Asheville-Based Law Firm Files Class Action Lawsuit in Response to Equifax Data Breach

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Burt Langley PC (Asheville, North Carolina) and Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (Nashville, Tennessee) have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Terra Weaver, David Le and similarly situated individuals affected by the Equifax data breach that was disclosed on Sept. 7, 2017.

The suit was filed Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina in Asheville.

Earlier this month, Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit reporting agencies, announced it was the victim of a large cyberattack that exposed potentially 143 million Americans’ sensitive private and financial information. Since then, Equifax has also disclosed that the cyber vulnerability exploited by hackers was related to Apache Struts, an open-source software program that is used throughout the corporate world to power front- and back-end web applications, including Equifax’s public website. According to the lawsuit, the Apache Software Foundation, proprietors of the Apache Struts software, had identified a vulnerability in its application in March and promptly issued a patch that would mitigate the vulnerability to cyberattackers.

The lawsuit further alleges that:

  • Despite it being widely available, Equifax failed to incorporate the security patch into its website software, leading to a known vulnerability on Equifax’s servers that allowed cyberattackers to exploit the vulnerability for several weeks;
  • Equifax’s actions were negligent, allowed hackers to gain access to sensitive customer information, and also violated federal law;
  • Although Equifax knew of the vulnerability in July, it waited until September to disclose the data breach, despite many state statutes, including one in North Carolina that requires prompt disclosure to affected individuals of known data breaches; and
  • Equifax’s failure to alert affected individuals in a timely manner was a violation of North Carolina and Georgia state laws.

The lawsuit demands judgment against Equifax for damages resulting from the data breach and seeks injunctive relief requiring the company to improve its data security methods.

“Equifax’s conduct appears particularly egregious as it held sensitive information on millions of Americans and apparently failed to have even the most basic data security measures in place to guard against the theft of that material,” says Katherine Langley, co-founder of Burt Langley PC. “This conduct has caused — and will continue to cause — great harm to millions of people, and we look forward to having our opportunity to use the court system to right this wrong perpetrated by Equifax allowing cybercriminals to gain access to its data systems.”

Similar class action lawsuits have been filed across the country since Equifax disclosed the data breach earlier this month. A federal judicial panel will soon decide whether to consolidate all of these actions within a single venue.

About Burt Langley PC (

Burt Langley PC provides protective legal services to businesses and individuals in Western North Carolina. The firm offers a wide range of services, including business contracts and transactions, civil forfeiture, commercial and contract litigation, corporate formation, employment law, employment litigation, estate administration and probate, estate planning, family law, guardianships and incompetency actions, legal malpractice, LGBT legal services, and will contests.

About Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC (   

For more than 65 years, Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC has been known for the quality of its advocacy and the integrity of its attorneys. The firm enjoys a national reputation of prominence in the complex litigation arena for its work in class actions, shareholder derivative claims, securities, ERISA, labor and employment, and other complex cases, both at the trial and appellate levels.

Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is dedicated to providing a full range of legal services to its diverse clientele. In addition to providing quality legal services, the firm is proud of the professional and civic leadership its members have provided, both locally and nationally. The firm’s former managing partner, Jane Branstetter Stranch, was nominated by President Obama to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and now serves as a judge on that court following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, and was recently named among “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, receiving the highest possible Nashville ranking as a Tier 1 in two practice areas.



The Corporate Image Receives Multiple Awards from Public Relations Society of America

BRISTOL, Tenn. — The Corporate Image (TCI), a Bristol, Tennessee-based integrated communications firm, received multiple honors at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Tri-Cities Chapter annual awards dinner, held April 18 at the Kaycliff Center at Boone Lake in Gray, Tennessee.

The awards recognized excellence in public relations for client work produced in 2016 throughout the Tri-Cities region. Public relations professionals from PRSA’s Portland (Oregon) Metro Chapter judged entries on research, planning, objective, creativity, execution, results and effective use of budget.

TCI was presented with an Award of Excellence in the category of collaterals. In addition, TCI received five Awards of Quality in the categories of annual reports, external publications (newsletters), media kits and audio-visual productions (DVD and digital presentation). An Award of Merit was also given to TCI for feature writing.

“It is an honor to receive such high accolades from our peers in the public relations industry,” says Jon Lundberg, president and CEO of The Corporate Image. “We are proud to employ our team’s extensive knowledge and creative skills for the benefit of our clients.”

Chartered in 1947, PRSA is the world’s largest and foremost organization for public relations professionals. PRSA is responsible for representing, educating, setting standards of excellence, and upholding principles of ethics for its members and, in principle, the $4 billion U.S. public relations profession.

Founded in 1993, The Corporate Image is an integrated public relations and marketing firm that specializes in strategic corporate communications. TCI’s marketing division, Corporate Marketing, designs, develops and implements targeted marketing and advertising strategies for clients.

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For more information contact
Robbie Phillips, vice president, The Corporate Image, at 800-476-7459
or visit the company at

Cornerstone Christian Academy to Hold Gala & Auction on April 28, Event Proceeds to Help Fund Student Scholarships

ABINGDON, Va. ― On Friday, April 28, Cornerstone Christian Academy (CCA) will hold its sixth annual Spring Fling Gala & Auction, which gives attendees an opportunity to bid on auction items ranging from all-inclusive vacations and regional entertainment attractions to jewelry, collectibles and a wide variety of gift baskets.

Slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, the event will feature a live and silent auction, live entertainment provided by Fellowship Chapel Music, and a catered dinner from CJ & Company. Attendees will also be able to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win a black 2009 BMW 135i Convertible. Only 399 raffle tickets are available, and the drawing will be held at the auction if all tickets are sold.

Last year’s Spring Fling Gala & Auction raised $48,000 for CCA. Proceeds from this year’s event will be used to help fund CCA student scholarships.

Admission to the Spring Fling Gala & Auction is $35 for adults and $10 for children. Tickets may be purchased at Cornerstone Christian Academy, 16210 Elementary Drive, Abingdon, Virginia, or by visiting For more information, call (276) 623-7164.

“This annual event is vital to CCA’s offering of student scholarships, and it also provides an opportunity to learn more about our school,” says Dr. Clay Brinson, head of school at Cornerstone. “We are grateful for the community’s support of CCA, and we look forward to seeing everyone at this year’s gala and auction.”

Cornerstone Christian Academy is currently enrolling students in junior kindergarten — 12th grade for the 2017-18 school year. For more information, visit

Located in Abingdon, Cornerstone Christian Academy is a classical, non-denominational Christian school serving students in junior kindergarten — 12th grade.


For more information, contact Dr. Clay Brinson,
head of school, at (276) 623-7164.

General Shale Introduces New Additions to Denver-Based Architectural Classics Brick Series

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — General Shale has added three new products to its Denver, Colorado-based Architectural Classics brick series — providing builders, architects and designers with soft tones and natural hues for meeting contemporary design trends.

Headquartered in Johnson City, Tennessee, General Shale is the North American subsidiary of Wienerberger AG and a leading manufacturer of brick, one of the world’s oldest green building materials.

The new brick selections — Honeycomb, Java and Parchment — harness the soft colors provided by rich clays sourced at the base of the Rocky Mountains.

“General Shale is proud to introduce three all-new masonry colors to one of our best-selling brick collections,” says General Shale President and CEO Charles Smith. “These newest products provide homeowners and industry professionals with unique-looking and durable products, and reflect our commitment to meeting the design and fashion needs of the brick industry.”

General Shale’s Architectural Classics Series features a broad range of 23 modern color options that complement other General Shale products. The collection is suitable for designers and architects to use as a primary cladding or accent layer for residential and commercial projects.


General Shale is one of North America’s largest brick, stone and concrete block manufacturers, supplying a wide variety of masonry materials for residential, commercial and specialty architectural projects. These materials include brick, thin veneers, stone, outdoor living kits, concrete block and various building materials, which include Arriscraft Stone Products. The company offers an endless array of sizes, colors and textures to complete any building project. With a life cycle of more than 100 years, the sustainability of brick is the company’s commitment to responsible stewardship.

Throughout the U.S. and Canada, General Shale operates manufacturing facilities in nine states and provinces, in addition to a network of more than 40 retail showrooms and over 300 affiliated distributors across North America. In 1999, General Shale grew even stronger when it joined Wienerberger AG of Vienna, Austria, the world’s largest brick manufacturer.

General Shale was founded in 1928 and is headquartered in Johnson City, Tennessee. For more information, visit


Poplaskie Appointed National Retail Sales Coordinator for Mullican Flooring

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Steven Poplaskie has been named national retail sales coordinator for Mullican Flooring, a leading manufacturer of quality hardwood floors.

As national retail sales coordinator, Poplaskie will manage the company’s relationships with national retail chains. Poplaskie will be the first to hold this position at Mullican, which was created as a result of the Johnson City, Tennessee-based company’s consistent growth.

“Steven’s sales experience speaks for itself,” says Brian Greenwell, Mullican’s vice president of sales and marketing. “He brings an immense amount of industry knowledge to this position and is ready to hit the ground running. We expect Steven will further develop our existing relationships with the national retail chains, increasing Mullican’s presence in this market segment.”

A native of Marietta, Georgia, Poplaskie has spent nearly three decades working in the retail sales industry, including more than 20 years at Home Depot, where he held multiple positions.

“I am very excited to be joining the Mullican family,” Poplaskie says. “Mullican is not only a recognized leader in providing quality hardwood flooring, but a pioneer in the industry. This position is a great fit for me, and I look forward to growing the retail sales aspect of Mullican’s business.”

Poplaskie will be based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Mullican ranks among the nation’s top five hardwood flooring producers and operates additional manufacturing facilities in Norton, Virginia; Holland, New York; and Ronceverte, West Virginia. The company manufactures and sells many different styles of prefinished solid and engineered flooring products via a network of 40 distributors and 5,000 retail stores across the United States and Canada.

For more information about the company and its products, visit

More about Mullican Flooring

Founded in 1985, Mullican Flooring is known for its diverse range of products and for introducing the hardwood flooring industry’s first solid hardwood products that carry a lifetime moisture warranty.

The company is a charter member of the National Wood Flooring Association’s Responsible Procurement Program and has achieved multiple certifications to demonstrate its support of proper forest management. All of Mullican’s domestic products are allowed to carry the “verified sustainable” seal of the Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Inc.


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Well-known Downtown Bristol Building to be Transformed into a Boutique Hotel

BRISTOL, Va. – In the fall of 2016, one of the most prominent buildings in downtown Bristol, Virginia, will reopen its doors for business, although its planned use will be strikingly different from the past.

Executive Plaza, a vacant professional office building located adjacent to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (BCM) and Cumberland Square Park, is undergoing an $18 million transformation that will convert the seven-story building into a 67-room, full-service boutique hotel to be known as Hotel Bristol.

Additionally, plans call for the city-owned public green space located directly in front of the planned hotel to be named Reynolds Park. The .225-acre park will pay tribute to Executive Plaza’s first developer, Dr. Hardin W. Reynolds, whose original purpose in constructing the building in 1925 — known at that time as the Reynolds Arcade Building — was to provide Bristol with a facility that would serve as the city’s preeminent downtown hotel.

Project developer/sponsor Marcus McCall, along with a host of city and state dignitaries, announced the project to community representatives during a special ceremony held Thursday evening at Cumberland Square Park.

“I am so pleased to have the unique opportunity to spearhead the rehabilitation of Executive Plaza, a building with a rich history that is intertwined with the city of Bristol’s own heritage, progress and growth,” said McCall, president and managing member of Greenville, South Carolina-based McCall Capital, LLC. “As a Southwest Virginia native, I have experienced firsthand the many venues, entertainment attractions and spectacular natural surroundings that make this area a destination for travelers. Hotel Bristol will provide the modern amenities and services visitors to this region expect in a first-class hotel. In essence, it will be a destination within a destination.”

In addition to providing high-quality lodging accommodations that feature both standard rooms and suites, Hotel Bristol will offer valet parking, an on-site restaurant and bar, rooftop cocktail lounge with spectacular views, deluxe spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, retail shops, and significant banquet and meeting spaces.

Charlestowne Hotels, a nationally recognized boutique hotel management company, will provide pre-opening services and will manage the hotel once it has opened.

“We are honored to have been selected to assist in the development and management of Hotel Bristol,” said Michael Tall, president and COO of Charlestowne Hotels. “The hotel will provide a truly unique guest experience in a location that cannot be replicated anywhere.”

The proposed Reynolds Park, subject to approval by the city council, will serve as a public park amenity for Hotel Bristol patrons, BCM visitors and area tourists. The enhanced space will feature first-class landscaping and streetscaping aesthetics, including evergreen ground cover, brick crosswalks, street lights, and decorative benches and seating. In addition, the park will continue to serve as home to the city’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

The Hotel Bristol project will be assisted by a No-Net-Loss Economic Development Grant Award of $1.2 million as approved by the Bristol, Virginia, City Council.

“It is exciting to see the adaptive reuse of the Executive Plaza building and adjacent green space,” said Catherine Brillhart, mayor of the city of Bristol. “This project puts a vacant property back into productive use and demonstrates the importance of our historic district in the city’s continued economic growth.”

Additional funding for the redevelopment project includes $750,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds awarded by the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (TICRC).

“The goal of the Virginia Tobacco Commission is to enhance the economic growth and development of communities within our footprint,” said Virginia Delegate Terry Kilgore, chairman of the TICRC. “This project will rehabilitate a historical downtown landmark and position it to become an integral part of the local tourism industry. Our support of this project reflects our belief in its ability to significantly impact our local and regional economies.”

An economic impact report prepared by Richmond, Virginia-based Mangum Economic Consulting states that, in its first full year of operation, Hotel Bristol will have an ongoing annual impact of approximately $6.8 million in local economic output. The hotel will create more than 80 full-time-equivalent local jobs, which will contribute to an impact of approximately $2 million on associated local salaries and wages.

In terms of construction, the project will have a one-time impact of more than $20 million in local economic output, produce 168 full-time-equivalent jobs, and generate $6.7 million in associated local salaries and wages, as well as $660,000 in additional state and local tax revenues.

In short, the report states that Hotel Bristol and Reynolds Park would have a significant and demonstrable positive economic and fiscal impact on the city of Bristol and Washington County (Virginia), along with the broader region’s emerging tourism industry encompassing 19 tobacco-dependent localities that are part of the “Crooked Road” heritage music trail in Southwestern Virginia.

Bristol, Tennessee-based BurWil Construction Company will serve as the general contractor for the project, which calls for extensive renovations and adaptations of the existing Executive Plaza structure.

About McCall Capital, LLC

McCall Capital, LLC, headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, was formed in 1998 to strategically develop and acquire real estate investments in the Carolinas and Virginia with an emphasis on high-end, multi-family communities. The company’s primary business is development, acquisitions, portfolio/asset management and institutional sales. McCall and affiliates have developed and/or acquired approximately 4,000 apartment units valued at over $450 million. For more information, visit

BurWil Construction Company

BurWil Construction Company was organized in Bristol, Virginia-Tennessee in 1962. The company provides general contracting, design-build and construction management services for commercial, industrial, institutional and historic restoration projects. BurWil’s projects range from large, multi-million dollar complex facilities to small additions and renovations. Clients include Fortune 500 corporations, state and private universities, non-profits, developers, and state and federal agencies. The company has significantly expanded its Southeast area of operations.

About Charlestowne Hotels

Charlestowne Hotels, based in Charleston, South Carolina, is a full-service hospitality management company that currently manages hotels in 14 states. The company’s proficiency in managing a diverse portfolio of properties, including AAA Four Diamond-rated independent hotels and luxury boutique inns, has led to numerous industry accolades, including Condè Nast Traveler Magazine’s “Gold List” and “Readers’ Choice Awards,” World’s Best Awards (Hotels: Continental U.S.) by Travel Leisure, TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards: #1 and #2 Luxury Hotel in the U.S., Smith Travel Research’s “Best Performing Hotel in the U.S.,” as well as other national media and travel industry honors.




For more information, contact Marcus McCall,
president/managing member, McCall Capital, LLC, at 864-370-0037

Cook Named Project Manager for The Corporate Image

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Audrey Cook has been named project manager for The Corporate Image (TCI), an integrated communications firm headquartered in Bristol, Tenn.

As project manager at TCI, Cook’s responsibilities include executing client projects that involve research, writing and media relations. She will develop news releases, feature stories and media pitches, and assist with planning news conferences and other events.

A native of Kingsport, Tenn., Cook most recently served as media specialist with Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport. She has researched, developed, written and edited articles and scripts for a variety of print and broadcast media. She has also managed social media platforms and website content for online media and news outlets.

“Audrey has proven skills that will most certainly strengthen our ability to serve our diverse client base,” says Robbie Phillips, vice president of The Corporate Image. “She is highly motivated and will add another layer of expertise to our award-winning team of communications professionals.”

A graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., Cook holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and electronic media.

“I am thrilled to bring my skill set to such a talented and well-respected firm,” Cook says. “I look forward to working with The Corporate Image team to develop, execute and enhance our clients’ media needs.”

Founded in 1993, The Corporate Image is an integrated public relations and marketing firm that specializes in strategic corporate communications. TCI’s marketing division, Corporate Marketing Group, designs, develops and implements targeted marketing and advertising strategies for clients.

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For more information contact
Robbie Phillips, vice president, The Corporate Image, at 800-476-7459
or visit the company at