Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court
DTH Media Corp. v. Folt
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that officials of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (University) are required to release, as public records, disciplinary records of its students who have been found to have violated the University's sexual assault policy, holding that the University did not have discretion to withhold the information sought. Plaintiffs, news organizations, brought this action for alleged violations of the North Carolina Public Records Act. Defendants argued that they were prohibited from complying with the Public Records Act in light of applicable provisions of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The trial court determined that Defendants were not required to produce the student records requested by Plaintiffs, concluding that the doctrines of field preemption and conflict preemption operated to implicitly preempt, by force of federal law, any required disclosure by the Public Records Act of the requested records. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the information sought in this case was authorized by and specified in the FERPA as subject to release; and (2) therefore, as an agency of the state, the University must comply with the Public Records Act and allow Plaintiff access to the information. View "DTH Media Corp. v. Folt" on Justia Law
Cardiorentis AG v. Iqvia Ltd.
In this action asserting claims for breach of contract and fraud the Supreme Court granted Defendants' motion to stay proceedings under N.C. Gen. Stat. 1-75.12 on forum non conveniens grounds and denied as moot all other requested relief, holding that the balance of all relevant factors showed it would be more convenient for the parties to litigate these claims in England. Plaintiff, a Swiss biopharmaceutical company, sued an English contract research organization and its North Carolina-based parent, asserting claims for, inter alia, breach of contract and fraud. Defendants filed, among other pre-answer motions, a motion seeking to stay the proceedings under section 1-72.12. The Supreme Court granted Defendants' motion to stay and denied as moot all other requested relief, holding that, after considering the convenience of witnesses, ease of access to sources of proof, applicable law, and local interest factors, this case should be stayed on forum non conveniens grounds because Defendants showed that a substantial injustice would result if this case were to proceed in North Carolina and that England was a convenient, reasonable, and fair place of trial. View "Cardiorentis AG v. Iqvia Ltd." on Justia Law
Azure Dolphin, LLC v. Barton
The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the trial court dismissing the claims that Plaintiffs asserted their first amended complaint and denying Plaintiffs’ second motion to amend their complaint, holding that the trial court did not err by dismissing Plaintiffs’ amended complaint and denying Plaintiffs’ second amendment motion. Plaintiffs commenced this action by filing a complaint asserting fifteen claims. Plaintiffs subsequently amended their complaint and then filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. The trial court denied the second amendment motion because it involved undue delay and suggested the existence of a dilatory motive. After Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed some of their claims, the trial court granted Defendants’ dismissal motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the orders of the district court were not an abuse of its discretion. View "Azure Dolphin, LLC v. Barton" on Justia Law
Stokes v. Stokes
The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing Defendant’s appeal from a trial court order changing venue, holding that Defendant’s appeal from this order was interlocutory and not subject to immediate review. Plaintiff filed a complaint in Union County seeking child custody, child support, and equitable distribution. Apparently before he was served with Plaintiff’s action, Defendant filed a complaint in Pitt County seeking child custody. Defendant then filed in Union County a motion to change venue to Pitt County. The trial court granted the motion based upon the convenience of witnesses, determining that Defendant’s motion challenging venue was proper because it was equivalent to an “answer.” Plaintiff appealed. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as interlocutory. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) while Defendant’s filing was not an “answer” under the Rules of Civil Procedure, the trial court had the authority to enter the discretionary order changing venue; and (2) Plaintiff’s appeal from the order was interlocutory and warranted dismissal. View "Stokes v. Stokes" on Justia Law
Boone Ford, Inc. v. IME Scheduler, Inc.
The Supreme Court held in this appeal regarding two cases that were consolidated before trial by one superior court judge and then tried by another superior court judge that (1) the first judge erred in consolidating the cases because he was not scheduled to preside over the consolidated trial, but (2) the judge who presided at trial effectively corrected the procedural error, which left no error for the appellate courts to address. The Court concluded that the first judge’s consolidation order had no binding effect on the second judge because the first judge was not scheduled to preside over the trial. By ultimately consolidating the cases, the presiding judge implicitly ratified the consolidation decision, leaving the trial and judgment untainted. Therefore, other the first judge’s order was procedurally in error, but the presiding judge’s implicit determination that the cases should be consolidated for trial replaced the first judge’s determination on consolidation and corrected the procedural error that the first judge had made. View "Boone Ford, Inc. v. IME Scheduler, Inc." on Justia Law
Vaughan v. Mashburn
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals concluding that Rule 9(j) does not permit a plaintiff to amend a timely filed medical malpractice complaint to cure a defective Rule 9(j) certification after the statute of limitations has run when the expert review required by Rule 9(j) occurred before the filing of the original complaint, holding that the procedures Plaintiff followed in this case were consistent with the letter and spirit of the rule. Plaintiff filed this medical malpractice complaint, but Plaintiff’s Rule 9(j) certification inadvertently used the language of a prior version of Rule 9(j). Defendants then filed a motion to dismiss. In response, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint to cure her defective Rule 9(j) certification. The trial court denied Plaintiff’s motion and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that where Plaintiff did not file the complaint with the proper Rule 9(j) certification before the running of the statute of limitation, the complaint could not have been deemed to have commenced within the statute. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff should be permitted to amend her medical malpractice complaint to correct a purely technical pleading error under the circumstances of this case. View "Vaughan v. Mashburn" on Justia Law
City of Asheville v. Frost
A respondent such as the respondent in this case has a statutory right to a jury trial in an appeal of an Asheville Civil Service Board (Board) decision to superior court. Appellant Robert Frost, a police officer in the Asheville Police Department, was terminated for his alleged use of excessive force against a citizen. Frost appealed his determination to the Board. The Board concluded that Appellant’s termination was not justified and that his termination should be rescinded. The City then filed a petition for a trial de novo in the superior court to determine whether officer Frost’s termination was justified. Appellant filed a timely response to the petition requesting a jury trial. The City moved to strike the request claiming that Appellant had no constitutional or statutory right to a jury trial. The superior court denied the City’s motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, pursuant to section 8(g) of the Asheville Civil Service Law, a respondent may demand a jury trial in a superior court appeal of a Board decision. View "City of Asheville v. Frost" on Justia Law
Abrons Family Practice & Urgent Care, PA v. North Carolina Department of Human Services
The trial court did not err in dismissing Plaintiffs’ action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to Plaintiffs’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies in seeking damages for denied Medicaid reimbursement claims. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s order, ruling that the trial court erred in dismissing Plaintiffs’ complaint without resolving certain factual issues and that Plaintiffs sufficiently demonstrated that it would be futile to pursue administrative remedies. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals erred in reversing the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims where Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing suit and failed to demonstrate futility of the available remedies at this time. View "Abrons Family Practice & Urgent Care, PA v. North Carolina Department of Human Services" on Justia Law
Friday Investments, LLC v. Bally Total Fitness of the Mid-Atlantic, Inc.
An attorney-client relationship existed between Defendants and a non-party that contractually agreed to indemnify Defendants, but because Defendants failed to request that the trial court provide written findings of fact and did not present in a timely manner the documents at issue, the trial court did not err in determining that the attorney-client privilege did not extend to the communications at issue. Plaintiff sued Defendants for payment of back rent and other charges due under a lease. Defendants notified the non-party, which agreed to indemnify and defend Defendants in accordance with their agreement. During discovery, counsel for Plaintiff requested copies of documents exchanged between Defendants and the non-party. Defendants moved for a protective order, asserting the attorney-client privilege. The trial court denied Defendants’ motion for a protective order and granted Plaintiff’s motion to compel. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the attorney-client privilege did not extend to the communications between Defendants and the non-party. The Supreme Court modified and affirmed, holding (1) the non-party’s contractual duty to defend and indemnify Defendants created a tripartite attorney-client relationship; but (2) the trial court did not err in determining that the documents between Defendants and the non-party were not privileged. View "Friday Investments, LLC v. Bally Total Fitness of the Mid-Atlantic, Inc." on Justia Law
Wray v. City of Greensboro
The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s order of dismissal that dismissed the attempts of Plaintiff, a former chief of police for the City of Greensboro, to obtain reimbursement from the City for costs he incurred in defending lawsuits brought against him for events that occurred during his tenure as chief of police. The trial judge granted the City’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the City was shielded by the doctrine of governmental immunity and that immunity was not waived. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiff set forth allegations that the City waived governmental immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently presented allegations that were adequate to raise a waiver of governmental immunity and thus to survive the City’s motion to dismiss. View "Wray v. City of Greensboro" on Justia Law