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Judicial Reform States North Carolina

North Carolina Supreme Court

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Government Given Immunity in Injury Lawsuit

Thu, 06/12/2014

Bynum v. Wilson County: While visiting a county office to pay his water bill, James Bynum fell on the front steps and suffered severe injuries. He and his wife filed suit against the County on the grounds that the County negligently failed to maintain their building. The lower courts denied the County’s request for summary judgment and ruled in favor of Bynum.


The Supreme Court of North Carolina reversed the decisions of the lower court and granted summary judgment to Wilson County. The Supreme Court determined that since the County office was a government natured building, it is subject to immunity under the law in relation to negligence claims.

Read the full decision here

Innocent Father Loses Right to Child

Thu, 06/12/2014

In re Adoption of S.D.W.: After a man and woman ended their romantic relationship, the woman gave birth to a child whom she put up for adoption. While the adoption was being processed, the father learned of the child’s existence and filed to gain custody of the child. The Trial Court dismissed his claims and the adoption proceeded. The District Court reversed stating that the dismissal violated the father’s right to due process.


The Supreme Court of North Carolina reversed the District Court’s decision. The Court ruled that since the father did not know of the child’s existence, did not sign a paternity acknowledgement, and did not establish himself as a parent or legal guardian, he is outside of the legal sphere of influence in the custody of the child and does not have the same rights as a legally proven biological father.

Read the full decision here

Can You be Pulled Over by a Firefighter?

Thu, 06/12/2014

State of North Carolina v. Dorothy Hoogland Verkerk: A crew of firefighters were in a firetruck returning to the station when they witnessed a car driving erratically. They called it into police and continued to follow the vehicle, eventually deciding to pull it over in order to avoid the potential of a car accident. Verkerk was the driver and was convicted of driving while impaired with a revoked license. Verkerk motioned for evidence dismissal on the grounds that firefighters cannot conduct traffic stops.


The Supreme Court of North Carolina ruled in favor of the State of North Carolina. The Court stated that evidence gathered against Verkerk simply by observing her driving warranted a pull-over by authorities and that the firefights acted within their authority in good faith to prevent injury. The motion to dismiss evidence was denied.

Read the full decision here