Posts

Sunday Best: Catch Up On the Week’s Top NCBarBlog Posts

,

Here’s what NCBarBlog readers found most interesting on our pages this week:

Court of Appeals Allows Section 75-1.1 Claim in Context of Residential Real Estate Transaction

An Untapped Source of Savings for State and Local Government Owners of Property

A 12(b)(6) Motion Asserted As Part Of An Answer Will Not Suffice, At Least Not In The NC Business Court

Launching the Appellate Practice Section Blog with Exciting News!

Say Hello To the Small Firm & Technology Section

A Win For Arbitration in 2018

Court of Appeals Allows Section 75-1.1 Claim in Context of Residential Real Estate Transaction

By Jeremy Falcone

Courts have generally excluded residential real estate transactions from North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practice statute, section 75-1.1. A recent decision from the North Carolina Court of Appeals, called Capps v. McSwain, addressed this exemption. This post explores this decision—including the reasons behind the exemption.

Read more

A Win For Arbitration In 2018

By Tara Muller

This article appeared originally in The Peacemaker, the newsletter of the NCBA’s Dispute Resolution Section.

In the world of public opinion, alternative dispute resolution still struggles to compete with its crusty cousin – the traditional, costly, and lengthy trial process. For years, parties interested in enforcing arbitration provisions in lieu of trial have wrestled with the obstacle of unclear North Carolina appellate precedent as to whether courts would compel mandatory arbitration when the parties engaged in some initial litigation before moving to enforce the arbitration provision.  Fortunately for the up-and-coming arbitration protagonist in this tale, the North Carolina Court of Appeals kicked off 2018 with a bang, clearing up a history of self-described “divergent case law” and handing a win to parties interested in enforcing arbitration provisions.

Read more

None Of Your Business In Our Jurisdiction

By Madeleine Pfefferle

On Nov. 7, 2017, the North Carolina Court of Appeals delivered a split opinion in Atlantic Coast Properties, Inc. v. Saunders, holding that a corporation’s failure to plead its legal existence and capacity to sue lacked standing to maintain a legal action. 807 S.E.2d 182 (N.C. Ct. App. 2017). The case was before the court on appeal by petitioner Atlantic Coast Properties, Inc. (“ACP”) after Judge Milton F. Fitch, Jr. granted Respondents’ motion for summary judgment in Currituck County Superior Court.

Read more

NC COA Clears Up Questions Of ‘Occurrence’ In Property Damage Decision

By Bill Lipscomb

On Aug. 1, 2017 the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a decision which provides two helpful takeaways for the insurance law practitioner. In Plum Properties, L.L.C. v. N.C. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 2017 N.C. App. LEXIS 607, Plum Properties, L.L.C. (Plum) filed a tort action against two minors and their mothers, alleging that the minors “intentionally, willfully and maliciously” vandalized four houses owned or managed by Plum, causing $58,000 in damage and that the mothers were also liable for the damages based on negligent supervision of their minor children. Both mothers had homeowners insurance policies with Farm Bureau which provided personal liability coverage for “property damage caused by an occurrence” (occurrence defined as an accident), but contained the standard “expected or intended injury” exclusion, which excludes coverage for “property damage which is intended by or which may reasonably be expected to result from the intentional acts or omissions or criminal acts or omissions of one or more insured persons.” Plum filed a declaratory judgment action against Farm Bureau seeking a declaration that the damages alleged in the underlying tort action are covered by the mothers’ homeowners policies. The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for Farm Bureau.

Read more

Case Law Updates: Equitable Distribution; Divorce, Remarriage and Divorce

By Daphne Edwards and Becky Watts

Equitable Distribution, Miller v. Miller, COA 16-486, April 18, 2017

In Miller v. Miller, the Court of Appeals addressed procedural and substantive issues regarding an equitable distribution claim. First, the Court of Appeals addressed application of N.C.R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6) to determine whether the trial court properly set aside a judgment of absolute divorce to allow the Wife to pursue an equitable distribution (hereafter “ED”) claim. The Court held the trial court properly entered its order vacating the divorce judgment under Rule 60(b)(6) to allow the Wife to pursue an ED claim. Specifically, Wife had filed a complaint for divorce from bed and board and ED at a time when the parties were not living separate and apart. The trial court granted her divorce from bed and board claim and the parties began living separate and apart on March 21, 2012. A consent order was entered on April 16, 2012, in which the court republished the Wife’s ED claim. Motions were entered regarding ED and the parties mediated the claim unsuccessfully in December 2012.

Read more

Recent Court Decisions

Labor & Employment Law Section

By Joseph S. Murray IV

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and the N.C. Court of Appeals issued the following employment law opinions in the past several weeks:

Read more

Key Changes to NC Rules of Appellate Procedure

By Laura Graham

On Jan. 1, 2017, a comprehensive revision of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure took effect. The revised Rules apply to all cases appealed on or after Jan. 1. The revised Rules include some brand new provisions, and they also incorporate several changes that had been in effect for some time pursuant to stand-alone orders of the North Carolina Supreme Court.[1]  The revised Rules are available here: http://www.aoc.state.nc.us/www/public/html/pdf/therules.pdf.

No doubt, attorneys who regularly handle appeals have already scoured the revised Rules for brand new changes. But for the benefit of the rest of us, I’ve chosen to highlight five provisions in the revised Rules; the first three are new changes, and the other two are codifications of prior stand-alone changes.

Read more

N.C. Court Of Appeals On Brink Of Slippery Non-Compete Slope

,

Wall,JonBy Jonathan Wall

In Beverage Sys., LLC v. Associated Beverage Repair, LLC, 368 N.C. 693, 784 S.E.2d 457 (2016), the North Carolina Supreme Court clarified that North Carolina adheres to the “strict blue pencil rule;” that is, a trial court may strike distinct unreasonable restrictions in a noncompetition agreement but may not re-write provisions in order to make them enforceable, even if the parties, in the contract, authorize judicial revisions.  The court sent a message it is not interested in expanding blue-penciling, noting no good could come from changing the role of the trial court:

Allowing litigants to assign to the court their drafting duties as parties to a contract would put the court in the role of scrivener, making judges postulate new terms that the court hopes the parties would have agreed to be reasonable at the time the covenant was executed or would find reasonable after the court rewrote the limitation. We see nothing but mischief in allowing such a procedure.

Read more

Quicksands and Cutting Edges Of the Law: Do Municipal Utility Customers Possess Due Process and Vested Rights To Continued Sewerage Service?

Note from Jon Mize, NCBA Government & Public Sector Section blog editor: Below please find an article from John C. Cooke examining the implications of a recent North Carolina Court of Appeals case on due process and the vested interest rights applicable to public enterprise customers. The article is shared from the North Carolina Land Use Litigator information initiative (https://nclanduse.blogspot.com/ ) published by Mr. Cooke and Michael C. Thelen.  

john-c-cooke-1By John C. Cooke

Introduction

Sometimes, I read a court’s opinion and put it aside because it is thought provoking beyond its facts and outcome.  The case of United States Cold Storage, Inc. v. Town of Warsaw, __ N.C. App. ___, 784 S.E. 2d 575 (April 5, 2016) falls into this category.

Background

United States Cold Storage is interesting from several angles, but this post explores only one – the possibility that governmental utility customers possess due process and common law vested rights to continued utility service.

The facts were simple.  United States Cold Storage (USCS) owned a facility located outside the corporate limits of the Town of Warsaw (Town).  Through a contract with a county government, USCS secured Town sewer service and a promise that the Town would not annex the facility for seven (7) years.

Read more