Canteen v. Charlotte Metro Credit Union   

Christopher Edwards

Ward and Smith, P.A.

Chris is an appellate attorney who focuses his practice on complex legal issues in both federal and state courts of appeals. A North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Appellate Practice, Chris has handled both civil and criminal appeals raising a wide variety of legal issues.  To take a few examples, he has handled appeals in constitutional litigation, child custody litigation, employment litigation, equitable distribution litigation, estate litigation, municipal litigation, patent litigation, personal injury litigation, tax litigation, trade secrets litigation, and unfair competition litigation. All told, since joining the firm in 2018, Chris has presented more than a dozen oral arguments in state and federal courts, and he has been the primary author of more than 30 appellate briefs. 

As an appellate attorney, Chris also works with trial counsel before a final judgment has been entered. In this capacity, he drafts and argues significant motions, consults on legal strategy, and works to set the case up for a successful appeal. 

Before joining Ward and Smith, Chris was a law clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge G. Steven Agee of the Fourth Circuit and U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan of the Eastern District of North Carolina. Outside of the firm, Chris is an active member of the appellate bar, administering the N.C. Bar Association’s Appellate Pro Bono Program and serving on its Appellate Rules Committee.

J.D., magna cum laude, Wake Forest University School of Law, 2014; Order of the Coif; Wake Forest Law Review

B.A., magna cum laude, Wake Forest University, 2011

Jordan Godwin

Attorney, HensonFuerst, P.A.

Jordan Godwin, a first-generation attorney from Fayetteville, North Carolina, joined Henson Fuerst in 2022 and exclusively practices complex litigation.

He graduated from Methodist University in 2017, then moved to Birmingham, Alabama to attend Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law for its formidable trial advocacy program. While at Cumberland, Jordan was selected to join the American Journal of Trial Advocacy – the Nation’s oldest law review dedicated to the art of trial advocacy. He also served as the director of Cumberland’s Arbitration and Mediation program and, in 2020, led Cumberland’s Arbitration Team’s first-ever advance to the ABA National Arbitration Competition.

In practice, Jordan treats every case like it’s his only case. His exceptional attention to detail and strong work ethic are invaluable tools in every complex litigation.

When he’s not working, Jordan enjoys traveling with his friends, relaxing at Holden Beach, or exploring a new city.

Rachel Fuerst

Partner, Henson Fuerst

Rachel Fuerst, the youngest daughter of Robert L. Fuerst, was born and raised in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. After graduating from Rocky Mount Senior High, Rachel received the prestigious Morehead Scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She graduated with honors in 1998 and went on to earn her Juris Doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law in 2001.

After graduation, Rachel practiced law in Atlanta, Georgia for ten years, focusing her practice on catastrophic liability cases, as well as litigating and managing cases in Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia.

Rachel’s practice has been shaped in large part by her close relationship with her grandfather, Dr. Herbert Fuerst, and her concern for the rights and needs of elders and those who live with disabilities related to old age. She continues to work with families of individuals living with disabilities, including dementia and other brain injuries.

Taylor Rodney

Ward and Smith, P.A.

Taylor’s practice focuses on a broad range of litigation matters, with an emphasis on personal injury and wrongful death claims in cases involving car accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, and product liability, among other areas.

Additionally, a portion of Taylor’s practice is dedicated to trusts and estates litigation and business litigation.

In 2020, Taylor was a Ward and Smith summer associate. Prior to joining Ward and Smith, Taylor served as a judicial intern for Chief Judge Linda McGee of the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Case Link View Now
Opinion Filed Pending
Amicus Brief Writers Christopher Edwards Jordan Godwin Rachel Fuerst Taylor Rodney
Court NC Supreme Court
Docket No. 10A23

Plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging that the Credit Union charged unauthorized overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees. The Credit Union filed a motion to compel arbitration, which the trial court denied. The Court of Appeals (Dillon, J.) reversed, with a dissent by Judge Arrowood. Plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court.

The original deposit agreement did not include an arbitration clause, but purported to grant an unlimited power of unilateral amendment to the Credit Union. Pursuant to that power, the Credit Union subsequently added an arbitration clause to the agreement unilaterally.

NCAJ filed an amicus brief in support of Plaintiffs, arguing that the arbitration amendment in question was illusory and therefore unenforceable. As a result of the Credit Union’s amendment authority, terms could be changed at any time, including retroactively, such that customers could not even know what if any obligations they or the Credit Union were bound to perform. Numerous other states have held that similar arbitration clauses that can be changed at any time are illusory.

Although the Court could sever the amendments provision, this would not save the arbitration amendment. Without the power to make unilateral amendments, the Credit Union had no authority to add the arbitration clause in the first place. In any event, the arbitration amendment should fail for lack of consideration. All the Credit Union promised in order to add this amendment was to abide by the amendment itself. This promise is illusory as well, because the Credit Union retained the ability to amend the arbitration provisions whenever and however it saw fit. An illusory promise cannot serve as sufficient consideration.