Mar 042012

Authors: Lanier, Josh
Source: Independent Tribune (Concord, NC), 07/02/2008

Jul. 2–CONCORD — After being extradited for her alleged role in a 2007 killing, a former Concord woman will also face rape and indecent liberties charges stemming from a 2005 case.

Honey Rachel Watson, 26, of San Jose, Calif., will face charges of indecent liberties with a minor and statutory rape, jail officials stated. Watson was charged in 2005 with the offenses but didn’t appear for a court proceeding in August 2007, Cabarrus County Assistant District Attorney Ashlie Shanley said.

Watson, who at the time was known as Honey Watson Ford, was charged after being accused of having sex with a 14-year-old and taking indecent liberties with a 13-year-old, court records state.

It is unclear if Watson left for California to avoid prosecution, officials said.

Shanley said Watson’s murder trial and statutory rape trial would be held separately.

Watson is being held at the Cabarrus County Jail without bond on charges of first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, records state.

Watson is accused in the Feb. 2007 beating death of Lee Bruner. Police arrested her and Elizabeth Mullis, 31, of Concord, earlier this month and charged them in the beating death. Mullis is currently serving a five-year sentence on unrelated charges at the Southern Correctional Institute in Troy, jail records indicate.

Police are still investigating Bruner’s death, and more arrests are expected to be made in the case, said Concord Police Deputy Chief Guy Smith after the June 11 arrests.

Watson is scheduled to return to court on July 8, in the murder trial, court records indicate. No court date has been set in the rape case.

– Contact Josh Lanier: 704-789-9144

To see more of the Independent Tribune or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2008, Independent Tribune, Concord, N.C. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

Aug 142011

Structure of the Truelight Church

The Truelight Church was a loose knit congregation of 6 churches that all followed the religious doctrines laid out by Cunningham Boyle who established the separatist sect.. Each church loosely elected an Elder. Each elder from each church would meet and Elect a Head Elder to oversee the 6 churches. This process was never formalized and individual church elders were traditionally chosen by their predecessors.

This sometimes led to fighting within the membership leading to individual congregations splitting.

I will minimize this a bit by stating this is nothing new if put it in context of religion across the world in terms of religious splits over the ideologies and control.



This timeline focuses mainly on the Shiloh Truelight Church and may be updated from time to time as I continue learning more of the True Light Church and the families that were a part of it.

I welcome all comments. If there is something I need to add or correct regarding this timeline please let me know.


1831 – Cunningham Boyle is born 1831 to Ann Cunningham and Cunningham Boyle, Sr. They were large land and slave holders. His father was murdered by slaves in 1838.

1870 – Boyle claims to have a revelation from God who tells him he is the third angel in the Book of Revelations. The first angel was Martin Luther and the second Theophilus Gates, according to Boyle. Boyle set out for his quest of Truth.  7000 years marked the end of time on earth and the time of judgement. Boyle calculates the last 100 year generation was to be born in 1870 and Jesus Christ was to return in 1970 for final judgment and begin a new Millenium of Peace as dictated by The Book of Revelations.

1872 Boyle withdraws his membership from the Methodist Episcopal Church in Lynchburg, South Carolina.

1872 – Boyle establishes High Hill True Light Church, separatist religious sect, in Lee County (near Lucknow), South Carolina. The “word” spreads and more churches are established North in Union and Mecklenburg, North Carolina.

1874 – Boyle publishes “Book of Truth”. He proclaims himself the third angel in the Book of Revelations.

1884 – May – 10  – Cunningham Boyle dies.

1884 - Daniel Jenkins becomes the Elder of High Hill True Light Church after Boyle’s death.

1905 – August -  Joseph Dalton Reynolds Joins the High Hill True Light Church.

1906 – February – Joseph Dalton Reynolds becomes the Elder of the High Hill True Light Church.

1906  Shiloh Society is established and Melton Culpepper Mullis becomes the first Elder of Shiloh True Light Church.

1917 – Cul Mullis dies in 1917, but passes the position of Elder to James Alexander Griffin before his death.

1917 – James Alexander Griffin becomes Elder of Shiloh True Light Church.

1920 – Daniel Jenkins is recognized as the first Head Elder of all the True Light churches thus creating a loose knit federation of the True Light churches that operate under Boyle’s religious doctrines. Some believe he was self appointed and believe Boyle did not want this kind of church organization. Jenkins is in Florida and does not come to the 1920 conference. J D Reynolds presides over the 1920 conference instead.

1923 - Daniel Jenkins is dis-fellowed due to contradictions of Boyle’s doctrines in which he attempts to teach his congregation.

1923 – J D Reynolds is appointed Head Elder of the True Light churches.

1936 – James Alexander Griffin dies and carries on the tradition of passing the position of Elder to Edd Mullis before his death.

1936Edd Harrison Mullis is appointed Elder of Shiloh True Light Church. Edd Mullis elected by the “Conference Body” as the Head Elder (Bishop) of all the the True Light churches.

1956 – July – 3 – Shiloh True Light Church burns to the ground due to a lightning strike. All the3 other congregations pool their money and labor and rebuild the church.

1958 – Head Elder J. D. Reynolds has a stroke. Edd Harrison Mullis appointed as Head Elder by the other church elders. Mullis continues being Elder of Shiloh.

1960′s – Under the leadership of Edd Harrison Mullis, the informal and loose knit federation of the 6 True Light churches grows to roughly 2000 members.

1962 – May – 16 – Rocky River True Light Elder Henry Pusser dies. Edd Mullis appoints Luther Haigler as Elder of Rocky River. Haigler is the uncle of James Rommie Purser.

1962 – Edd Mullis closes Rocky River church for some unknown reason (rumors of adultry). Mullis reopens the church again in a few weeks and appoints Flake Braswell as Elder.

1962 – Mullis closes the church again for unknown reason.

1969 – Shiloh True Light Church in Charlotte has near 1000 members and is the largest of all the True Light sister churches.

1969 – December – 23 Edd Mullis Dies. This is the beginning of the separation of Shiloh True Light Church from the rest of the True Light churches. James Rommie Purser states before Mullis died that he was told he would be the next in line as the Elder of Shiloh True Light Church. Flake Braswell states that Mullis told  him (Braswell) in front of 4 other ministers that he would be the next Head Elder of the federation of True Light Churches. Rapheal Price, Elder of High Hill True Light Church, states that he heard Edd Mullis state he would not put Purser in the Elder position of Shiloh and that that (Mullis) stated “I Would lose my if I did such a thing”.

1969 – December – 23 – Edd Mullis Funeral – Altercation between Rommie Purser and Flake Brasswell. Braswell believing to be the next Head Elder of the True Light Churches attempts to take charge of the funeral. The Mullis family wants Purser to take charge of the funeral. Purser heads the funeral and it is reported that Brasswell gets in his car and moves it between the hearse and the funeral procession blocking the funeral and proceeds to blow his car horn in protest.

1969 – December – 26 – The Conference Body of True Lights Churches officially elects Herman Flake Braswell as the Elder of Shiloh True Light Church.

1969 – December – 28 – Flake Braswell brings a group of men to a Sunday service and goes to the pulpit and appoints Clyde Huntley as the new Elder of Shiloh True Light Church. Purser is also there attempting to act as the Elder and holds service. The two groups get into a physical altercation which leads to Braswell and his group to be forcibly ejected from the church premises. Purser is then elected Elder of Shiloh True Light Church, that day, by his more numerous followers.

1970 – January – 14 – Purser is elected again as Elder of Shiloh Church on advice from his attorney. Held Elder Braswell and his group were there and did not recognize the election as being official.

1970 – March – 1 – the Purser and Braswell camps interrupt each others services again over the conflict of who has church usage and who is the rightful Elder.

1970 – December – 311970 Ended but World Didn’t - Boyle’s prophecy of the end of time does not occur. The True Lights believe Boyle miscalculated and the church continues with its mission to prepare for the end of time. Braswell recalculates and believes the end of time will come in 1992.

1971 – May 6Clyde M. Huntley commits suicide – rumored to be because of disappointment of the end of time not coming as well as his dispute with Flake Brasweel over the position of Bishop of the church, He was instead appointed as head elder.

1971 – Members of Shiloh remove their children from public school. Lawsuit is filed against NC to home school their children.

1971McGee Brothers is Formed. This family was and still is heavily rooted in the Shiloh True Light Church. They used church members (adults and children) as laborers based on the ideology that they are teaching their children the value of hard work. Church members still, to this day, work for the company.

1971 – November – 29 – James Rommie Purser is court ordered Elder of the Shiloh True Light Church. Braswell ordered not to conduct meetings or interfere with Shiloh Church directly or indirectly. This order creates a power shift since it cuts Shiloh’s ties to the overall federation of the True Lights whom Braswell is considered the Head Elder (Bishop). Shiloh holds over 1/2 to 3/4 of the total federations membership.

1971 – December – 6 – Injunction filed in Mecklenburg County, NC – Herman Flake Braswell v. James Rommie Purser

1972 – August 30Braswell vs. Purser – Brasswell appeals case and court upholds previous ruling that Purser and his followers maintain control over the Trulight Church in Mecklenburg, NC.

1972 – December 13Braswell vs. Purser – Braswell appeals case again. Federal Court supports Purser and his followers maintain control over the Trulight Church in Mecklenburg, NC.

1975 – March – Harvey Walters becomes Elder of Ebenezer True Light Church. He was the assistant Elder when Elder V.H. Cox died in 1975. Walters was appointed as Elder of Ebenezer by Head Elder Flake Braswell.

1980 – November – 5 - Walters v. Braswell -  Flake Braswell (Head Elder of the True Light Church) removes Harvey Walters as Elder of Ebenezer True Light Church on 21 May 1977 and temporarily moves the Ebenezer congregation to the Rocky River Church. Braswell Installs Joe Cox as the new Elder of Ebenezer. The court record shows this was over a dispute regarding church doctrine. Walters continues to hold service at Ebenezer after he is removed by Braswell. Walters sues Braswell in court and Braswell’s removal  of Walters is upheld by the court.

1981 – February 2Walters vs. Braswell - Walters files a review of the case in Federal Court. The court denies the motion.

1986 – April – 7 – Department of Labor files compliant against Wendell Woodworks and McGee Brothers that they are violating child labor laws allowing children under the age of 16 to work with heavy machinery and on construction sites.

1986 – October 15SHILOH TRUE LIGHT CHURCH OF CHRIST v. BROCK – Shiloh Church files a complaint in Federal Court against the Department of Labor arguing that it operates a children’s vocational program through McGee and Wendell Woodworks for the benefit of it’s members and should be exempt from any child Labor Laws as due to Freedom of Religion clause under the First Amendment.

1987 – September – 10 - The court dismisses the complaint and finds no basis of Violation of First Amendment rights.

1987 – October – Judge Potter (Federal District Court Judge) orders Shiloh Church, McGee Brothers, and Wendell Woodwork to obey child labor laws. The judge ordered the two companies owned and operated by the church members to pay $203,272 to cover a Federal investigation and legal expenses and to pay employees back wages and interest.

1988 – Shiloh True Light Church rents the old Charlotte Coliseum to hold services

1988 – January 19th through 23rd – Shiloh Church, McGee Brothers, and Wendell’s Woodworks are brought back to court in front of Judge Potter and held in contempt of court for continuing to violate child labor laws.

1988 – March – 1 -McGlauphlin v. McGee Brothers Judge Potter rules that Shiloh church members and the two companies, McGee Brothers Company Inc. of Union County and Wendell’s Woodwork of Mint Hill, violated his October 1987 order to obey Federal child labor laws and that they are exploiting children.

1988 – October – 13Department of Labor argues in Federal Court that Shiloh True Light Church is noncompliance with child labor laws in that the church is using their children as laborers in commercial enterprises unlike where the Amish have their children work within and agrarian society that is noncommercial. Shiloh argues they are within their First Amendment Rights of Freedom of Religion.  True Lights argue that it is their religious belif that their children to be brought up in the church and taught various skills to uphold a work ethic in order to carry on that tradition to their children.

1989 – February – 7 – Brock v. Wendell’s Wodworking, v. McGee BrothersFederal Court upholds Department of Labor’s complaint stating ” The district court properly concluded in this case, that enforcement of these labor laws may not be defeated by a claim by church members of free exercise rights under the First Amendment”.

1991 – March – 14 – Mint Hill, NC police release Timothy Belk (age 34), a mentally Ill man from being confined to a 9 foot by 10 foot wire cage in the basement of Shiloh True Light Church. Purser states the church did this out of love for the man and states the police action was “unwarranted government intervention”

1992 – December – 3 – Shiloh True Light is sued by the Department of Labor for violating Child Labor Laws claiming that children under 16 continue to work on construction sites with groups of people over 16.

1992 – December – 31 – The end of time does not come as Flake Braswell predicted.

1995 – February – 24 – the district court entered partial summary judgment in favor of the Department of Labor. The court rejected the church’s free exercise defense, finding it indistinguishable from the free exercise claim denied in the previous Wendell’s Woodworking case.

1995 – May – 15th and 16th – The court rules the Shiloh Church had violated the Act’s child labor, minimum wage, and record-keeping requirements.

1995 – August  – 7 – The court makes findings of fact in the Reich v. Shiloh True Light Church Case. The church was found in violation of the Fair Labor and Standards act and ordered to pay back pay to those the church employed. The Church appeals.

1996 – Apil - 1 – The  appeal of ROBERT B. REICH, SECRETARY OF LABOR, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR v. SHILOH TRUE LIGHT CHURCH OF CHRIST, d/b/a Shiloh Vocational Training Program; JAMES ROMMIE PURSER; GARY LEON YORK is heard. The appellate court upholds the previous ruling stating that the Shiloh Vocational Training Program has violated child labor laws by allowing children under eighteen to operate hazardous machinery, and children under sixteen to work in construction during hours prohibited by federal regulation.

2004 – Feb 23 - Mint Hill Board of Adjustment allows a variance in code so the Shiloh True Light Church can rebuild it’s porch. The Board was initially not allowing it, but upon appeal it was allowed it since the church claimed hardship in that the current laws were not in affect when the church was built (re-built) in 1956 as well as to build a safer porch.

2004 – May -14 – James Rommie Purser dies. Buried at Shiloh True Light Church.

2004Political monetary Contributions by Purser and various Shiloh Church members given to made to “ Berry for Commissioner of Labor”. This is interesting since the church has preached being separatists for so long.

2009 – September – 8An article showing the good work that the church does with mentoring youth through its Vocational Training Program in conjunction with McGee Brothers.




“Children of Light” by James Lattimore

Reich v. Shiloh True Light Church of Christ

Reich v. Shiloh True Light Church of Christ – suplemental

 Judge Rebukes Church Members Over Child Labor

 Analysis of the True Light Church: A Review of the Movement and Comparison to Similar Movements

 Hallman Wins 2009 NCMCA Skills Contest

Shiloh True Light Church of Christ v. Brock

Shiloh True Light Church of Christ

Walters v. Braswell

News of the Weird

McGee Brother’s History

The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects, and New Religions

 By James R. Lewis

McGee Brothers Claim Top Spots, June 2011 North Carolina Masonry News, page 10

True Lights – The world did not end so what are they doing now?

Erred on Doomsday, Says Sect

Cunningham Boyle is True Light Key







Aug 022009

Sept. 27, 2008

Larry Shane Mullis, 28, of 418 Dishman Severt Road, Jefferson, was served with a warrant for arrest on a charge of robbery with a dangerous weapon. He was placed in the Watauga County Detention Center and is scheduled to appear in district court on Oct. 22 in lieu of a secured $15,000 bond.

The Watauga Democrat, Boone NC

Mar 172008

Star-News (Wilmington, NC) – January 17, 1998 Author: CORY REISS,
Staff writer

Four men say in separate lawsuits that their boss, the owner of
Donald Craig Motor Co., repeatedly beat them up, ordered fellow
employees to hit them and punched them in the groin.

Two of the former employees also allege that Donald Craig Mullis
used a stapler on them, in one case stapling Michael O’Quinn’s
right pants leg to his right leg.

Mr. Mullis denied the incidents with the staplers ever happened. He
said the other incidents detailed in the complaints filed in New
Hanover County Superior Court were just ”horseplay” that was
common on the car dealership’s lot.

Only one of the men filed criminal charges.

The former employees, Mr. O’Quinn, a service technician; Herman
Richardson, a lot attendant; Rudolph Taylor, an inventory control
manager; and Wayne Champion, a salesman; are disgruntled, Mr.
Mullis said.

None of them works at Donald Craig Motor Co. anymore, he said.

Mr. O’Quinn and Mr. Champion had been fired within the last 90
days, he said, and Mr. Taylor had been demoted with a pay cut
before leaving.

Mr. Richardson didn’t come back to work after a ”pure
accident” in which Mr. Mullis hit him in the groin, the
dealership owner said. Mr. Mullis said he was really trying to
”pat” Mr. Richardson on the belly. Mr. Mullis said he

Mr. Richardson filed a criminal complaint, according to court
records. Mr. Mullis faces a simple assault charge later this month
stemming from the incident Dec. 11.

The lawsuit Mr. Richardson filed says the incident resulted in
blood in his urine and a prostate infection.

The four men cited 16 incidents in which they claimed they were
hit, kicked or stapled.

Mr. Champion complains he was the target of 12 of them on four
different dates in 1997, including claims Mr. Mullis and another
employee assaulted him ”by grabbing at (his) groin with a pair
of pliers” while other employees held him; that other employees
were ordered to hit him for poor sales performance, and that on one
occasion Mr. Mullis stapled him in the right hand.

But Mr. Mullis said the four plaintiffs engaged in the same
horseplay that resulted in the allegations against him. He said
that just before the December incident, Mr. Richardson ”was out
there slap-fighting with another lot boy” and accidentally cut
him with his fingernail.

The four men worked there from one to three years, said Mr. Mullis,
and, ”If somebody was beating on those people, they wouldn’t
work here so long.” He also said that the horseplay during work
has ”all been cut off” because of the problems it has caused.

Though the horseplay may have resulted in injuries and lawsuits,
Mr. Mullis said it was all in good fun.

”We’re all real close over here,” he said. Section:
Local/Regional Online: Local/State

Page: 1B, 4B

Record Number: 114643E6C431C69A

Copyright 1998, 2006, Wilmington Star-News

Sep 242007

Growing up, they lived miles apart and attended the
same college. But after volleying on a court date, it was love all for
these newlyweds.

Published August 26, 2005

DAVIS ISLANDS – South Tampa isn’t as small as you might think. Brad
Bassler and Ashley Mullis lived a couple of miles apart their entire
lives: He on Davis Islands; she in Palma Ceia. Their parallel paths
never crossed until last year when they met at a Gasparilla party.

Bassler followed the Gorrie-Wilson-Plant route, class of 1993 and third-ranked on the tennis team.

Mullis started at St. Mary’s Episcopal Day School and graduated
from Berkeley Prep where she helped the volleyball team win the Class A
state championship four years in a row.

Both went on to the University of Florida where Mullis earned
All-American honors and finished her volleyball career fourth on
Florida’s kills list (1,162). The outside hitter helped UF to the Final
Four in 1993 while earning a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications in

Bassler never missed a UF football game in college – nor has he
since – but he never made it to a volleyball match. One of his best
friends dated one of Mullis’ Berkeley teammates, and still they never

They didn’t meet at a Bikers’ Bash, either, at Bassler’s fraternity, Sigma Chi. Both attended with other dates.

With a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Bassler, 30,
started his career with Exactech, an orthopedic implant manufacturer in

Mullis, 31, moved west to Beaver Creek, Colo., with an idea of
becoming a sportscaster. In between waitressing and snowboarding, she
broadcast live snow reports for a local TV station.

Her UF volleyball coach recruited her to play exhibition games in
Europe in May 1998. The 5-foot-11 hitter caught the eye of a Belgian
team manager who signed her to a 10-month contract near Brussels.

When she returned to Tampa, Mullis got a real estate license, like
her mother Anne, a broker associate with Smith & Associates
Realtors. She pursued a master’s degree in elementary education at the
University of South Florida.

In fall 2000, deja vu. Mullis began teaching at her alma mater, St.
Mary’s, and coaching volleyball and other sports. Last year, her girls’
team was undefeated.

A year later, Bassler moved back to Tampa to develop medical
devices for Liquidmetal Technologies. He has a patent pending as
coinventor of a cardiac stent. The company did not live up to its
potential, he said, and the Tampa operation closed three years later.

He declined an offer to work for them in California and formed his
own company, Eternalloy Medical Technologies, with three partners.
Their Safety Harbor plant develops diffusion treatment processes to
coat implants and instruments to increase durability.

The couple didn’t meet at Home Depot, either, after both bought houses near where they grew up.

Finally, face time at a Gasparilla party in February 2004. Mullis’
father, Hal, is captain of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and in line to
be king in 2007.

"My friends were all debutantes and ran for queen or the court, but
I never had time," she said. "Volleyball always took precedence."

Bassler wasn’t too enthused about the party until his buddy showed him a picture of Mullis and said she’d be there.

He introduced himself that night. "Where have you been all my life?" would have been a perfect pickup line.

Mullis asked friends to invite him to her 30th birthday karaoke
party a few weeks later. She was disappointed when she heard he got
stuck in Gainesville, where he was studying for a master’s in business
administration on the weekends.

At last, they met up for drinks at Splitsville in Channelside.
Quick courting led to court time when Mullis asked him to fill in as a
fourth for tennis the next morning.

"He was better than all of us put together," she said.

The two jocks found other matchups. She belonged to the Tampa Yacht
and Country Club; he has a membership to Palma Ceia Golf and Country
Club. Mullis has season tickets to the Tampa Bay Bucs; Bassler has the
UF season tickets.

They ran Bayshore Boulevard almost every day to train for the
Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Woodstock, Vt., in June 2004. During a
trip to the Bahamas this February, Bassler proposed.

"It was a graduation trip because we both finished our master’s," Bassler said.

In his computer bag, he hid a diamond ring and a bottle of Dom Perignon.

"I was freaking out that customs would open my bag and she’d see
them," he said. A delay in their departure time added more stress. He
wanted to be there in time to propose at sunset.

As soon as they arrived, he suggested they head to the beach.

Mullis walked and talked, oblivious to what was coming.

"We never once talked about marriage," she said.

The pair hustled to plan a summer wedding so they could honeymoon during Mullis’ school vacation.

On July 30, more than 600 guests witnessed their vows at Palma Ceia
Presbyterian Church followed by a reception at the Tampa Yacht Club.
The newlyweds departed by boat, cruising to the Marriott Waterside
Hotel before a week of golf and snorkeling on Kauai.

After 30 years on divergent routes, they’ve happily returned to their South Tampa roots.


© 2007 • All Rights Reserved • St. Petersburg
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111

Aug 272007

Copyright 1997 – N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts


Administrator, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MONROE OIL COMPANY,
S. DARBY, Administrator of the Estate of Dwaine Lydell Darby, and
the Estate of Otis Stephen Blount, Defendants-Appellees



No. COA96-1230



(Filed 19 August 1997)



Intoxicating Liquor § 64 (NCI4th)– underage driver — alcohol
related accident — Dram Shop action not timely filed — wrongful
death action — summary judgment for defendant


    The trial court did not err in granting defendants’ motion
for summary judgment in a wrongful death action brought by the
decedent’s estate where the decedent was killed in an alcohol
related accident in which an underage driver purchased alcohol
from stores owned by defendants. Plaintiff failed to file a
timely action pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 18B-120, the Dram Shop Act,
and may not maintain an wrongful death action because the
decedent had she lived could not have established an action for
negligence per se or for common law negligence. The Dram Shop
Act provided the sole cause of action available to plaintiff.

     Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 10 May 1996 by Judge
Jerry Cash Martin in Union County Superior Court. Heard in the
Court of Appeals 15 May 1997.


    Clark, Griffin & McCollum, L.L.P., by Joe P. McCollum, Jr. and
William L. McGuirt, for plaintiff-appellant.


    Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, P.L.L.C., by Timothy G.
Barber and Steven D. Gardner, for defendant-appellee Monroe
Oil Company.


    Morris, York, Williams, Surles & Brearley, by R. Gregory
Lewis, and Jordan, Price, Wall, Gray & Jones, by Joseph E.
Wall for defendant-appellee Monroe Alcoholic Beverage Control


    WYNN, Judge.



    The facts of this appeal are set forth in greater detail in
the companion case of Estate of Darby v. Monroe Oil Co., Inc., ___
N.C. App. ___, 488 S.E.2d 828 (filed August 19, 1997). The
following facts are pertinent to this appeal: Shortly after
midnight on 1 May 1993, Otis Stephen Blount drove a vehicle owned
by the front seat passenger, Dwaine Darby, off the road and into a
tree killing himself, Darby and the two backseat passengers,
Melissa Mullis and Patty Teel. All were under the age of twenty
one and the accident was caused by Blount’s intoxication. Earlier
that evening, Blount had twice purchased and consumed liquor from
a store operated by defendant City of Monroe Alcoholic Beverage
Control ("Monroe ABC") and beer from a convenience store owned by defendant Monroe Oil Company, Inc. ("Monroe Oil").

    Unlike the plaintiff estate in Estate of Darby, for reasons
not given in the record, the Estate of Melissa Mullis failed to
file an action under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-120 (1996) ("the Dram
Shop Act") within the one year statute of limitations period.
Having lost this opportunity to obtain relief under the Dram Shop
Act, the administrator of Melissa Mullis’ estate brought a wrongful
death action alleging that Monroe Oil and Monroe ABC negligently
sold alcoholic beverages to an underage person in violation of N.C.
Gen. Stat. § 18B-102 (1996)(prohibiting the unlawful manufacture,
sale, etc. of alcohol) and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-302
(1996)(prohibiting the sale of alcohol to underage persons).
Following discovery, Monroe Oil and Monroe ABC moved for and the
trial court granted summary judgment. From that judgment, the
Estate of Mullis appealed to this Court.


    We confront in this appeal the novel question of whether a
plaintiff may maintain a wrongful death action against a vendor on
the basis of the vendor’s unlawful sale of alcohol to an underage
person in violation of N.C.G.S. § 18B-102 in general, and more
specifically, N.C.G.S. § 18B-302.

    The plaintiff, Estate of Mullis, in this case, argues that in
addition to the cause of action provided by the Dram Shop Act, a cause
of action may be maintained under the wrongful death statute
against vendors who unlawfully sell alcohol to underage persons who
as a result of their intoxication from the consumption of alcohol
injures or kills others. In response, the vendors in this case,
Monroe Oil and Monroe ABC, contend that the Dram Shop Act provides
the exclusive remedy for Estate of Mullis. Alternatively, they
argue that Melissa Mullis’ contributory negligence bars, as a
matter of law, any potential wrongful death action.

    For the reasons given below, we interpret our Supreme Court’s
decision in Hart v. Ivey, 332 N.C. 299, 420 S.E.2d 174, (1992), to
compel a finding that the Estate of Mullis may not maintain an
action under the wrongful death statute in this case.

    In Carver v. Carver, 310 N.C. 669, 673, 314 S.E.2d 739, 742
(1984), our Supreme Court noted:

        [I]n determining whether any wrongful death
action is maintainable, this Court has
consistently analyzed the question in terms of
whether the deceased had he lived would have
had a claim against defendant for injuries
inflicted. If so, then the estate of the
deceased may maintain an action for wrongful
death; if not, then the action for wrongful
death will not lie.


Thus, to maintain a wrongful death action against the vendors in the
instant case, the Estate of Mullis must show that the deceased,
Melissa Mullis, would have had a claim against Monroe Oil and Monroe
ABC had she lived. We conclude that had Melissa Mullis lived, she could have maintained neither a negligence per se cause of action
based on a violation of N.C.G.S. § 18B-302, nor an action under
common law negligence based on the selling of alcohol to underage
persons in violation of N.C.G.S. § 18B-102.

    First, had Melissa Mullis lived, she could not have
established that a violation of N.C.G.S. § 18B-302 was negligence
per se. The Estate of Mullis argues that the vendors’ alleged
violation of N.C.G.S. § 18B-302 — making it unlawful to sell or
give alcoholic beverages to persons under twenty-one years of age
– constitutes negligence per se. However, in Hart v. Ivey, our
Supreme Court, after determining that this statute was not a public
safety statute, held that "a violation of N.C.G.S. § 18B-302 is not
negligence per se." 332 N.C. at 304, 420 S.E.2d at 177. The Court
explained that the purpose of this statute was not to protect the
driving public from intoxicated drivers, rather it was to restrict
the consumption of alcohol by minors. Id. Thus, Melissa Mullis
could not have established that the vendors’ violation of N.C.G.S.
§ 18B-302 constituted negligence per se.

    Second, had Melissa Mullis lived, she could not have
established a common law negligence action. To establish a prima
case of common law negligence, a plaintiff must show:

        (1) that defendants had a duty or
obligation recognized by the law,
requiring them to conform to a certain standard of conduct, for the protection of
others against unreasonable risks;


        (2) a failure on defendants’ part to
conform to the standard required;


        (3) a reasonably close causal connection
between defendants’ conduct and
plaintiffs’ injuries; and


        (4) actual loss or damage.


Freeman v. Finney and Zwigard v. Mobil Oil Corp., 65 N.C. App. 526,
528, 309 S.E.2d 531, 533, disc. review denied, 310 N.C. 744, 315
S.E.2d 702 (1984). "Our courts to date have not articulated any
common law duty existing between a third-party furnishing alcohol
to underage persons and the public at large." Hart v. Ivey, 102
N.C. App. 583, 594, 403 S.E.2d 914, 921, aff’d on other grounds,
332 N.C. 299, 420 S.E.2d 174 (1992). Moreover, in Hutchens v.
, 63 N.C. App. 1, 5, 303 S.E.2d 584, 587, disc. review
309 N.C. 191, 305 S.E.2d 734 (1983), this Court observed
that "[u]nder the common law rule it was not a tort to either sell
or give intoxicating liquor to ordinary able-bodied men, and no
cause of action existed against one furnishing liquor in favor of
those injured by the intoxication of the person so furnished."

    Concerning the existence of a duty under common law negligence
to the general public, we find it significant in this case that unlike the plaintiffs in Hart and Hutchens,See footnote 1 the Estate of Mullis
did not allege that the vendors furnished the alcohol to Blount
with either actual or constructive knowledge that he was

    In Hart, the plaintiffs alleged facts sufficient to support a
claim of actionable common law negligence in that "the defendants
served an alcoholic beverage to a person they knew or should have
known was under the influence of alcohol and that the defendants
knew that the person who was under the influence of alcohol would
shortly thereafter drive an automobile." 332 N.C. at 305, 420
S.E.2d at 178. Writing for the Court, Justice Webb concluded that
"[t]he defendants were under a duty to the people who travel on the
public highways not to serve alcohol to an intoxicated individual
who was known to be driving." Id. (emphasis supplied.); see also,
63 N.C. App. at 2, 303 S.E.2d
at 586. "[A] licensed
provider of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption may be held
liable for injuries or damages proximately resulting from the
acts of persons to whom beverages were illegally furnished while

    In sum, we conclude that the Dram Shop Act provided the sole
cause of action available to the Estate of Mullis.See footnote 2 Having failed
to timely file an action under that statute, the Estate of Mullis
cannot obtain relief under the wrongful death statute because
Melissa Mullis could not have maintained an action against
defendants either under a theory of negligence per se or common law
negligence, had she lived. Therefore, the trial court’s grant of
summary judgment for defendants must be,


    Judges LEWIS and MARTIN, John C. concur.


Footnote: 1 The common law actions found in Hart and Hutchens were
premised on the provision of alcohol to intoxicated persons which
is prohibited by N.C. Gen. Stat. 18B-305 (formerly § 18B-34) — a
per se negligence statute. See Hart 332 N.C. at 304, 420 S.E.2d
at 177. While both cases turned on the decision to find that the
common law supported an action of negligence against the alcohol
providers, the determination that the statute is a safety statute
indicates that it was designed to protect the general public and
thus, a duty was owed by the alcohol providers to the general
public not to provide alcohol to intoxicated persons known to be
driving. As noted earlier, violation of the statute in the
subject case, 18B-302, does not constitute per se negligence.

Footnote: 2 Since the Dram Shop Act is not at issue, we do not address
the issues of whether the deceased was contributorily negligent
or "aided and abetted" in the purchase of the alcohol. See,
No. 96-1381 (N.C. App.—-, 1997).

**** End of Document ****

Converted from WordPerfect

Jul 182007

Apr. 30–The owner of two community water systems is in the Montgomery County
jail for contempt of court after failing to treat or test the water he delivered
to his customers.

Until this month, state environmental regulators gave 85-year-old W. L. Coleman
of Vidalia more than a decade to comply with safe drinking water regulations.

Coleman operates water systems that serve Lazy River Estates and Three Rivers
Estates, which are across the street from each other near where the Oconee and
Ocmulgee rivers join to become the Altamaha.

Coleman was found in contempt and jailed April 2, said his son Tom Coleman. Such
a step is unusual for the state Environmental Protection Division, said Kevin
Chambers, the EPD’s communications director. Although the EPD has had to pursue
charges against people for illegal scrap-tire dumping and auto emissions fraud,
violators usually work with the state to resolve problems before courts get
involved, and almost always before jail becomes a possibility.

Recent court orders against W.L. Coleman indicate that his failure to comply
with state law "presents a threat to public health and safety."

An order by Montgomery County Superior Court Judge Fred Mullis Jr., dated April
16, indicates that recent photographs showed contaminants such as gasoline cans
and oil filters near the wells.

Because they are in the Altamaha River flood plain, the wells could be
contaminated during high flow if they are not secured, Chambers said.

In 2005, after state tests showed unacceptably high bacteria levels, the EPD
notified users of the Lazy River water system that they should boil their
drinking water, he said. The advisory remains in effect.

It’s unclear how many homes are served by the water systems because Coleman has
never provided complete information to the state, said Russ Willard, a spokesman
for the state attorney general’s office. His office represents the state
Environmental Protection Division against Coleman in the case.

Chambers said 1994 EPD documents indicated that 153 people were using the water
at that time.

Tom Coleman estimated that about 65 homes are now served by the water systems,
partly because some residents have drilled their own wells.

He said his father was a part owner of two companies that sold land lots in the
neighborhoods starting in the late 1970s. The companies also set up a well
system to provide water to buyers.

W.L. Coleman continued to sell water as state regulations changed to require
chlorination and more water testing. Chambers said EPD records indicate that
Coleman chlorinated the water for about six months in 2003.

As a community water system operator, Coleman was also responsible for keeping
daily operating reports and arranging for water samples to be tested
periodically for total coliform bacteria, lead, copper and radiological


The EPD first sent notices of violation to Coleman in 1996 for Safe Drinking
Water Act violations. Chambers said six administrative orders were issued
between 1999 and 2004 requiring that he test the water and take other steps to
comply with the law.

"It would look like he was on the right track, and then he would lapse,"
Chambers said.

Although it was Coleman’s responsibility, the EPD finally tested the water
itself, leading to the boil-water order. Chambers said EPD employees continue to
occasionally sample for total coliform bacteria, an indicator of bacteria that
can cause gastrointestinal illness.

In September 2006, the EPD filed a motion for contempt against W.L. Coleman.
Superior Court Judge Phillip R. West found that Coleman had "willfully and
disdainfully refused to comply."

West gave Coleman 10 to 30 more days to meet various requirements, from water
testing to getting a certified water system operator. The order stated that if
Coleman failed to comply in time, he would have to pay $500 a day until he did.

Coleman returned to court April 2, when he was jailed and fined $81,000. The
conditions of the order must be met before Coleman will be released from jail,
said Willard, the attorney general’s spokesman.

"The court had no alternative but to hold him in contempt," Willard said.
"Coleman’s response to EPD and the court is to ignore them, basically."

Willard said Coleman also lied to the court. One of the few steps Coleman took
was to get chlorinators installed at the wells, but Coleman later told the court
that these had been stolen.

"We have evidence that they were repossessed because of his failure to pay for
them," Willard said.

All month, Coleman’s children have been trying to bring the water systems up to
state standards. A status conference with the judge could be held as early as
today, Willard said.

"The state’s primary concern is compliance … for the health and safety of
those water systems," Willard said.

Tom Coleman, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area, called the court’s actions
callous, saying his father’s health is at risk. He said it has been hard to make
sense of the water systems without his father’s help.

He said he thinks his father hired companies several times to address some of
the problems, but work stopped because of disputes. Although W.L. Coleman was
taking water samples at one point, the state was rejecting them because he
wasn’t getting them tested fast enough, his son said.

Tom Coleman said the EPD probably tried to help his father, whom he acknowledged
is sometimes a stubborn, "volatile character."

"I think from his perception, he was thinking, ‘Hey, these things have been
running for 20 years. Why do I need to do anything differently than before?’ "
Tom Coleman said.

However, he added, "I am very confident that Dad is not capable of doing the
things they asked him to do. … Some of it, I think, it was past his ability in

Whether the fine must be paid before Coleman is released "will be a subject of
discussion between Coleman’s attorney, our office and the court," Willard said.

 Title: Water systems owner jailed: Montgomery County man failed to treat, test water
Authors: Heather Duncan, S.
Source: Macon Telegraph, The (GA); 04/30/2007

Jul 172007

Theft of Credit a Pervasive
Problem Fraud: Downey case reflects scams that rip off an estimated
$1 billion yearly nationwide in goods, cash. It’s becoming known as
crime of ’90s :[Ventura West Edition]. " Los
Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext)
  [Los Angeles,
Calif.] 15  May 1994,16. 
Los Angeles Times. ProQuest.  ***INSERT Library name or system, City,
.  28 May.


Last year, LaGrone allegedly obtained [Debbie Gallegos]‘ credit
card account numbers, a secret password on one account and new
credit cards. Authorities say LaGrone made $1,000 in withdrawals on
Gallegos’ account at an automated teller machine in Downey and
received $2,500 in cash advances that were charged to Gallegos’
account at various Sears stores, court documents show.

LaGrone’s attorney, Charles Mullis, scoffed at police
contentions that LaGrone masterminded a clever scheme. He said
authorities have no proof that LaGrone was the person who purchased
fraudulent goods over the phone through companies such as the Home
Shopping Network, which sell merchandise on television.

Police say they have identified [Debra LaGrone] in surveillance
photographs at an automated teller machine in Downey withdrawing
funds on the credit account of one of the alleged fraud victims,
Debbie Gallegos. LaGrone told police the card belonged to the
friend, who had asked LaGrone to withdraw money.

 (1598   words)

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