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Please use the links to the right to check out firm news and more information relating to these specific areas of law. Happy reading and please contact us if you have any questions that we can help answer.


KellyGram – Holiday Road Safety

 

The weather is quickly changing around us, and it is definitely starting to feel like fall heading into winter. Although this new weather gets us excited for everything we know and love – from the holidays, winter activities and great food, to quality family time – many of us spend this time of year travelling. As we make this seasonal transition, it’s important to remember that driving conditions are different this time of year from what we may be used to. From new drivers on the roads, to drivers with new destinations, there are many factors that create a potentially dangerous environment if we aren’t careful. At the Mike Kelly Law Group, we want everyone to enjoy the holidays safely. We ask that if you do plan on driving throughout the holidays, please remember the rules of the road, rid yourself of all possible distractions, keep music and noise levels to a minimum, and take the extra time you need to travel about. If you are remaining in the midlands, please be cautious in high traffic areas. Keep in mind there will be more people and vehicles out on the road than usual, and stay safe. Your family and loved ones are counting on it.

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KellyGram – Health and Wellness

 

Quite a few years ago, I became friends with Chris Hardwicke through a mutual acquaintance, and began to train at his gym – Frontier Movement. Like many, I got busy with life and discontinued my training. After my son’s marriage, I noticed that I had gained more than a few pounds in the wrong places, and decided it was time to reconnect with Chris, which I’m so glad I did. Through nutritional counseling, I’ve lost 35 pounds and have managed to keep it off for three years now. I am most excited for Chris’s new wellness tool, and wanted to share with you all – his outdoor gym. Chris is an extremely talented individual, and in matters of health and fitness, he is an absolute genius. I am loving his new approach to attaining optimal health and wellness, and our Marketing Coordinator had the opportunity to sit down with Chris and talk with him about what inspired him to go this route.

Chris describes himself as an entrepreneur, and rightfully so, opening his fitness gym focused on health and healing over 20 years ago. He compares entrepreneurship to surfing. “It’s like surfing the front edge of a wave – being cutting edge and exciting,” Chris says, and credits his knack for getting bored easily for inspiring his ability to create new and innovative ideas for his clients. Today, Chris is tackling a new venture with his outdoor obstacle course. Equipped with ropes, pulleys, roller carts, a human-powered elevator, and much more, Chris wanted to be sure that each activity you complete on his course gives you a full-body work out every time. The vision and purpose for his new outdoor gym was to give everyone the feel of playing on a playground. Working with clients of all ages, ranging from ages 10 to 80, he wanted everyone to feel equal and able to use his workouts to better themselves. To really give the playground feel, you’ll find his obstacle course painted in bright primary colors, with 5 inches of playground bark covering the base to cushion and encourage falling, because Chris believes that it’s always good to fall and learn to get back up.

If you are ever looking to change the way you work out, or interested in learning more about Chris, Frontier Movement, and his amazing facility, be sure to check out his website frontiermovement.com.

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KellyGram – Fairfield Central High School Career Day

 

On Wednesday, November 1st, our Marketing Coordinator, Noelle Jones, and I had the pleasure of participating in Career Day at Fairfield Central High School in Winnsboro, South Carolina. As you may know, Winnsboro is one of the three office locations of the Mike Kelly Law Group. Supporting Fairfield County and participating in the public life for the betterment of the community is a priority for us. Given the warm reception we have received over the years in Fairfield, I consider it my duty and honor to be civically engaged in this community. One of our core values at the Mike Kelly Law Group is to be committed to giving back to the communities in which we serve. It was in this spirit that we accepted the invitation to participate in the Career Day at FCHS.

Professions and occupations from all walks of life (for instance, from a funeral embalmer to medical transcriptionists to attorneys) were represented as they gathered in the hallways of Fairfield Central HS. I was tasked with leading a discussion with four classes of approximately 12 students each, on what it means to me to be a lawyer. I touched on what factors played a role in choosing my career path, law school admission requirements and curriculum, and finally I talked about my 40 years of experience practicing law. I relayed my primary areas of practice, and told a few case histories that seemed to get the most attention from the students.

Noelle and I were impressed by the attentiveness of the students to the presentation, and with the warm reception we received by the staff and students of FCHS. It’s fair to say we enjoyed this event more than either of us had expected to. It was a pleasure to participate in such an event. We left Fairfield Central High feeling encouraged about the future of this county, as well as the quality of the students and their engagement in the educational process. In my next life, maybe I’ll come back as a teacher!

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KellyGram – Mountain Serenity

 

I have been travelling around on what I like to call the “World Tour of South Carolina,” shuttling back and forth between our offices in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Winnsboro. Although I absolutely love my job and thoroughly enjoy helping my clients, every now and then I need a change of scenery and sometimes a change of attitude – or in this case, altitude. LOL.

This past Sunday, I travelled with my son Mac and our friend, Michael Covington, to our shared log home outside of Cullowhee, North Carolina for some much needed yardwork and some good old fashioned relaxation. Our little mountain retreat has a beautiful view year-round, but it is especially beautiful during the fall. I like to use my time there to reflect and meditate, and it always seems to leave me feeling restored. There is no doubt that when I returned to Columbia Tuesday afternoon, I felt a sense of peace and serenity that continues to hang over me now. While sitting on our deck and looking out at the great Smokey Mountains, a profound sense of gratitude and appreciation overtook me. I couldn’t help but to feel so truly blessed, and I thank my Maker for his bountiful blessings.

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KellyGram – Golfing with Friends

 

This week I want to lighten things up by focusing on one of my favorite pastimes – golfing with my buddies. Of course I thoroughly enjoy my legal career, but for many, many years it has confined me indoors for most hours during the week. Still, I try to get outdoors as much as possible and especially enjoy being out on the golf course with friends! On Monday, I had a rare treat of playing golf on a weekday. The occasion was the 9th Annual Tournament of the South Carolina Philharmonic – Golfing with the Phil. I had the privilege of serving with Tom Fortson of Terminix as the tournament’s co-chair and, quite frankly, our committee has built up one of the most sought after golf tournaments in our neck of the woods. We featured delicious food from Doc’s BBQ and Pawley’s Front Porch, capping off the culinary part of the tournament with a buffet dinner prepared by Executive Chef and Owner of @116 Espresso and Wine Bar, Ryan Whittaker! Yum, yum! The golf course was in immaculate condition, and 130 golfers of all ages and abilities had the chance to compete and raise money for our outstanding Philharmonic.

The Mike Kelly Law Group team consisted of myself, MKLG partner Brad Hewett, Ron Smith – a very good friend from Winnsboro and retired Colonial Executive – and Austin Bowers, a first year law student at the University of South Carolina. I’m not going to say who the best player was, but Austin Bowers played collegiate golf…so you figure it out! LOL!

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WHO ARE THE BULLIES IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

Lisa Long Cotten

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and on October 12, 2017, the Blythewood Middle School (BMS) Parent Teacher Organization kicked off a program called Rachel’s Challenge with a community event that included a silent auction, video game truck, food trucks and raffles. Rachel’s Challenge is based on the life and writings of Rachel Joy Scott, who was the first victim of the Columbine school shootings in 1999. The goal of Rachel’s Challengeis “to have all schools free from harassment, bullying and violence so teachers are free to teach and students are awakened to learn.” Rachel’s Challenge encourages individuals to replace acts of violence, bullying, and negativity with acts of respect, kindness, and compassion through presentations, training, community events and professional development. A component of the program at BMS is the formation of a new leadership in kindness club called Friends of Rachel. Friends of Rachel are ‘kindness ambassadors’ who participate in projects to support building a culture of kindness and empathy at the school. I was so inspired by the initiative that I began to explore other ways school districts are dealing with the issue of bullying.

Bullying is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc.” Bullying has likely existed in some form since the beginning of human civilization and continues to plague our schools, playgrounds, and workplaces (children who bully grow up to become adults who bully). The surge of cyberbullying, the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person, has further complicated the problem as it is more difficult to identify perpetrators because such posts are often done anonymously. Bullying may escalate problems such as absenteeism, school violence, and disciplinary issues. Extreme cases of bullying have contributed to suicides and/or homicides. It is likely that such extreme outcomes are the result of underlying mental illness; however, it would be naïve to ignore the role of bullying in pushing one towards harming themselves or others.

The South Carolina Legislature has enacted the Safe School Climate Act. S.C. Code of Laws Ann. § 59-63-110, et. seq. The Act defines harassment, intimidation or bullying as “a gesture, an electronic communication, or a written, verbal, physical, or sexual act that is reasonably perceived to have the effect of: (a) harming a student physically or emotionally or damaging at student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of personal harm or property damage or (b) insulting or demeaning a student or group of students causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.” S.C. Code of Laws Ann. § 59-63-120 The Act also requires local school districts to adopt policies prohibiting harassment, intimidation and bullying under the guidance of the South Carolina Department of Education. S.C. Code of Laws § 59-63-140

The South Carolina Department of Education’s Model Policy Prohibiting Harassment, Intimidation or Bullying contains ten statutory requirements. The policy must include a statement prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a student; a definition of harassment, intimidation, or bullying no less inclusive than the definition in § 59-63-120; a description of appropriate student behavior; consequences and appropriate remedial actions for persons committing acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying and for persons engaging in reprisal or retaliation; a procedure for reporting acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying to include a provision for reporting anonymously (however, formal disciplinary action must not be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report. The procedures must identify the appropriate school personnel responsible for taking the report and investigating the complaint); a procedure for prompt investigation of reports of serious violation and complaints; a statement that prohibits reprisal or retaliation against a person who reports an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying; consequences and appropriate remedial action for persons found to have falsely accused another; a process for discussing the district’s harassment, intimidation, or bully policy with students; and a statement of how the policy is to be publicized, including notice that the policy applies to participation in all school-sponsored functions.

1. If a child experiences bullying at school, he should report it immediately to a teacher, counselor, or school administrator. The child should also tell his parents about the incident.
2. If parents discover that their son or daughter is being bullied, the parents should contact the appropriate school officials (principal or assistant principal) and request an investigation.
3. If the parents are not satisfied with the principal’s course of action, they should submit a written complaint to the District Superintendent’s office for further review.
4. If the parents feel they are not getting a prompt response to their concerns from the District Superintendent’s office, the parents should then contact the Office of the Ombudsmen at the SCDE so that a course of action involving the parent and the district can be taken to hopefully resolve the parents’ concerns.
5. The SCDE’s ombudsman cannot take sides in the investigation. Instead, she will investigate the parents’ concerns, connect them with the appropriate local school district staff, and provide them with the local school district’s bullying and harassment policies should they wish to appeal their issues to the District Superintendent or local board.

https://ed.sc.gov/districts-schools/school-safety/bullying/

Richland School District Two’s website also provides essential information to parents who suspect their child is being bullied. Parents are encouraged to contact the student’s teacher or call (803) 736-8756, a 24 hours a day Safe School line, to report incidents. The site also provides the following helpful tips to identify if a child is being bullied or may be bullying others:

Being Bullied

Comes home with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings; reports losing items such as books, electronics, clothing or jewelry; has unexplained injuries; complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches or feeling sick; has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams; has changes in eating habits; hurts themselves; are very hungry after school from not eating their lunch; runs away from home; loses interest in visiting or talking with friends; is afraid of going to school or other activities with peers; loses interest in school work or begins to do poorly in school; appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed when they come home; talks about suicide; feels helpless; often feels like they are not good enough; blames themselves for their problems; suddenly has fewer friends; avoids certain places; or acts differently than usual

Bullying Others

Becomes violent with others; gets into physical or verbal fights with others; gets sent to the principal’s office or detention a lot; has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained; is quick to blame others; will not accept responsibility for their actions; has friends who bully others; or needs to win or be best at everything

Cyberbullying

Sending threatening, taunting or teasing emails to someone; using a computer or any other technology to spread gossip or rumors or to make someone’s private information public; pretending to be another person online to post or e-mail things that will embarrass or get that person in trouble; being a “pretend friend” online with the intention of later hurting or humiliating someone; “ganging up” on someone in a chat room or on a message board; “griefing” someone in an online video game comments by constantly picking on a new or inexperienced player; texting hurtful or rude comments to someone’s phone; using chat, instant messaging or a blog to exclude people, pick on people or divide the “populars” from the “unpopulars”

Source: www.stopbullying.gov and PBS Kids.org

https://www.richland2.org/Departments/Operations/School-Safety-Information/Information-on-Bullying

As the parent of a middle schooler, I am comforted to know that the State of South Carolina is committed to combating bullying at school and on-line. I encourage all parents to take the time to examine your child’s district policy on bullying and become engaged in the process by talking with your student and his/her teachers and school administrators about bullying and ways to raise awareness and create a community centered on kindness and empathy.

Other Resources for Parents

http://www.rachelschallenge.org

http://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/index.html

http://www.thebullyproject.com/parents

http://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/talking-about-it/index.html

http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/bullying_tips_for_parents.page

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/bullying.aspx


KellyGram – Why Choose Us?

 

As a veteran of South Carolina’s legal scene, I am amazed at how many lawyers in the state and nationwide—from as far away as Dallas, Texas—are flocking to Columbia to open up law offices. With the fierce competition for legal services in our state, it was eye opening when a potential client asked me during an interview, “Why would I choose you?” I had never really been asked that before, but it was an excellent question. After giving it some thought, here are just a few reasons why the Mike Kelly Law Group is the right choice:

1. We are a team of professionals with nearly 100 years of combined legal experience; I have 40 years of experience myself.

2. We only take cases of real and substantial injury or harm as well as those people who have serious health issues. We are reputable in the legal community, and have partnered with some of the best law firms in the nation to pursue cases of catastrophic loss.

3. We care about our clients, and our client retention rate is superior. People who become our clients remain loyal for years after our representation, and routinely refer people to our firm.

4. We will go anywhere to help our clients and routinely accept cases all over South Carolina. Our legal team has worked on cases in all 42 counties in South Carolina, as well neighboring states. We have offices throughout South Carolina and our attorneys have appeared before judges and juries in counties statewide.

5. We handle a wide array of injury cases and team up with doctors, economists, engineers, builders and other experts to testify on behalf of our clients in cases involving insurance bad faith, accident reconstruction, nursing home abuse, economic harm, fire loss, hazardous property conditions, mechanical failure, medical causation and construction defects.

6. We have experienced trial attorneys who realistically evaluate claims and make honest recommendations based on our clients’ best interests. Our mission is to make our clients whole—not to settle for unreasonable offers made by insurance companies.

If you or someone you know have been harmed, you can trust the experienced attorneys and legal team of Mike Kelly Law Group to protect and provide you with the focus and attention you deserve. We’re here for the people of South Carolina.

“We’re here for the people of South Carolina.”

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KellyGram – My Thoughts on the Las Vegas Tragedy

 

It seems in the last several years, we have encountered a mass shooting more often than ever before in this great nation of ours. Even with that being said, there still has never been one of the magnitude of the shooting in Las Vegas this week. My thoughts are with the victims and families of this tragedy. The people of the Mike Kelly Law Group share the deep and abiding concerns for the sanctity of human life and we, like all of you, are still trying to come to grips with the weight of this horrible event.

It is outside the scope of the KellyGram for me to promote political solutions to this problem. As for me, I will pray for the American people and its leaders to come up with a solution to minimize the loss of life and the domestic terrorism that we are now facing. I will pray early and often, and encourage all other believers to do the same.

May God Bless the United States of America.

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KellyGram – 21st Annual Rock Around The Clock Festival

 

Everyone in South Carolina knows that we have the coolest festivals in our small towns and communities. My personal favorite is the Rock Around the Clock Festival in Winnsboro, SC. Winnsboro happens to be my adopted hometown, and our office is right there next to the town clock. The people in Fairfield County have been through a lot with recent happenings at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Power Plant, but they love to celebrate and have a good time. This festival will take place next Friday through Saturday, October 6th & 7th. The festival kicks off on Friday night at 7pm with the Carolina Country Dancers followed by the annual street dance from 8pm to 11pm. Saturday will feature a multitude of activities including one of the Southeast’s largest and best antique car and truck shows, an expanded children’s area, local craft and food vendors and continuous main stage entertainment. The Mike Kelly Law Group will be out in full force under our tent distributing goodies along with legal advice, and sharing lots of laughs. Come by and see me, the Mike Kelly Law Group team, and enjoy the festival!

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It’s Football Season!

Kayla Culver

Like anyone else, football season gives me a unique sense of excitement and hopefulness for what will become of my favorite college football team. Swarms of fans gather at tailgates, sports bars, or host parties to support their teams on game days, whether it be college football or NFL. But in doing so, many fans become so caught up in the football frenzy that they lose sight of what is going on around them. Although the main focus of the football season should be on having a good time, gathering with friends and family, and escaping the daily stresses of life, tailgaters need to remain mindful that laws are still enforced on game days in order to avoid a party foul with legal consequences. These laws are three-fold: state laws, local laws, and if you attend the game, stadium or university laws. Think of these laws as a pyramid that you carry with you on game day. For instance, when attending a University of South Carolina Gamecocks game at Williams-Brice Stadium, these are the laws that apply to you:

Starting from the bottom, state of South Carolina laws; then the middle, local Columbia ordinances; and if you’re attending the game at Williams-Brice Stadium, University of South Carolina rules at the top of the pyramid. These laws are important to be aware of when you are out-and-about tailgating and attending the football games.

A sample of state laws that may interfere with your enjoyment of the football games on Saturdays are public disorderly conduct and driving under the influence (DUI). According to South Carolina law, a person who is found to be extremely intoxicated in a public place, usually acting rowdy or unruly, can be charged with public disorderly conduct and could ultimately be fined up to $100 or receive up to 30 days of jail-time. Also, like other states, South Carolina prohibits a person from driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A first offense DUI comes with jail-time up to 30 days, a fine up to $1,000 depending on how intoxicated you are, and suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months. So, this may go without saying, but on game days, especially if you are entering the game, it is best to be aware of your conduct, your surroundings, and the amount you are drinking. The priority, alongside having a great time, should be your safety and the safety of others around you.

Moving up the pyramid to local laws, Columbia city ordinances prohibit walking around with alcoholic drinks on public property, and Columbia has its own laws that deal with disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. So, when you are enjoying that ice cold beer on game day, be sure that you are drinking where you are allowed to do so; otherwise you may end up with a buzzkill in the form of a $500 fine and/or 30 days of jail-time. Likewise, control your alcohol intake, as a charge of public drunkenness carries the same penalty.

Finally, if you are attending the game at Williams-Brice Stadium, the University has clear rules that prohibit things like alcoholic beverages, containers of any kind, inflatables (like beach balls), umbrellas, artificial noisemakers, concealed weapons, personal seatbacks with armrests, and bags larger than a clutch purse. The University is also a tobacco-free campus which includes a ban on electronic cigarettes. Football is about supporting your team; it is difficult to do that if you’re kicked out of the stadium for smuggling in contraband! But, while there are many things you cannot bring into the stadium, there are a few exceptions: you can bring 1 sealed water bottle per person and you can bring in a clear plastic bag or one-gallon Ziploc bag. So, take advantage and bring a water bottle to stay hydrated while jumping around to Sandstorm.

While some of these laws may seem like common-sense, having an awareness of the rules and regulations around you helps keep you and those you care about out of trouble, and it makes the city safer for everyone. There are laws similar to these in most states, localities, and universities or stadiums. While these laws are specifically about South Carolina, Columbia, and the University of South Carolina, it is important to be aware of the laws wherever you go.

Overall, the goals of football season are to have a great time, enjoy friends and family, and of course, to see your team succeed. So, take with you this knowledge of the law to have a great football season! And of course—GO GAMECOCKS!

For more information on South Carolina’s laws referenced above, please visit http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t16c017.php. For more information on the City of Columbia’s local laws, visit https://library.municode.com/sc/columbia/codes/code_of_ordinances. For more information on University of South Carolina rules on gamedays for all athletics, visit http://www.gamecocksonline.com/ot/game-day-information.html.