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Battle Over Wedding Photos Heads To Small Claims Court

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Originally aired Feb. 13, 2001

A long fight over wedding pictures is in court this week. Nearly two dozen couples are battling a Raleigh photographer over pictures they say he owes them.

The newlyweds say Cletus McLaurin will not give them the wedding pictures they paid for. After our last story, McLaurin filed small claims actions against many of the 21 couples who complained to WRAL. Seven of those cases are being heard this week.

McLaurin was all smiles when he walked into a Raleigh courtroom Tuesday -- much different from Monday's court appearance, when McLaurin covered his face with a briefcase.

He faced Veronica High, the first person to complain to WRAL about McLaurin's Raleigh photography business, which operates under the names Portraits, Etc., Raleigh Studios and Lifestyle Portraits.

After seeing High's story on WRAL, more couples came forward. They all said they had similar problems with McLaurin, saying he offered nothing but excuses when they asked about the status of their pictures.

In court Tuesday, High and McLaurin were disputing a $500 picture reorder she said he owes her. Meanwhile, McLaurin said that High owed him a picture preview book.

The judge dismissed McLaurin's case against High, but ruled in favor of High's countersuit, which orders McLaurin to deliver her pictures within 10 days.

"I guess we'll take advantage of the appeals process," McLaurin said. High is hopeful that the photographer will not follow though with an appeal.

"I shouldn't have had to go through these extreme measures to get only what I paid for," High said. "This day was very precious to me. I'm just glad that the judge saw it my way."

Monday's cases were continued. McLaurin voluntarily dismissed cases against others, which were scheduled to be heard Wednesday and Thursday. Most of the couples also filed complaints with the Attorney General's office, although none have been resolved.

The Photographers' Society of the Triangle decided to terminate McLaurin's membership Monday night, citing "unethical practices."

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