Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court

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The North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners lawfully took disciplinary action against a certified professional and her corporation (collectively, Petitioners) for failure to follow a rule requiring compliance with the terms of a peer review contract, and the Board’s decision was based on substantial evidence. The Board found that Petitioners, a certified public accountant (CPA) and her firm, failed to comply with required auditing standards and failed to fulfill the terms of a peer review contract. The Board determined that this conduct violated rules and standards promulgated by the Board. The Board suspended the firm’s registration, imposed monetary penalties on the CPA, and revoked the CPA’s certificate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board’s action was not an unconstitutional exercise of judicial power; and (2) the Board’s decision was supported by substantial evidence, notwithstanding a procedural error alleged by Petitioners. View "In re Johnson" on Justia Law

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A respondent such as the respondent in this case has a statutory right to a jury trial in an appeal of an Asheville Civil Service Board (Board) decision to superior court. Appellant Robert Frost, a police officer in the Asheville Police Department, was terminated for his alleged use of excessive force against a citizen. Frost appealed his determination to the Board. The Board concluded that Appellant’s termination was not justified and that his termination should be rescinded. The City then filed a petition for a trial de novo in the superior court to determine whether officer Frost’s termination was justified. Appellant filed a timely response to the petition requesting a jury trial. The City moved to strike the request claiming that Appellant had no constitutional or statutory right to a jury trial. The superior court denied the City’s motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, pursuant to section 8(g) of the Asheville Civil Service Law, a respondent may demand a jury trial in a superior court appeal of a Board decision. View "City of Asheville v. Frost" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s decision to award Plaintiff benefits arising out of a 2009 automobile accident. The court of appeals concluded that Plaintiff was barred from pursuing compensation for his personal injury claim under the Workers’ Compensation Act because he had elected to settle his claim against the third-party tortfeasor without the consent of Defendant, the City of Charlotte, and had received disbursement of the settlement proceedings. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the Act protects both the employer’s lien against third-party proceeds and the employee’s right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits under these circumstances; and (2) therefore, the Commission correctly concluded that Plaintiff had not waived his right to compensation under the Act. View "Easter-Rozzelle v. City of Charlotte" on Justia Law

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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