In Edwards v. Hackney, an unpublished decision from May 7, 2013, the Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling that North Carolina did not have personal jurisdiction over a Virginia resident, arising out of an accident occurring in Virginia. The plaintiff argued that North Carolina had jurisdiction because the defendant owned property in North Carolina four years prior to the accident, the defendant's wife worked in North Carolina, and the defendant presumably drives on North Carolina roads. The court held that these contacts, not related to the motor vehicle accident, were insufficient to confer jurisdiction over the defendant.
On August 7, 2012, the Court of Appeals held that the case of the victim of a shooting by Asheville police could go forward. This is an excellent opinion written by Judge Linda Stephens addressing police officer liability in North Carolina.
In a case from Fayetteville, a six-year-old boy fell ten feet and sustained a fracture to his skull, when he slipped through the bleachers, which had a gap of 18-24 inches. The bleachers complied with the building code, and there were no prior reports of problems with the bleachers.
On April 12, 2012, a federal court in the Western District of North Carolina, ruled on several post-trial motions. A jury awarded $10,000,000 (ten million dollars) to the Estate of Darryl Turner, who was a 17-year-old killed by a TASER. Turner became boisterous following his termination from a Food Lion in Charlotte. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police were called to the scene. The precise facts of this encounter were disputed. The officer shot Turner in the chest with the TASER, and the officer engaged the TASER for 37 seconds (rather than the default time period of five seconds). Turner fell to the floor and did not move. A second officer gave Turner another 5 seconds of shock with a TASER. Turner died as a result of this incident, and his Estate sued the manufacturer of the TASER. (They settled previously with the police department. The extent to which the jury was informed of this settlement was also the subject of post-trial motions.)
In a case decided on June 19, 2012, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, in Williams v. O'Charley's, held that the Plaintiff's verdict of approximately $140,000 for food poisoning should stand. In this case, the Plaintiff was served chicken that tasted bad. The Plaintiff became ill after eating the chicken, and he sued the restaurant after incurring approximately $70,000 in medical expenses and spending a week in the hospital. The restaurant, O'Charley's, denied liability, and argued that the Plaintiff did not present sufficient proof to support his claim for breach of implied warranty. The court held that the circumstantial evidence was sufficient to present the case to the jury. Both sides presented expert testimony.
In a case from February 7, 2012, the North Carolina Court of Appeals addressed a product liability case in which a woman sustained severe burns and died in her wheelchair. Her Estate alleged that the manufacturer of the wheelchair was negligent in various ways, and that the wheelchair had defects which caused the fire. The case was tried to a jury, which found that the Defendants were not negligent and did not breach the implied warranty of merchantability.
A person injured by the negligence of an agent of the State of North Carolina can pursue an action in the North Carolina Industrial Commission, under the Tort Claims Act. Absent this Act, the State would be entitled to Governmental Immunity.
In a case from 2011, Strickland v. Univ. of N.C. at Wilmington, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that UNC-Wilmington could be held liable for the shooting of a student. The UNC-Wilmington police sought assistance from the Sheriff's office to serve a warrant on the student (who was suspected of a crime). The police reported to the Sheriff that the student was dangerous. The sheriff's department went to the student's residence, heard a noise (which was a battering ram), thought the noise was a gunshot, and shot into the residence, killing the student. The Estate of the student sued the police and the sheriff's department for negligence, in the Industrial Commission. The police argued that it could not be sued pursuant to the "public duty doctrine." This doctrine generally means that a person cannot sue the police where the police merely fail to protect the person from harm. The court held that the doctrine did not apply. This opinion appears to be correct primarily because in this case, the police were not sued for merely failing to protect someone; they were instead sued for their negligence in providing allegedly false information to the sheriff (i.e. that the student was dangerous, which allegedly was not true, and which contributed to the shooting of the student).
In Twin County Motorsports, decided on November 5, 2013, the Court of Appeals re-affirmed the rule in North Carolina that a corporation cannot be represented in a judicial (or quasi-judicial) hearing by anyone other than a lawyer. Even the owners and officers of the corporation cannot represent the corporation.
In a case from 2010, the Court of Appeals addressed the issue of "respondeat superior," which is the legal principle under which an employer is liable for the negligence of its employees. In this case, the employee worked as a cashier, and she had "clocked-out" for the day. Prior to leaving the premises, she went to the bathroom in the store. She apparently entered the bathroom at a brisk pace, and somehow caused a patron in the bathroom to fall to the floor, sustaining injuries. The patron sued the employer (Food Lion), arguing that it was liable for the negligence of its employee (in the manner in which she entered the restroom). The employer argued that the employee had "clocked-out," and thus was not in the course and scope of her employment. The patron responded that the incident occurred on the employer's premises. The court agreed with the employer, and held that after the employee clocked-out, the employer did not retain control over the employee, and the employer was not liable (even though the incident occurred on the premises). Matthews v. Food Lion (2010).