Justia North Carolina Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Contracts
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals affirming in part and reversing in part the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiffs' claims for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, unfair and deceptive trade practices, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and breach of fiduciary duty, holding that a trial was required as to certain claims.This case arose from a dispute surrounding the purchase of an oceanfront beach house by Plaintiffs. When Plaintiffs later discovered significant structural damages to the house arising from past water intrusion Plaintiffs brought this complaint. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The trial court reversed in part and remanded the case for a trial on the merits on certain claims, holding that the court of appeals (1) correctly held that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment with respect to Plaintiffs' claims of negligence and fraud against Re/Max Community Brokers and Robert Carroll; and (2) erred by reversing the trial court's summary judgment in favor of Rudd & Associates, Inc., Brooke Rudd-Gaglie, and James Goodman as to Plaintiffs' breach of fiduciary claim. View "Cummings v. Carroll" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeal reversing the judgment of the trial court in favor Plaintiff on its claim for breach of contract, holding that the court of appeals did not err by reversing and remanding the case back to the trial court with instructions to make findings of fact and to enter clear and specific conclusions of law based on the findings of fact.On appeal, the court of appeals held that the trial court failed to make findings of fact necessary to resolve conflicts in the evidence and support conclusions of law. The court reversed and remanded the trial court's judgment and remanded with instructions to make ultimate findings of fact based on the evidence and to enter clear and specific conclusions of law based on the findings of fact. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals did not err. View "Carolina Mulching Co. v. Raleigh-Wilmington Investors II, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts
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The Supreme held that the trial court did not err in determining that Defendants were not afforded underinsured motorist and medical payments coverage under an insurance policy issued by Plaintiff, an insurance company, to a family member.Defendants argued that they were entitled to medical payments and underinsured motorist coverage under Plaintiff's policy because they were "residents" of the insured's "household." Plaintiff disputed coverage and filed a declaratory judgment action in superior court, arguing that Defendants were not residents of the insured's household at the time of the accident. The trial court entered summary judgment for Plaintiff, concluding as a matter of law that Defendants were not entitled to coverage under the policy. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals did not err in determining that Defendants are not entitled to coverage under the policy and that the trial court appropriately awarded summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff. View "N.C. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., Inc. v. Martin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Business Court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, holding that the Business Court properly determined that North Carolina's economic loss rule requires negligence claims to be based upon the violation of an extra-contractual duty imposed by operation of law.At issue was whether a commercial property owner who contracts for the construction of a building may seek to recover in tort for its economic loss from a subcontracted manufacturer of building materials with whom the property owner does not have contractual privity. Applying the economic loss rule irrespective of the existence or lack of a contractual relationship between the property owner and the subcontracted manufacturer, the court dismissed Plaintiff's negligence claim with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that purely economic losses are not recoverable under tort law, particularly in the context of commercial transactions. View "Crescent University City Venture, LLC v. Trussway Manufacturing, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the Business Court dismissing Defendant's crossclaims against a co-defendant, holding that the Business Court correctly dismissed the crossclaims.This appeal arose from litigation between Kenneth Nelson, Alliance Hospitality Management, LLC, and Orlando Residence, Ltd. Orlando filed this lawsuit against Alliance and Nelson seeking recovery of funds that Alliance allegedly wrongfully transferred. Nelson, appearing pro se, filed a document in which he asserted eighteen crossclaims against Alliance seeking damages and various forms of equitable relief. The Business Court dismissed the claims asserted by Orlando and all of Nelson's crossclaims. Nelson appealed, arguing that the Business Court incorrectly ruled that a crossclaim asserted by one defendant against a co-defendant automatically ceases to be viable once the plaintiff's original claims against the defendants are dismissed. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) with the exception of certain crossclaims, the dismissal of the original action does not, by itself, mandate the dismissal of a crossclaim so long as the crossclaim meets the Rule 13(g) prerequisites for bringing such a claim; and (2) because res judicata barred Nelson's "qualifying claims," the dismissal of Nelson's remaining fifteen crossclaims was proper. View "Orlando Residence, Ltd. v. Alliance Hospitality Management, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this complaint seeking to have the Attorney General preliminarily and permanently enjoined from distributing monies received pursuant to an agreement between the Attorney General and Smithfield Foods, Inc. and several of its subsidiaries regarding the operation of hog farms to any recipient other than the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund, the Supreme Court held that the payments contemplated by the agreement did not constitute penalties for purposes of N.C. Const. art. IX, 7.In their complaint, Plaintiffs argued that payments made pursuant to the agreement constituted penalties under article IX, section 7 and that the Attorney General lacked the authority to enter into the agreement. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the Attorney General, concluding that even if Smithfield and its subsidiaries had entered into the agreement in hope of avoiding future penalties, the payments made under the agreement were not penalties, forfeitures or fines collected for any breach of the penal laws of the State. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that genuine issues of material fact existed precluding summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the payments contemplated by the agreement did not constitute penalties for purposes of article IX, section 7. View "New Hanover County Board of Education v. Stein" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Osae and Scott Bader with respect to SciGrip's trade secrets claim, unfair and deceptive trade practices claim, and request for punitive damages and deciding the parties' motions with regard to SciGrip's breach of contract claims, holding that the trial court did not err.As to SciGrip's breach of contract claims, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of SciGrip with respect to its breach of contract claim against Osae for violating a consent judgment while he was employed by Bader and refused to grant summary judgment in favor of SciGrip or Osae with respect to sciGrip's claim for breach of contract against Osae for violating the consent judgment during his period of employment with another entity. Further, the court denied Osae's motion to preclude the admission of certain expert testimony proffered by SciGrip on mootness grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed after careful consideration of the parties' challenges to the court's order in light of the evidence in the record, holding that the trial court did not err. View "SciGrip, Inc. v. Osae" 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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In this action arising out of an alleged breach of a professional services agreement (PSA) between Vizant Technologies, LLC and YRC Worldwide Inc. the Supreme Court concluded that YRC's motion for summary judgment should be granted in part and denied in part, holding that partial summary judgment should be granted in YRC's favor on the issue of certain damages involving automated clearing house (ACH) batch payments.Vizant sought declaratory and injunctive relief against YRC as well as damages for breach of the PSA, claiming that it was owed outstanding fees for savings that YRC allegedly realized through successful efforts to pay using ACH rather than credit cards. Vizant argued that the PSA required YRC to pay a fee to Vizant because YRC realized savings as a result of the strategies identified by Vizant. YRC, however, argued that it did not owe Vizant a fee because Vizant's suggestions did not actually cause YRC to change business practices and realize savings. The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part YRC's motion for summary judgment, holding (1) Vizant failed to produce evidence to support its claimed ACH damages; and (2) YRC's summary judgment motion is denied with regard to Vizant's breach of contract claim. View "Vizant Techs., LLC v. YRC Worldwide, Inc" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) breached a 1998 agreement between the parties, holding that the court erred in dismissing Plaintiff's claim that the State Defendants breached a settlement agreement in two respects.Centuries after the disappearance of two ships Plaintiff, a marine research and recovery corporation, received permits from DNCR to search for the ships. After discovering one of the ships, Plaintiff entered into an agreement with DNCR in 1998 agreeing to forgo certain rights in exchange for other rights. Plaintiff later alleged that DNCR breached the agreement in several ways, and the parties entered into a settlement agreement in 2013. Plaintiff later sued, and the trial court granted summary judgment for the State Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court properly dismissed Plaintiff's claims against the State Defendants for breach of the 1998 agreement; but (2) the trial court erred in dismissing Plaintiff's claims for breach of the 2013 settlement agreement stemming from DNCR's alleged violations of Plaintiff's media and promotional rights and from DNCR's non-renewal of Plaintiff's permit to search for the second ship. View "Intersal, Inc. v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts