Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP, one of the largest civil defense firms in North Carolina, announced today that four attorneys were recognized by Business North Carolina magazine as part of its Legal Elite program, which recognizes the state’s top lawyers in business-related categories. Patrick H. Flanagan of the Charlotte office was recognized as one of the “Legal Elite” in Employment Law, and Ashley Kamphaus Brathwaite and Stephanie A. Gaston of the Raleigh office along with Jason E. Toups of the Wilmington office were named to the Legal Elite “Young Guns” list.

“We are extremely proud of the recognition Pat, Ashley, Stephanie, and Jason have received,” said Dan Hartzog, managing partner of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP.  “To be listed among the best and brightest in their profession by Business North Carolina is quite a distinction, and it is one we believe they truly deserve.”

Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite program honors the top lawyers from all over the state, and the winners are chosen by their peers. Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite has become the model for other awards and lists, but it remains unique as the only award that gives every active lawyer in the state the opportunity to participate.

Pat Flanagan has been practicing defense litigation throughout North Carolina since 1994, and has previous experience with criminal and civil matters with the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) and as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.  He currently concentrates his practice in the areas of employment and municipal law before Federal and State courts and agencies, as well as handling a variety of premises liability issues, including safety and security related issues, for public entities, non-profits, and private companies.

Since joining Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog, Ashley Brathwaite has focused her practice on the defense of health care providers in medical malpractice matters and various general liability claims, such as premises liability and personal injury defense. Some of Ashley’s representative clients include hospitals and healthcare providers, businesses, insurance carriers and individuals.

Stephanie Gaston has been practicing defense litigation for Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog since 2003, and has represented individuals and companies in a wide variety of general liability matters including motor vehicle negligence, products liability, premises liability, and business disputes. She has been successful in litigation before the District and Superior state courts obtaining favorable settlements for clients in many of her cases. She also was named partner at Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog recently.

Jason Toups has handled Workers’ Compensation matters in the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog, and has obtained favorable results for carriers and employers of all kinds at various stages of workers’ compensation litigation and mediations. He also is a repeat winner of the Legal Elite Young Gun designation.

Voting for the 2011 Business North Carolina Legal Elite was conducted online from June 21 to July 26, 2010, and notices were mailed to all members of the N.C. State Bar living in North Carolina. The complete list of 2011 winners appears in the January 2011 issue of Business North Carolina.

* For more information about Business NC Legal Elite honors and methodology, please visit