Stephanie provides thoughtful and tailored advice to clients in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries and serves as the chair for the firm’s Retail, Restaurant & Hospitality Practice Group.  Her practice focuses on serving retailers, business owners and operators, franchises, manufacturers, and distributors in premises liability matters, product liability actions, and business disputes.  Stephanie’s experience includes handling slip or trip and fall accidents, falling merchandise cases, negligent security claims, breach of contract and warranty actions, food liability cases, and commercial disputes, to name a few.

Stephanie also serves on the firm’s COVID-19 Response Team and serves as vice chair for the firm’s Premises Liability Practice Group.  Her experience with premises liability cases includes not only representing her retail and hospitality clients, but representing housing authorities across the state and defending them against negligent security claims. In addition to her premises liability work, Stephanie also has experience defending against claims of alleged clergy misconduct.

Whether resolving a case amicably through pre-suit mediation, vigorously defending a case through trial, or providing effective counsel on ways to limit and manage risks, Stephanie protects her clients’ interests and collaborates with them to understand and help achieve their goals.

Representative Matters

Cases or matters referenced do not represent the lawyer’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results.

  • As co-counsel, successfully defended a housing authority in a case involving the death of a resident of a high rise facility for the elderly, which was alleged to have resulted from a criminal assault and inadequate security.
  • Obtained partial summary judgment for a retailer and owner of the retail company in a products liability case where Plaintiff fell from his wheelchair and made claims for negligence and breach of warranty against the manufacturer, retailer, and owner of the retail company.
  • In a commercial litigation case, obtained transfer of venue from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, pursuant to a forum selection clause between the parties.
  • At trial, obtained a “no negligence” verdict from the jury in a motor vehicle negligence case in Wake County.
  • Obtained summary judgment for the owner of a hotel in a premises liability case where Plaintiff alleged that she slipped on an area of wet carpet in her hotel room.
  • Obtained summary judgment in a defamation and misrepresentation case filed by a radiologist against an orthopedic surgeon, where Plaintiff radiologist contended that statements allegedly made by the Defendant orthopedic surgeon resulted in a lawsuit being filed against him for medical malpractice and fraud.
  • Obtained partial summary judgment for a housing authority in a wrongful death case where Plaintiff was seeking punitive damages and the housing authority was entitled to immunity.
  • As co-counsel, successfully defended a housing authority in a wrongful death case where an elderly resident of one of the housing authority properties was strangled to death in her apartment by a fellow resident.  Issues in the case included allegations of improper screening, admission, and retention of residents by the housing authority.  After a two week jury trial, the Plaintiff asked the jury to award over $10 million in compensatory damages.  The jury returned with a verdict of $132,000.

Articles, Presentations, and Publications

  • “COVID-19 Recovery Act and Limited Immunity for Essential Business,” NC Restaurant and Lodging Association, May 2020
  • “Menu Labeling Update,” DRI Products Liability Seminar, February 2018
  • “Peeling Back the Label: Current Trends in False Labeling Claims,” In-House Defense Quarterly, Spring 2018
  • “Current Trends in Handling False Labeling Claims,” DRI Retail and Hospitality Litigation Seminar, May 2017 (panel moderator)
  • “Affordable Care Act:  Implications and Opportunities,” Harmonie Next Generation Cutting Edge Litigation Topics Seminar, November 2015, August 2016
  • “Legal Implications of Effective & Proper Use of Premises Camera Surveillance,” The Harmonie Group, Spring Conference (2016)
  • Women Rainmakers – Roadmap to Success, Contributing Author, DRI (2014)
  • Food Liability Claims & Litigation, The Harmonie Group, Fall Conference (2013) – manuscript
  • Franchisor Liability Issues, The Harmonie Group (authored section on NC franchisor liability, 2013)
  • “Hot Topics and Trends in the Retail Industry:  Seven Minute Drill” – DRI Retail & Hospitality Litigation and Claims Management Seminar 2012


Most Recent Posts


Stephanie Gaston Poley Article Featured by NCRLA


An article by Stephanie Gaston Poley was featured in a recent email from the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association. “COVID-19 Recovery Act and Limited Immunity for Essential Business” discusses how North Carolina’s COVID-19 Recovery Act may impact certain businesses.… Read More


Todd King and Stephanie Gaston Poley Present at Harmonie Seminar

Todd King and Stephanie Gaston Poley recently presented at the Harmonie Group’s Construction, Next-Gen & Transportation Seminar. The seminar provided updates on legal issues surrounding the construction and transportation industries, as well as presentations on trending litigation topics.… Read More


Cranfill Sumner Women’s Initiative Names New Leaders


Cranfill Sumner LLP (Cranfill Sumner) has named Melody Jolly, Stephanie Gaston Poley and Virginia Wooten as the new leaders of its Women’s Initiative. The Women’s Initiative empowers our women attorneys to discuss and act on issues that are important to them. The group holds an annual retreat and events throughout the year.… Read More


Cranfill Sumner Attorneys Assist in Bar Exam Interview Sessions

Several Cranfill Sumner LLP (Cranfill Sumner) attorneys assisted with interviews for the February 2019 bar exam session for the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners. Cranfill Sumner is committed to giving back to the legal community and is proud to support the NC State Bar admissions process.… Read More


Cranfill Sumner Offices Host Dress for Success Clothing Drives

Throughout the month of April, the offices of Cranfill Sumner LLP are hosting clothing and accessories drives to benefit Dress for Success. Dress for Success provides a network of support, professional attire and developmental tools to help women become financially independent and succeed in work and life.… Read More