Justia North Carolina Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights in her child, holding that the findings of fact contained in the trial court's termination orders had ample record support and that the court did not otherwise err.After a hearing, the trial court entered an adjudication order finding that Mother's parental rights in her child were subject to termination on the basis of neglect and failure to make reasonable progress. See N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1)-(2). The trial court further concluded that termination of Mother's parental rights was in the child's best interests. On appeal, Mother's counsel filed a no-merit brief on Mother's behalf. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in determining that Mother's parental rights were subject to termination and that the termination of her parental rights was in the child's best interests. View "In re S.G.S" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming an order of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Insureds and against Insurer in reliance upon its prior decision in N.C. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. v. Gurley, 139 N.C. App. 178 (2000), holding that the lower courts erred.Matthew Bronson, who was intoxicated, collided with a vehicle owned by Pamela Dana, resulting in serious injuries to Pamela and William Dana, who was riding in the passenger seat. Pamela died from her injuries. At the time of the accident, Pamela was insured under a policy of automobile liability insurance issued by Insurer. William, individually and as administrator of Pamela's estate, claimed to be entitled to an additional $74,750 in underinsured motorist coverage over the amount that Insurer had already tendered to them. Insurer filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment regarding the amount of underinsured motorist coverage it was required to provide to the Danas. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the Danas, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the application of Gurley in this case was error. View "N.C. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. v. Dana" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights to her three children, holding that the issues identified by counsel in Mother's brief as arguably supporting Mother's appeal were meritless.The trial court concluded that grounds existed to terminate Mother's parental rights on the grounds set forth in N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1), (2), (3), (6), and (7). The court further determined that it was in the children's best interests that Mother's parental rights be terminated. On appeal, counsel filed a no-merit brief on his client's behalf, conceding that he could muster no non-frivolous argument on appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court's order was supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence and based on proper legal grounds. View "In re T.I.S." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court terminating Mother's parental rights, holding that the district court did not err.After a hearing, the trial court entered an order concluding that grounds existed to terminate Mother's parental rights based on neglect and failure to make reasonable progress. The court further concluded that it was in the child's best interest that Mother's parental rights be terminated. On appeal, Mother challenged several of the trial court's findings of fact and its conclusions of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) competent evidence supported the challenged findings of fact; and (2) the trial court's findings of fact supported its conclusion that a ground existed to terminate Mother's parental rights pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1). View "In re A.L.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights to his son, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.After a hearing, the trial court entered an order determining that grounds existed to terminate Father's parental rights pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(1)-(3) and further concluding that it was in the child's best interests that Father's rights be terminated. On appeal, Father argued that the trial court erred by failing to make required findings pursuant to section 7B-1110(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because there was no conflict in the evidence, the trial court was not required to make findings of fact on the issue of whether the child's maternal grandmother was an appropriate relative placement; and (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that termination of Father's parental rights was in the child's best interests. View "In re K.A.M.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights to his child, holding that the issues identified by counsel in Father's brief as arguably supporting the appeal were meritless.The trial court concluded that a ground for termination of Father's parental rights existed under N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(5) and that it was in the child's best interests to terminate Father's parental rights. On appeal, counsel for Father filed a no-merit brief identifying issues that could support an appeal but that lacked merit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court's order was supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence and was based on proper legal grounds. View "In re Z.J.M." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Mother's parental rights to her child based on N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(8) and thereafter ceasing reunification with Mother, holding that there was no error.The trial court concluded that Mother had aided, abetted, or conspired to commit voluntary manslaughter of another child and, as such, grounds existed to terminate Mother's parental rights to her child pursuant to section 7B-1111(a)(8). The court further concluded that terminating Respondent's parental rights was in the child's best interests and ordered that reunification efforts with Mother cease. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly terminated Mother's parental rights and properly ceased reunification efforts. View "In re C.B.C.B." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court terminating Father's parental rights to L.M.M., holding that the trial court did not err in concluding that grounds existed to terminate Father's parental rights based on N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-1111(a)(7).Petitioners sought to terminate Father's parental rights, alleging the grounds of neglect, dependency, and willful abandonment. The trial court concluded that grounds existed to terminate Father's parental rights based upon neglect and willful abandonment and determined that it was in the child's best interests that Father's parental rights be terminated. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly terminated Father's parental rights. View "In re L.M.M." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting Plaintiffs' motion to certify three classes for a class action lawsuit, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.Plaintiffs were former tenants of residential apartments owned and managed by Defendant. Plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the North Carolina Residential Rental Agreements Act and the North Carolina Debt Collection Act. Plaintiffs moved to certify three class of certain fellow tenants, and the trial court granted the motion as to all three classes. Defendant appealed, pointing to three alleged errors in the trial court's class certification order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the three classes for a class action lawsuit. View "McMillan v. Blue Ridge Cos." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's motion to dismiss the charges against him based for vindictive prosecution and failure to join, holding that the court of appeals erred in holding that the presumption of prosecutorial vindictiveness was warranted and in holding that the trial court should have dismissed the charges under State v. Warren, 313 N.C. 254 (1985).Defendant was charged with fourteen counts of felony child abuse. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the charges amounted to vindictive prosecution and that the State impermissibly failed to join the charges in an earlier prosecution. The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed based on prosecutorial vindictiveness and failure to join. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) no presumption of prosecutorial vindictiveness was warranted; and (2) the court of appeals erred in finding a joinder violation. View "State v. Schalow" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law