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Litigation and Lawsuits in North Carolina

A person in North Carolina who has been injured by the "actionable" conduct of another person can file suit in the District or Superior Court to recover damages. Actionable conduct in North Carolina includes negligence, breach of contract, libel, slander, defamation, assault etc.

After the Complaint is served, the Defendant has a limited time in which to file the Answer, which responds to the Complaint. Defending a case in North Carolina raises several specific concerns.

Most cases then engage in a process of discovery. This includes "interrogatories" (which are simply questions asked of the othe side), "request for production of documents" (self-explanatory), and depositions. A deposition is a process in which the parties in a case (typically through their lawyers) ask questions of witnesses or parties, which the witness must answer under oath.

There are several motions which can be filed during a case in North Carolina, including motions to dismiss, motion for summary judgment, motion to compel etc. Many cases are also sent to a form of "alternative dispute resolution," which is often arbitration (typically in a District Court action) and mediation (typically in a Superior Court action).

Those cases that are not dismissed or settled in North Carolina will ultimately be scheduled for trial. Trial raises numerous considerations for both sides, including aligning witnesses (lay witnesses and expert witnesses), the use of exhibits etc. At trial, each side is allowed to present its case or defense, and they can cross-examine the other side's witnesses. They can also make opening statements, closing arguments, and various motions (e.g. motion for a directed verdict). Trial also requires a solid understanding of the Rules of Evidence, which determine the testimony and exhibits that will be presented to the jury. Note that in North Carolina, except in limited circumstances, a corporation or other business entity (other than a sole proprietorship) must appear through an attorney; the owners, shareholders, officers, managers etc. are generally not allowed to appear for the company in court.

Following trial, the parties can make various post-trial motions, including a motion for a new trial and a motion for costs. The parties can also file an appeal.

John Kirby has tried many cases to verdict in civil and criminal court, including Small Claims court, District court, and Superior Court, as well as representing parties at arbitration and mediation.