Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court

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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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Plaintiff was injured while working for Defendant. The North Carolina Industrial Commission accepted Plaintiff’s claim as compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, and Defendant began paying Plaintiff compensation for temporary total disability. Plaintiff later filed a Form 33 requesting a medical motion hearing regarding his symptoms. The Commission concluded that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of establishing that his anxiety and depression were a result of his work-related accident and that Plaintiff was not entitled to disability payments made after January 2011. The court of appeals (1) vacated and remanded in part, ruling that, on remand, the Commission should give Plaintiff the benefit of a presumption that his anxiety and depression were related to his injuries; and (2) reversed in part, ruling that Plaintiff had met his burden of establishing disability. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified and remanded for further proceedings, holding (1) Plaintiff was entitled a presumption of compensability in regard to his continued medical treatment; and (2) the Commission failed to address the effects of Plaintiff’s tinnitus in determining whether Plaintiff lost wage-earning capacity. View "Wilkes v. City of Greenville" on Justia Law

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In 2013, the General Assembly established the Eugenics Asexualization and Sterilization Compensation Program to provide compensation to any claimant who was asexualized or sterilized involuntarily under the authority of the now-dismantled Eugenics Board of North Carolina. The claimant in this case was sterilized involuntarily in 1956 and died in 2010. Claimant’s estate (Claimant) filed a claim pursuant to the Compensation Program to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The Commission denied the claim because Claimant was not alive on June 30, 2013, as required by N.C. Gen. Stat. 143B-426.50(1). Claimant appealed to the full Commission, raising a constitutional challenge to subsection 143B-426.50(1). The full Commission denied the claim but certified the constitutional question to the Court of Appeals. Claimant then appealed. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeal because any challenge to the constitutionality of an act of the General Assembly must first be submitted to a three-judge panel of the Superior Court of Wake County. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Claimant’s appeal based on a constitutional challenge was properly before the Court of Appeals, which had appellate jurisdiction over the appeal. Remanded. View "In re Redmond" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s car was struck by a school activity bus transporting students and school staff to an extracurricular event. Plaintiff brought this action before the North Carolina Industrial Commission pursuant to the Tort Claims Act to recover for alleged negligence by Randall Long, the bus driver and an employee of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. The Commission granted the Board’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that the Commission lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claim because the claim did not fall within the parameters of N.C. Gen. Stat. 143-300.1, which confers jurisdiction upon the Commission to hear claims for the negligent operation of “school buses” and “school transportation service vehicles” when certain criteria are met. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that school activity buses are plainly excluded from section 143-300.1, and therefore, the Commission did not have jurisdiction in this case. View "Irving v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd. of Educ." on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a trooper, was dismissed from the State Highway Patrol for allegedly violating the Patrol’s truthfulness policy. The State Personnel Commission (SPC) concluded that Petitioner’s dismissal was supported by just cause. The superior court reversed, determining that Petitioner’s conduct did not provide just cause for dismissal and that the decision to dismiss Petitioner was arbitrary and capricious. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) the official who dismissed Petitioner proceeded under a misapprehension of the law that he had no discretion over the range of discipline he could administer; and (2) as such, by upholding the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety’s use of a per se rule of mandatory dismissal for all violations of a particular policy, the SPC failed to examine the facts and circumstances of Petitioner’s individual case as required by the state’s jurisprudence. Remanded for a decision by the employing agency as to whether Petitioner should be dismissed based upon the facts of this case and without the application of a per se rule. View "Wetherington v. N.C. Dep't of Pub. Safety" on Justia Law

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Landowner sought to develop a townhouse community on residential property and obtained a zoning permit to develop the townhouses. Petitioner appealed the Zoning Officer’s formal determination to the Warren County Board of Adjustment. The Board overturned the Zoning Officer’s decision and revoked the zoning permit issued to Landowner. Landowner and Warren County subsequently entered into a consent order agreeing that the zoning permit would be reinstated. A Zoning Officer then issued a determination that the subject property was not restricted by Warren County Zoning Ordinances. Petitioner appealed the Zoning Officer’s determination. The Zoning Officer, however, did not place Petitioner’s appeal on the Board’s agenda. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of mandamus in superior court, requesting that the court compel Respondents to place his appeal on the Board’s next available agenda for a hearing. The court granted the petition. The Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the Zoning Officer had a mandatory statutory duty to transmit Petitioner’s appeal to the Board and the Petitioner had a right to have its appeal placed on the Board’s agenda. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a zoning officer may not refuse to transmit an appeal from his own zoning determining to the county board of adjustment for its review. View "Morningstar Marinas/Eaton Ferry, LLC v. Warren County" on Justia Law

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Duke Energy Progress filed an application with the North Carolina Utilities Commission requesting authority to increase its retail electric service rates and that rates be established using a return on equity (ROE) of 11.25 percent. The Commission entered an order approving an ROE of 10.2 percent. The Attorney General, who had intervened in the proceedings, appealed the Commission’s order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission made sufficient findings of fact regarding the impact of changing economic conditions upon customers and that these findings were supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence in view of the entire record. View "State ex rel. Utils. Comm'n v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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Dominion North Carolina filed an application with the North Carolina Utilities Commission requesting an 11.25 percent return on equity (ROE), among other things. During the course of public hearings, the Commission received evidence that Dominion made certain adjustments to a study of the costs of providing retail electric service to a large industrial customer. The Commission ultimately issued an order approving an ROE of 10.2 percent and approving of Dominion’s adjustments to the cost-of-service study. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the Commission did not err by approving Dominion’s adjustments to the cost-of-service study; but (2) the portion of the Commission’s order in which it authorized a 10.2 percent ROE for Dominion did not contain sufficient findings of fact to demonstrate that it was supported by competent and substantial evidence. Remanded. View "State ex rel. Utils. Comm'n v. Attorney Gen." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff injured his shoulder while working for Employer. Plaintiff was terminated later that year for “reduction of staff due to lack of work.” Employer accepted Plaintiff’s injury as compensable. In January 2009, Plaintiff began to receive unemployment benefits from Employer and Insurer (together, Defendants). In December 2010, Defendants sought to terminate payment of compensation, alleging that Plaintiff could no longer show he was disabled. The Industrial Commission concluded that Plaintiff was not entitled to disability payments made after December 2010 and that Defendants were entitled to a credit for any payments they had made after that date, finding that Plaintiff’s inability to find work was not due to his injury but to large-scale economic factors. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission properly concluded that Plaintiff failed to prove that his inability to earn the same wages as before his injury resulted from his work-related injury. View "Medlin v. Weaver Cooke Constr., LLC" on Justia Law

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Through the Towing Ordinance and the Mobile Phone Ordinance the Town of Chapel Hill sought to regulate the business of towing vehicles parked in private lots and the use of mobile telephones while driving. Plaintiff, who operated a towing business within the town limits of Chapel Hill, sought a declaratory judgment to invalidate both ordinances, claiming that the Town lacked the authority to enact either ordinance. The trial court agreed with Plaintiff and entered a permanent injunction barring enforcement of both ordinances. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the Towing Ordinance covered a proper subject for regulation under the Town’s police power; and (2) Plaintiff was not entitled to challenge the Mobile Phone Ordinance because he had not been cited for a violation. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) the fee schedule and credit card fee provisions of the Towing Ordinance exceeded the Town’s authority, but the remainder of the Towing Ordinance was valid; and (2) the legislature’s comprehensive scheme regulating use of a mobile phone on streets and highways precluded the Town from doing so. View "King v. Town of Chapel Hill" on Justia Law