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Duke Lacrosse

Settlement amount: 
Confidential

Jim Roberts Was Retained to Defend the DNA Lab Director.

While Jim Roberts mostly represent plaintiffs in civil litigation, their litigation experience in handling large, complex and difficult cases has caused them to be retained to defend some civil cases. The infamous Duke Lacrosse case is one such example.

As most people know, three Duke Lacrosse players were wrongfully accused of rape at a late night party in Durham, North Carolina. The players' innocence was proven by DNA evidence. As the criminal case progressed, it became apparent that the charges were not founded in fact. The North Carolina Attorney General eventually declared the three accused players as being innocent of all charges. During the botched and mislead criminal investigation, a private DNA laboratory was hired by the Durham County District Attorney's office to conduct an analysis of DNA samples taken in the case. Although the independent lab director determined that exculpatory information existed - thereby questioning the validity of the criminal charges - that information was omitted from his written report. The omission was a violation of the laboratory's report protocols. The exculpatory information did not surface until the lab director testified months later at a pretrial hearing.

Once the players innocence was determined and the baseless nature of the investigation became evident, the accused players filed a civil lawsuit against the District Attorney, investigating officers, City of Durham and the independent DNA laboratory and it's director. Jim Roberts was retained by the insurance company for the DNA lab director to defend him from the civil claims brought by the players. The case was litigated in Federal District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. After years of discovery and numerous decisions from the Court of Appeals, a confidential settlement was reached on behalf of the DNA lab director that protected him from personal liability and was within the limits of available insurance coverage. The case is a testament to the breadth of experience the trial attorneys at Lewis & Roberts possess, such that we were retained to defend a critical figure in a high profile case with potential high verdict consequences.

Jim Roberts was lead counsel for the defendant.

Contact Us if you have a high risk and complicated civil litigation matter.