Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court

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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

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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

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In 1999, Plaintiff and Defendants entered into an agreement. Defendants never performed any of their obligations under the agreement. For more than a decade, Defendants allegedly continued to be in breach of the agreement. Despite having never received the benefit of its bargain, Plaintiff waited fourteen years before filing this action in 2014. Plaintiff’s complaint alleged breach of contract, fraud, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and unjust enrichment. The trial court granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss, finding that Defendants did not perform their obligations as early as 2000, and therefore, North Carolina’s statutes of limitations barred all of Plaintiff’s claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff failed to pursue its claims within the statute of limitations period, Plaintiff’s claims were time barred. View "Christenbury Eye Center, P.A. v. Medflow, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, as guardian ad litem for Jakari Baize, filed a complaint against Defendants, healthcare providers, alleging negligence in failing properly to treat Jakari for a severe case of jaundice that left him permanently disabled. After discovery had been conducted and certain expert witnesses had been deposed, Plaintiff dismissed all claims against all defendants without prejudice. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion for an award of expert witness fees for the actual time that the experts Plaintiffs had designated spent testifying during their respective depositions as costs under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7A-305. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court erred by awarding the expert witness fees as costs because Defendants were statutorily required to subpoena the expert witnesses as a prerequisite for obtaining such relief. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the General Assembly eliminated the traditional subpoena requirement associated with the taxing of certain expert witness fees as costs in civil actions; and (2) therefore, the trial court correctly taxed expert witness fees in accordance with section 7A-305(d)(11) against Plaintiff. View "Lassiter v. N.C. Baptist Hosps., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an Alabama corporation, filed a breach of contract action against Defendant, a North Carolina limited liability company, in Alabama, alleging breach of contract. The Alabama court entered a default judgment against Defendant. Plaintiff subsequently filed a request to file a foreign judgment in a North Carolina court, presenting a certified copy of the Alabama judgment. In response, Defendant filed a motion for relief from and notice of defense to the foreign judgment. The trial court denied Plaintiff’s motion, concluding that, in accordance with N.C. R. Civ. P. 60(b), the intrinsic fraud of Plaintiff in obtaining the underlying Alabama judgment precluded enforcement of the Alabama judgment as a judgment of North Carolina. The Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s order, concluding that intrinsic fraud was not a sufficient ground under the Full Faith and Credit Clause to deny Plaintiff’s motion to enforce the Alabama judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals as modified, holding that the Alabama judgment was a final judgment and was entitled to the same credit in North Carolina that it would be accorded in Alabama, and Rule 60(b) had no applicability as a defense to a foreign judgment. View "DocRx, Inc. v. EMI Servs. of N.C., LLC" on Justia Law