Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court

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Plaintiffs failed to state claims for tortious interference with contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair and deceptive practices, civil conspiracy, and unjust enrichment sufficient to survive Defendants’ motion to dismiss pursuant to N.C. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). After Plaintiffs asserted various causes of action against Defendants, including the "Metropolitan defendants" and "dancer defendants," the Metropolitan defendants and dancer defendants filed motions to dismiss the amended complaint in its entirety pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). The business court granted the motion to dismiss as to all of Plaintiffs’ claims except for the claims for breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and punitive damages against the dancer defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) Plaintiffs failed to state valid claims for forties interference with contract, unfair and deceptive practices, and unjust enrichment against the Metropolitan defendants; (2) Plaintiffs failed to state valid claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and civil conspiracy against all defendants. View "Krawiec v. Manly" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court did not need to decide whether North Carolina recognizes Plaintiff’s first-party claim for dram shop liability because Plaintiff could not recover due to the decedent’s contributory negligence. Plaintiff’s wife died from acute alcohol poisoning after consuming at least ten alcoholic beverages at a hotel owned and operated by Defendants. Plaintiff filed a complaint for wrongful death, alleging common law dram shop liability; negligent aid, rescue, or assistance; and punitive damages. The trial court dismissed the dram shop claim for failure to state a claim and related punitive damages claims. After a jury trial on the remaining claims, the trial court dismissed the action, finding that the decedent’s death was not proximately caused by Defendants’ negligence. Plaintiff appealed, contesting the dismissal of his common law dram shop claim. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court allowed review to address Defendants’ issue as to whether North Carolina recognizes a first-party cause of action for dram shop liability. The Supreme Court reversed without reaching the issue, holding that the factual allegations of Plaintiff’s complaint established the decedent’s contributory negligence. View "Davis v. Hulsing Enterprises, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s decision to award Plaintiff benefits arising out of a 2009 automobile accident. The court of appeals concluded that Plaintiff was barred from pursuing compensation for his personal injury claim under the Workers’ Compensation Act because he had elected to settle his claim against the third-party tortfeasor without the consent of Defendant, the City of Charlotte, and had received disbursement of the settlement proceedings. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the Act protects both the employer’s lien against third-party proceeds and the employee’s right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits under these circumstances; and (2) therefore, the Commission correctly concluded that Plaintiff had not waived his right to compensation under the Act. View "Easter-Rozzelle v. City of Charlotte" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the determination of the Industrial Commission that Plaintiff was not entitled to any compensation for permanent partial disability under N.C. Gen. Stat. 97-31. Plaintiff suffered a compensable accident and sustained injuries while he was walking at his job site. During the years after his work-related accident, Plaintiff continued to have neck pain. Plaintiff later sought permanent partial disability benefits. After a remand from the Supreme Court, the Commission entered an amended opinion and award denying benefits. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the Commission did not err in concluding that Plaintiff was not entitled to any compensation for permanent partial disability. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the Commission failed to carry out the court of appeals’ mandate that it make additional findings of fact and conclusions of law on the issue of Plaintiff’s entitlement to benefits under section 97-31. View "Harrison v. Gemma Power Systems, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was injured while working for Defendant. The North Carolina Industrial Commission accepted Plaintiff’s claim as compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, and Defendant began paying Plaintiff compensation for temporary total disability. Plaintiff later filed a Form 33 requesting a medical motion hearing regarding his symptoms. The Commission concluded that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of establishing that his anxiety and depression were a result of his work-related accident and that Plaintiff was not entitled to disability payments made after January 2011. The court of appeals (1) vacated and remanded in part, ruling that, on remand, the Commission should give Plaintiff the benefit of a presumption that his anxiety and depression were related to his injuries; and (2) reversed in part, ruling that Plaintiff had met his burden of establishing disability. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified and remanded for further proceedings, holding (1) Plaintiff was entitled a presumption of compensability in regard to his continued medical treatment; and (2) the Commission failed to address the effects of Plaintiff’s tinnitus in determining whether Plaintiff lost wage-earning capacity. View "Wilkes v. City of Greenville" on Justia Law

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CommScope Credit Union (Plaintiff), a state-chartered credit union, hired Butler & Burke, LLP (Defendant), a certified public accounting firm, to conduct annual independent audits of its financial statements. Plaintiff later filed a complaint alleging breach of contract, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and professional malpractice. Defendant pleaded seven affirmative defenses, including contributory negligence and in pari delicto. The trial court subsequently granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss and for judgment on the pleadings. The court of appeals reversed, concluding (1) the specific allegations in Plaintiff’s complaint were sufficient to state a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, and (2) Defendant’s affirmative defenses would not entitle Defendant to dismissal at this stage. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) Plaintiff’s allegations did not establish that Defendant owed it a fiduciary duty in fact, and therefore, the trial court correctly dismissed Plaintiff’s breach of fiduciary duty claim; and (2) the members of the Court are equally divided on whether the facts alleged in the complaint established the defenses of contributory negligence and in pari delicto, and therefore, the court of appeals’ decision on this issue is left undisturbed. View "CommScope Credit Union v. Butler & Burke, LLP" on Justia Law

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Beverage Systems of the Carolinas, LLC (Plaintiff) entered into an asset purchase agreement with Loudine Dotoli and two companies to purchase the assets, customer lists, and inventory of the companies. The parties executed a non-competition agreement (Agreement) that contained a provision permitting the trial court to revise its temporal and geographic limits that would otherwise render the Agreement unenforceable. Loudine’s wife, Cheryl, who was not a party to the Agreement, later formed Associated Beverage Repair, LLC. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Loudine, Cheryl, and Associated Beverage, alleging against Loudine breach of the agreement not to compete and against all Defendants tortious interference with contract, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and unfair and deceptive practices. Defendants answered that the Agreement was unenforceable by being overly broad in geographic scope. The trial court entered summary judgment for Defendants. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court erred in refusing to amend the Agreement and in granting summary judgment on Plaintiff’s remaining claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Agreement is unenforceable at law and cannot be saved, as parties cannot contract to give a court power that it does not have; and (2) the trial court properly entered summary judgment in Defendants’ favor on Plaintiffs’ remaining claims. View "Beverage Sys. of the Carolinas, LLC v. Associated Beverage Repair, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s car was struck by a school activity bus transporting students and school staff to an extracurricular event. Plaintiff brought this action before the North Carolina Industrial Commission pursuant to the Tort Claims Act to recover for alleged negligence by Randall Long, the bus driver and an employee of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. The Commission granted the Board’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that the Commission lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claim because the claim did not fall within the parameters of N.C. Gen. Stat. 143-300.1, which confers jurisdiction upon the Commission to hear claims for the negligent operation of “school buses” and “school transportation service vehicles” when certain criteria are met. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that school activity buses are plainly excluded from section 143-300.1, and therefore, the Commission did not have jurisdiction in this case. View "Irving v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were individual investors in undeveloped real estate that purchased real property shortly before the collapse of the real estate market. In 2010, Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking to recover against a bank and its appraisers for their alleged participation in a scheme to defraud investors by artificially inflating property values. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that they would not have purchased the real property but for faulty appraisal information and that the bank should have disclosed the inflating appraised property values to them. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss on the basis that Plaintiffs did not receive the appraisals at the time of their decisions to purchase. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because it was undisputed that Plaintiffs decided to purchase the investment properties without consulting an appraisal and obligated themselves to purchase the properties independent of the loan process, Defendants were entitled to dismissal of all claims. View "Arnesen v. Rivers Edge Golf Club & Plantation, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and Defendant had three children during the course of their long-term domestic relationship. After they separated, Plaintiff, on the minor children’s behalf, brought claims alleging, inter alia, negligence, gross negligence, premises, liability, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant and dismissed the children’s claims, concluding that Plaintiff’s claims on the unemancipated minors’ behalf were barred under the parent-child immunity doctrine. The court of appeals reversed in part, concluding that the trial court erred in dismissing the unemancipated minors’ intentional infliction of emotional distress and gross negligence claims, as well as the related punitive damages claim, due to an exception to the parent-child immunity doctrine found in Doe v. Holt that any injuries sustained by unemancipated minors arising from a parent’s willful and malicious acts may be actionable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant’s conduct did not rise to the level of willful and malicious conduct against the unemancipated minors, and therefore, the trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of Defendant on all of Plaintiff’s claims was correct. View "Needham v. Price" on Justia Law