Robert is a real estate and regulatory litigator with unique experience in defense of real estate industry professionals, multi-million-dollar disputes arising out of purchase and sale transactions, regulatory rulemaking and permitting, the emerging 1,4-dioxane regulatory landscape, and navigating rights and responsibilities in property and governmental regulation. Robert also serves on the Cranfill Sumner COVID-19 Response Team, and has a special interest in analysis and action in complex matters involving novel or complicated issues.

REAL ESTATE LITIGATION AND COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS

Robert has represented commercial developers, general contractors and subcontractors, property owners’ associations, real estate professionals such as realtors, architects, and attorneys, and purchasers in commercial real estate transactions both as a litigator and as a closing attorney.  Robert’s practice as a real-estate litigator encompasses disputes throughout the life cycle of the real estate industry: he has represented clients in disputes over multi-million-dollar purchase and sale transactions; liability claims against real estate attorneys, brokers, appraisers, and inspectors; landowner and owners’-association liability; disputes over liability following land development; and in navigating issues in title and title insurance that can appear even into the late stages of ownership.  In addition to his work as a litigator, Robert also represents buyers and sellers in commercial real estate transactions, in which practice he has helped his clients purchase and sell commercial real estate in many counties across North Carolina.

REGULATORY PRACTICE

Robert has unique experience advising clients on complex environmental regulatory matters concerning novel questions under federal and state law.  This includes navigating litigation and administrative disputes over emerging contaminants and the “forever chemical” regulation (e.g., the emerging 1,4-dioxane regulatory landscape).  He advises clients on complex permitting and agency rulemaking, has made written and oral arguments before the North Carolina Rules Review Commission, and has submitted written arguments to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality concerning the Department’s permitting activity in novel regulatory spheres.  Robert has also negotiated at the agency head leadership level at the Department of Environmental Quality about clients’ regulatory and permitting disputes and has liaised with the highest levels of leadership at the North Carolina General Assembly concerning the regulation of forever chemicals.  Robert also has experience advising clients on complex CAMA permitting issues and monitors certain agency rulemaking efforts at the State and Federal levels in ongoing efforts to keep his clients abreast of regulatory changes.

CREDITORS’ RIGHTS AND BANKRUPTCY

In his creditors’ rights practice, Robert assists creditors to recover their losses from debtors and has assisted creditors through all stages of that recovery.  His work has included bringing suits against debtors, obtaining judgments, executing those judgments, assisting clients with navigating bankruptcies that their debtors may file, and advising clients on rights that may remain to them following a debtor’s bankruptcy.  Robert has special experience in advising creditors in complex bankruptcies with national and international reaches, in assisting commercial landlords to navigate the Bankruptcy Courts’ treatment of commercial leases when debtors have powerful abilities to force lease assignments, and in analyzing and arguing the intersection of state law and federal bankruptcy law when his clients’ recoveries are at risk.

CLIENT SERVICE

Robert works closely with transaction counsel, in-house counsel, and the client to provide efficient advice and counsel focused on his clients’ ultimate outcomes. He balances zealous advocacy with clear, effective presentation, and when matters turn complex Robert takes pride in close analysis of legal and factual issues. He has counseled clients and litigated cases in North Carolina’s district, superior, and appellate courts, in North Carolina’s federal district and bankruptcy courts for the Middle and Eastern districts, and in matters with State regulators and before the North Carolina Rules Review Commission. Robert maintains an AV rating with Martindale Hubbell, a prestigious peer review rating that recognizes his professional excellence for legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards.

EDUCATION AND PRIOR EXPERIENCE

Robert formerly practiced in general civil litigation and commercial real estate transactions (both for buyers and sellers) in Greensboro, North Carolina. A Raleigh native, Robert earned undergraduate degrees in philosophy and history at NC State University before earning a master’s in philosophy from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Robert studied law at the University of North Carolina, where he graduated with honors after serving on the First Amendment Law Review and the Holderness Moot Court’s international law team.

Results

  • Argued to the North Carolina Rules Review Commission in opposition to proposed 1,4-dioxane rulemaking by the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission, on grounds thereafter adopted by the North Carolina Rules Review Commission in its objection to the proposed rules.
  • Obtained voluntary dismissal from plaintiffs in underground utility case by leveraging jurisdictional, expert witness, and evidentiary issues to obtain a favorable outcome for client.
  • Earned dismissal of all claims against an HVAC manufacturer in a lawsuit based on alleged defects in HVAC units throughout a large apartment complex.
  • Earned dismissal of a winning bidder’s appeal in a foreclosure proceeding, arguing that the bidder’s rights in a foreclosure proceeding do not include the right to force the sale of the underlying property once borrower and lender reinstate the loan.
  • Earned dismissal of counterclaims and third-party complaints by a real estate seller, in a lawsuit based on the seller’s breach of a contract to convey commercial property.
  • Earned dismissal of substantial counterclaims by a commercial tenant in a lease dispute, leading to a favorable outcome at mediation.

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Cranfill Sumner Attorneys Volunteer for Legal Aid Eviction Project

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