The North Carolina Supreme Court receives petitions for discretionary review throughout the year, usually from unanimous panels of the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court also receives notices of appeal based on constitutional questions, which the Court tends to allow only in its discretion and not as a matter of right. The following cases are ones added by the Supreme Court in 2019 through either a petition for discretionary review or a notice of appeal based on a constitutional question.

Date Case Name Issue(s) Type(s) of Issues Decision
1-May-20

Griffin v. Absolute Fire Control, No. 29A20

Opinion below:  COA19-461

1) Did the Court of Appeals commit error by creating a requirement that employees who remain employed in unsuitable jobs must apply for jobs with other employer in order to prove disability?

2) Does a reasonable job search require looking for positions within an employee’s restrictions?

Civil; Industrial Commission; disability; job search
1-May-20

Raleigh Housing Authority v. Winston, No. 385PA19

Opinion below:  COA18-1155

1) Does a reference to a provision of a lease alone satisfy a public housing authority’s obligation under federal law to “state specific grounds” for terminating the lease?

2) Does the business records exception to the hearsay rule require consideration of how a record was made?

Civil; public housing; hearsay; business records
3-Apr-20

JVC Enterprises, LLC v. City of Concord, No. 31P20

Opinion below:

COA19-308

Whether the City of Concord is allowed to charge impact fees (i.e., fees for prospective water and sewer services). Municipal law; impact fees
3-Apr-20

State v. Schalow, No. 40P20

Opinion below:

COA19-215

(1) Whether the Court of Appeals erred by allowing an appeal from an interlocutory order in a criminal case to address issues other than double jeopardy.

(2) Whether the Court of Appeals erred by concluding defendant was placed in jeopardy by a defective attempted murder indictment.

(3) Whether the Court of Appeals erred by applying a presumption of vindictiveness based on a misunderstanding of defendant’s sentencing prospects upon retrial.

(4) Whether the Court of Appeals erred by finding the Warren exception satisfied when defendant’s motion to dismiss did not allege any intent to circumvent the joinder statute.

Criminal; double jeopardy; appellate procedure
3-Apr-20

State v. Cheeks, No. 421P19

Opinion below:

COA18-884

(1) Whether the Court of Appeals erred by holding both that malice is not an element of first-degree murder by starvation and that the term “starving” as used in N.C.G.S. §14-17 does not require a complete deprivation of food or liquids.

(2) Whether the Court of Appeals erred by holding the evidence was sufficient to support a conviction for murder by starvation when the only expert who testified on cause of death testified that the cause of death was asphyxia by manual strangulation.

(3) Whether the Court of Appeals erred by holding there was no fatal variance where the trial court convicted Mr. Cheeks of felony child abuse based on a different grossly negligent omission, which cause a different serious bodily injury, than what was alleged in the indictment.

Criminal; murder
3-Apr-20

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Stocks, No. 296A19

Opinion below:

COA18-1171

Did the Court of Appeals err in its application of the state of limitations to a sealed instrument? Commercial; deed of trust; statute of limitations
28-Feb-20

State v. Clegg, No. 101PA15-3

Opinion below:

COA17-76

Whether a defendant is entitled to relief under Batson when the state fails to articulate a race neutral justification that is supported by the record?

Whether the trial court should view the evidence “in the light most favorable to the state” when drawing inferences about the prosecutor’s intent from circumstantial evidence?

Whether the North Carolina Constitution requires a more rigorous standard of appellate review than under Batson for claims that the state struck a prospective juror on the basis of her race?

Criminal; Batson
28-Feb-20

Cooper v. Berger, No. 315PA18-2

Opinion below:

COA18-978

Did the General Assembly exceed its constitutional authority and interfere with the Governor’s constitutional powers when it appropriated federal funds provided in three block grants contrary to the Governor’s allocation of those funds?

Did the Court of Appeals err when it determined, as a constitutional matter, that the three federal block grants were within the “State treasury” and thus subject to the General Assembly’s control?

State Constitution; separation of powers
28-Feb-20

Cheryl Lloyd Humphrey Land Investment Company, LLC v. Resco Products, Inc., No. 326P19

Opinion below:

COA19-76

Whether the First Amendment’s Petition Clause shields a party from civil liability for statements made to a local government body during a public hearing regarding the safety and environmental risks associated with conducting explosive blasting 300 feet from a potential residential development.

Whether an allegation that a party “overstated” its position to a local government body during a public hearing is actionable as a fraudulent misrepresentation.

First Amendment; fraud
28-Feb-20

Crazie Overstock Promotions, LLC v. State, No. 345P19

Opinion below:

COA18-1034

(1) Does a sweepstakes game violate the video sweepstakes statute only if it is not dependent on skill or dexterity?

(2) Is Crazie Overstock’s sweepstakes a pretext for violating other state gambling laws?

Gaming and sweepstakes
28-Feb-20

Sandhill Amusements, Inc. and Gift Surplus, LLC v. State, No. 363A14-4

Opinion below:

COA18-1140

(1) Was it permissible for the Court of Appeals to decide the case below on an interpretation all parties rejected and not raised by the parties or at oral argument?

(2) Do sweepstakes games that are dependent on skill or dexterity violate the video sweepstakes statute?

(3) Is the predominant factor test a question of law or fact?

(4) Do Gift Surplus’s sweepstakes games violate the state bans on gambling or slot machines?

Gaming and sweepstakes
28-Feb-20

State v. Betts, No. 376A19

Opinion below:

COA18-963

When M.C.’s therapist, Mary Katherine Masola, told jurors she believed M.C. had “experienced a number of traumas,” including sexual abuse and domestic violence, did her testimony constitute impermissible vouching regarding M.C.’s credibility / believability? If so, did Masola’s impermissible vouching constitute plain error? Evidence; plain error
28-Feb-20

Lake v. State Health Plan, No. 436P13-4

Opinion below:

COA17-1280

(1) Did the Court of Appeals err by concluding that there is no contractual obligation from the State to the Plaintiff Class for the provision of any retirement health benefit or for any specific retirement health benefit?

(2) Did the Court of Appeals err by holding that the State had not breached and/or impaired any contracts with Plaintiffs and had not violated the Law of the Land Clause or due process rights by reducing the retirement health benefit that said Plaintiffs had previously vested into?

(3) Did the Court of Appeals err in holding that the retirement health benefit is neither deferred compensation nor a vested retirement benefit?

(4) Did the Court of Appeals err in not applying all three standards set forth in NCAE in determining whether there was a contractual obligation between the Defendants and the Plaintiffs?

State Constitution; vested rights; state employee benefits
28-Feb-20

State v. Melvin, No. 486P19

Opinion below:

COA18-843

Whether the Court of Appeals erred in concluding that Mr. Melvin’s severance claim was not preserved for appellate review where the court cited the wrong standard, considered only of Mr. Melvin’s six motions for severance, and failed to address Mr. Melvin’s alternative allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel. Criminal; appellate procedure
30-Oct-19

Banyan GW, LLC v. Wayne Preparatory Academy Charter Sch., Inc., No. 188A18-2

Opinion below:

COA18-378

Is a contract enforceable when it is entered into by a public charter school in violation of its charter and statutes governing its operations, with damages for breach being payable from the public funding allotted to the charter school? Is a contract void and unenforceable by its own terms when those terms include a provision declaring the contract null and void when its performance would cause the school to be in violation of its charter? Civil; breach of contract; liquidated damages; charter school Affirmed, and discretionary review improvidently allowed
30-Oct-19

Ashe Cty. v. Ashe Cty. Planning Bd., No. 249P19

Opinion below:  COA18-253

PDR not available Civil; development ordinance; moratorium; subject matter jurisdiction
30-Oct-19

Winston Affordable Hous., LLC v. Roberts, No. 267P19

Opinion below:

COA18-553

Did the Court of Appeals err in affirming the eviction of a subsidized tenant whose landlord improperly terminated her subsidy in order to fabricate a nonpayment of rent claim which it ultimately used as grounds for evicting her?

 

Did the Court of Appeals err in not holding that a subsidized landlord’s violations of HUD regulations are unfair trade practices pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-1.1?

 

Did the trial court err in holding that the plaintiff waived breaches of the lease by the defendant by accepting rents between the date of a termination notice and the effective date of the notice?

Civil; summary ejectment; landlord-tenant; subsidy; unfair or deceptive acts or practices; waiver Reversed and remanded, with dissenting opinion
30-Oct-19

In re J.D., No. 343A19

Opinion below:

COA18-1036

Juvenile delinquency; sexual offense; sexual exploitation; sufficiency of the evidence
30-Oct-19

In re J.S., No. 395P19

Opinion below:

N/A

Certiorari; termination of parental rights
27-Sep-19

Parkes v. Hermann, No. 241PA19

Opinion below: COA18-888

(1) Should the Supreme Court allow plaintiffs to recover under the loss of chance doctrine for medical malpractice actions?

(2) If the Supreme Court adopts the loss of chance doctrine, what limitations should be imposed on the doctrine to prevent windfalls to plaintiffs?

Medical malpractice
27-Sep-19

Da Silva v. WakeMed, No. 326P18

Opinion below: COA17-820

(1) Whether an internal medicine doctor who rarely practices in a hospital setting can testify to the standard of care for a hospitalist.

(2) Whether a plaintiff raises a genuine issue of material fact by referring to an expert’s testimony on direct examination where the expert limited that testimony during cross examination.

(3) Whether expert testimony that a defendant’s actions merely increased the risk of plaintiff’s injury is sufficient proof of proximate cause in a medical malpractice action.

Medical malpractice
14-Aug-19

State v. Seam, No. 082A14-2

Opinion below:

COA18-202

Did the Court of Appeals err in affirming the defendant’s life with parole sentence, where that sentence is disproportionate under the United States and North Carolina Constitutions, and where that sentence, being mandatory pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 15A-1340.19B(a)(1), is unconstitutional as applied to the defendant? Criminal; juveniles; sentencing Affirmed
14-Aug-19

State v. Conley, No. 075P19

Opinion below: COA18-305

Did the Court of Appeals err by holding that under N.C.G.S. 14-269.2(b) someone carrying five firearms onto educational property can be punished only one time? Criminal; firearms; rule of lenity Affirmed, with dissenting opinion
14-Aug-19

State v. Cox, No. 094P19

Opinion below:

COA18-692

Did the Court of Appeals err by reversing, for insufficiency of the evidence, the convictions for conspiracy to commit armed robbery and felonious breaking or entering? Criminal; armed robbery; conspiracy
14-Aug-19

Preston v. Movahed, No. 124P19

Opinion below:

COA18-674

(1) What is the appropriate legal standard to apply to a motion to dismiss on Rule 9(j) grounds?

(2) Did the Court of Appeals err by failing to conduct a proper de novo review of the trial court’s dismissal?

Medical malpractice; Rule 9(j); standard of review Reversed and remanded, with dissenting opinion
14-Aug-19

State v. Fields, No. 170A19

Opinion below:

COA18-673

(1) Can a defendant be punished for both the Class F felony of assault inflicting serious bodily injury, and the Class H felony habitual misdemeanor assault, when the allegations in both indictments are based on the same assault?

(2) Did the Court of Appeals err by vacating the habitual misdemeanor conviction rather than merely arresting judgment?

(3) Is the proper remedy to allow the trial court on remand to consider applying to the assault inflicting serious bodily injury the jury’s finding that the defendant abused a position of trust or confidence to commit the offense?

Criminal; assault; bodily injury
14-Aug-19

Winkler v. N.C. State Bd. of Plumbing, Heating & Fire Sprinkler Contractors, No. 319P18

Opinion below:

COA17-873

Did the Court of Appeals err by construing the language of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 6-19.1 to exclude the prevailing non-state agency litigant in an occupational licensing board disciplinary matter? Disciplinary board; statutory interpretation
14-Aug-19

Town of Pinebluff v. Moore Cty., No. 398P18

Opinion below:

COA17-286

(1) Did the Court of Appeals err in interpreting decisions of the North Carolina Supreme Court and well established canons of statutory construction when it failed to read N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-360 and S.L. 1999-35 in para material?

(2) Did the Court of Appeals’ misapplication of well-established canons of statutory construction create situations where the appellant must impede upon other municipalities’ legal extraterritorial jurisdiction expansion areas, which can produce absurd, illogical, and inconsistent results?

(3) Did the Court of Appeals err when it usurped the appellant’s authority by failing to recognize the plain meaning of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-360(a) and S.L. 1999-35(a), which required Board of County Commissioners approval when a town extends its ETJ over one mile?

(4) Did the Court of Appeals err when it usurped the appellant’s authority by failing to recognize the plain meaning of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-360(e) and S.L. 1999-35(f) where the appellant exercises all three powers set forth in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 160A-360(e), which includes the appellant exercising its planning and zoning regulations, subdivisions regulations, and enforces the State Building Code?

(5) Does the Court of Appeals decision undermine the intent, purpose, and public policy of ETJ?

Extraterritorial jurisdiction; statutory interpretation Reversed and remanded
11-Jun-19 State v. Greenfield, No. 11A19Opinion below: COA17-802 Whether the Court of Appeals erroneously found that the trial court prejudicially erred when it declined to instruct the jury as to self-defense for the assault, where the jury, properly instructed on transferred intent and self-defense for the murder, demonstrated that it rejected defendant’s claim of self-defense when it found him guilty of second-degree murder? Criminal; jury instructions
11-Jun-19

Chappell v. N.C. Department of Transportation, No. 51PA19

Bypass petition:  petition allowed prior to a determination by the Court of Appeals

(1) Did the trial court err by ruling that the recording of a corridor map under the Map Act is equivalent to a fee simple taking of the affected property?

(2) Did the trial court err by refusing to allow the Department of Transportation to exercise its statutory quick-take rights?

(3) Did the trial court err by awarding plaintiffs interest of 8 percent compounded annually?

(4) Did the trial court err by adding taxes paid by plaintiffs to their compensation award?

Inverse condemnation; Map Act Affirmed in part, reversed and remanded in part
11-Jun-19

Walker v. K&W Cafeterias, No. 99PA19

Opinion below:  COA18-429

(1) Do statutory recipients of a wrongful death action have to reimburse a workers’ compensation lien under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-10.2 when the recipients did not receive any workers’ compensation payments?

(2) Were the underinsured motorist proceeds in the wrongful death settlement paid under a South Carolina policy of insurance?

(3) Did the North Carolina Industrial Commission exceed its jurisdiction in distributing property to satisfy a workers’ compensation lien, when that property is not located in North Carolina and is subject to the laws of South Carolina, where the property is located, which immunize the property from subrogation?

(4) Does S.C. Code § 38-77-160 immunize the South Carolina underinsurance motorist proceeds, which are in South Carolina, from subrogation under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-10.2, including orders of distribution under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-10.2(f), as a matter of law?

(5) Does this Court’s decision in the In re Civil Penalty case obligate the Court of Appeals to follow one of its earlier opinions that is void on its face for lack of subject matter jurisdiction?

(6) What is the proper procedure for attaching property to satisfy a workers’ compensation lien under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-10.2, that preserve the interests of justice and the integrity of the laws of the state in which the property is located?

Wrongful death; workers’ compensation; extraterritorial jurisdiction; In re Civil Penalty
11-Jun-19

State v. Steen, No. 141A19

Opinion below:  COA18-233

Did the Court of Appeals err by concluding the law allowed the jury to consider hands and arms as a deadly weapon for the attempted murder alleged as the underlying felony for felony murder? Criminal; harmless error; murder
11-Jun-19

State v. Williams, No. 233P12-2

Opinion below:  COA16-178

(1) Whether imposing two consecutive sentences of life with the possibility of parole violates the United States Constitution and/or the North Carolina Constitution?

(2) Whether the Court of Appeals erred as a matter of law by holding the trial court is required to determine whether a juvenile murderer is constitutionally eligible for a sentence of life without parole under Miller v. Alabama and its progeny as a “threshold” issue and can do so based solely on determining whether defendant would likely benefit from rehabilitation irrespective of the totality of the circumstances?

Criminal; sentencing; juveniles
10-May-19

Rouse v. Forsyth County Department of Social Services, No. 1P19

Opinion below:  COA17-884

(1) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in its decision vacating the award of Rouse’s backpay?

(2) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in its decision vacating the award of Rouse’s attorneys’ fees?

Employment Reversed and remanded
10-May-19

Estate of Savino v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, No. 18PA19

Opinion below:  COA17-1335

(1) Did the Court of Appeals err by reversing the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for directed verdict on pain and suffering of decedent Savino?

(2) Whether the Court of Appeals’ denial of Atrium’s request for a new trial upon determining that the Estate’s administrative negligence claim was improperly pleaded and time-barred is in conflict with Supreme Court precedent, where the entire trial of this case was tainted by the improper inclusion of evidence relevant to administrative negligence, and where the trial court in its jury instruction intertwined administrative negligence with medical negligence.

(3) Whether the Court of Appeals’ failure to reverse the trial court’s directed verdict on Atrium’s contributory negligence defense conflicts with Supreme Court precedent concerning the sufficiency of the evidence where there was substantial evidence introduced at trial in support of that defense.

Tort; trial procedure
10-May-19 State v. Best, No. 300A93-3 Whether the trial court erred in rejecting the claim of a Brady violation presented in defendant’s motion for appropriate relief. Criminal; motion for appropriate relief; Brady violation
10-May-19

State v. Coles, No. 417PA18

Opinion below:  COA18-357

Whether the Court of Appeals erred by awarding defendant a new trial based on the trial court’s omission of a guilty knowledge element in one part of its jury instructions. Criminal; jury instructions
10-May-19

PHG Asheville, LLC v. City of Asheville, No. 434PA18

Opinion below:  COA18-251

(1) If no one offers evidence in opposition to a development permit, is the developer automatically entitled to the permit, or may the local government independently assess the developer’s evidence and make findings of fact that support denying the permit?

(2) Did the Asheville City Council validly deny PHG’s permit based on 44 findings of fact that the Court of Appeals incorrectly disregarded as “improper,” “superfluous,” “extraneous,” “unnecessary,” and “irrelevant”?

(3) Do the Court’s decisions in Mann Media and Humble Oil compel a decision in favor of the City?

Municipalities; development permits Modified and affirmed, with dissenting opinion
10-May-19

State v. Golder, No. 79PA18

Opinion below: COA16-987

(1) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in announcing a new rule that the sufficiency of the evidence could be reviewed on appeal for plain error?

(2) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that Mr. Golder failed to preserve the sufficiency of the evidence for appellate review and the sufficiency of the evidence of aiding and abetting and obtaining property should be reviewed on appeal?

(3) Whether the State presented sufficient evidence that petitioner “aided and abetted” Ballentine?

(4) Whether the State presented sufficient evidence that “value” was obtained for purposes of obtaining property by false pretenses?

Criminal; error preservation; sufficiency of the evidence Modified and affirmed
29-Mar-19

Chavez v. Carmichael, No. 437PA18 (consolidated with Lopez v. Carmichael)

Opinion below:  COA18-317

(1) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in finding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to review or consider Petitioner’s habeas petitions where the record did not establish that the Petitioners were in federal custody?

(2) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in finding that a trial court lacks jurisdiction to review or consider a habeas petition challenging detention based on an immigration detainer or administrative immigration warrant even where the jurisdiction has no 287(g) agreement?

(3) Whether the Court of Appeals should have dismissed the Sheriff’s petitions as moot?

(4) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in failing to dismiss the Sheriff’s arguments where he failed to preserve his arguments as required under Rule 10?

Habeas; immigration; mootness; issue preservation
29-Mar-19

Cabarrus County Board of Education v. Department of State Treasurer, Retirement Systems Division, No. 369PA18

Opinion below:  COA17-1017

Cabarrus County Board of Education v. Board of Trustees, Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System, No. 371PA18

Opinion below:  COA17-1019 

Did the Court of Appeals err by ruling that the cap factor requires rulemaking? Administrative law; rulemaking Affirmed, with dissenting opinion
29-Mar-19

Desmond v. News & Observer Publishing Company, No. 132PA18-2

Opinion below:  COA18-411

(1) Does the First Amendment’s “actual malice” standard protect media defendants against defamation liability based on a conflict in testimony between a newspaper reporter and the reporter’s quoted or cited sources about the accuracy of attributions to those sources, without regard to the substantial truth of the challenged statements considered fully in context?

(2) Must a public-official libel plaintiff show the existence of one of the statutory aggravating factors, in addition to a liability-phase finding of constitutional “actual malice,” in order to recover punitive damages against a media defendant?

First Amendment; punitive damages
29-Mar-19

Chambers v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, No. 147PA18

Opinion below:  COA17-686

(1) Did the court below err in determining that Plaintiff’s claim for a classwide declaratory judgment interpreting Defendants’ emergency room contract is moot because Defendants voluntarily dismissed their counterclaim against Plaintiff seeking to collect his bill?

(2) Did the courts below err in ruling that Defendants could circumvent judicial review of the contract by voluntarily dismissing their collection action against Plaintiff?

(3) Did the trial court err in ruling that Plaintiff’s claim for a declaratory judgment interpreting the contract is not a matter of public interest?

(4) Did the trial court err in ruling that Defendants’ dismissal of their collection action against Plaintiff for the purpose of mooting his individual claim also mooted the claims of unnamed members of the putative class?

Class actions; mootness; declaratory judgments
29-Mar-19

State v. Bennett, No. 406PA18

Opinion below:  COA17-1027

(1) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the trial court’s ruling denying defendant’s Batson motion?

(2) Whether the majority of the Court of Appeals erred by holding “that if the trial court determines that it can reliably infer the race of a prospective juror based upon its observations during voir dire, and it thereafter makes a finding of fact based upon its observations, a defendant’s burden of preserving that prospective juror’s race for the record has been met”?

Batson challenges  
29-Mar-19

State v. Hobbs, No. 263PA18

Opinion below: COA17-1255

(1) Whether the Court of Appeals misapplied Williams by limiting its review to the moot question of whether Mr. Hobbs had established a prima facie showing, rather than considering the trial court’s ultimate ruling on the issue of discriminatory intent?

(2) Whether the Court of Appeals misapplied Batson and its progeny by failing to properly consider all relevant factors and conclude that Mr. Hobbs had made a prima facie showing in his first Batson claim?

(3) Whether the Court of Appeals misapplied Batson and its progeny by failing to properly address the comparative juror analysis and the remainder of the totality of the circumstances, and by failing to conclude that the State’s strikes of jurors Landry and McNeill were motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent, and should therefore result in a new trial?

Batson challenges Reversed and remanded, with dissenting opinion
30-Jan-19

New Hanover Cty. Bd. of Educ. v. Stein, No. 339PA18

Opinion below:  COA17-1374

(1) Do payments made to the Attorney General pursuant to an agreement fall within the scope of Article IX, Section 7 of the North Carolina Constitution?

(2) Were there disputed issues of material fact such that summary judgment was inappropriate?

State Constitution; Clear Proceeds Clause Reversed and remanded, with dissenting opinion
30-Jan-19

State v. Osborne, No. 355PA18 (restricted docket)

Opinion below:  COA18-9

Was the State required to present a scientifically valid chemical analysis of suspected heroin to survive a motion to dismiss? Criminal; identification of controlled substances Reversed and remanded, with concurring opinion
30-Jan-19

State v. Walton, No. 311PA18

Opinion below:  COA17-1359

Did violation reports provide the defendant with adequate notice of a violation of the conditions of probation under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1345(e)? Criminal; probation
30-Jan-19

State v. Waycaster, No. 294PA18

Opinion below:  COA17-1249

Does the admission of evidence from a “data compilation” under the business records exception to the hearsay rule require a foundation to be laid by a custodian or other qualified witness who can testify to the methods by which the data complication was made, verified, and maintained? Evidence