Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting a motion for class certification filed after a summary judgment motion had been granted in favor of the plaintiff in this case, Plantation Building of Wilmington, Inc., holding that no reversible error occurred.The defendant, the Town of Leland, consented to and joined a motion for continuance filed by Plaintiff. The trial court granted the motion. Thereafter, the trial court granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and denied Defendant's competing motion. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a motion for class certification. The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the motion for continuance identified that the issue of class certification would be resolved after addressing the cross-motions for summary judgment and the parties did not follow the sequence, Defendant waived any objection it may have had to the court granting Plaintiff's motion for class certification after granting Plaintiff's summary judgment motion. View "Plantation Building of Wilmington, Inc. v. Town of Leland" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the trial court to exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant, Logan Wagner, in a proceeding initiated by Plaintiff, Marisa Mucha, who was seeking to obtain a domestic violence protection order, holding that Defendant did not have the requisite minimum contacts with North Carolina.The only contact Defendant had with North Carolina was more than two dozen phone calls he made to Plaintiff's cell phone on the day she moved to North Carolina. Plaintiff filed a pro se complaint and motion for a DVPO in District Court, Wake County. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss and entered a DVPO. The Supreme Court dismissed the trial court's order, holding that the Due Process Clause forbade the trial court from exercising personal jurisdiction over him to enter a DVPO. View "Mucha v. Wagner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the North Carolina Constitution does not limit the jurisdiction of the state's courts in the same manner as the standing requirements that U.S. Const. art III, section 2 imposes on federal courts, including the requirement that the complaining party must show she has suffered "injury in fact," even where N.C. Gen. Stat. 163-278.39A(f) (now repealed) expressly conferred standing to sue on a party.In 1999, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the "Disclosure Statute," section 163-278.38Z et seq., providing specific requirements for television and radio ads placed by political action committees. Plaintiff's complaint alleged two violations of the Disclosure Statute by the Employees Political Action Committee (EMPAC). The trial court granted summary judgment to EMPAC, concluding that Plaintiff had failed to allege actual demonstrable damages. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, holding that when a person alleges the infringement of a legal right directly under a cause of action at common law, a statute, or the North Carolina Constitution, the legal injury itself gives rise to standing. View "Committee to Elect Dan Forest v. Employees Political Action Committee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Business Court in this action brought by Global Textile Alliance, Inc. (GTA) alleging that Defendants engaged in several improper acts during the formation and operation of Dolven Enterprises, Inc., holding that the Business Court did not abuse its discretion either by ordering production of the relevant communications or by conducting a limited review of those communications.When it was discovered that GTA had withheld confidential correspondence between GTA and its outside counsel and Haspeslagh conveying legal advice regarding the matters giving rise to the instant litigation Defendant filed a motion to compel GTA to produce the communications. Defendant argued that GTA waived the attorney-client privilege by including Stefaan Haspeslagh on communications with GTA's counsel. The Business Court granted the motion to compel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Business Court (1) did not abuse its discretion by determining that communications involving Haspeslagh were not privileged under the attorney-client privilege; (2) did not err in determining that communications involving Haspeslagh were not protected under the work-product doctrine; and (3) did not err by not conducting an exhaustive in camera review of all communications involving Haspeslagh. View "Global Textile Alliance, Inc. v. TDI Worldwide, LLC" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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