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Defendant may not enforce several limitation of remedies clauses against Plaintiffs, several commercial farmers in North Carolina, in defense of lawsuits premised on Defendant’s distribution of allegedly mislabeled tobacco seed. Defendant was in the business of breeding, developing, and producing tobacco seeds. Plaintiffs filed suits that were eventually consolidated alleging that Defendant had sold them mislabeled, certified tobacco seed for planting. Defendant argued in response that in accordance with the limitation of remedies clause on each container of seed, Plaintiffs’ alleged damages were “limited to repayment of the purchase price of the seed.” The Business Court denied Defendants’ motions for partial summary judgment on the grounds that limitation of remedies clauses appearing on the labels of mislabeled seed must fail by virtue of public policy, as expressed by the General Assembly in the North Carolina Seed Law of 1963, to protect farmers from the potentially devastating consequences of planting mislabeled seed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s limitation of remedies clauses were unenforceable against Plaintiffs. View "Kornegay Family Farms LLC v. Cross Creek Seed, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Agriculture 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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Defendant was convicted, after a jury trial, of attempted first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense with a child, and kidnapping. Defendant appealed, arguing that his motion “for an instruction” was clearly a request for a limiting instruction regarding N.C. R. Evid. 404(b) evidence that had just been presented by the State’s witness. The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s convictions and remanded the matter to the trial court for a new trial. The Supreme Court modified in part the judgment of the court of appeals and affirmed, holding (1) defense counsel’s motion “for an instruction” was plain a request for a Rule 404(b) limiting instruction; and (2) Defendant was prejudiced by the trial court’s failure to give the requested limiting instruction, thus entitling him to a new trial. View "State v. Watts" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Borrowers executed a promissory note to purchase real property. The debt was secured by a deed of trust on the underlying real property. Bank, the alleged holder of note and subject deed of trust, filed a complaint against Borrowers under the deed of trust, seeking judicial foreclosure and judgment on the note, alleging that Borrowers defaulted under the terms of the note by failing to make payments. Borrowers moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to establish that Bank failed to establish its status as a holder of the note and therefore did not have the right to foreclose. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s complaint adequately stated a cause of action for judicial foreclosure and that the court of appeals erred by applying the requirements applicable in non-judicial foreclosure by power of sale to Plaintiff’s judicial foreclosure action. View "U.S. Bank National Ass’n v. Pinkney" on Justia Law

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Borrowers executed a promissory note to purchase real property. The debt was secured by a deed of trust on the underlying real property. Bank, the alleged holder of note and subject deed of trust, filed a complaint against Borrowers under the deed of trust, seeking judicial foreclosure and judgment on the note, alleging that Borrowers defaulted under the terms of the note by failing to make payments. Borrowers moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to establish that Bank failed to establish its status as a holder of the note and therefore did not have the right to foreclose. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff’s complaint adequately stated a cause of action for judicial foreclosure and that the court of appeals erred by applying the requirements applicable in non-judicial foreclosure by power of sale to Plaintiff’s judicial foreclosure action. View "U.S. Bank National Ass’n v. Pinkney" 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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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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The court of appeals erred by determining the the trial court committed prejudicial error in instructing the jury concerning the right of self-defense. Defendant was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and inflicting serious injury. Defendant requested that the trial court instruct the jury concerning the law of self-defense and defense of another. Instead of delivering the exact instruction that Defendant requested, the trial court instead instructed the jury with respect to the issue of self-defense using a modified version of the pattern jury instruction relating to felonious assaults. The jury found Defendant guilty. The court of appeals awarded Defendant a new trial on the grounds that the trial court’s deviations from the pattern self-defense instruction misstated the law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court’s instructions concerning the law of self-defense were not erroneous. View "State v. Holloman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The court of appeals erred by determining the the trial court committed prejudicial error in instructing the jury concerning the right of self-defense. Defendant was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and inflicting serious injury. Defendant requested that the trial court instruct the jury concerning the law of self-defense and defense of another. Instead of delivering the exact instruction that Defendant requested, the trial court instead instructed the jury with respect to the issue of self-defense using a modified version of the pattern jury instruction relating to felonious assaults. The jury found Defendant guilty. The court of appeals awarded Defendant a new trial on the grounds that the trial court’s deviations from the pattern self-defense instruction misstated the law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court’s instructions concerning the law of self-defense were not erroneous. View "State v. Holloman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-16.2(b) alone does not create a per se exception to the warrant requirement. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether section 20-16.2(b), which authorizes law enforcement to obtain a blood sample from an unconscious defendant who is suspected of driving while impaired without first obtaining a search warrant, was unconstitutionally applied to Defendant. Defendant in this case filed a pretrial motion to suppress testing performed by law enforcement on his seized blood. The trial court granted the motion, concluding as a matter of law that the seizure of Defendant’s blood was a search subject to Fourth Amendment protection and, under a totality of the circumstances test, no exigency justified a warrantless search. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding that section 20-16.2(b) is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment as applied to Defendant in this case because (1) there was no dispute that there were no exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless blood draw; (2) section 20-16.2(b) does not create a per se exception to the warrant requirement; and (3) the State did not carry its burden of proving voluntary consent. View "State v. Romano" on Justia Law