Biography

Mel is a partner in Hedrick Gardner’s Charlotte office and served as the firm’s Managing Partner from 1993 through 2015.  Since beginning practice in 1978, he has tried in excess of one hundred jury trials to verdict in both state and federal court, and has also handled over forty appeals before the North Carolina Supreme Court, The North Carolina Court of Appeals and the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Through his years of practice, Mel has handled a wide variety of complex civil litigation, including large, multi-party product liability actions, commercial and business disputes, intellectual property litigation, premises liability and security litigation, liquor liability litigation as well as wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury litigation.

He has been an active member of the North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, an organization of approximately 1,000 attorneys who primarily represent business and industry throughout North Carolina.  He has held several executive positions within the organization and served as its president in 2005-2006.  He served as Chair of the North Carolina Defense Fund from 2007-2009.  He also served on the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission in 2006-2007.

Mel was elected to membership in the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel in 2012 and was recognized by Best Lawyers©, 2010-2016, for Personal Injury and Products Liability Litigation.  In 2012, Mel was selected for the Best Lawyers Personal Injury – Defendants “Lawyer of the Year” in Charlotte and a North Carolina Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law.  Most recently he was named the Best Lawyers 2016 Product Liability Litigation – Defendants “Lawyer of the Year” in Charlotte.  Mel has been selected to the North Carolina Super Lawyers® List for Civil Litigation from 2006-2017, and was included in the Charlotte Top 25 List in 2015 and the North Carolina Top 100 List for 2015 and 2016.

Mel was also recognized by Business North Carolina magazine as a North Carolina Legal Elite in 2011, 2013, and 2014.  He maintains an AV rating with Martindale-Hubbell, the most prestigious peer review rating that recognizes attorneys who have reached the highest levels of skill and integrity and he received DRI’s Exceptional Performance Citation in 2006.

Experience and Involvement

PROFESSIONAL AND CIVIC INVOLVEMENT:

  • North Carolina State Bar
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys
    • Immediate Past President (2006-2007)
    • President (2005-2006)
    • President-Elect (2004-2005)
    • Executive Vice President (2003-2004)
    • Secretary (2001-2002)
    • Member, Board of Directors (1998-2001)
  • North Carolina Defense Fund
    • Chair (2007-2009)
  • Mecklenburg County Bar Association
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel
  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)

 

Representative Matters

Cases or matters referenced are for illustrative purposes only, and do not represent the lawyer’s or law firm’s entire record.  Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits.  The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicted based upon a lawyer’s or law firm’s past results. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

  • Successfully defended a private North Carolina University and it’s Director of Security in a wrongful death case involving alleged hazing and obtained a dismissal with prejudice pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) on behalf of both clients.  The dismissal was affirmed by the NC Court of Appeals and Discretionary Review was denied by the NC Supreme Court.
  • Successfully defended a manufacturer of a pulse oximeter against allegations of product defect in a wrongful death case resulting in a favorable settlement for the client.
  • Successfully defended a retail department store in a case involving an alleged brain injury in a child who was alleged to have been struck in the head by a piece of shelving.  The case settled prior to jury selection for less than 6% of the original demand to settle the case.
  • Successfully defended a large motion control and automation manufacturer in two of the largest civil law suits ever filed in North Carolina, involving catastrophic explosions at the West Pharmaceutical and ConAgra manufacturing plants.  Both cases involved multiple wrongful death and catastrophic injury claims.   In each case was able to establish that there was no viable theory of liability against the client, resulting in very nominal settlements in both cases.

 

Honors

HONORS:

  • Elected in the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel in 2012
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers© from 2010-2016 for Personal Injury and Products Liability Litigation
  • Selected for the Best Lawyers© Personal Injury – Defendants “Lawyer of the Year” in Charlotte in 2012
  • Selected as a North Carolina Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law in 2012
  • Named the Best Lawyers© 2016 Product Liability Litigation – Defendants “Lawyer of the Year” in Charlotte
  • Selected to the North Carolina Super Lawyers® list for Civil Litigation from 2006-2017
  • Included in the Charlotte Top 25 List in 2015
  • Included in the North Carolina Top 100 List for 2015 and 2016
  • Recognized by Business North Carolina magazine as a North Carolina Legal Elite in 2011, 2013, and 2014
  • Maintains an AV rating with Martindale-Hubbell
  • Received DRI’s Exceptional Performance Citation in 2006