Civil Litigation & Trial Attorney
Paul Dickinson is a partner with Lewis & Roberts and the founder of the firm's Charlotte office. Throughout his career, Paul has dedicated himself to helping his clients resolve disputes by accepting, preparing and taking cases to trial. Paul's dedication to his clients and experience in the courtroom have earned him the respect of both his peers and his adversaries. He has been rated as "preeminent" in his field by obtaining the highest peer review rating available (AV) from Martindale Hubbell. He has also been selected as a North Carolina Super Lawyer – an honor limited to 5% of all attorneys statewide.
Paul began practicing law in 1990 in Houston, Texas defending corporations in complex personal injury and wrongful death cases. His growing family later moved to Charlotte in 1994. His career has ranged from litigating individual cases to acting as national trial counsel for an international manufacturer. Paul's practice now focuses on representing clients who have suffered catastrophic personal injury and death, medical malpractice, large financial losses and those involved in class actions. Paul has successfully tried wrongful death, personal injury, product liability, construction defect and professional malpractice cases in multiple jurisdictions and courts, including jury trials in North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana. He has obtained jury verdicts over one million dollars in both state and federal courts, including one of the largest jury verdicts for wrongful death in Johnston County, North Carolina.
Blackwater and Other Works
Blackwater's Nisur Square Shooting
In one of his most notable cases, Paul was lead counsel for six Iraqi families against Blackwater/Xe Services for the infamous September 16, 2007 shootings in a Baghdad, Iraq traffic circle known as Nisur Square (Nissor Square). The shootings left 17 dead. The incident has been described as a massacre of innocent civilians. The shootings were investigated by the US Army, the FBI and Iraq's own national police. Seven Blackwater contractors were originally charged with shooting and killing the innocent civilians. One of the shooters pled guilty to his crimes. Four Blackwater contractors were eventually convicted of manslaughter and weapons crimes. Paul represented the families of three individuals who died that day, plus three others who were shot and survived. One of Paul’s clients was the family of Ali Kinani, a nine year old boy shot in the head while sitting in the backseat of his father's SUV. Ali's story was documented in numerous international media outlets, including a 30 minute documentary entitled Blackwater's Youngest Victim by award winning journalists and Academy Award nominees Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films.
Although other victims sued Blackwater for the Nisur Square shootings in other courts, Paul was the only attorney in the United States to obtain sworn deposition testimony from any of the individual shooters. Paul also obtained the only deposition of any Blackwater official related to the Nisur Square incident. The civil case was vigorously litigated in both federal and state courts, including the federal court of appeals. The case presented many unique and complicated factual and legal issues involving state, federal and Iraqi law. For instance, most of the critical investigative and medical documents were written in Arabic and Paul's clients almost exclusively spoke Arabic. Blackwater also presented legal arguments it could not be sued in US courts for its acts in Iraq. Those arguments failed and the case proceeded toward trial. The civil case eventually resolved for our clients. Even the settlement presented unique problems, as banking transactions in Iraq differ vastly from the United States. Eventually the families were compensated for their injuries and lost family members. A press release issued by Lewis & Roberts announced the confidential settlement. During and after the case, Paul was interviewed about both the civil and criminal cases by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Democracy Now!, Inter Press Service, The Charlotte Observer, Lawyers Weekly, and French and German press, including an interview on German television.
Hospital Sanctioned for Hiding Documents
In another civil case that occurred closer to home, Paul represented the family of a 77 year old widow who was the patriarch of her family. During a routine hospital stay for a respiratory illness, she was given a sulfa drug, known as Bactrim, for a minor infection. The Bactrim was administered the day she was being discharged home. Unfortunately, Paul's client was allergic to sulfa drugs – and she had told five doctors, nurses and EMTs about her allergy. The allergy was also documented throughout her hospital chart. The doctor that ordered the drug admitted that he intentionally did not read the parts of the chart where the sulfa allergy was recorded. Paul's client suffered an allergic reaction to the Bactrim including blisters over 50% of her body. The reaction was so severe that it necessitated a helicopter transport to one of North Carolina's two burn centers. Despite efforts to save her life, Paul's client died two days after being given the Bactrim. The death certificate reported that Stevens Johnson Syndrome - a horrible and painful disease caused by allergic drug reactions - caused her death.
Despite the seemingly clear acts of negligence, the hospital refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the death - and even denied that the Bactrim caused the Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Over 40 depositions were taken in the case. During the lawsuit, the hospital refused to turn over hundreds of policies and procedures that Paul requested. Paul was forced to bring the hospital to five Court hearings over missing documents. At one hearing the Court sanctioned the hospital over $25,000 for failing to obey prior Court orders to produce the documents. Despite the sanctions levied against the hospital, it still withheld even more documents – including medical records for Paul's deceased client. Eventually, Paul determined that the hospital knowingly withheld records that showed how the hospital's admitting nurse did not properly record the sulfa allergy. The Court then ordered even more sanctions against the hospital, including payment for additional depositions to be taken. The Court finally issued an order only weeks before trial that the hospital "knowingly and intentionally withheld" documents for over 2 1/2 years. After the last Court sanctions were issued, the hospital's insurance company called to settle the case.
These two cases are only examples of the tenacity Paul brings with him to cases on behalf of his clients. Paul knows that almost every client he represents is outnumbered by the wealthy defendants that caused them harm. Paul also knows that the legal system equals those numbers when thorough and resourceful work is used to represent plaintiffs against their legal adversaries. Paul welcomes the opportunity to discuss the prospects of anyone’s potential case and the hurdles encountered in civil lawsuits.
Teaching and Other Endeavors
Paul is also a frequent speaker at continuing legal education seminars teaching other lawyers trial and litigation techniques. He has authored several papers on litigation, including a treatise chapter on trial evidence. Paul has been interviewed and quoted about his work by numerous national, international and local media outlets including: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The BBC, The Nation, The Guardian, Democracy Now, The Charlotte Observer, The Raleigh News & Observer, WSOC-TV, North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, Indy Week, Inter Press Service International, ARD TV (German Public Television), and TEC (French) Press. Paul has worked with the national advocacy team at the Charlotte School of Law and has accepted numerous pro bono cases during his career. More of Paul's current work and publications can be viewed under the Experience and Writings & Recoveries tabs above.
Paul was born in Virginia and grew up in Florida, although his family is from the coastal Carolinas. He is married to a local pediatrician with whom he has three wonderful children. Paul and his family are members of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Charlotte.