] The Duty Not To Abandon
[b] The Duty to Obtain Informed Consent
[c] Fiduciary Duties
[d] The Duty to Refrain from Sexual Misconduct
[e] Emotional Distress Claims
[i] Wrongful Pregnancy or Wrongful Conception
[ii] Wrongful Birth
[iii] Wrongful Life
[f] Economic Harm
[6] Beneficiaries of the Duty
[7] Hospital Liability
[8] Vicarious Liability
[a] Physicians Liability for the Acts of Non-Employee Agents
[b] Hospitals Liability for the Acts of Physician-Agents

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12.20 Breach of Duty


[1] The Nature of the Duty Owed
[2] Proof of Negligence Requires Expert Testimony Generally
[3] Substantive Aspects of Expert Testimony
[4] Procedural Aspects of Expert Testimony
[5] Proof of Negligence By Circumstantial Evidence:
Res Ipsa Loquitor
12.30 Cause-in-Fact
[1] Lowering the Quantum of Proof Required
[2] Focusing on the Increased Risk of Harm
[3] Loss of a Chance
12.40 Legal Cause
12.50 Damages
12.60 Defenses
[1] Contributory Negligence
[2] Time Bars
[3] Waiver

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Chapter 13 Legal Malpractice


13.10 Introduction
13.20 Duty
[1] The Standard of Care
[a] Duty Not to Abandon
[b] Duty to Refer to Specialists
[c] Duty to Conduct Adequate Research
[d] Duty to Prepare Properly for Trial
[e] Duty to Fulfill Fiduciary Obligations
[f] Duty To Refrain from Sexual Misconduct
[g] Statutory Duties
[2] Beneficiaries of the Duty
13.30 Breach of Duty
[1] Proof of Breach Requires Expert Testimony
[2] Breach of Ethics Codes or Statutes
13.40 Cause-in-Fact
13.50 Legal Cause
13.60 Damages
13.70 Vicarious Liability
13.80 Defenses
[1] Contributory Negligence
[2] Waiver
[3] Time Bars
13.90 The Special Problem of Physician Countersuits

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Chapter 14 Accountant Malpractice


14.10 Accountant Malpractice

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Chapter 15 Clergy Malpractice


15.10 Clergy Malpractice

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Chapter 16 Products Liability


16.10 Introduction
16.20 The North Carolina Products Liability Act
16.30 Substantive Theories of Liability
[1] The Uniform Commercial Code
[a] Express Warranty
[b] Implied Warranty of Merchantability
[c] Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose
[d] The Lemon Law
[2] Tort Theories
[a] Strict Liability
[b] Negligence
[c] Alternative Design
[3] The Magnuson-Moss Act
[4] Specific Duties
[a] Duty to Warn
[b] Patent/Latent Defects
[c] Crashworthiness
[d] Used Goods
16.40 Cause-in-Fact
16.50 Legal Cause
16.60 Damages
16.70 Defenses
[1] Defenses Based Upon the Plaintiff s Use of the Product
[2] Time Bars
[3] Privity Requirements
[4] Special Commercial Law Defenses
[5] Preemption
[6] Waiver

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Part III

471

Intentional Torts

Chapter 17 Intentional Torts


17.10 Introduction
17.20 Act and Intent
17.30 Extended Liability for Intentional Tortfeasors
17.40 Vicarious Liability
17.50 Consent and the Burden of Proof

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Chapter 18 Assault and Battery


18.10 Introduction
18.20 Assault
[1] Apprehension by the Victim
[2] Belief That Contact Is Imminent
18.30 Battery
[1] Harmful or Offensive Contact
[2] Contact with the Plaintiff s Person
18.40 Statute of Limitations
18.50 Assault and Battery Compared

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Chapter 19 False Imprisonment and the Wrongful Use


of Legal Proceedings
19.10 Introduction
19.20 False Imprisonment
[1] Plaintiff Detained or Restrained against Her Will
[2] Unprivileged or Unjustified Detention or Restraint
[a] Non-governmental Actors
[b] Peace Officers
[c] Other Executive Agents
[d] Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Officers
[3] Damages
[4] Statute of Limitations
19.30 Malicious Prosecution
[1] Defendant Instituted an Earlier Proceeding
[a] Criminal Proceedings
[b] Civil Proceedings
[2] The Underlying Proceeding Was Terminated
in This Plaintiff s Favor
[3] The Underlying Proceeding Was Brought
without Probable Cause
[4] Malice
[5] Damages
[6] Vicarious Liability
[7] Statute of Limitations
[8] Immunity
19.40 Abuse of Process
[1] Ulterior Purpose
[2] Process That Was Not Proper in the
Regular Prosecution of the Proceeding
[3] Extended Liability
[4] Damages
[5] Statute of Limitations
19.50 Abuse of Process, Malicious Prosecution, and False Arrest Compared
Chapter 20 Marital Torts: Criminal Conversation and
Alienation of Affections
20.10 Introduction
20.20 Criminal Conversation
[1] Summary
[2] Lawful Marriage
[3] The Defendant Had Sexual Intercourse with the Plaintiff s Spouse
[4] Proof Requirements
[5] Damages
20.30 Alienation of Affections
[1] Summary
[2] A Marriage Characterized by Love and Affection
[3] Defendant, without Privilege, Diminished or Destroyed
the Affections of the Spouse
[4] Malice

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[5] Causation
[6] Proof Requirements
[7] Damages
[8] Suits Against Family Members
[9] Defenses
20.40 The Heart Balm Torts Compared

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Chapter 21 Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress


21.10 Introduction
21.20 Elements
[1] Extreme and Outrageous Conduct
[2] Intent
[3] Severe Emotional Distress
21.30 Extended Liability
[1] Vicarious Liability
[2] Third Party Victim
21.40 Proof Requirements
21.50 Damages
21.60 Statute of Limitations

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Chapter 22 Privileges
22.10 Introduction
22.20 Consent
22.30 Self-Defense
22.40 Defense of Others
22.50 Defense of Property
22.60 Authority of Law
22.70 Necessity

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Part IV

557

Communicative Torts

Chapter 23 Defamation
23.10 Introduction
23.20 The Common Law
[1] Publication
[2] Of and Concerning the Plaintiff
[3] Defamatory Statement
[4] Libel, Slander, and Related Questions
[a] Libel Per Se
[b] Libel Per Quod
[c] Slander Per Se
[d] Slander Per Quod
[5] Damages
[a] General or Presumed Damages
[b] Special Damages
[c] Compensatory Damages
[d] Punitive Damages
[e] Statutory Pleading Requirements for
the Recovery of Certain Types of Damages

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[6] Defenses
[a] Truth
[b] Statute of Limitations
[c] Privileges
[i] Absolute Privileges
[ii] Qualified or Conditional Privileges
[iii] Special Privileges
[7] Failure to Plead with Particularity
[8] Joint Liability
23.30 The Constitutional Dimension
[1] Introduction
[2] Who Is a Public Plaintiff?
[3] What Is a Matter of Public Concern?
[4] Constitutional Fault Requirements
[5] Constitutional Procedural Protections
[6] Constitutional Damages Requirements
[7] No Special Constitutional Protections for Statements of Opinion

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Chapter 24 The Right to Privacy and Related Issues


24.10 Introduction
24.20 False Light Invasion of Privacy
24.30 Invasion of Privacy by Publicizing Embarrassing Private Facts
24.40 Invasion of Privacy by Intrusion into Seclusion
24.50 Invasion of Privacy by Appropriation of Anothers Name or Likeness
24.60 Special Note on the Infliction of Emotional Distress,
the Right of Privacy, and the First Amendment

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Part V

615

Tortious Injury to Economic Interests

Chapter 25 Common Law Business Torts


25.10 Fraud
[1] Elements
[a] A False Representation or Concealment of a Material Fact
[i] Whether a Representation Is Factual
[ii] Whether a Factual Misrepresentation Is Material
[b] Knowledge of Falsity
[c] Intent to Deceive
[d] Actual and Reasonable Reliance
[i] Actual Reliance
[ii] Reasonable Reliance
[e] Damage to the Plaintiff
[2] Liability for Nondisclosure
[3] Special Pleading Requirements
[4] Statute of Limitations
[5] Waiver
25.20 Constructive Fraud
25.30 Negligent Misrepresentation
25.40 Tortious Interference with Anothers Contract
[1] Valid Contract

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[2] Knowledge
[3] Intentional Inducement
[4] Without Justification
[5] Actual Pecuniary Harm
[6] Statute of Limitations
25.50 Tortious Interference with Prospective Advantage
25.60 Negligent Interference with Prospective Advantage
25.70 Tortious Breach of Contract

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651

Chapter 26 State Statutory Remedies


26.10 The North Carolina Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practices Act
[1] Elements
[a] Unfair or Deceptive Acts
[b] In or Affecting Commerce
[c] Causation
[2] Role of the Jury
[3] Pleading
[4] Damages
[5] Attorneys Fees and Costs
[6] Defenses
26.20 The North Carolina RICO Statute
[1] Prohibited activities
[2] Remedies
[a] Forfeiture
[b] Treble Damages
[c] Attorneys Fees
[d] Statute of Limitations
[e] Venue
26.30 Miscellaneous North Carolina Statutory Remedies

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Chapter 27 Federal Statutory Remedies


27.10 RICO
[1] Prohibited Acts12
[a] Money Laundering
[b] Infiltration of Legitimate Businesses
[c] Involvement in Racketeering or Collection of Unlawful Debt
[d] Conspiracy
[2] Elements
[a] Enterprise
[b] Pattern
[c] Racketeering Activity
[3] Pleading Requirements
[4] Those Subject to Liability
[5] Standing
[6] Remedies
[a] Forfeiture
[b] Treble Damages
[c] Attorneys Fees
[d] Criminal Penalties
[e] Injunctions

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[7] Jurisdiction and Venue


[8] Statute of Limitations
27.20 Other Federal Statutory Remedies
Part VI

Property Torts

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Chapter 28 Strict Liability: Injuries Caused by Nuisance, Trespass,


Abnormally Dangerous Activities, and Animals
28.10 Nuisance
[1] Introduction
[2] Public vs. Private Nuisance
[3] Nuisance Per Se vs. Per Accidens
[4] Remedies
[a] Statutory Bases of Recovery
[b] Damages
[c] Injunctive Relief
[5] Defenses
[6] Nuisances Created by Government
28.20 Trespass to Land
[1] Introduction
[2] Ownership or Possession
[3] Intent
[4] Causation
[5] Remedies
[6] Defenses
[7] Statutory Bases for Trespass Actions
28.30 Trespass and Nuisance Compared
28.40 Abnormally Dangerous or Ultrahazardous Activities
28.50 Injuries Caused by Animals
[1] Liability for Trespassing Domesticated Animals
[2] Liability for Injuries Caused by Wild Animals
[3] Liability for Personal Injuries Caused by Domesticated Animals

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Chapter 29 Conversion and Trespass to Chattels


29.10 Conversion
[1] Property Covered
[2] Who Can Assert a Claim for Conversion?
[3] Types of Appropriations Actionable
[4] Persons Liable
[a] Bailees
[b] Brokers
[c] Sheriffs
[d] Bona Fide Purchasers
[e] Mortgagees
[f] Landlords
[g] Joint Tortfeasors
[h] Successive Transferees
[5] Demand for Return
[6] Damages

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[7] Defenses
[8] Statutory Changes to the Common Law
29.20 Trespass to Chattels

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Part VII Employment-Related Torts

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Chapter 30 Employment-Related Torts


30.10 Negligent Hiring, Retention, and Supervision
30.20 Wrongful Discharge
[1] Common Law Cause of Action for Wrongful Discharge
[2] Statutory Causes of Action
30.30 Woodson Claims

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About the Authors

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Table of Cases

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Index

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Preface
This, the second edition of North Carolina Torts, maintains the same functional approach adopted in the predecessor volume, with emphasis on personal injury actions as
well as those seeking recovery for damage to reputation, property, and business interests. Further, in an effort to illuminate the current contours of North Carolina law, and,
perhaps as important, indicate where it might be headed, the discussion liberally draws
upon case law from other jurisdictions and secondary sources. This in-depth coverage is
especially evident in discussions of professional malpractice, products liability, defamation, and the evolving state and national movements toward tort reform. Moreover, as
before, to better serve the needs of bench and bar we survey subjects of a statutory nature that frequently intersect with the traditional common law of torts, such as Section
1983, RICO, and Unfair Trade Practices, complex subjects that are otherwise explored
in stand-alone treatises.
This second edition also maintains the organizational approach of its predecessor.
Rather than commencing with intentional torts, the negligence cause of action serves as
the starting point. This was done was done for two reasons. First, many of the principles associated with negligence, like causation, breach of duty, damages, and respondeat
superior, are equally central to more specialized torts, like professional malpractice and
products liability. Second, negligence-based claims by far predominate in tort litigation,
are more costly to defend, and are more complex in their nature.
Since the publication of the first edition in 1996, tort law has experienced significant
change, reflecting the influence of the dynamic range of social, economic, and political
factors that have always affected torts. This new edition discusses the important judicial
and legislative developments over the past seven years, including major changes in
premises and governmental liability, as well as products liability and damages.
We are gratified over the positive reception given North Carolina Torts by the bench
and bar and hope that this new edition will continue to serve as a valuable resource.
June 2003
David A. Logan
Wayne A. Logan

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Acknowledgments
We wish to extend our thanks to a number of people who provided invaluable help
in the preparation of this second edition of North Carolina Torts. For research assistance, we thank Abby Brown, Shaka Mitchell and Alex Ryan; for clerical and editorial
expertise, Brenda Sargent and Meg Daniel; and for financial and logistic support Deans
Robert Walsh (Wake Forest) and Harry Haynsworth (William Mitchell).

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