Recent updates regarding an ongoing Brian Elston Law Federal Case

Recent updates regarding an ongoing Brian Elston Law Federal Case

Recent updates regarding an ongoing Brian Elston Law Federal Case
brian elston march justice


Brian Elston is in the news regarding a Federal Case where in his clients were wrongfully detained and strip-searched.

Quote from the Asheville Citizen Times:

A federal jury has reached a verdict on the first phase of a Buncombe County man’s civil suit who said sheriff’s deputies violated his rights by strip-searching him in a gas station bathroom.

The jury returned a verdict March 23, the second day of deliberation, saying the actions of one deputy, Jeff May, in the 2018 strip search of Marcus Hyatt were not “reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

On February 23, 2021 the Asheville Citizen Times covered the news:

The federal case of a Buncombe County man who was handcuffed, strip searched in a gas station bathroom and held for hours before being released is set for a March 8 jury trial.

The movement toward a civil trial for Marcus Hyatt and his girlfriend Ashley Barrett, who said she was also illegally detained in 2018, comes after a Feb. 12, order by U.S. District Court Judge Martin Reidinger.

The full article can be found here, but may require subscription to read:

On March 17, 2021 the Asheville Citizen Times wrote an article on the impending trial:

Race, a drug dog, body cam footage and the jury’s take on who is filling in the blanks honestly during gaps in video will steer the outcome of a federal civil rights case brought by a Buncombe County man who said sheriff’s deputies violated his rights in a 2018 traffic stop.

The issues loomed large in a jury trial that started March 17 for Marcus Hyatt, a Black man who says white deputies pulled him and his cousin, Brandon Pickens, over without good reason on Jan. 20, 2018. They detained and handcuffed them, then strip searched them in a gas station bathroom before letting them go after three and a half hours.

The full article can be found here, but may require subscription to read:

This case is ongoing with more news to follow.

If you feel you’ve been wrongfully accused or detained, contact Brian Elston Law.

Get To Know Chad Ray Donnahoo

Get To Know Chad Ray Donnahoo


Chad Ray Donnahoo

Attorney and Shareholder, Brian Elston Law

Chad Ray Donnahoo grew up in Western North Carolina and graduated from Mountain Heritage High School in Burnsville. He attend UNC Chapel Hill and initially thought about becomming a history professor. After graduating with a B.A. in History, Chad attended graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill and got a M.A.T. in secondary social studies education. His favorite class was education law. Following a short stint as a public school teacher, Chad returned to Chapel Hill and graduated with his J.D.


  • B.A., 2002, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 2003, M.A.T., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 2007, J.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Bar Admissions

  • United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • United States District Court, Western District and Middle District
  • United States Court of Federal Claims
  • All North Carolina courts
  • Cherokee Tribal Court
Chad Ray Donnahoo
Rated by Super Lawyers

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10.0Chad Ray Donnahoo




“Fairness. Justice. Honesty. These early values are my guideposts, still.”
– Chad Donnahoo

Law School Experience

During law school, Chad was a legal clerk for the United States House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary and spent much of his time doing work on the Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security subcommittee. After law school, Chad returned to the mountains – his home.

Asheville Attorney

Beginning in 2007, Chad worked at two law firms in Asheville mainly representing public schools, community colleges and local governmental entities. Chad was a noted attorney in his field and in 2018-19, was the Chair for the Education Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association. In April 2019, Chad got the rare chance to team-up with his best friend, Brian Elston and changed his practice area to workers compensation and personal injury. Since April 2019, Chad has been an attorney and shareholder at Brian Elston Law.


Commitment to Law in Western North Carolina

Having spent his entire life here, Chad brings with him an unwavering commitment to the people of Western North Carolina and making sure that his clients are treated fairly and equitably under the law.

Whether you were recently hurt in an automobile accident or you’re suffering from a workplace injury and need an attorney at your side to help navigate the choppy waters, contact Chad Ray Donnahoo at Brian Elston Law.


Burn Injuries


Work- related burns are one of the primary causes of occupational injuries in the restaurant industry. Burn injuries occur frequently everyday than most restaurant owners care to admit. Working in the restaurant industry comes with the inherent dangers of burns, not only are restaurant workers prone to accidents like this, customers eating in restaurants often times are victims of these injuries as well.

Customers eating in restaurants often fall victims of a hot spill over the counter by a waitress, hot soup burns a patron’s mouth or even the grease in a to-go bag melts onto a patron’s laps. Whatever form or degree of burns experienced by either the workers in a restaurant or the clients, burn injuries are quite frightening and dangerous; they should be prevented at all cost.

Apart from the most common form of injuries experienced in a restaurant; burns other forms of injuries can still pose a situation of danger to the workers and patrons in any restaurant. Some common forms of accidents include;

  • Slips and falls – This can occur from grease on the floor, tripping over an object or even slipping on a wet surface after mopping, this form of accident is very common for clients and employees in a restaurant to suffer from. Many serious burns occur in the restaurant industry when employees slip and try to steady themselves properly. Slips and falls account for about 18 percent of work related injuries in a restaurant.
  • Cuts and lacerations- Every restaurant kitchen contains sharp objects like knives, glass, slicers, choppers and other sharp objects that can pose dangers in the kitchen environment

Restaurant owners owe their workers and patrons a duty of care to ensure that they prevent the frequent occurrence of injuries like this in their work environment. They have a duty to provide safety measures for their employees as well as their patrons. In other to avoid the occurrence of any burn injuries by restaurant owners, it is important that they train their employees on the correct safety measures to keep them out of harm’s way. Prompt repairs should be made by restaurant to any damaged area in the kitchen or any other place in the restaurant.

Providing employees in a restaurant with educational materials even before employing them is an effective way to train them to identify hazards and highlight ways to perform their jobs efficiently while avoiding getting any injuries.

Managements of any restaurant are also enjoined to ensure that strict guidelines in the restaurant are followed to avoid mishaps. Safety measures should also be followed at all times, and workers should be attentive and observant to avoid occasioning injury to themselves and their patrons. Great communication and understanding between co-workers is also relevant in preventing burnt injuries.

There are some established preventive measures restaurant workers can adopt in other to avoid major burn injuries at their work place. Some of this measures include;

  • Wearing of protective gloves or mitts when handling hot pots or when cooking with hot, deep- frying oil.
  • Avoid reaching over or across hot surfaces and burners; make use of barriers, guards or enclosures to prevent contact with hot surfaces.
  • Read and follow the proper instructions of any electrical appliance before making use of them in the kitchen.
  • Avoid carrying or moving oil containers when the oil is still hot or on fire
  • Wear non- skid shoes to prevent slipping on wet or greasy floors.
  • Extinguish hot oil/grease fires by placing a lid over the top of the container.
  • It is also important that the management should plan traffic patterns so that employees when carrying hot food don’t collide with each other.
  • Cook at manufacturers recommended temperatures. Don’t overheat the oil.
  • Ensure you place nonslip floor mats around fryers to reduce the chance of slipping and falling into the frying equipment.
  • Keep floors clear of debris and grease to avoid slipping.
  • Apply extreme care when handling foods that have been microwaved; they can reach temperature greater than boiling.
  • Keep first aid kits readily available to your employees.
  • Make sure at least one person on each shift has first-aid training.
  • Keep fire extinguishers at work place accessible and available at all times.
  • Ensure lids are tight-fitting and handles are securely attached to vessels that contain hot liquids.
  • Use proper cooking tools such as tongs, to prevent contact with hot surfaces and foods.
  • Avoid opening cookers and steam ovens when they are under pressure.
  • Turn hot pot handles away from burners and never leave handles sticking out over the edge of the range.
  • Do not leave hot oil or grease unattended for any period of time.

While it is not possible to entirely eradicate the occurrence of burn injuries in a workplace, adopting the aforementioned safety tips to minimize work-place accidents.

When burns occur in restaurants either to employees or patrons it is important to employ the appropriate first aid kits in other to relief the pain as much as you can. Burns are experienced in several degrees, and there are also several available ways to contain several degrees on burns experienced at restaurants while awaiting the help of medics. Some suggested ways include;

  1. Stop the burning process- As fast as you can it is important to stop the burning process. This may require removing the affected person from the area, dousing the flames with water, or smothering flames with a blanket.
  2. Cool the burn to help soothe the pain. It is advisable to hold the burned area under cool but not cold water until the pain eases. Alternatively, you can apply a clean towel dampened with cool tap water.
  3. Remove any clothing or jewelry near the burnt area of the skin, don’t try to remove anything that is stuck on the burnt skin as this may occasion more damage to the skin.
  4. Elevate burnt body parts above heart level.
  5. Cover affected areas with clean sheets or blankets.

Provided that the burns occasioned is not a major burn, you can apply the mentioned steps. When a major burn occurs, it is important to treat with the help of medical professionals.

What is a good settlement offer?

What is a good settlement offer?

It is very common for victims of a personal injury caused by other individual’s fault to get a settlement offer before going to court. In fact, around 95% of personal injury cases are settled before court trial. (1) It turns out that there is more than one good reason for this – you will save time, energy and money. However, simply because you have a chance to avoid a long trial and you have an offer for a settlement doesn’t mean that you should accept it right away. Namely, there are situations when the settlement offer is not fair or reasonable and some people still accept these offers.

One of the best ways to determine whether a settlement offer is good or not is to talk to an experienced attorney. These professionals know that every case is different, but if they have experience, they have probably handled a case similar to your case in the past. In other words, they will know what a good settlement looks like. But, if you want to stay on the safe side and be sure that the settlement is reasonable and acceptable, you should analyze the elements of the offer.

Analyze the damages

What kind of injury do you have? For instance, if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, you might have experienced head and back injuries which are among the most serious personal injuries. On the other hand, there are situations when people experience soft tissue injuries and these injuries usually don’t have a significant impact on people’s everyday life. So, the extent of the injury and its effect on your life and your ability to conduct everyday task should determine the value of the settlement.

Check the liability

Is the defendant completely responsible for the accident that led to the injury? In this case, the settlement offer should include their consent to pay for all the damages to the plaintiff. If the accident is caused (partially) by your actions then you should expect to settle for less.

A factor in settlement is liability.


Calculate your wage loss

Did you miss work due to this accident? There are many cases when accidents like this prevent people from working or they have to work on less demanding tasks. As a result of that people lose wages and the settlement offer must include a part in which the defendant is held responsible for this loss. If you have missed a lot of work, the settlement must be higher.


What kind of insurance coverage does the defendant have? Is there worker’s compensation involved? In case they have a policy for $15,000 then you should expect a settlement that doesn’t exceed $15.000.

Take the attorney fees into consideration

When you get the settlement offer, you should not forget that part of the money goes to the attorney. As a matter of fact, they usually take 33% of the settlement amount. (2) Of course, they will get this sum only if they are able to win the case, but you still have to check whether you will be satisfied with the offer once this amount of money is deducted.

Brian Elston Law specializes in personal injury settlement negotiations. If you need an Asheville, NC personal injury attorney, contact us today.

Steps to Take After an Accident

Steps to Take After an Accident

Steps you should take if you are injured at work

If you are injured at work, you need to document and report it. Even minor injuries can have lasting effects on your health, and the longer you wait the more difficult it is to be compensated for those injuries. Furthermore, reporting the injury will help document problems in the workplace that may effect your fellow co-workers if left unchecked.

If you are not sure what constitutes a workplace injury, or need help navigating legal issues related to injuries at work, workers compensation, construction site accidents, and health insurance claims, contact Brian Elston Law for advice. We’re here to help you.

As the utilization of machinery is increasing in the workplace environment so is the risk of injury. Many organizations are working to make the industry safe to avoid the accidents. They are creating a protected working environment as well as compensations plans in case of injuries. If an accident has happened you have to ensure that you report it, otherwise, you are doing no good to the employer or the company.


One of the most important steps that you should take is to report when the accident has happened. You might have gone through a minor injury that did not require the immediate medical attention so you thought that there is no need to report it for the time being.

Keep in mind that this is the biggest mistake that you can do. The reason is that when you will not report the injury on time the employer will deny giving you the compensation money or other promised services. In order to prevent many potential issue report, the accidents are the best solution.

Apart from that, you will not get the help from your private health insurance for the workplace injuries only because you did not report the injury on time. It is important that you are aware of the reporting deadline in your organization so that you can take the required steps on time.

Know your right

Some of the worker compensation laws vary from state to state but there are few laws that are same around the globe. It is important that you understand your rights properly. So here is the list of rights that you must beware of:

  • You are allowed to file the claim about the injury in the industrial court or the worker compensation court
  • It is the right of the employer to ask for medical help or see a doctor
  • In case that the doctor allows you to return to work then you have the right to continue your job
  • Due to the injury if you are not allowed to return to your job temporarily or permanently then you deserve some amount from the disability compensation plan
  • You have the right to appeal against the decision if you do not agree with the worker’s compensation plan, employer insurance company or compensation court
  • The workers have the right to be represented in the court with the help of a lawyer

Bottom line

In case that you have taken all the required steps and reported the injury on time. Still, the employer is not providing you the health care benefits and the money from the compensation plan then it is the time that you take the legal actions. Take the help from the worker compensation attorney. We have been providing the best services to the workers at an affordable rate to ensure that they will get their rights.  Please contact us today if you have any questions, 828-575-9700.

The Heart-Balm Torts – When Adultery is a Crime



North Carolina allows a unique class of claims called “Heart-Balm” torts.  As the name suggests, these claims deal with injuries of the heart in a spousal relationship – most often where one spouse has committed adultery. No statute defines these claims. They have existed for over a hundred years in North Carolina case law.  There are two claims that fall under this classification.


The claim of “Criminal Conversation” may be brought by a spouse against one who has had sexual relations with the plaintiff’s spouse. This sexual encounter must have occurred prior to any sort of “physical separation” of the plaintiff and his/her spouse, where that separation was intended by either spouse to remain permanent, such as where a married couple moves in to separate homes. That’s it.  A single act of sex will allow the plaintiff to recover. It is not necessary that the spouse’s lover even known they are married. Recoveries have ranged into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.


The second claim, “Alienation of Affection” forms a basis for recovery where a third-party has interfered with a spousal relationship such that the love and affection that once existed between husband and wife is ruined by the acts of the third-party.   A plaintiff must establish that there was a genuine loving and affectionate relationship that existed prior to the actions of the third-party. Then, they must prove that this genuine marital relationship was alienated – meaning the destruction of the love and affection that existed between the spouses. Finally, plaintiff must show that the cause of this alienation was the malicious acts of the third-party.  Sex outside of the marriage is not required to prove Alienation of Affection, but it is an influential factor.  In fact, this claim has been used to litigate against a spouse’s family members who have interfered with the spousal relationship, though evidence must be pretty extreme in such cases.


The “Heart-Balm” torts in North Carolina add a new layer to divorce and domestic claims. If you think you may be affected by these claims, contact me today.