John M. Kirby July 23, 2014

On December 4, 2012, the Court of Appeals held that a cadet at the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Basic School could sue two of her trainers for a serious hip injury when she was pushed too far during training.

The lower court dismissed the case based on the pleadings, and the Court of Appeals reversed. The plaintiff (female cadet) alleged that two of the instructors pushed her too hard and ignored her complaints of pain. After she sustained a fracture to her hip, and she reported hip pain, she was ordered to jog. When she fell in the parking lot later, the instructors did not render assistance and suggested that she was feigning injury and essentially that she was weak.

The main issue on appeal was whether the instructors, as employees of the State, were entitled to official immunity. The court ruled that the plaintiff sufficiently alleged malicious conduct by the instructors. The court wrote, "we are cognizant that Defendants are instructors in a militaristic atmosphere designed specifically to create a hostile environment. The scope of Defendants' duties in training state trooper cadets therefore certainly encompasses some level of antagonism and rough treatment, insofar as those attitudes serve to produce better officers out of the state trooper program. However, we find that Plaintiff's complaint sufficiently alleged Defendants exceeded the scope of their duties in that Plaintiff alleged she suffered a severe and obvious injury, of which Defendants were aware, and yet Defendants ordered Plaintiff to continue exercising and then abandoned her without medical treatment for almost an hour."

The case of Martin v. Moreau is an important case in North Carolina demonstratign the conduct of a state actor that constitutes malicious conduct, subjecting him or her to liability. North Carolina has many cases struggling with this issue. Another case addressed the liability of police officers for shooting into a car.

This website contains other recent North Carolina cases.