Chapter 1A.

Rules of Civil Procedure.

§ 1A-1.  Rules of Civil Procedure.

The Rules of Civil Procedure are as follows:

 

 

Article 1.

Scope of Rules-One Form of Action.

Rule 1.  Scope of rules.

These rules shall govern the procedure in the superior and district courts of the State of North Carolina in all actions and proceedings of a civil nature except when a differing procedure is prescribed by statute.  They shall also govern the procedure in tort actions brought before the Industrial Commission except when a differing procedure is prescribed by statute. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, c. 818.)

 

Rule 2. One form of action.

There shall be in this State but one form of action for the enforcement or protection of private rights or the redress of private wrongs, which shall be denominated a civil action. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

 

Article 2.

Commencement of Action; Service of Process, Pleadings, Motions, and Orders.

Rule 3. Commencement of action.

(a)        A civil action is commenced by filing a complaint with the court. The clerk shall enter the date of filing on the original complaint, and such entry shall be prima facie evidence of the date of filing.

A civil action may also be commenced by the issuance of a summons when

(1)        A person makes application to the court stating the nature  and purpose of his action and requesting permission to file his complaint within 20 days and

(2)        The court makes an order stating the nature and purpose of the action and granting the requested permission.

The summons and the court's order shall be served in accordance with the provisions of Rule 4. When the complaint is filed it shall be served in accordance with the provisions of Rule 4 or by registered mail if the plaintiff so elects. If the complaint is not filed within the period specified in the clerk's order, the action shall abate.  (b)  The clerk shall maintain as prescribed by the Administrative Office of the Courts a separate index of all medical malpractice actions, as defined in G.S. 90-21.11.  Upon the commencement of a medical malpractice action, the clerk shall provide a current copy of the index to the senior regular resident judge of the district in which the action is pending. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1987, c. 859, s. 2.)

 

Rule 4. Process.

(a)        Summons - Issuance; who may serve. - Upon the filing of the complaint, summons shall be issued forthwith, and in any event within five days. The complaint and summons shall be delivered to some proper person for service. In this State, such proper person shall be the sheriff of the county where service is to be made or some other person duly authorized by law to serve summons. Outside this State, such proper person shall be anyone who is not a party and is not less than 21 years of age or anyone duly authorized to serve summons by the law of the place where service is to be made. Upon request of the plaintiff separate or additional summons shall be issued against any defendants. A summons is issued when, after being filled out and dated, it is signed by the officer having authority to do so. The date the summons bears shall be prima facie evidence of the date of issue.

(b)        Summons - Contents. - The summons shall run in the name of the State and be dated and signed by the clerk, assistant clerk, or deputy clerk of the court in the county in which the action is commenced. It shall contain the title of the cause and the name of the court and county wherein the action has been commenced. It shall be directed to the defendant or defendants and shall notify each defendant to appear and answer within 30 days after its service upon him and further that if he fails so to appear, the plaintiff will apply to the court for the relief demanded in the complaint. It shall set forth the name and address of plaintiff 's attorney, or if there be none, the name and address of plaintiff. If a request for admission is served with the summons, the summons shall so state.

(c)        Summons - Return. - Personal service or substituted personal service of summons as prescribed by Rules 4(j) and (j1) must be made within 60 days after the date of the issuance of summons. When a summons has been served upon every party named in the summons, it shall be returned immediately to the clerk who issued it, with notation thereon of its service.

Failure to make service within the time allowed or failure to return a summons to the clerk after it has been served on every party named in the summons shall not invalidate the summons. If the summons is not served within the time allowed upon every party named in the summons, it shall be returned immediately upon the expiration of such time by the officer to the clerk of the court who issued it with notation thereon of its nonservice and the reasons therefor as to every such party not served, but failure to comply with this requirement shall not invalidate the summons.

(d)       Summons - Extension; endorsement, alias and pluries. - When any defendant in a civil action is not served within the time allowed for service, the action may be continued in existence as to such defendant by either of the following methods of extension:

(1)        The plaintiff may secure an endorsement upon the original summons for an extension of time within which to complete service of process. Return of the summons so endorsed shall be in the same manner as the original process. Such endorsement may be secured within 90 days after the issuance of summons or the date of the last prior endorsement, or

(2)        The plaintiff may sue out an alias or pluries summons returnable in the same manner as the original process. Such alias or pluries summons may be sued out at any time within 90 days after the date of issue of the last preceding summons in the chain of summonses or within 90 days of the last prior endorsement.

Provided, in tax and assessment foreclosures under G.S. 47-108.25 and G.S. 105-374, the first endorsement may be made at any time within two years after the issuance of the original summons, and subsequent endorsements may thereafter be made as in other actions; or an alias or pluries summons may be sued out at any time within two years after the issuance of the original summons, and after the issuance of such alias or pluries summons, the chain of summonses may be kept up as in any other action.

Provided, for service upon a defendant in a place not within the United States, the first endorsement may be made at any time within two years after the issuance of the original summons, and subsequent endorsements may thereafter be made at least once every two years; or an alias or pluries summons may be sued out at any time within two years after the issuance of the original summons, and after the issuance of such alias or pluries summons, the chain of summonses may be kept up as in any other action if sued out within two years of the last preceding summons in the chain of summonses or within two years of the last prior endorsement.

Provided, further, the methods of extension may be used interchangeably in any case and regardless of the form of the preceding extension.

(e)        Summons - Discontinuance. - When there is neither endorsement by the clerk nor issuance of alias or pluries summons within the time specified in Rule 4(d), the action is discontinued as to any defendant not theretofore served with summons within the time allowed. Thereafter, alias or pluries summons may issue, or an extension be endorsed by the clerk, but, as to such defendant, the action shall be deemed to have commenced on the date of such issuance or endorsement.

(f)        Summons - Date of multiple summonses. - If the plaintiff shall cause separate or additional summonses to be issued as provided in Rule 4(a), the date of issuance of such separate or additional summonses shall be considered the same as that of the original summons for purposes of endorsement or alias summons under Rule 4(d).

(g)        Summons - Docketing by clerk. - The clerk shall keep a record in which he shall note the day and hour of issuance of every summons, whether original, alias, pluries, or endorsement thereon. When the summons is returned, the clerk shall note on the record the date of the return and the fact as to service or non-service.

(h)        Summons - When proper officer not available. - If at any time there is not in a county a proper officer, capable of executing process, to whom summons or other process can be delivered for service, or if a proper officer refuses or neglects to execute such process, or if such officer is a party to or otherwise interested in the action or proceeding, the clerk of the issuing court, upon the facts being verified before him by written affidavit of the plaintiff or his agent or attorney, shall appoint some suitable person who, after he accepts such process for service, shall execute such process in the same manner, with like effect, and subject to the same liabilities, as if such person were a proper officer regularly serving process in that county.

(h1)      Summons - When process returned unexecuted. - If a proper officer returns a summons or other process unexecuted, the plaintiff or his agent or attorney may cause service to be made by anyone who is not less than 21 years of age, who is not a party to the action, and who is not related by blood or marriage to a party to the action or to a person upon whom service is to be made. This subsection shall not apply to executions pursuant to Article 28 of Chapter 1 or summary ejectment pursuant to Article 3 of Chapter 42 of the General Statutes.

(i)         Summons - Amendment. - At any time, before or after judgment, in its discretion and upon such terms as it deems just, the court may allow any process or proof of service thereof to be amended, unless it clearly appears that material prejudice would result to substantial rights of the party against whom the process issued.

(j)         Process - Manner of service to exercise personal jurisdiction. -

In any action commenced in a court of this State having jurisdiction of the subject matter and grounds for personal jurisdiction as provided in G.S. 1-75.4, the manner of service of process within or without the State shall be as follows:

(1)        Natural Person. - Except as provided in subdivision (2) below, upon a natural person by one of the following:

a.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the natural person or by leaving copies thereof at the defendant's dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein.

b.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process or by serving process upon such agent or the party in a manner specified by any statute.

c.         By mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the party to be served, and delivering to the addressee.

d.         By depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the party to be served, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

e.         By mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint by signature confirmation as provided by the United States Postal Service, addressed to the party to be served, and delivering to the addressee.

(2)        Natural Person under Disability. - Upon a natural person under disability by serving process in any manner prescribed in this section (j) for service upon a natural person and, in addition, where required by paragraph a or b below, upon a person therein designated.

a.         Where the person under disability is a minor, process shall be served separately in any manner prescribed for service upon a natural person upon a parent or guardian having custody of the child, or if there be none, upon any other person having the care and control of the child. If there is no parent, guardian, or other person having care and control of the child when service is made upon the child, then service of process must also be made upon a guardian ad litem who has been appointed pursuant to Rule 17.

b.         If the plaintiff actually knows that a person under disability is under guardianship of any kind, process shall be served separately upon his guardian in any manner applicable and appropriate under this section (j). If the plaintiff does not actually know that a guardian has been appointed when service is made upon a person known to him to be incompetent to have charge of his affairs, then service of process must be made upon a guardian ad litem who has been appointed pursuant to Rule 17.

(3)        The State. - Upon the State by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the Attorney General or to a deputy or assistant attorney general; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the Attorney General or to a deputy or assistant attorney general; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the Attorney General or to a deputy or assistant attorney general, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

(4)        An Agency of the State. -

a.         Upon an agency of the State by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the process agent appointed by the agency in the manner hereinafter provided; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to said process agent; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the process agent, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

b.         Every agency of the State shall appoint a process agent by filing with the Attorney General the name and address of an agent upon whom process may be served.

c.         If any agency of the State fails to comply with paragraph b above, then service upon such agency may be made by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the Attorney General or to a deputy or assistant attorney general; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the Attorney General, or to a deputy or assistant attorney general; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the Attorney General or to a deputy or assistant attorney general, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

d.         For purposes of this rule, the term "agency of the State" includes every agency, institution, board, commission, bureau, department, division, council, member of Council of State, or officer of the State government of the State of North Carolina, but does not include counties, cities, towns, villages, other municipal corporations or political subdivisions of the State, county or city boards of education, other local public districts, units, or bodies of any kind, or private corporations created by act of the General Assembly.

(5)        Counties, Cities, Towns, Villages and Other Local Public Bodies. -

a.         Upon a city, town, or village by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to its mayor, city manager or clerk; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to its mayor, city manager or clerk; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the mayor, city manager, or clerk, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

b.         Upon a county by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to its county manager or to the chairman, clerk or any member of the board of commissioners for such county; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to its county manager or to the chairman, clerk, or any member of this board of commissioners for such county; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the county manager or to the chairman, clerk, or any member of the board of commissioners of that county, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

c.         Upon any other political subdivision of the State, any county or city board of education, or other local public district, unit, or body of any kind (i) by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer or director thereof, (ii) by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an agent or attorney-in-fact authorized by appointment or by statute to be served or to accept service in its behalf, (iii) by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the officer, director, agent, or attorney-in-fact as specified in (i) and (ii), or (iv) by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the officer, director, agent, or attorney-in-fact as specified in (i) and (ii), delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

d.         In any case where none of the officials, officers or directors specified in paragraphs a, b and c can, after due diligence, be found in the State, and that fact appears by affidavit to the satisfaction of the court, or a judge thereof, such court or judge may grant an order that service upon the party sought to be served may be made by personally delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the Attorney General or any deputy or assistant attorney general of the State of North Carolina; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the Attorney General or any deputy or assistant attorney general of the State of North Carolina; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the Attorney General or any deputy or assistant attorney general of the State of North Carolina, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

(6)        Domestic or Foreign Corporation. - Upon a domestic or foreign corporation by one of the following:

a.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer, director, or managing agent of the corporation or by leaving copies thereof in the office of such officer, director, or managing agent with the person who is apparently in charge of the office.

b.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process or by serving process upon such agent or the party in a manner specified by any statute.

c.         By mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the officer, director or agent to be served as specified in paragraphs a and b.

d.         By depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the officer, director, or agent to be served as specified in paragraphs a. and b., delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

(7)        Partnerships. - Upon a general or limited partnership:

a.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to any general partner, or to any attorney-in-fact or agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process in its behalf; by mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to any general partner, or to any attorney-in-fact or agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process in its behalf; or by depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to any general partner or to any attorney-in-fact or agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process in its behalf, delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt; or by leaving copies thereof in the office of such general partner, attorney-in-fact or agent with the person who is apparently in charge of the office. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

b.         If relief is sought against a partner specifically, a copy of the summons and of the complaint must be served on such partner as provided in this section (j).

(8)        Other Unincorporated Associations and Their Officers. - Upon any unincorporated association, organization, or society other than a partnership by one of the following:

a.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an officer, director, managing agent or member of the governing body of the unincorporated association, organization or society, or by leaving copies thereof in the office of such officer, director, managing agent or member of the governing body with the person who is apparently in charge of the office.

b.         By delivering a copy of the summons and of the complaint to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process or by serving process upon such agent or the party in a manner specified by any statute.

c.         By mailing a copy of the summons and of the complaint, registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the officer, director, agent or member of the governing body to be served as specified in paragraphs a and b.

d.         By depositing with a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) a copy of the summons and complaint, addressed to the officer, director, agent, or member of the governing body to be served as specified in paragraphs a. and b., delivering to the addressee, and obtaining a delivery receipt. As used in this sub-subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt.

(9)        Foreign States and Their Political Subdivisions, Agencies, and Instrumentalities. - Upon a foreign state or a political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1608.

(j1)       Service by publication on party that cannot otherwise be served. - A party that cannot with due diligence be served by personal delivery, registered or certified mail, or by a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) may be served by publication. Except in actions involving jurisdiction in rem or quasi in rem as provided in section (k), service of process by publication shall consist of publishing a notice of service of process by publication once a week for three successive weeks in a newspaper that is qualified for legal advertising in accordance with G.S. 1-597 and G.S. 1-598 and circulated in the area where the party to be served is believed by the serving party to be located, or if there is no reliable information concerning the location of the party then in a newspaper circulated in the county where the action is pending. If the party's post-office address is known or can with reasonable diligence be ascertained, there shall be mailed to the party at or immediately prior to the first publication a copy of the notice of service of process by publication. The mailing may be omitted if the post-office address cannot be ascertained with reasonable diligence. Upon completion of such service there shall be filed with the court an affidavit showing the publication and mailing in accordance with the requirements of G.S. 1-75.10(a)(2), the circumstances warranting the use of service by publication, and information, if any, regarding the location of the party served.

The notice of service of process by publication shall (i) designate the court in which the action has been commenced and the title of the action, which title may be indicated sufficiently by the name of the first plaintiff and the first defendant; (ii) be directed to the defendant sought to be served; (iii) state either that a pleading seeking relief against the person to be served has been filed or has been required to be filed therein not later than a date specified in the notice; (iv) state the nature of the relief being sought; (v) require the defendant being so served to make defense to such pleading within 40 days after a date stated in the notice, exclusive of such date, which date so stated shall be the date of the first publication of notice, or the date when the complaint is required to be filed, whichever is later, and notify the defendant that upon his failure to do so the party seeking service of process by publication will apply to the court for the relief sought; (vi) in cases of attachment, state the information required by G.S. 1-440.14; (vii) be subscribed by the party seeking service or his attorney and give the post-office address of such party or his attorney; and (viii) be substantially in the following form:

NOTICE OF SERVICE OF PROCESS BY PUBLICATION

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA ____________COUNTY

 

In the __________________ Court

 

[Title of action or special proceeding] [To Person to be served]:

Take notice that a pleading seeking relief against you (has been filed) (is required to be filed not later than ___________, ____) in the above-entitled (action) (special proceeding). The nature of the relief being sought is as follows:

(State nature.)

You are required to make defense to such pleading not later than (__________, ____) and upon your failure to do so the party seeking service against you will apply to the court for the relief sought.

This, the _______ day of ____________, ____

                                                                                           (Attorney) (Party)

                                                                                           (Address)

(j2)       Proof of service. - Proof of service of process shall be as follows:

(1)        Personal Service. - Before judgment by default may be had on personal service, proof of service must be provided in accordance with the requirements of G.S. 1-75.10(a)(1).

(2)        Registered or Certified Mail, Signature Confirmation, or Designated Delivery Service. - Before judgment by default may be had on service by registered or certified mail, signature confirmation, or by a designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f)(2) with delivery receipt, the serving party shall file an affidavit with the court showing proof of such service in accordance with the requirements of G.S. 1-75.10(a)(4), 1-75.10(a)(5), or 1-75.10(a)(6), as appropriate. This affidavit together with the return receipt, copy of the proof of delivery provided by the United States Postal Service, or delivery receipt, signed by the person who received the mail or delivery if not the addressee raises a presumption that the person who received the mail or delivery and signed the receipt was an agent of the addressee authorized by appointment or by law to be served or to accept service of process or was a person of suitable age and discretion residing in the addressee's dwelling house or usual place of abode. In the event the presumption described in the preceding sentence is rebutted by proof that the person who received the receipt at the addressee's dwelling house or usual place of abode was not a person of suitable age and discretion residing therein, the statute of limitation may not be pleaded as a defense if the action was initially commenced within the period of limitation and service of process is completed within 60 days from the date the service is declared invalid. Service shall be complete on the day the summons and complaint are delivered to the address. As used in this subdivision, "delivery receipt" includes an electronic or facsimile receipt provided by a designated delivery service.

(3)        Publication. - Before judgment by default may be had on service by publication, the serving party shall file an affidavit with the court showing the circumstances warranting the use of service by publication, information, if any, regarding the location of the party served which was used in determining the area in which service by publication was printed and proof of service in accordance with G.S. 1-75.10(a)(2).

(j3)       Service in a foreign country. - Unless otherwise provided by federal law, service upon a defendant, other than an infant or an incompetent person, may be effected in a place not within the United States:

(1)        By any internationally agreed means reasonably calculated to give notice, such as those means authorized by the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents; or

(2)        If there is no internationally agreed means of service or the applicable international agreement allows other means of service, provided that service is reasonably calculated to give notice:

a.         In the manner prescribed by the law of the foreign country for service in that country in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction;

b.         As directed by the foreign authority in response to a letter rogatory or letter of request; or

c.         Unless prohibited by the law of the foreign country, by

1.         Delivery to the individual personally of a copy of the summons and the complaint and, upon a corporation, partnership, association or other such entity, by delivery to an officer or a managing or general agent;

2.         Any form of mail requiring a signed receipt, to be addressed and dispatched by the clerk of the court to the party to be served; or

(3)        By other means not prohibited by international agreement as may be directed by the court.

Service under subdivision (2)c.1. or (3) of this subsection may be made by any person authorized by subsection (a) of this Rule or who is designated by order of the court or by the foreign court.

On request, the clerk shall deliver the summons to the plaintiff for transmission to the person or the foreign court or officer who will make the service. Proof of service may be made as prescribed in G.S. 1-75.10, by the order of the court, or by the law of the foreign country.

Proof of service by mail shall include an affidavit or certificate of addressing and mailing by the clerk of court.

(j4)       Process or judgment by default not to be attacked on certain grounds. - No party may attack service of process or a judgment of default on the basis that service should or could have been effected by personal service rather than service by registered or certified mail. No party that receives timely actual notice may attack a judgment by default on the basis that the statutory requirement of due diligence as a condition precedent to service by publication was not met.

(j5)       Personal jurisdiction by acceptance of service. - Any party personally, or through the persons provided in Rule 4(j), may accept service of process by notation of acceptance of service together with the signature of the party accepting service and the date thereof on an original or copy of a summons, and such acceptance shall have the same force and effect as would exist had the process been served by delivery of copy and summons and complaint to the person signing said acceptance.

(j6)       Service by electronic mailing not authorized. - Nothing in subsection (j) of this section authorizes the use of electronic mailing for service on the party to be served.

(k)        Process - Manner of service to exercise jurisdiction in rem or quasi in rem. - In any action commenced in a court of this State having jurisdiction of the subject matter and grounds for the exercise of jurisdiction in rem or quasi in rem as provided in G.S. 1-75.8, the manner of service of process shall be as follows:

(1)        Defendant Known. - If the defendant is known, he may be served in the appropriate manner prescribed for service of process in section (j), or, if otherwise appropriate section (j1); except that the requirement for service by publication in (j1) shall be satisfied if made in the county where the action is pending and proof of service is made in accordance with section (j2).

(2)        Defendant Unknown. - If the defendant is unknown, he may be designated by description and process may be served by publication in the manner provided in section (j1), except that the requirement for service by publication in (j1) shall be satisfied if made in the county where the action is pending and proof of service is made in accordance with section (j2).  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, ss. 1-4; 1971, c. 962; c. 1156, s. 2; 1975, cc. 408, 609; 1977, c. 910, ss. 1-3; 1981, c. 384, s. 3; c. 540, ss. 1-8; 1983, c. 679, ss. 1, 2; 1989, c. 330; c. 575, ss. 1, 2; 1995, c. 275, s. 1; c. 389, ss. 2, 3; c. 509, s. 135.1(e), (f); 1997-469, s. 1; 1999-456, s. 59; 2001-379, ss. 1, 2, 2.1, 2.2; 2005-221, ss. 1, 2; 2008-36, ss. 1-3, 5; 2011-332, s. 3.1.)

 

Rule 5. Service and filing of pleadings and other papers.

(a)        Service of orders, subsequent pleadings, discovery papers, written motions, written notices, and other similar papers - When required. - Every order required by its terms to be served, every pleading subsequent to the original complaint unless the court otherwise orders because of numerous defendants, every paper relating to discovery required to be served upon a party unless the court otherwise orders, every written motion other than one which may be heard ex parte, and every written notice, appearance, demand, offer of judgment and similar paper shall be served upon each of the parties, but no service need be made on parties in default for failure to appear except that pleadings asserting new or additional claims for relief against them shall be served upon them in the manner provided for service of summons in Rule 4.

(a1)      Service of briefs or memoranda in support or opposition of certain dispositive motions. - In actions in superior court, every brief or memorandum in support of or in opposition to a motion to dismiss, a motion for judgment on the pleadings, a motion for summary judgment, or any other motion seeking a final determination of the rights of the parties as to one or more of the claims or parties in the action shall be served upon each of the parties at least two days before the hearing on the motion. If the brief or memorandum is not served on the other parties at least two days before the hearing on the motion, the court may continue the matter for a reasonable period to allow the responding party to prepare a response, proceed with the matter without considering the untimely served brief or memorandum, or take such other action as the ends of justice require. The parties may, by consent, alter the period of time for service. For the purpose of this two-day requirement only, service shall mean personal delivery, facsimile transmission, or other means such that the party actually receives the brief within the required time.

(b)        Service - How made. - A pleading setting forth a counterclaim or cross claim shall be filed with the court and a copy thereof shall be served on the party against whom it is asserted or on the party's attorney of record as provided by this subsection.

With respect to all pleadings subsequent to the original complaint and other papers required or permitted to be served, service shall be made upon the party's attorney of record and, if ordered by the court, also upon the party. If the party has no attorney of record, service shall be made upon the party. With respect to such other pleadings and papers, service with due return may be made in a manner provided for service and return of process in Rule 4. Service under this subsection may also be made by one of the following methods:

(1)        Upon a party's attorney of record:

a.         By delivering a copy to the attorney. Delivery of a copy within this sub-subdivision means handing it to the attorney, leaving it at the attorney's office with a partner or employee, or sending it to the attorney's office by a confirmed telefacsimile transmittal for receipt by 5:00 P.M. Eastern Time on a regular business day, as evidenced by a telefacsimile receipt confirmation. If receipt of delivery by telefacsimile is after 5:00 P.M., service will be deemed to have been completed on the next business day.

b.         By mailing a copy to the attorney's office.

(2)        Upon a party:

a.         By delivering a copy to the party. Delivery of a copy within this sub-subdivision means handing it to the party.

b.         By mailing a copy to the party at the party's last known address or, if no address is known, by filing it with the clerk of court.

Service by mail shall be complete upon deposit of the pleading or paper enclosed in a post-paid, properly addressed wrapper in a post office or official depository under the exclusive care and custody of the United States Postal Service.

(b1)      Service - Certificate of Service. - A certificate of service shall accompany every pleading and every paper required to be served on any party or nonparty to the litigation, except with respect to pleadings and papers whose service is governed by Rule 4. The certificate shall show the date and method of service or the date of acceptance of service and shall show the name and service address of each person upon whom the paper has been served. If one or more persons are served by facsimile transmission, the certificate shall also show the telefacsimile number of each person so served. Each certificate of service shall be signed in accordance with and subject to Rule 11 of these rules.

(c)        Service - Numerous defendants. - In any action in which there are unusually large numbers of defendants, the court, upon motion or of its own initiative, may order that service of the pleadings of the defendants and replies thereto need not be made as between the defendants and that any crossclaim, counterclaim, or matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense contained therein shall be deemed to be denied or avoided by all other parties and that the filing of any such pleading and service thereof upon the plaintiff constitutes due notice of it to the parties. A copy of every such order shall be served upon the parties in such manner and form as the court directs.

(d)       Filing. - The following papers shall be filed with the court, either before service or within five days after service:

(1)        All pleadings, as defined by Rule 7(a) of these rules, subsequent to the complaint, whether such pleadings are original or amended.

(2)        Written motions and all notices of hearing.

(3)        Any other application to the court for an order that may affect the rights of or in any way commands any individual, business entity, governmental agency, association, or partnership to act or to forego action of any kind.

(4)        Notices of appearance.

(5)        Any other paper required by rule or statute to be filed.

(6)        Any other paper so ordered by the court.

(7)        All orders issued by the court.

All other papers, regardless of whether these rules require them to be served upon a party, should not be filed with the court unless (i) the filing is agreed to by all parties, or (ii) the papers are submitted to the court in relation to a motion or other request for relief, or (iii) the filing is permitted by another rule or statute. Briefs or memoranda provided to the court may not be filed with the clerk of court unless ordered by the court. The party taking a deposition or obtaining material through discovery is responsible for its preservation and delivery to the court if needed or so ordered.

(e)       (1)        Filing with the court defined. - The filing of pleadings and other papers with the court as required by these rules shall be made by filing them with the clerk of the court, except that the judge may permit the papers to be filed with him, in which event he shall note thereon the filing date and forthwith transmit them to the office of the clerk.

(2)        Filing by electronic means. - If, pursuant to G.S. 7A-34 and G.S. 7A-343, the Supreme Court and the Administrative Officer of the Courts establish uniform rules, regulations, costs, procedures and specifications for the filing of pleadings or other court papers by electronic means, filing may be made by the electronic means when, in the manner, and to the extent provided therein.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, c. 538; c. 1156, s. 2.5; 1975, c. 762, s. 1; 1983, c. 201, s. 1; 1985, c. 546; 1991, c. 168, s. 1; 2000-127, s. 1; 2001-379, s. 3; 2001-388, s. 1; 2001-487, s. 107.5(a); 2004-199, s. 5(a); 2005-138, ss. 1, 2; 2006-187, s. 2(a); 2011-332, s. 4.2.)

 

Rule 6. Time.

(a)        Computation. - In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by these rules, by order of court, or by any applicable statute, including rules, orders or statutes respecting publication of notices, the day of the act, event, default or publication after which the designated period of time begins to run is not to be included. The last day of the period so computed is to be included, unless it is a Saturday, Sunday or a legal holiday when the courthouse is closed for transactions, in which event the period runs until the end of the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday when the courthouse is closed for transactions. When the period of time prescribed or allowed is less than seven days, intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays shall be excluded in the computation. A half holiday shall be considered as other days and not as a holiday.

(b)        Enlargement. - When by these rules or by a notice given thereunder or by order of court an act is required or allowed to be done at or within a specified time, the court for cause shown may at any time in its discretion with or without motion or notice order the period enlarged if request therefor is made before the expiration of the period originally prescribed or as extended by a previous order. Upon motion made after the expiration of the specified period, the judge may permit the act to be done where the failure to act was the result of excusable neglect. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this rule, the parties may enter into binding stipulations without approval of the court enlarging the time, not to exceed in the aggregate 30 days, within which an act is required or allowed to be done under these rules, provided, however, that neither the court nor the parties may extend the time for taking any action under Rules 50(b), 52, 59(b), (d), (e), 60(b), except to the extent and under the conditions stated in them.

(c)        Unaffected by expiration of session. - The period of time provided for the doing of any act or the taking of any proceeding is not affected or limited by the continued existence or expiration of a session of court. The continued existence or expiration of a session of court in no way affects the power of a court to do any act or take any proceeding, but no issue of fact shall be submitted to a jury out of session.

(d)       For motions, affidavits. - A written motion, other than one which may be heard ex parte, and notice of the hearing thereof shall be served not later than five days before the time specified for the hearing, unless a different period is fixed by these rules or by order of the court. Such an order may for cause shown be made on ex parte application. When a motion is supported by affidavit, the affidavit shall be served with the motion; and except as otherwise provided in Rule 59(c), opposing affidavits shall be served at least two days before the hearing. If the opposing affidavit is not served on the other parties at least two days before the hearing on the motion, the court may continue the matter for a reasonable period to allow the responding party to prepare a response, proceed with the matter without considering the untimely served affidavit, or take such other action as the ends of justice require. For the purpose of this two-day requirement only, service shall mean personal delivery, facsimile transmission, or other means such that the party actually receives the affidavit within the required time.

(e)        Additional time after service by mail. - Whenever a party has the right to do some act or take some proceedings within a prescribed period after the service of a notice or other paper upon him and the notice or paper is served upon him by mail, three days shall be added to the prescribed period.

(f)        Additional time for Address Confidentiality Program participants. - Whenever a person participating in the Address Confidentiality Program established by Chapter 15C of the General Statutes has a legal right to act within a prescribed period of 10 days or less after the service of a notice or other paper upon the program participant, and the notice or paper is served upon the program participant by mail, five days shall be added to the prescribed period. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2000-127, s. 5; 2002-171, s. 2; 2003-337, s. 2.)

 

 

Article 3

Pleadings and Motions.

Rule 7. Pleadings allowed; motions.

(a)        Pleadings. - There shall be a complaint and an answer; a reply to a counterclaim denominated as such; an answer to a crossclaim, if the answer contains a crossclaim; a third-party complaint if a person who was not an original party is summoned under the provisions of Rule 14; and a third-party answer, if a third-party complaint is served. If the answer alleges contributory negligence, a party may serve a reply alleging last clear chance. No other pleading shall be allowed except that the court may order a reply to an answer or a third-party answer.

(b)        Motions and other papers. -

(1)        An application to the court for an order shall be by motion which, unless made during a hearing or trial or at a session at which a cause is on the calendar for that session, shall be made in writing, shall state with particularity the grounds therefor, and shall set forth the relief or order sought. The requirement of writing is fulfilled if the motion is stated in a written notice of the hearing of the motion.

(2)        The rules applicable to captions, signing, and other matters of form of pleadings apply to all motions and other papers provided for by these rules.

(3)        A motion to transfer under G.S. 7A-258 shall comply with the directives therein specified but the relief thereby obtainable may also be sought in a responsive pleading pursuant to Rule 12(b).

(4)        A motion in a civil action in a county that is part of a multicounty judicial district may be heard in another county which is part of that same judicial district with the permission of the senior resident superior court judge of that district or of that judge's designee. Except for emergencies as determined by the senior resident superior court judge or that judge's designee, a motion in a civil action to be heard outside the county in which the case is filed shall be heard at a civil session of court.

(c)        Demurrers, pleas, etc., abolished. - Demurrers, pleas, and exceptions for insufficiency shall not be used.

(d)       Pleadings not read to jury. - Unless otherwise ordered by the judge, pleadings shall not be read to the jury.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, c. 1156, s. 1; 2000-127, s. 2; 2005-163, s. 1; 2011-317, s. 1.)

 

Rule 8. General rules of pleadings.

(a)        Claims for relief. - A pleading which sets forth a claim for relief, whether an original claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim shall contain

(1)        A short and plain statement of the claim sufficiently particular to give the court and the parties notice of the transactions, occurrences, or series of transactions or occurrences, intended to be proved showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, and

(2)        A demand for judgment for the relief to which he deems himself entitled. Relief in the alternative or of several different types may be demanded. In all actions involving a material issue related to any of the subjects listed in G.S. 7A-45.4(a)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), or (8), the pleading shall state whether or not relief is demanded for damages incurred or to be incurred in an amount equal to or exceeding five million dollars ($5,000,000). In all negligence actions, and in all claims for punitive damages in any civil action, wherein the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), the pleading shall not state the demand for monetary relief, but shall state that the relief demanded is for damages incurred or to be incurred in excess of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000). However, at any time after service of the claim for relief, any party may request of the claimant a written statement of the monetary relief sought, and the claimant shall, within 30 days after such service, provide such statement, which shall not be filed with the clerk until the action has been called for trial or entry of default entered. Such statement may be amended in the manner and at times as provided by Rule 15.

(b)        Defenses; form of denials. - A party shall state in short and plain terms his defenses to each claim asserted and shall admit or deny the averments upon which the adverse party relies. If he is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of an averment, he shall so state and this has the effect of a denial. Denials shall fairly meet the substance of the averments denied. When a pleader intends in good faith to deny only a part of or a qualification of an averment, he shall specify so much of it as is true and material and shall deny only the remainder. Unless the pleader intends in good faith to controvert all the averments of the preceding pleading, he may make his denials as specific denials of designated averments or paragraphs, or he may generally deny all the averments except such designated averments or paragraphs as he expressly admits; but, when he does so intend to controvert all its averments, he may do so by general denial subject to the obligations set forth in Rule 11.

(c)        Affirmative defenses. - In pleading to a preceding pleading, a party shall set forth affirmatively accord and satisfaction, arbitration and award, assumption of risk, contributory negligence, discharge in bankruptcy, duress, estoppel, failure of consideration, fraud, illegality, injury by fellow servant, laches, license, payment, release, res judicata, statute of frauds, statute of limitations, truth in actions for defamation, usury, waiver, and any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense. Such pleading shall contain a short and plain statement of any matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense sufficiently particular to give the court and the parties notice of the transactions, occurrences, or series of transactions or occurrences, intended to be proved. When a party has mistakenly designated a defense as a counterclaim or a counterclaim as a defense, the court, on terms, if justice so requires, shall treat the pleading as if there had been a proper designation.

(d)       Effect of failure to deny. - Averments in a pleading to which a responsive pleading is required, other than those as to the amount of damage, are admitted when not denied in the responsive pleading. Averments in a pleading to which no responsive pleading is required or permitted shall be taken as denied or avoided.

(e)        Pleading to be concise and direct; consistency. -

(1)        Each averment of a pleading shall be simple, concise, and direct. No technical forms of pleading or motions are required.

(2)        A party may set forth two or more statements of a claim or defense alternatively or hypothetically, either in one count or defense or in separate counts or defenses. When two or more statements are made in the alternative and one of them if made independently would be sufficient, the pleading is not made insufficient by the insufficiency of one or more of the alternative statements. A party may also state as many separate claims or defenses as he has regardless of consistency and whether based on legal or on equitable grounds or on both. All statements shall be made subject to the obligations set forth in Rule 11.

(f)        Construction of pleadings. - All pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, 2nd Sess., c. 977, s. 5; 1979, ch. 654, s. 4; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 1027, s. 56; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 995, s. 1; 2014-102, s. 7; 2014-115, s. 18.5.)

 

Rule 9. Pleading special matters.

(a)        Capacity. - Any party not a natural person shall make an affirmative averment showing its legal existence and capacity to sue. Any party suing in any representative capacity shall make an affirmative averment showing his capacity and authority to sue. When a party desires to raise an issue as to the legal existence of any party or the capacity of any party to sue or be sued or the authority of a party to sue or be sued in a representative capacity, he shall do so by specific negative averment, which shall include such supporting particulars as are peculiarly within the pleader's knowledge.

(b)        Fraud, duress, mistake, condition of the mind. - In all averments of fraud, duress or mistake, the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake shall be stated with particularity. Malice, intent, knowledge, and other condition of mind of a person may be averred generally.

(c)        Conditions precedent. - In pleading the performance or occurrence of conditions precedent, it is sufficient to aver generally that all conditions precedent have been performed or have occurred. A denial of performance or occurrence shall be made specifically and with particularity.

(d)       Official document or act. - In pleading an official document or official act it is sufficient to aver that the document was issued or the act done in compliance with law.

(e)        Judgment. - In pleading a judgment, decision or ruling of a domestic or foreign court, judicial or quasi-judicial tribunal, or of a board or officer, it is sufficient to aver the judgment, decision or ruling without setting forth matter showing jurisdiction to render it.

(f)        Time and place. - For the purpose of testing the sufficiency of a pleading, averments of time and place are material and shall be considered like all other averments of material matter.

(g)        Special damage. - When items of special damage are claimed each shall be averred.

(h)        Private statutes. - In pleading a private statute or right derived therefrom it is sufficient to refer to the statute by its title or the day of its ratification if ratified before January 1, 1996, or the date it becomes law if it becomes law on or after January 1, 1996, and the court shall thereupon take judicial notice of it.

(i)         Libel and slander. -

(1)        In an action for libel or slander it is not necessary to state in the complaint any extrinsic facts for the purpose of showing the application to the plaintiff of the defamatory matter out of which the claim for relief arose, but it is sufficient to state generally that the same was published or spoken concerning the plaintiff, and if such allegation is controverted, the plaintiff is bound to establish on trial that it was so published or spoken.

(2)        The defendant may in his answer allege both the truth of the matter charged as defamatory, and any mitigating circumstances to reduce the amount of damages; and whether he proves the justification or not, he may give in evidence the mitigating circumstances.

(j)         Medical malpractice. - Any complaint alleging medical malpractice by a health care provider pursuant to G.S. 90-21.11(2)a. in failing to comply with the applicable standard of care under G.S. 90-21.12 shall be dismissed unless:

(1)        The pleading specifically asserts that the medical care and all medical records pertaining to the alleged negligence that are available to the plaintiff after reasonable inquiry have been reviewed by a person who is reasonably expected to qualify as an expert witness under Rule 702 of the Rules of Evidence and who is willing to testify that the medical care did not comply with the applicable standard of care;

(2)        The pleading specifically asserts that the medical care and all medical records pertaining to the alleged negligence that are available to the plaintiff after reasonable inquiry have been reviewed by a person that the complainant will seek to have qualified as an expert witness by motion under Rule 702(e) of the Rules of Evidence and who is willing to testify that the medical care did not comply with the applicable standard of care, and the motion is filed with the complaint; or

(3)        The pleading alleges facts establishing negligence under the existing common-law doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.

Upon motion by the complainant prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, a resident judge of the superior court for a judicial district in which venue for the cause of action is appropriate under G.S. 1-82 or, if no resident judge for that judicial district is physically present in that judicial district, otherwise available, or able or willing to consider the motion, then any presiding judge of the superior court for that judicial district may allow a motion to extend the statute of limitations for a period not to exceed 120 days to file a complaint in a medical malpractice action in order to comply with this Rule, upon a determination that good cause exists for the granting of the motion and that the ends of justice would be served by an extension. The plaintiff shall provide, at the request of the defendant, proof of compliance with this subsection through up to ten written interrogatories, the answers to which shall be verified by the expert required under this subsection. These interrogatories do not count against the interrogatory limit under Rule 33.

(k)        Punitive damages. - A demand for punitive damages shall be specifically stated, except for the amount, and the aggravating factor that supports the award of punitive damages shall be averred with particularity. The amount of damages shall be pled in accordance with Rule 8.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1995, c. 20, s. 10; c. 309, s. 2; c. 514, s. 3; 1998-217, s. 61; 2001-121, s. 1; 2011-400, s. 3.)

 

Rule 10. Form of pleadings.

(a)        Caption; names of parties. - Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the division of the court in which the action is filed, the title of the action, and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

(b)        Paragraphs; separate statement. - All averments of claim or defense shall be made in numbered paragraphs, the contents of each of which be limited as far as practicable to a statement of a single set of circumstances; and a paragraph may be referred to by number in all succeeding pleadings. Each claim founded upon a separate transaction or occurrence and each defense other than denials shall be stated in a separate count or defense whenever a separation facilitates the clear presentation of the matters set forth.

(c)        Adoption by reference; exhibits. - Statements in a pleading may be adopted by reference in a different part of the same pleading or in another pleading or in any motion in the action. A copy of any written instrument which is an exhibit to a pleading is a part thereof for all purposes. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 11. Signing and verification of pleadings.

(a)        Signing by Attorney. - Every pleading, motion, and other paper of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in his individual name, whose address shall be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign his pleading, motion, or other paper and state his address. Except when otherwise specifically provided by rule or statute, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading, motion, or other paper; that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation. If a pleading, motion, or other paper is not signed, it shall be stricken unless it is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the pleader or movant. If a pleading, motion, or other paper is signed in violation of this rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay to the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the pleading, motion, or other paper, including a reasonable attorney's fee.

(b)        Verification of pleadings by a party. - In any case in which verification of a pleading shall be required by these rules or by statute, it shall state in substance that the contents of the pleading verified are true to the knowledge of the person making the verification, except as to those matters stated on information and belief, and as to those matters he believes them to be true. Such verification shall be by affidavit of the party, or if there are several parties united in interest and pleading together, by at least one of such parties acquainted with the facts and capable of making the affidavit. Such affidavit may be made by the agent or attorney of a party in the cases and in the manner provided in section (c) of this rule.

(c)        Verification of pleadings by an agent or attorney. - Such verification may be made by the agent or attorney of a party for whom the pleading is filed, if the action or defense is founded upon a written instrument for the payment of money only and the instrument or a true copy thereof is in the possession of the agent or attorney, or if all the material allegations of the pleadings are within the personal knowledge of the agent or attorney. When the pleading is verified by such agent or attorney, he shall set forth in the affidavit:

(1)        That the action or defense is founded upon a written instrument for the payment of money only and the instrument or a true copy thereof is in his possession, or

(2)        a.         That all the material allegations of the pleadings are true to his personal knowledge and

b.         The reasons why the affidavit is not made by the party.

(d)       Verification by corporation or the State. - When a corporation is a party the verification may be made by any officer, or managing or local agent thereof upon whom summons might be served; and when the State or any officer thereof in its behalf is a party, the verification may be made by any person acquainted with the facts. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 1027, s. 55.)

 

Rule 12. Defenses and objections; when and how presented; by pleading or motion; motion for judgment on pleading.

(a)        (1) When Presented. - A defendant shall serve his answer within 30 days after service of the summons and complaint upon him. A party served with a pleading stating a crossclaim against him shall serve an answer thereto within 30 days after service upon him. The plaintiff shall serve his reply to a counterclaim in the answer within 30 days after service of the answer or, if a reply is ordered by the court, within 30 days after service of the order, unless the order otherwise directs. Service of a motion permitted under this rule alters these periods of time as follows, unless a different time is fixed by order of the court:

a.         The responsive pleading shall be served within 20 days after notice of the court's action in ruling on the motion or postponing its disposition until the trial on the merits;

b.         If the court grants a motion for a more definite statement, the responsive pleading shall be served within 20 days after service of the more definite statement.

(2)        Cases Removed to United States District Court. - Upon the filing in a district court of the United States of a petition for the removal of a civil action or proceeding from a court in this State and the filing of a copy of the petition in the State court, the State court shall proceed no further therein unless and until the case is remanded. If it shall be finally determined in the United States courts that the action or proceeding was not removable or was improperly removed, or for other reason should be remanded, and a final order is entered remanding the action or proceeding to the State court, the defendant or defendants, or any other party who would have been permitted or required to file a pleading  had the proceedings to remove not been instituted, shall have 30 days after the filing in such State court of a certified copy of the order of remand to file motions and to answer or otherwise plead.

(b)        How Presented. - Every defense, in law or fact, to a claim for relief in any pleading, whether a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim, shall be asserted in the responsive pleading thereto if one is required, except that the following defenses may at  the option of the pleader be made by motion:

(1)        Lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter,

(2)        Lack of jurisdiction over the person,

(3)        Improper venue or division,

(4)        Insufficiency of process,

(5)        Insufficiency of service of process,

(6)        Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,

(7)        Failure to join a necessary party.

A motion making any of these defenses shall be made before pleading if a further pleading is permitted. The consequences of failure to make such a motion shall be as provided in sections (g) and (h). No defense or objection is waived by being joined with one or more other defenses or objections in a responsive pleading or motion. Obtaining an extension of time within which to answer or otherwise plead shall not constitute a waiver of any defense herein set forth. If a pleading sets forth a claim for relief to which the adverse party is not required to serve a responsive pleading, he may assert at the trial any defense in law or fact to that claim for relief. If, on a motion asserting the defense numbered (6), to dismiss for failure of the pleading to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, matters outside the pleading are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56, and all parties shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56.

(c)        Motion for judgment on the pleadings. - After the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay the trial, any party may move for judgment on the pleadings. If, on a motion for  judgment on the pleadings, matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment and disposed of as provided in Rule 56, and all parties shall be given reasonable opportunity to present all material made pertinent to such a motion by Rule 56.

(d)       Preliminary hearings. - The defenses specifically enumerated (1) through (7) in section (b) of this rule, whether made in a pleading or by motion, and the motion for judgment on the pleadings mentioned in section (c) of this rule shall be heard and determined before trial on application of any party, unless the judge orders that the hearing and determination thereof be deferred until the trial.

(e)        Motion for more definite statement. - If a pleading to which a responsive pleading is permitted is so vague or ambiguous that a party cannot reasonably be required to frame a responsive pleading, he may move for a more definite statement before interposing his responsive pleading. The motion shall point out the defects complained of and the details desired. If the motion is granted and the order of the judge is not obeyed within 20 days after notice of the order or within such other time as the judge may fix, the judge may strike the pleading to which the motion was directed or make such orders as he deems just.

(f)        Motion to strike. - Upon motion made by a party before responding to a pleading or, if no responsive pleading is permitted by these rules, upon motion made by a party within 30 days after the service of the pleading upon him or upon the judge's own initiative at any time, the judge may order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense or any redundant, irrelevant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.

(g)        Consolidation of defenses in motion. - A party who makes a motion under this rule may join with it any other motions herein provided for and then available to him. If a party makes a motion under this rule but omits therefrom any defense or objection then available to him which this rule permits to be raised by motion, he shall not thereafter make a motion based on the defense or objection so omitted, except a motion as provided in section (h)(2) hereof on any of the grounds there stated.

(h)        Waiver or preservation of certain defenses. -

(1)        A defense of lack of jurisdiction over the person, improper venue, insufficiency of process, or insufficiency of service  of process is waived (i) if omitted from a motion in the circumstances described in section (g), or (ii) if it is neither made by motion under this rule nor included in a responsive pleading or an amendment thereof permitted by Rule 15(a) to be made as a matter of course.

(2)        A defense of failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a defense of failure to join a necessary party, and an objection of failure to state a legal defense to a claim may be made in any pleading permitted or ordered under  Rule 7(a), or by motion for judgment on the pleadings, or at the trial on the merits.

(3)        Whenever it appears by suggestion of the parties or otherwise that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, the court shall dismiss the action. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, c. 1236; 1975, c. 76, s. 2.)

 

Rule 13. Counterclaim and crossclaim.

(a)        Compulsory counterclaims. - A pleading shall state as a counterclaim any claim which at the time of serving the pleading the pleader has against any opposing party, if it arises out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party's claim and does not require for its adjudication the presence of third parties of whom the court cannot acquire jurisdiction. But the pleader need not state the claim if

(1) At the time the action was commenced the claim was the subject of another pending action, or

(2) The opposing party brought suit upon his claim by attachment or other process by which the court did not acquire jurisdiction to render a personal judgment on that claim, and the pleader is not stating any counterclaim under this rule.

(b)        Permissive counterclaim. - A pleading may state as a counterclaim any claim against an opposing party not arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the opposing party's claim.

(c)        Counterclaim exceeding opposing claim. - A counterclaim may or may not diminish or defeat the recovery sought by the opposing party. It may claim relief exceeding in amount or different in kind from that sought in the pleading of the opposing party.

(d)       Counterclaim against the State of North Carolina. - These rules shall not be construed to enlarge beyond the limits fixed by law the right to assert counterclaims or to claim credit against the State of North Carolina or an officer or agency thereof.

(e)        Counterclaim maturing or acquired after pleading. - A claim which either matured or was acquired by the pleader after serving his pleading may, with the permission of the court, be presented as a counterclaim by supplemental pleading.

(f)        Omitted counterclaim. - When a pleader fails to set up a counterclaim through oversight, inadvertence, or excusable neglect, or when justice requires, he may by leave of court set up the counterclaim by amendment.

(g)        Crossclaim against coparty. - A pleading may state as a crossclaim any claim by one party against a coparty arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter either of the original action or of a counterclaim therein or relating to any property that is the subject matter of the original action. Such crossclaim may include a claim that the party against whom it is asserted is or may be liable to the crossclaimant for all or part of a claim asserted in the action against the crossclaimant.

(h)        Additional parties may be brought in. - When the presence of parties other than those to the original action is required for the granting of complete relief in the determination of a counterclaim or  crossclaim, the court shall order them to be brought in as defendants  as provided in these rules, if jurisdiction of them can be obtained.

(i)         Separate trial; separate judgment. - If the court orders separate trials as provided in Rule 42(b), judgment on a counterclaim or crossclaim may be rendered in accordance with the terms of Rule 54(b) when the court has jurisdiction so to do, even if the claims of  the opposing party have been dismissed or otherwise disposed of. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 14. Third-party practice.

(a)        When defendant may bring in third party. - At any time after commencement of the action a defendant, as a third-party plaintiff, may cause a summons and complaint to be served upon a person not a party to the action who is or may be liable to him for all or part of the plaintiff's claim against him. Leave to make the service need not be obtained if the third-party complaint is filed not later than 45 days after the answer to the complaint is served. Otherwise leave must be obtained on motion upon notice to all parties to the action. The person served with the summons and third-party complaint, hereinafter called the third-party defendant, shall make his defense to the third-party plaintiff's claim as provided in Rule 12 and his counterclaims against the third-party plaintiff and crossclaim against other third-party defendants as provided in Rule 13. The third-party defendant may assert against the plaintiff any defenses which the third-party plaintiff has to the plaintiff's claim. The third-party defendant may also assert any claim against the plaintiff arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the plaintiff's claim against the third-party plaintiff. The plaintiff may assert any claim against the third-party defendant arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the plaintiff's claim against the third-party plaintiff, and the third-party defendant thereupon shall assert his defenses as provided in Rule 12 and his counterclaims and crossclaims as provided in Rule 13. Any party may move for severance, separate trial, or dismissal of the third-party claim. A third-party defendant may proceed under this rule against any person not a party to the action who is or may be liable to him for all or part of the claim made in the action against the third-party defendant.

Where the normal statute of limitations period in an action arising on a contract is extended as provided in G.S. 1-47(2) or in any action arising on a contract or promissory note, upon motion of the defendant the court may order to be made parties additional defendants, including any party of whom the plaintiff is a subrogee, assignee, third-party beneficiary, endorsee, agent or transferee, or such other person as has received the benefit of the contract by transfer of interest.

(b)        When plaintiff may bring in third party. - When a counterclaim is asserted against a plaintiff, he may cause a third party to be brought in under circumstances which under this rule would entitle a defendant to do so.

(c)        Rule applicable to State of North Carolina. - Notwithstanding the provisions of the Tort Claims Act, the State of North Carolina may be made a third party under subsection (a) or a third-party defendant under subsection (b) in any tort action. In such cases, the same rules governing liability and the limits of liability of the State and its agencies shall apply as is provided for in the Tort Claims Act. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 810, s. 2; 1975, c. 587, s. 1; 1981, c. 92; c. 810.)

 

Rule 15. Amended and supplemental pleadings.

(a)        Amendments. - A party may amend his pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served or, if the pleading is one to which no responsive pleading is permitted and the action has not been placed upon the trial calendar,  he may so amend it at any time within 30 days after it is served. Otherwise a party may amend his pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires. A party shall plead in response to an amended pleading within 30 days after service of the amended pleading, unless the court otherwise orders.

(b)        Amendments to conform to the evidence. - When issues not raised by the pleadings are tried by the express or implied consent of the parties, they shall be treated in all respects as if they had been raised in the pleadings. Such amendment of the pleadings as may be necessary to cause them to conform to the evidence and to raise these  issues may be made upon motion of any party at any time, either before or after judgment, but failure so to amend does not affect the result of the trial of these issues. If evidence is objected to at the trial  on the ground that it is not within the issues raised by the pleadings, the court may allow the pleadings to be amended and shall do so freely when the presentation of the merits of the action will be served thereby and the objecting party fails to satisfy the court that the admission of such evidence would prejudice him in maintaining his action or defense upon the merits. The court may grant a continuance to enable the objecting party to meet such evidence.

(c)        Relation back of amendments. - A claim asserted in an amended pleading is deemed to have been interposed at the time the claim in the original pleading was interposed, unless the original pleading does not give notice of the transactions, occurrences, or series of transactions or occurrences, to be proved pursuant to the amended pleading.

(d)       Supplemental pleadings. - Upon motion of a party the court may, upon reasonable notice and upon such terms as are just, permit him to serve a supplemental pleading setting forth transactions or occurrences or events which may have happened since the date of the pleading sought to be supplemented, whether or not the original pleading is defective in its statement of a claim for relief or defense. If the court deems it advisable that the adverse party plead thereto, it shall so order, specifying the time therefor. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 16. Pre-trial procedure; formulating issues.

(a)        In any action, the court may in its discretion direct the attorneys for the parties to appear before the court for a conference to consider

(1)        The simplification and formulation of the issues;

(2)        The necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;

(3)        The possibility of obtaining admissions of fact and of documents which will avoid unnecessary proof;

(4)        The limitation of the number of expert witnesses;

(5)        The advisability or necessity of a reference of the case, either in whole or in part;

(6)        Matters of which the court is to be asked to take judicial notice;

(7)        Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the action.

If a conference is held, the judge shall make an order which recites the action taken at the conference, any amendments allowed to the pleadings, and any agreements made by the parties as to any of the matters considered, and which may limit the issues for trial to those not disposed of by admissions or agreements of counsel; and such order when entered controls the subsequent course of the action, unless modified at the trial to prevent manifest injustice. If any issue for trial as stated in the order is not raised by the pleadings in accordance with the provisions of Rule 8, upon motion of any party, the order shall require amendment of the pleadings.

(b)        In a medical malpractice action as defined in G.S. 90-21.11, at the close of the discovery period scheduled pursuant to Rule 26(g), the judge shall schedule a final conference. After the conference, the judge shall refer any consent order calendaring the case for trial to the senior resident superior court judge or the chief district court judge, who shall approve the consent order unless the judge finds that:

(1)        The date specified in the order is unavailable,

(2)        The terms of the order unreasonably delay the trial, or

(3)        The ends of justice would not be served by approving the order.

If the senior resident superior court judge or the chief district court judge does not approve the consent order, the judge shall calendar the case for trial.

In calendaring the case, the court shall take into consideration the nature and complexity of the case, the proximity and convenience of witnesses, the needs of counsel for both parties concerning their respective calendars, the benefits of an early disposition and such other matters as the court may deem proper.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1987, c. 859, s. 4; 2011-199, s. 1.)

 

 

Article 4.

Parties.

Rule 17. Parties plaintiff and defendant; capacity.

(a)        Real party in interest. - Every claim shall be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest; but an executor, administrator, guardian, trustee of an express trust, a party with whom or in whose name a contract has been made for the benefit of another, or a party authorized by statute may sue in his own name without joining with him the party for whose benefit the action is brought; and when a statute of the State so provides, an action for the use or benefit of another shall be brought in the name of the State of North Carolina. No action shall be dismissed on the ground that it is not prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest until a reasonable time has been allowed after objection for ratification of commencement of the action by, or joinder or substitution of, the real party in interest; and such ratification, joinder, or substitution shall have the same effect as if the action had been commenced in the name of the real party in interest.

(b)        Infants, incompetents, etc. -

(1)        Infants, etc., Sue by Guardian or Guardian Ad Litem. - In actions or special proceedings when any of the parties plaintiff are infants or incompetent persons, whether residents or nonresidents of this State, they must appear by general or testamentary guardian, if they have any within the State or by guardian ad litem appointed as hereinafter provided; but if the action or proceeding is against such guardian, or if there is no such known guardian, then such persons may appear by guardian ad litem.

(2)        Infants, etc., Defend by Guardian Ad Litem. - In actions or  special proceedings when any of the defendants are infants or incompetent persons, whether residents or nonresidents of this State, they must defend by general or testamentary guardian, if they have any within this State or by guardian ad litem appointed as hereinafter provided; and if they have  no known general or testamentary guardian in the State, and any of them have been summoned, the court in which said action or special proceeding is pending, upon motion of any of the parties, may appoint some discreet person to act as guardian ad litem, to defend in behalf of such infants, or incompetent persons, and fix and tax his fee as part of the costs. The guardian so appointed shall, if the cause is a civil action, file his answer to the complaint within the time required for other defendants, unless the time is extended by the court; and if the cause is a special proceeding, a copy of the complaint, with the summons, must be served on him. After 20 days' notice of the summons and complaint in the special proceeding, and after answer filed as above prescribed in the civil action, the court may proceed to final judgment as effectually and in the same manner as if there had been personal service upon the said infant or incompetent persons or defendants.

                  All orders or final judgments duly entered in any action or special proceeding prior to April 8, 1974, when any of the defendants were infants or incompetent persons, whether residents or nonresidents of this State, and were defended therein by a general or testamentary guardian or guardian ad litem, and summons and complaint or petition in said action or special proceeding were duly served upon the guardian or guardian ad litem and answer duly filed by said guardian or guardian ad litem, shall be good and valid notwithstanding that said order or final judgment was entered less than 20 days after notice of the summons and complaint served upon said guardian or guardian ad litem.

(3)        Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem Notwithstanding the Existence of a General or Testamentary Guardian. - Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (b)(1) and (b)(2), a guardian ad litem for an infant or incompetent person may be appointed in any case when it is deemed by the court in which the action is pending expedient to have the infant, or insane or incompetent person so represented, notwithstanding such person may have a general or testamentary guardian.

(4)        Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem for Unborn Persons. - In all actions in rem and quasi in rem and in all actions and special proceedings which involve the construction of wills,  trusts and contracts or any instrument in writing, or which involve the determination of the ownership of property or the distribution of property, if there is a possibility that some person may thereafter be born who, if then living, would be a necessary or proper party to such action or special proceeding, the court in which said action or special proceeding is pending, upon motion of any of the parties or upon its own motion, may appoint some discreet person guardian ad litem to defend on behalf of such unborn person. Service upon the guardian ad litem appointed for such unborn person shall have the same force and effect as service upon such unborn person would have had if such person had been living. All proceedings by and against the said guardian ad litem after appointment shall be governed by all provisions of the law applicable to guardians ad litem for living persons.

(5)        Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem for Corporations, Trusts, or Other Entities Not in Existence. - In all actions which involve the construction of wills, trusts, contracts or written instruments, or the determination of the ownership of property or the disposition or distribution of property pursuant to the provisions of a will, trust, contract or written instrument, if such will, trust, contract or written  instrument provides benefits for disposition or distribution  of property to a corporation, a trust, or an entity thereafter to be formed for the purpose of carrying into effect some provision of the said will, trust, contract or written instrument, the court in which said action or special proceeding is pending, upon motion of any of the parties or upon its own motion, may appoint some discreet person guardian ad litem for such corporation, trust or other entity. Service upon the guardian ad litem appointed for such corporation, trust or other entity shall have the same force and effect as service upon such corporation, trust or entity would have had if such corporation, trust or other entity had been in existence. All proceedings by and against the said guardian ad litem after appointment shall be governed by all provisions of the law applicable to guardians ad litem for living persons.

(6)        Repealed by Session Laws 1981, c. 599, s. 1.

(7)        Miscellaneous Provisions. - The provisions of this rule are  in addition to any other remedies or procedures authorized or permitted by law, and it shall not be construed to repeal or to limit the doctrine of virtual representation or any other law or rule of law by which unborn persons or nonexistent corporations, trusts or other entities may be represented in or bound by any judgment or order entered in any action or special proceeding. This rule shall apply to all pending actions and special proceedings to which it may be constitutionally applicable. All judgments and orders heretofore entered in any action in which a guardian or guardians ad litem have been appointed for any unborn person or persons or any nonexistent corporations, trusts or other entities, are hereby validated as of the several dates of entry thereof in the same manner and to the full extent that they would have been valid if this rule had been in effect at the time of the appointment of such guardians ad litem; provided, however, that the provisions of this sentence shall be applicable only in such cases and to the extent to which the application thereof shall not be prevented by any constitutional limitation.

(c)        Guardian ad litem for infants, insane or incompetent persons; appointment procedure. - When a guardian ad litem is appointed to represent an infant or insane or incompetent person, he must be appointed as follows:

(1)        When an infant or insane or incompetent person is plaintiff, the appointment shall be made at any time prior to or at the  time of the commencement of the action, upon the written application of any relative or friend of said infant or insane or incompetent person or by the court on its own motion.

(2)        When an infant is defendant and service under Rule 4(j)(1)a is made upon him the appointment may be made upon the written application of any relative or friend of said infant, or, if no such application is made within 10 days after service of summons, upon the written application of any other party to the action or, at any time by the court on its own motion.

(3)        When an infant or insane or incompetent person is defendant and service can be made upon him only by publication, the appointment may be made upon the written application of any relative or friend of said infant, or upon the written application of any other party to the action, or by the court on its own motion, before completion of publication, whereupon service of the summons with copy of the complaint shall be made forthwith upon said guardian so appointed requiring him to make defense at the same time that the defendant is required to make defense in the notice of publication.

(4)        When an insane or incompetent person is defendant and service by publication is not required, the appointment may be made upon the written application of any relative or friend of said defendant, or upon the written application of any other party to the action, or by the court on its own motion, prior to or at the time of the commencement of the action, and service upon the insane or incompetent defendant may thereupon be dispensed with by order of the court making such appointment.

(d)       Guardian ad litem for persons not ascertained or for persons, trusts or corporations not in being. - When under the terms of a written instrument, or for any other reason, a person or persons who are not in being, or any corporation, trust, or other legal entity which is not in being, may be or may become legally or equitably interested in any property, real or personal, the court in which an action or proceeding of any kind relative to or affecting such property is pending, may, upon the written application of any party to such action or proceeding or of other person interested, appoint a guardian ad litem to represent such person or persons not ascertained or such persons, trusts or corporations not in being.

(e)        Duty of guardian ad litem; effect of judgment or decree where party represented by guardian ad litem. - Any guardian ad litem appointed for any party pursuant to any of the provisions of this rule shall file and serve such pleadings as may be required within the times specified by these rules, unless extension of time is obtained.  After the appointment of a guardian ad litem under any provision of this rule and after the service and filing of such pleadings as may be required by such guardian ad litem, the court may proceed to final judgment, order or decree against any party so represented as effectually and in the same manner as if said party had been under no  legal disability, had been ascertained and in being, and had been present in court after legal notice in the action in which such final  judgment, order or decree is entered. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, ss. 5, 6; 1971, c. 1156, ss. 3, 4; 1973, c. 1199; 1981, c. 599, s. 1; 1987, c. 550, s. 13.)

 

Rule 18. Joinder of claims and remedies.

(a)        Joinder of claims. - A party asserting a claim for relief as an original claim, counterclaim, cross claim, or third-party claim, may join, either as independent or as alternate claims, as many claims, legal or equitable, as he has against an opposing party.

(b)        Joinder of remedies; fraudulent conveyances. - Whenever a claim is one heretofore cognizable only after another claim has been prosecuted to a conclusion, the two claims may be joined in a single action; but the court shall grant relief in that action only in accordance with the relative substantive rights of the parties. In particular, a plaintiff may state a claim for money and a claim to have set aside a conveyance fraudulent as to him, without first having obtained a judgment establishing the claim for money. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, s. 7.)

 

Rule 19. Necessary joinder of parties.

(a)        Necessary joinder. - Subject to the provisions of Rule 23, those who are united in interest must be joined as plaintiffs or defendants; but if the consent of anyone who should have been joined as plaintiff cannot be obtained he may be made a defendant, the reason therefor being stated in the complaint; provided, however, in all cases of joint contracts, a claim may be asserted against all or any number of the persons making such contracts.

(b)        Joinder of parties not united in interest. - The court may determine any claim before it when it can do so without prejudice to the rights of any party or to the rights of others not before the court; but when a complete determination of such claim cannot be made  without the presence of other parties, the court shall order such other parties summoned to appear in the action.

(c)        Joinder of parties not united in interest - Names of omitted persons and reasons for nonjoinder to be pleaded. - In any pleading in which relief is asked, the pleader shall set forth the names, if known to him, of persons who ought to be parties if complete relief is to be accorded between those already parties, but who are not joined, and shall state why they are omitted. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 20. Permissive joinder of parties.

(a)        Permissive joinder. - All persons may join in one action as plaintiffs if they assert any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative in respect of or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to all parties will arise in the action. All persons may be joined in one action as defendants if there is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative, any right to relief in respect of or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to all parties will arise in the action. A plaintiff or defendant need not be interested in obtaining or defending against all the relief demanded. Judgment may be given for one or more of the plaintiffs according to their respective rights to relief, and against one or more defendants according to their respective liabilities.

(b)        Separate trial. - The court shall make such orders as will prevent a party from being embarrassed, delayed, or put to expense by the inclusion of a party against whom he asserts no claim and who asserts no claim against him, and shall order separate trials or make other orders to prevent delay or prejudice. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1973, c. 75.)

 

Rule 21. Procedure upon misjoinder and nonjoinder.

Neither misjoinder of parties nor misjoinder of parties and claims is ground for dismissal of an action; but on such terms as are just parties may be dropped or added by order of the court on motion of any party or on its own initiative at any stage of the action. Any  claim against a party may be severed and proceeded with separately. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 22.  Interpleader.

(a)        Persons having claims against the plaintiff may be joined as defendants and required to interplead when their claims expose or may expose the plaintiff to double or multiple liability.  It is not ground for objection to the joinder that the claims of the several claimants or the titles on which their claims depend do not have a common origin or are not identical but are adverse to and independent of one another, or that the plaintiff avers that he is not liable in whole or in part to any or all of the claimants.  A defendant exposed to similar liability may obtain such interpleader by way of crossclaim or counterclaim.  The provisions of this rule supplement and do not in any way limit the joinder of parties permitted in Rule 20.

(b)        Where funds are subject to competing claims by parties to the action, the court may order the party in possession of the funds either to deposit the funds in an interest bearing account in a bank, savings and loan, or trust company licensed to do business in this State or to deposit the funds with the clerk.  If the funds are deposited in a bank, savings and loan, or trust company, the court shall specify the type of interest bearing account to be used.  Funds deposited with the clerk shall be invested or deposited as provided in G.S. 7A-112 and G.S. 7A-112.1.  Upon determination of the action, the judgment shall provide for disbursement of the principal and interest earned on the funds while so deposited. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1989, c. 668.)

 

Rule 23. Class actions.

(a)        Representation. - If persons constituting a class are so numerous as to make it impracticable to bring them all before the court, such of them, one or more, as will fairly insure the adequate representation of all may, on behalf of all, sue or be sued.

(b)        Secondary action by shareholders. - In an action brought to enforce a secondary right on the part of one or more shareholders or members of a corporation or an unincorporated association because the corporation or association refuses to enforce rights which may properly be asserted by it, the complaint shall be verified by oath.

(c)        Dismissal or compromise. - A class action shall not be dismissed or compromised without the approval of the judge. In an action under this rule, notice of a proposed dismissal or compromise shall be given to all members of the class in such manner as the judge directs.

(d)       Tax Class Actions. - In addition to all of the requirements set out in this rule, a class action seeking the refund of a State tax paid due to an alleged unconstitutional statute may be brought and maintained only as provided in G.S. 105-241.18.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2008-107, s. 28.28(a).)

 

Rule 24. Intervention.

(a)        Intervention of right. - Upon timely application anyone shall be permitted to intervene in an action:

(1)        When a statute confers an unconditional right to intervene; or

(2)        When the applicant claims an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action and he is so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede his ability to protect that interest, unless the applicant's interest is adequately  represented by existing parties.

(b)        Permissive intervention. - Upon timely application anyone may be permitted to intervene in an action.

(1)        When a statute confers a conditional right to intervene; or

(2)        When an applicant's claim or defense and the main action have a question of law or fact in common. When a party to an action relies for ground of claim or defense upon any statute or executive order administered by a federal or State governmental officer or agency or upon any regulation, order, requirement, or agreement issued or made pursuant to the statute or executive order, such officer or agency upon timely application may be permitted to intervene in the action. In exercising its discretion the court shall consider whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties.

(c)        Procedure. - A person desiring to intervene shall serve a motion to intervene upon all parties affected thereby. The motion shall state the grounds therefor and shall be accompanied by a pleading setting forth the claim or defense for which intervention is  sought. The same procedure shall be followed when a statute gives a right to intervene, except when the statute prescribes a different procedure. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 25. Substitution of parties upon death, incompetency or transfer of interest; abatement.

(a)        Death. - No action abates by reason of the death of a  party if the cause of action survives. In such case, the court, on motion at any time within the time specified for the presentation of claims in G.S. 28A-19-3, may order the substitution of said party's personal representative or collector and allow the action to be continued by or against the substituted party.

(b)        Insanity or incompetency. - No action abates by reason of the incompetency or insanity of a party. If such incompetency or insanity is adjudicated, the court, on motion at any time within one year after such adjudication, or afterwards on a supplemental complaint, may order that said party be represented by his general guardian or trustee or a guardian ad litem, and, allow the action to be continued. If there is no adjudication, any party may suggest such incompetency or insanity to the court and it shall enter such order in respect thereto as justice may require.

(c)        Abatement ordered unless action continued. - At any time after the death, insanity or incompetency of a party, the court in which an action is pending, upon notice to such person as it directs and upon motion of any party aggrieved, may order that the action be abated, unless it is continued by the proper parties, within a time to be fixed by the court, not less than six nor more than 12 months from the granting of the order.

(d)       Transfer of interest. - In case of any transfer of interest other than by death, the action shall be continued in the name of the  original party; but, upon motion of any party, the court may allow the person to whom the transfer is made to be joined with the original party.

(e)        Death of receiver of corporation. - No action against a receiver of a corporation abates by reason of his death, but, upon suggestion of the facts on the record, it continues against his successor or against the corporation in case a new receiver is not appointed and such successor or the corporation is automatically substituted as a party.

(f)        Public officers; death or separation from office. -

(1)        When a public officer is a party to an action in his official capacity and during its pendency dies, resigns or otherwise ceases to hold office, the action does not abate and his successor is automatically substituted as a party. Proceedings following the substitution shall be in the name of the substituted party, but any misnomer not affecting substantial rights of the parties shall be disregarded. An order of substitution may be entered at any time, but the omission to enter such an order shall not affect the substitution.

(2)        When a public officer sues or is sued in his official capacity, he may be described as a party by his official title rather than by name; but the court may require his name to be added.

(g)        No abatement after verdict. - After a verdict is rendered in any action, the action does not abate by reason of the death of a party, whether or not the cause of action upon which it is based is a type which survives. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1977, c. 446, s. 3.)

 

 

Article 5.

Depositions and Discovery.

Rule 26.  General provisions governing discovery.

(a)        Discovery methods. - Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods: depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission.

(b)        Discovery scope and limits. - Unless otherwise limited by order of the court in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:

(1)        In General. - Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party, including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books, documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of any discoverable matter. It is not ground for objection that the information sought will be inadmissible at the trial if the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence nor is it grounds for objection that the examining party has knowledge of the information as to which discovery is sought. For the purposes of these rules regarding discovery, the phrase "electronically stored information" includes reasonably accessible metadata that will enable the discovering party to have the ability to access such information as the date sent, date received, author, and recipients. The phrase does not include other metadata unless the parties agree otherwise or the court orders otherwise upon motion of a party and a showing of good cause for the production of certain metadata.

(1a)      Limitations on Frequency and Extent. - The frequency or extent of use of the discovery methods set forth in section (a) shall be limited by the court if it determines that: (i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or (iii) the discovery is unduly burdensome or expensive, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, limitations on the parties' resources, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation. The court may act upon its own initiative after reasonable notice or pursuant to a motion under section (c).

(1b)      Specific Limitations on Electronically Stored Information. - In addition to any limitations imposed by subdivision (b)(1a) of this rule, discovery of electronically stored information is subject to the limitations set forth in Rule 34(b). The court may specify conditions for the discovery, including allocation of discovery costs.

(2)        Insurance Agreements. - A party may obtain discovery of the existence and contents of any insurance agreement under which any person carrying on an insurance business may be liable to satisfy part or all of a judgment which may be entered in the action or to indemnify or reimburse for payments made to satisfy the judgment. Information concerning the insurance agreement is not by reason of disclosure admissible in evidence at trial. For purposes of this subsection, an application for insurance shall not be treated as part of an insurance agreement.

(3)        Trial Preparation; Materials. - Subject to the provisions of subsection (b)(4) of this rule, a party may obtain discovery of documents and tangible things otherwise discoverable under subsection (b)(1) of this rule and prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial by or for another party or by or for that other party's consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent only upon a showing that the party seeking discovery has substantial need of the materials in the preparation of the case and that the party is unable without undue hardship to obtain the substantial equivalent of the materials by other means. In ordering discovery of such materials when the required showing has been made, the court may not permit disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of an attorney or other representative of a party concerning the litigation in which the material is sought or work product of the attorney or attorneys of record in the particular action.

      A party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party. Upon request, a person not a party may obtain without the required showing a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person. If the request is refused, the person may move for a court order. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion. For purposes of this paragraph, a statement previously made is (i) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or (ii) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical, or other recording, or a transcription thereof, which is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement by the person making it and contemporaneously recorded.

(4)        Trial Preparation; Discovery of Experts. - Discovery of facts known and opinions held by experts, that are otherwise discoverable under the provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection and acquired or developed in anticipation of litigation or for trial, may be obtained only as provided by this subdivision:

a.         1.         In general. - In order to provide openness and avoid unfair tactical advantage in the presentation of a case at trial, a party must disclose to the other parties in accordance with this subdivision the identity of any witness it may use at trial to present evidence under Rule 702, Rule 703, or Rule 705 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence.

2.         Witnesses providing a written report. - The parties shall have the option, in connection with the disclosures required by this subdivision, of accompanying the disclosure with a written report prepared and signed by the witness if the witness is one retained or specifically employed to provide expert testimony in the case or one whose duties as the party's employee regularly involve giving expert testimony. If the parties agree to accompany their disclosure pursuant to this subdivision with a written report, the report must contain all of the following:

I.          A complete statement of all opinions the witness will express and the basis and reasons for them.

II.        The facts or data considered by the witness in forming them.

III.       Any exhibits that will be used to summarize or support them.

IV.       The witness' qualifications, including a list of all publications authored in the previous 10 years.

V.        A list of all other cases in which, during the previous four years, the witness testified as an expert at trial or by deposition.

VI.       A statement of the compensation to be paid for the study and testimony in the case.

3.         Witnesses not providing expert reports. - Unless otherwise stipulated to by the parties, or ordered by the court, a party may through interrogatories require any other party to identify each person whom the other party expects to call as an expert witness at trial, to state the subject matter on which the expert is expected to testify pursuant to Rule 702, Rule 703, or Rule 705 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence and to state the substance of the facts and opinions to which the expert is expected to testify and a summary of the grounds for each opinion.

b.         Depositions. -

1.         Depositions of an expert who may testify. - A party may depose any person who has been identified as an expert pursuant to this subdivision, with such deposition to be conducted after any written report is provided or identification by response to interrogatory has been made pursuant to sub-subdivision f. of this subdivision.

2.         Expert employed only for trial preparation. - Except as otherwise provided in this sub-sub-subdivision, a party may not, by interrogatories or deposition, discover facts known or opinions held by an expert who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or to prepare for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial. A party may take such discovery only as provided in Rule 35(b) or upon showing exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.

c.         Payment. - Unless manifest injustice would result and absent court order, the party seeking discovery under sub-subdivision b. of this subdivision shall pay the expert a reasonable fee for the time spent at that expert's deposition.

d.         Trial preparation protection for draft reports or disclosures. - Drafts of reports provided under sub-sub-subdivision 2. of sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision are protected from disclosure and are not discoverable regardless of the form in which the draft is recorded.

e.         Trial preparation protection for communications between a party's attorney and expert witness. - Except as otherwise provided in this sub-subdivision, communications between a party's attorney and any witness providing a report pursuant to sub-sub-subdivision 2. of sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision or identified under sub-sub-subdivision 3. of sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision, regardless of the form of the communication, are protected from disclosure and are not discoverable. Such communications are discoverable only to the extent that the communications do any of the following:

1.         Relate to compensation for the expert's study or testimony.

2.         Identify facts or data that the party's attorney provided and that the expert considered in forming the opinions to be expressed.

3.         Identify assumptions that the party's attorney provided and that the expert relied on in forming the opinions to be expressed.

f.          Time to disclose expert witness testimony. - Parties agreeing to the submission of written reports pursuant to sub-sub-subdivision 2. of sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision or parties otherwise seeking to obtain disclosure as set forth herein by interrogatory shall, unless otherwise stipulated, set by scheduling order or otherwise ordered by the court, serve such written report or in the case of no agreement on the submission of written reports, interrogatory:

1.         At least 90 days before the date set for trial or the case to be ready for trial; or

2.         If the evidence is intended solely to contradict or rebut evidence on the same subject matter identified by another party under sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision, within 30 days after the other party's disclosure. If a party fails to provide timely disclosure under this rule, the court may, upon motion, take such action as it deems just, including ordering that the party may not present at trial the expert witness for whom disclosure was not timely made.

The time requirements of this sub-subdivision shall not apply if all parties had less than 120-days' notice of the trial date.

g.         Supplementation. - The parties must supplement these disclosures when required under subsection (e) of this rule.

(5)        Claiming Privilege or Protecting Trial-Preparation Materials.

a.         Information withheld. - When a party withholds information otherwise discoverable by claiming that the information is privileged or subject to protection as trial-preparation material, the party must (i) expressly make the claim and (ii) describe the nature of the documents, communications, or tangible things not produced or disclosed, and do so in a manner that, without revealing information itself privileged or protected, will enable other parties to assess the claim.

b.         Information produced. - If information subject to a claim of privilege or protection as trial-preparation material is inadvertently produced in response to a discovery request, the party that produced the material may assert the claim by notifying any party that received the information of the claim and basis for it. After being notified, a party (i) must promptly return, sequester, or destroy the specified information and any copies it has, (ii) must not use or disclose the information until the claim is resolved, (iii) must take reasonable steps to retrieve the information if the party disclosed it before being notified, and (iv) may promptly present the information to the court under seal for determination of the claim. The producing party must preserve the information until the claim is resolved.

(c)        Protective orders. - Upon motion by a party or by the person from whom discovery is sought, and for good cause shown, the judge of the court in which the action is pending may make any order which justice requires to protect a party or person from unreasonable annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following: (i) that the discovery not be had; (ii) that the discovery may be had only on specified terms and conditions, including a designation of the time or place; (iii) that the discovery may be had only by a method of discovery other than that selected by the party seeking discovery; (iv) that certain matters not be inquired into, or that the scope of the discovery be limited to certain matters; (v) that discovery be conducted with no one present except persons designated by the court; (vi) that a deposition after being sealed be opened only by order of the court; (vii) that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be disclosed or be disclosed only in a designated way; (viii) that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information enclosed in sealed envelopes to be opened as directed by the court.

A party seeking a protective order on the basis that electronically stored information sought is from a source identified as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost has the burden of showing that the basis exists. If the showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery from the source if the requesting party shows good cause, but only after considering the limitations of subsection [subdivision] (b)(1a) of this rule.

If the motion for a protective order is denied in whole or in part, the court may, on such terms and conditions as are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.

(d)       Sequence and timing of discovery. - Unless the court upon motion, for the convenience of parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice, orders otherwise, methods of discovery may be used in any sequence and the fact that a party is conducting discovery, whether by deposition or otherwise, shall not operate to delay any other party's discovery. Any order or rule of court setting the time within which discovery must be completed shall be construed to fix the date after which the pendency of discovery will not be allowed to delay trial or any other proceeding before the court, but shall not be construed to prevent any party from utilizing any procedures afforded under Rules 26 through 36, so long as trial or any hearing before the court is not thereby delayed.

(e)        Supplementation of responses. - A party who has responded to a request for discovery with a response that was complete when made is under no duty to supplement the party's response to include information thereafter acquired, except as follows:

(1)        A party is under a duty seasonably to supplement the party's response with respect to any question directly addressed to (i) the identity and location of persons having knowledge of discoverable matters, and (ii) the identity of each person expected to be called as an expert witness at trial, the subject matter on which the person is expected to testify, and the substance of the testimony.

(2)        A party is under a duty seasonably to amend a prior response if the party obtains information upon the basis of which (i) the party knows that the response was incorrect when made, or (ii) the party knows that the response though correct when made is no longer true and the circumstances are such that a failure to amend the response is in substance a knowing concealment.

(3)        A duty to supplement responses may be imposed by order of the court, agreement of the parties, or at any time prior to trial through new requests for supplementation of prior responses.

(f)        Discovery meeting, discovery conference, discovery plan. -

(1)        No earlier than 40 days after the complaint is filed in an action, any party's attorney or an unrepresented party may request a meeting on the subject of discovery, including the discovery of electronically stored information. If such a request is filed, the parties shall meet in the county in which the action is pending not less than 21 days after the initial request for a meeting is filed and served upon the parties, unless agreed otherwise by the parties or their attorneys and unless an earlier time for the meeting is ordered by the court or agreed by the parties. Even if the parties or their attorneys do not seek to have a discovery meeting, at any time after commencement of an action the court may direct the parties or their attorneys to appear before it for a discovery conference.

(2)        During a discovery meeting held pursuant to subdivision (f)(1) of this rule, the attorneys and any unrepresented parties shall (i) consider the nature and basis of the parties' claims and defenses and the possibilities for promptly settling or resolving the case and (ii) discuss the preparation of a discovery plan as set forth in subdivision (f)(3) of this rule. Attorneys for the parties, and any unrepresented parties, that have appeared in the case are jointly responsible for arranging the meeting, for being prepared to discuss a discovery plan, and for attempting in good faith to agree on a discovery plan. The meeting may be held by telephone, by videoconference, or in person, or a combination thereof, unless the court, on motion, orders the attorneys and the unrepresented parties to attend in person. If a discovery plan is agreed upon, the plan shall be submitted to the court within 14 days after the meeting, and the parties may request a conference with the court regarding the plan. If the parties do not agree upon a discovery plan, they shall submit to the court within 14 days after the meeting a joint report containing those parts of a discovery plan upon which they agree and the position of each of the parties on the parts upon which they disagree. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the attorney for the first plaintiff listed on the complaint shall be responsible for submitting the discovery plan or joint report.

(3)        A discovery plan shall contain the following: (i) a statement of the issues as they then appear; (ii) a proposed plan and schedule of discovery, including the discovery of electronically stored information; (iii) with respect to electronically stored information, and if appropriate under the circumstances of the case, a reference to the preservation of such information, the media form, format, or procedures by which such information will be produced, the allocation of the costs of preservation, production, and, if necessary, restoration, of such information, the method for asserting or preserving claims of privilege or of protection of the information as trial-preparation materials if different from that provided in subdivision (b)(5) of this rule, the method for asserting or preserving confidentiality and proprietary status, and any other matters addressed by the parties; (iv) any limitations proposed to be placed on discovery, including, if appropriate under the circumstances of the case, that discovery be conducted in phases or be limited to or focused on particular issues; (v) when discovery should be completed; and (vi) if appropriate under the circumstances of the case, any limitations or conditions pursuant to subsection (c) of this rule regarding protective orders.

(4)        If the parties are unable to agree to a discovery plan at a meeting held pursuant to subdivision (f)(1) of this rule, they shall, upon motion of any party, appear before the court for a discovery conference at which the court shall order the entry of a discovery plan after consideration of the report required to be submitted under subdivision (f)(2) of this rule and the position of the parties. The order may address other matters, including the allocation of discovery costs, as are necessary for the proper management of discovery in the action. An order may be altered or amended as justice may require.

The court may combine the discovery conference with a pretrial conference authorized by Rule 16. A discovery conference in a medical malpractice action shall be governed by subsection (f1) of this rule.

(f1)      Medical malpractice discovery conference. - In a medical malpractice action as defined in G.S. 90-21.11, upon the case coming at issue or the filing of a responsive pleading or motion requiring a determination by the court, the judge shall, within 30 days, direct the attorneys for the parties to appear for a discovery conference. At the conference the court may consider the matters set out in Rule 16 and subdivision (f)(3) of this rule and shall:

(1)        Rule on all motions;

(2)        Establish an appropriate schedule for designating expert witnesses, consistent with a discovery schedule pursuant to subdivision (3), to be complied with by all parties to the action such that there is a deadline for designating all expert witnesses within an appropriate time for all parties to implement discovery mechanisms with regard to the designated expert witnesses;

(3)        Establish by order an appropriate discovery schedule designated so that, unless good cause is shown at the conference for a longer time, and subject to further orders of the court, discovery shall be completed within 150 days after the order is issued; nothing herein shall be construed to prevent any party from utilizing any procedures afforded under Rules 26 through 36, so long as trial or any hearing before the court is not thereby delayed; and

(4)        Approve any consent order which may be presented by counsel for the parties relating to subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection, unless the court finds that the terms of the consent order are unreasonable.

If a party fails to identify an expert witness as ordered, the court shall, upon motion by the moving party, impose an appropriate sanction, which may include dismissal of the action, entry of default against the defendant, or exclusion of the testimony of the expert witness at trial.

(g)        Signing of discovery requests, responses, and objections. - Every request for discovery or response or objection thereto made by a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in that attorney's name, whose address shall be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign the request, response, or objection and state that party's address. The signature of the attorney or party constitutes a certification that the attorney or party has read the request, response, or objection and that to the best of the knowledge, information, and belief of that attorney or party formed after a reasonable inquiry it is: (1) consistent with the rules and warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law; (2) not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation; and (3) not unreasonable or unduly burdensome or expensive, given the needs of the case, the discovery already had in the case, the amount in controversy, and the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation. If a request, response, or objection is not signed, it shall be stricken unless it is signed promptly after the omission is called to the attention of the party making the request, response, or objection and a party shall not be obligated to take any action with respect to it until it is signed.

If a certification is made in violation of the rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who made the certification, the party on whose behalf the request, response, or objection is made, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the violation, including a reasonable attorney's fee.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, c. 750; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1985, c. 603, ss. 1-4; 1987, c. 859, s. 3; 2011-199, s. 2; 2015-153, s. 1.)

 

Rule 27. Depositions before action or pending appeal.

(a)        Before action. -

(1)        Petition. - A person who desires to perpetuate that person's own testimony or the testimony of another person regarding any matter may file a verified petition in the appropriate court in a county where any expected adverse party resides. The petition shall be entitled in the name of the petitioner and shall show: (i) that the petitioner expects that the petitioner, or  the petitioner's personal representative, heirs or devisees, will be a party to an action cognizable in any court, but that the petitioner is presently unable to bring it or cause it to be brought, (ii) the subject matter of the expected action and the petitioner's reasons for desiring to perpetuate it, (iii) the facts which the petitioner desires to establish by the proposed testimony and the petitioner's reasons for desiring to perpetuate it, (iv) the names or a description of the persons the petitioner expects will be adverse parties and their addresses so far as known, and (v) the names and addresses of the persons to be examined and the substance of the testimony which the petitioner expects to elicit from each, and shall ask for an order authorizing the petitioner to take the depositions of the persons to be examined named in the petition, for the purpose of perpetuating their testimony.

(2)        Notice and Service. - The petitioner shall thereafter serve a notice upon each person named in the petition as an expected adverse party, together with a copy of the petition, stating that the petitioner will apply to the court, at a time and place named therein, for the order described in the petition. At least 20 days before the date of hearing (or within such time as the court may direct) the notice shall be served in the manner provided in Rule 4(j)(1) or (2) for service of summons; but if such service cannot with due diligence be made upon any expected adverse party named in the petition, the court may make such order as is just for service by publication or otherwise, and shall appoint, for persons not served in the manner provided in Rule 4(j)(1) or (2), an attorney who shall represent them, in case they are not otherwise represented. If any expected adverse party is a minor or incompetent the provisions of Rule 17(c) apply.

(3)        Order and Examination. - If the court is satisfied that the perpetuation of the testimony may prevent a failure or delay of justice, it shall make an order designating or describing the persons whose depositions may be taken and specifying the subject matter of the examination and whether the depositions shall be taken upon oral examination or written questions. The depositions may then be taken in accordance with these rules; and the court may make orders of the character provided for by Rules 34 and 35. For the purpose of applying these rules to depositions for perpetuating testimony, each reference therein to the court in which the action is pending shall be deemed to refer to the court in which the petition for such deposition was filed.

(4)        Use of Deposition. - If a deposition to perpetuate testimony is taken under these rules or if, although not so taken, it would be admissible in evidence in the courts of the United States or the state in which it is taken, it may be used in any action involving the same subject matter subsequently brought in a court of this State in accordance with the provisions of Rule 32(a), or in any other court under whose rules it is admissible.

(b)        Pending appeal. - If an appeal has been taken from the determination of any court or if petition for review or certiorari has been served and filed, or before the taking of an appeal or the filing of a petition for review or certiorari if the time therefor has not expired, the court in which the determination was made may allow the taking of the depositions of witnesses to perpetuate their testimony for use in the event of further proceedings in the trial court. In such case the party who desires to perpetuate the testimony may make a motion in the trial court for leave to take the depositions, upon the same notice and service thereof as if the action was pending in the trial court. The motion shall show (i) the names and addresses of the persons to be examined and the substance of the testimony which the party expects to elicit from each; (ii) the reasons for perpetuating their testimony. If the court finds that the perpetuation of the testimony is proper to avoid a failure or delay of justice, it may make an order allowing the depositions to be taken and may make orders of the character provided for by Rules 34 and 35, and thereupon the depositions may be taken and used in the same manner and under the same conditions as are prescribed in these rules for depositions taken in actions pending in the trial court.

(c)        Perpetuation by action. - This rule does not limit the power of a court to entertain an action to perpetuate testimony.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 2011-284, s. 5.)

 

Rule 28. Persons before whom depositions may be taken.

(a)        Within the United States. - Within the United States or within a territory or insular possession subject to the dominion of the United States, depositions shall be taken before a person authorized to administer oaths by the laws of this State, of the United States or of the place where the examination is held, or before a person appointed by the court in which the action is pending. A person so appointed has power to administer oaths and take testimony.

(b)        In foreign countries. - Depositions may be taken in a foreign country:

(1)        Pursuant to any applicable treaty or convention;

(2)        Pursuant to a letter of request, whether or not captioned a letter rogatory;

(3)        On notice before a person authorized to administer oaths in the place where the examination is held, either by the law thereof or by the law of the United States; or

(4)        Before a person commissioned by the court, and a person so commissioned shall have the power by virtue of his commission to administer any necessary oath and take testimony. A commission or a letter of request shall be issued on application and notice and on terms that are just and appropriate. It is not requisite to the issuance of a commission or a letter of request that the taking of the deposition in any other manner is impracticable or inconvenient; and both a commission and a letter of request may be issued in proper cases. A notice or commission may designate the person before whom the deposition is to be taken either by name or descriptive title. A letter of request may be addressed "To the Appropriate Authority in (here name the country)." When a letter of request or any other device is used pursuant to any applicable treaty or convention, it shall be captioned in the form prescribed by that treaty or convention. Evidence obtained in response to a letter of request need not be excluded merely because the testimony was not taken under oath, or any similar departure from the requirements for depositions taken within the United States under these rules.

(c)        Disqualification for interest. - Unless the parties agree otherwise by stipulation as provided in Rule 29, no deposition shall be taken before a person who is any of the following:

(1)        A relative, employee, or attorney of any of the parties;

(2)        A relative or employee of an attorney of the parties;

(3)        Financially interested in the action; or

(4)        An independent contractor if the contractor or the contractor's principal is under a blanket contract for the court reporting services with an attorney of the parties, party to the action, or party having a financial interest in the action. Notwithstanding the disqualification under this rule, the party desiring to take the deposition under a stipulation shall disclose the disqualification in writing in a Rule 30(b) notice of deposition and shall inform all parties to the litigation on the record of the existence of the disqualification under this rule and of the proposed stipulation waiving the disqualification. Any party opposing the proposed stipulation as provided in the notice of deposition shall give timely written notice of his or her opposition to all parties.

For the purposes of this rule, a blanket contract means a contract to perform court reporting services over a fixed period of time or an indefinite period of time, rather than on a case by case basis, or any other contractual arrangement which compels, guarantees, regulates, or controls the use of particular court reporting services in future cases.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person is prohibited from taking a deposition under any contractual agreement that requires transmission of the original transcript without the transcript having been certified as provided in Rule 30(f) by the person before whom the deposition was taken.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, a person otherwise disqualified from taking a deposition under this subsection may take a deposition provided that the deposition is taken by videotape in compliance with Rule 30(b)(4) and Rule 30(f), and the notice for the taking of the deposition states the name of the person before whom the deposition will be taken and that person's relationship, if any, to a party or a party's attorney, provided that the deposition is also recorded by stenographic means by a nondisqualified person.

(d)       Depositions to be used in foreign countries.

(1)        A person desiring to take depositions in this State to be used in proceedings pending in the courts of any other country may present to a judge of the superior or district court a commission, order, notice, consent, or other authority under which the deposition is to be taken, whereupon it shall be the duty of the judge to issue the necessary subpoenas pursuant to Rule 45. Orders of the character provided in Rules 30(b), 30(d), and 45(b) may be made upon proper application therefor by the person to whom such subpoena is directed. Failure by any person without adequate excuse to obey a subpoena served upon him pursuant to this rule may be deemed a contempt of the court from which the subpoena issued.

(2)        The commissioner herein provided for shall not proceed to act under and by virtue of his appointment until the party seeking to obtain such deposition has deposited with him a sufficient sum of money to cover all costs and charges incident to the taking of the deposition, including such witness fees as are allowed to witnesses in this State for attendance upon the superior court. From such deposit the commissioner shall retain whatever amount may be due him for services, pay the witness fees and other costs that may have been incurred by reason of taking such deposition, and if any balance remains in his hands, he shall pay the same to the party by whom it was advanced.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1995, c. 389, s. 4; 1999-264, s. 1; 2001-379, s. 4; 2011-247, s. 2.)

 

Rule 29. Stipulations regarding discovery procedure.

Unless the court orders otherwise, the parties may by written stipulation (i) provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner and when so taken may be used like other depositions, and (ii) modify the procedures provided by these rules for other methods of discovery. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 1.)

 

Rule 30. Depositions upon oral examination.

(a)        When depositions may be taken. - After commencement of the action, any party may take the testimony of any person, including a party, by deposition upon oral examination. Leave of court, granted with or without notice, must be obtained only if the plaintiff seeks to take a deposition prior to the expiration of 30 days after service of the summons and complaint upon any defendant or service made under Rule 4(e), except that leave is not required (i) if a defendant has served a notice of taking deposition or otherwise sought discovery, or (ii) if special notice is given as provided in subsection (b)(2) of this rule. The attendance of witnesses may be compelled by subpoena as provided in Rule 45, provided that no subpoena need be served on a deponent who is a party or an officer, director or managing agent of a party, provided the party has been served with notice pursuant to subsection (b)(1) of this rule. The deposition of a person confined in prison or of a patient receiving in-patient care in or confined to an institution or hospital for the mentally ill or mentally handicapped may be taken only by leave of court on such terms as the court prescribes.

(b)        Notice of examination; general requirements; place of examination; special notice; nonstenographic recording; production of documents and things; deposition of organization. -

(1)        A party desiring to take the deposition of any person upon oral examination shall give notice in writing to every other party to the action. The notice shall state the time and place for taking the deposition and the name and address of each person to be examined, if known, and, if the name is not known, a general description sufficient to identify him or the particular class or group to which he belongs. If a subpoena duces tecum is to be served on the person to be examined, the designation of the materials to be produced as set forth in the subpoena shall be attached to or included in the notice. The notice shall be served on all parties at least 15 days prior to the taking of the deposition when any party required to be served resides without the State and shall be served on all parties at least 10 days prior to the taking of the deposition when all of the parties required to be served reside within the State. Depositions of parties, officers, directors or managing agents of parties or of other persons designated pursuant to subsection (b)(6) hereof to testify on behalf of a party may be taken only at the following places:

A resident of the State may be required to attend for examination by deposition only in the county wherein he resides or is employed or transacts his business in person. A nonresident of the State may be required to attend for such examination only in the county wherein he resides or within 50 miles of the place of service except that a judge, as defined by subdivision (h) of this rule, may, upon motion showing good cause, require that a party who selected the county where the action is pending as the forum for the action or an officer, director or managing agent of such a party, or a person designated pursuant to subsection (b)(6) hereof to testify on behalf of such a party present himself for the taking of his deposition in the county where the action is pending. The judge upon granting the motion may make any other orders allowed by Rule 26(c) with respect thereto, including orders with respect to the expenses of the deponent.

(2)        Leave of court is not required for the taking of a deposition by plaintiff if the notice (i) states that the person to be examined is about to go out of the county where the action is pending and more than 100 miles from the place of trial, or is about to go out of the United States, or is bound on a voyage to sea, and will be unavailable for examination unless his deposition is taken before expiration of the 30-day period, and (ii) sets forth facts to support the statement. The plaintiff's attorney shall sign the notice, and his signature constitutes a certification by him that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief the statement and supporting facts are true. The sanctions provided by Rule 11 are applicable to the certification.

If a party shows that when he was served with notice under this subsection (b)(2) he was unable through the exercise of diligence to obtain counsel to represent him at the taking of the deposition, the deposition may not be used against him.

(3)        The court may for cause shown enlarge or shorten the time for taking the deposition.

(4)        Unless the court orders otherwise, testimony at a deposition may be recorded by sound recording, sound-and-visual, or stenographic means. If the testimony is to be taken by other means in addition to or in lieu of stenographic means, the notice shall state the methods by which it shall be taken and shall state whether a stenographer will be present at the deposition. In the case of a deposition taken by stenographic means, the party that provides for the stenographer shall provide for the transcribing of the testimony taken. If the deposition is by sound recording only, the party noticing the deposition shall provide for the transcribing of the testimony taken. If the deposition is by sound-and-visual means, the appearance or demeanor of deponents or attorneys shall not be distorted through camera techniques. Regardless of the method stated in the notice, any party or the deponent may have the testimony recorded by stenographic means.

(5)        A party deponent, deponents who are officers, directors or managing agents of parties and other persons designated pursuant to subsection (b)(6) hereof to testify on behalf of a party may not be served with a subpoena duces tecum, but the notice to a party for the deposition of such a deponent may be accompanied by a request made in compliance with Rule 34 for the production of documents and tangible things at the taking of the deposition. The procedure of Rule 34, except as to time for response, shall apply to the request. When a notice to take such a deposition is accompanied by a request made in compliance with Rule 34 the notice and the request must be served at least 15 days earlier than would otherwise be required by Rule 30(b)(1), and any objections to such a request must be served at least seven days prior to the taking of the deposition.

(6)        A party may in his notice and in a subpoena name as the deponent a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency and describe with reasonable particularity the matters on which examination is requested. In that event, the organization so named shall designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or other persons who consent to testify on its behalf, and may set forth, for each person designated, the matters on which he will testify. A subpoena shall advise a nonparty organization of its duty to make such a designation. It shall not be necessary to serve a subpoena on an organization which is a party, but the notice, served on a party without an accompanying subpoena shall clearly advise such of its duty to make the required designation. The persons so designated shall testify as to matters known or reasonably available to the organization. This subsection (b)(6) does not preclude taking a deposition by any other procedure authorized in these rules.

(7)        The parties may stipulate in writing or the court may upon motion order that a deposition be taken by telephone. For the purposes of this rule and Rules 28(a), 37(a)(1) and 45(d), a deposition taken by telephone is taken in the district and the place where the deponent is to answer questions propounded to him.

(c)        Examination and cross-examination; record of examination; oath; objections. - Examination and cross-examination of witnesses may proceed as permitted at the trial under the provisions of Rule 43(b). The person before whom the deposition is to be taken shall put the deponent on oath and shall personally, or by someone acting under his direction and in his presence, record the testimony of the deponent. The testimony shall be taken stenographically or recorded by any other means ordered in accordance with subsection (b)(4) of this rule. If requested by one of the parties, the testimony shall be transcribed.

All objections made at the time of the examination to the qualifications of the person before whom the deposition is taken, or to the manner of taking it, or to the evidence presented, or to the conduct of any party, and any other objection to the proceedings, shall be noted upon the deposition by the person before whom the deposition is taken. Subject to any limitations imposed by orders entered pursuant to Rule 26(c) or 30(d), evidence objected to shall be taken subject to the objections. In lieu of participating in the oral examination, parties may serve written questions in a sealed envelope on the party who served the notice of taking the deposition, and he shall transmit them to the person before whom the deposition is to be taken who shall open them at the deposition, propound them to the witness and record the answers verbatim.

(d)       Motion to terminate or limit examination. - At any time during the taking of the deposition, on motion of a party or of the deponent and upon a showing that the examination is being conducted in bad faith or in such manner as unreasonably to annoy, embarrass, or oppress the deponent or party, a judge of the court in which the action is pending or any judge in the county where the deposition is being taken may order before whom the examination is being taken to cease forthwith from taking the deposition, or may limit the scope and manner of the taking of the deposition as provided in Rule 26(c). If the order made terminates the examination, it shall be resumed thereafter only upon the order of a judge of the court in which the action is pending. Upon demand of the objecting party or deponent, the taking of the deposition shall be suspended for the time necessary to make a motion for an order. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.

(e)        Submission to deponent; changes; signing. - The sound-and-visual recording, or the transcript of it, if any, the transcript of the sound recording, or the transcript of a deposition taken by stenographic means, shall be submitted to the deponent for examination and shall be reviewed by the deponent, unless such examination and review are waived by the deponent and by the parties. If there are changes in form or substance, the deponent shall sign a statement reciting such changes and the reasons given by the deponent for making them. The person administering the oath shall indicate in the certificate prescribed by subdivision (f)(1) whether any review was requested and, if so, shall append any changes made by the deponent. The certificate shall then be signed by the deponent, unless the parties by stipulation waive the signing or the deponent is ill or cannot be found or refuses to sign. If the certificate is not signed by the deponent within 30 days of its submission to him, the person before whom the deposition was taken shall sign the certificate and state on the certificate the fact of the waiver or of the illness or absence of the deponent or the fact of the refusal or failure to sign together with the reason, if any, given therefor; and the deposition may then be used as fully as though the certificate were signed unless on a motion to suppress under Rule 32(d)(4) the court holds that the reasons given for the refusal to sign require rejection of the deposition in whole or in part.

(f)        Certification by person administering the oath; exhibits; copies. -

(1)        The person administering the oath shall certify that the deponent was duly sworn by him and that the deposition is a true record of the testimony given by the deponent. This certificate shall be in writing and accompany the sound-and-visual or sound recording or transcript of the deposition. He shall then place the deposition in an envelope or package endorsed with the title of the action and marked "Deposition of (here insert name of witness)" and shall personally deliver it or mail it by first class mail to the party taking the deposition or his attorney who shall preserve it as the court's copy.

Documents and things produced for inspection during the examination of the deponent shall, upon the request of a party, be marked for identification and annexed to and returned with the deposition, and may be inspected and copied by any party, except that (i) the person producing the materials may substitute copies to be marked for identification, if he affords to all parties fair opportunity to verify the copies by comparison with the originals, and (ii) if the person producing the materials requests their return, the person before whom the deposition is taken shall mark them, give each party an opportunity to inspect and copy them, and return them to the person producing them, and the materials may then be used in the manner as if annexed to and returned with the deposition. Any party may move for an order that the original be annexed to and returned with the deposition to the court, pending final disposition of the case.

(2)        Upon payment of reasonable charges therefor, the person administering the oath shall furnish a copy of the deposition to any party or to the deponent.

(3)        Repealed by Session Laws 2005-138, s. 3, effective October 1, 2005.

(g)        Failure to attend or to serve subpoena; expenses. -

(1)        If the party giving the notice of the taking of a deposition fails to attend and proceed therewith and another party attends in person or by attorney pursuant to the notice, the judge may order the party giving the notice to pay to such other party the reasonable expenses incurred by him and his attorney in attending, including reasonable attorney's fees.

(2)        If the party giving the notice of the taking of a deposition of a witness fails to serve a subpoena upon him and the witness because of such failure does not attend, and if another party attends in person or by attorney because he expects the deposition of that witness to be taken, the judge may order the party giving the notice to pay to such other party the reasonable expenses incurred by him and his attorney in attending, including reasonable attorney's fees.

(h)        Judge; definition. -

(1)        In respect to actions in the superior court, a judge of the court in which the action is pending shall, for the purposes of this rule, and Rule 26, Rule 31, Rule 33, Rule 34, Rule 35, Rule 36 and Rule 37, be a superior court judge who has jurisdiction pursuant to G.S. 7A-47.1 or G.S. 7A-48 in that county.

(2)        In respect to actions in the district court, a judge of the court in which the action is pending shall, for the purposes of this rule, Rule 26, Rule 31, Rule 33, Rule 34, Rule 35, Rule 36 and Rule 37, be the chief district judge or any judge designated by him pursuant to G.S. 7A-192.

(3)        In respect to actions in either the superior court or the district court, a judge of the court in the county where the deposition is being taken shall, for the purposes of this rule, be a superior court judge who has jurisdiction pursuant to G.S. 7A-47.1 or G.S. 7A-48 in that county, or the chief judge of the district court or any judge designated by him pursuant to G.S. 7A-192. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1973, c. 828, s. 1; c. 1126, ss. 1, 2; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1977, c. 769; 1983, c. 201, s. 2; c. 801, ss. 1, 2; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1037, s. 42; 1995, c. 353, ss. 1-3; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 742, s. 4; 2005-138, s. 3.)

 

Rule 31. Depositions upon written questions.

(a)        Serving questions; notice. - After commencement of the action, any party may take the testimony of any person, including a party, by deposition upon written questions. The attendance of witnesses may be compelled by the use of subpoena as provided in Rule 45 provided that no subpoena need be served on a deponent who is a party or an officer, director or managing agent of a party, provided the party has been served with notice pursuant to this rule. Such a deposition shall be taken in the county where the witness resides or is employed or transacts his business in person unless the witness agrees that it may be taken elsewhere. The deposition of a person confined in prison or of a patient receiving in-patient care in or confined to an institution or hospital for the mentally ill or mentally handicapped may be taken only by leave of court on such terms as the court prescribes.

A party desiring to take a deposition upon written questions shall serve them upon every other party with a notice stating (i) the name and address of the person who is to answer them, if known, and if the name is not known, a general description sufficient to identify him or the particular class or group to which he belongs, and (ii) the name or descriptive title and address of the officer before whom the deposition is to be taken. A deposition upon written questions may be taken of a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(b)(6).

Within 30 days after the notice and written questions are served, a party may serve cross questions upon all other parties. Within 10 days after being served with cross questions, a party may serve redirect questions upon all other parties. Within 10 days after being served with redirect questions, a party may serve recross questions upon all other parties. The court may for cause shown enlarge or shorten the time.

(b)        Person to take responses and prepare record. - A copy of the notice and copies of all questions served shall be delivered by the party taking the deposition to the person designated in the notice to take the deposition, who shall proceed promptly, in the manner provided by Rule 30(c), (e), and (f), to take the testimony of the deponent in response to the questions and to prepare, certify, and mail the deposition, attaching thereto the copy of the notice and the questions received by him.

(c)        Repealed by Session Laws 2005-138, s. 4, effective October 1, 2005. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 2005-138, s. 4.)

 

Rule 32. Use of depositions in court proceedings.

(a)        Use of depositions. - At the trial or upon the hearing of a motion or an interlocutory proceeding or upon a hearing before a referee, any part or all of a deposition, so far as admissible under the rules of evidence applied as though the witness were then present and testifying, may be used against any party who was present or represented at the taking of the deposition or who had reasonable notice thereof, in accordance with any of the following provisions:

(1)        Any deposition may be used by any party for the purpose of contradicting or impeaching the testimony of deponent as a witness.

(2)        The deposition of a person called as a witness may also be used as substantive evidence by any party adverse to the party who called the deponent as a witness and it may be used by the party calling deponent as a witness as substantive evidence of such facts stated in the deposition as are in conflict with or inconsistent with the testimony of deponent as a witness.

(3)        The deposition of a party or of any one who at the time of taking the deposition was an officer, director, or managing agent, or a person designated under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a) to testify on behalf of a public or private corporation, partnership or association or governmental agency which is a party may be used by an adverse party for any purpose, whether or not the deponent testifies at the trial or hearing.

(4)        The deposition of a witness, whether or not a party, may be used by any party for any purpose if the court finds: that the witness is dead; or that the witness is at a greater distance than 100 miles from the place of trial or hearing, or is out of the United States, unless it appears that the absence of the witness was procured by the party offering the deposition; or that the witness is unable to attend or testify because of age, illness, infirmity, or imprisonment; or that the party offering the deposition has been unable to procure the attendance of the witness by subpoena; or upon application and notice, that such exceptional circumstances exist as to make it desirable, in the interest of justice and with due regard to the importance of presenting testimony of witnesses orally in open court, to allow the deposition to be used; or the witness is an expert witness whose testimony has been procured by videotape as provided for under Rule 30(b)(4).

(5)        If only part of a deposition is offered in evidence by a party, an adverse party may require him to introduce any other part which is relevant to the part introduced, and any party may introduce any other parts.

            Substitution of parties pursuant to Rule 25 does not affect the right to use depositions previously taken; and, when an action in any court of the United States or of any state has been dismissed and another action involving the same subject matter is afterward brought between the same parties or their representatives or successors in interest, all depositions lawfully taken in the former action and duly prepared, certified, and delivered in accordance with Rule 30 may be used in the latter as if originally taken therefor.

(b)        Objections to admissibility. - Subject to the provisions of Rules 28(b) and subsection (d)(3) of this rule, objection may be made at the trial or hearing to receiving in evidence any deposition or part thereof for any reason which would require the exclusion of the evidence if the witness were then present and testifying.

(c)        Effect of taking or using depositions. - A party does not make a person his own witness for any purpose by taking his deposition. The introduction in evidence of the deposition or any part thereof for any purpose other than that of contradicting or impeaching the deponent makes the deponent the witness of the party introducing the deposition, but this shall not apply to the use by an adverse party of a deposition under subsection (a)(2) or (a)(3) of this rule. At the trial or hearing any party may rebut any relevant evidence contained in a deposition whether introduced by him or by any other party.

(d)       Effect of errors and irregularities in depositions. -

(1)        As to Notice. - All errors and irregularities in the notice for taking a deposition are waived unless written objection is promptly served upon the party giving the notice.

(2)        As to Disqualification of Person before Whom Taken. - Objection to taking a deposition because of disqualification of the person before whom it is to be taken is waived unless made before the taking of the deposition begins or as soon thereafter as the disqualification becomes known or could be discovered with reasonable diligence.

(3)        As to Taking of Deposition. -

a.         Objections to the competency of a witness or to the competency, relevancy, or materiality of testimony are not waived by failure to make them before or during the taking of the deposition, unless the ground of the objection is one which might have been obviated or removed if presented at that time.

b.         Errors and irregularities occurring at the oral examination in the manner of taking the deposition, in the form of the questions or answers, in the oath or affirmation, or in the conduct of parties, and errors of any kind which might be obviated, removed, or cured if promptly presented, are waived unless seasonable objection thereto is made at the taking of the deposition.

c.         Objections to the form of written questions submitted under Rule 31 are waived unless served in writing upon the party propounding them within the time allowed for serving the succeeding cross or other questions and within five days after service of the last questions authorized.

(4)        As to Completion and Return of Deposition. - Errors and irregularities in the manner in which the testimony is transcribed or the deposition is prepared, signed, certified, sealed, indorsed, transmitted, or otherwise dealt with by the person taking the deposition under Rules 30 and 31 are waived unless a motion to suppress the deposition or some part thereof is made with reasonable promptness after such defeat is, or with due diligence might have been, ascertained. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1977, c. 984; 1981, c. 599, s. 2; 2005-138, ss. 5, 6.)

 

Rule 33. Interrogatories to parties.

(a)        Availability; procedures for use. - Any party may serve upon any other party written interrogatories to be answered by the party served or, if the party served is a public or private corporation or a partnership or association or governmental agency, by any officer or agent, who shall furnish such information as is available to the party. Interrogatories may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party.

A party may direct no more than 50 interrogatories, in one or more sets, to any other party, except upon leave granted by the Court for good cause shown or by agreement of the other party. Interrogatory parts and subparts shall be counted as separate interrogatories for purposes of this rule.

There shall be sufficient space following each interrogatory in which the respondent may state the response. The respondent shall: (1) state the response in the space provided, using additional pages if necessary; or (2) restate the interrogatory to be followed by the response.

Each interrogatory shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless it is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated in lieu of an answer. An objection to an interrogatory shall be made by stating the objection and the reason therefor either in the space following the interrogatory or following the restated interrogatory. The answers are to be signed by the person making them, and the objections signed by the attorney making them. The party upon whom the interrogatories have been served shall serve a copy of the answers, and objections if any, within 30 days after the service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant may serve answers or objections within 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon the defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The party submitting the interrogatories may move for an order under Rule 37(a) with respect to any objection to or other failure to answer an interrogatory.

(b)        Scope; use at trial. - Interrogatories may relate to any matters which can be inquired into under Rule 26(b), and the answers may be used to the extent permitted by the rules of evidence.

An interrogatory otherwise proper is not necessarily objectionable merely because an answer to the interrogatory involves an opinion or contention that relates to fact or the application of law to fact, but the court may order that such an interrogatory need not be answered until after designated discovery has been completed or until a pretrial conference or other later time.

(c)        Option to produce business records. - Where the answer to an interrogatory may be derived or ascertained from the business records, including electronically stored information, of the party upon whom the interrogatory has been served or from an examination, audit or inspection of such business records, or from a compilation, abstract or summary based thereon, and the burden of deriving or ascertaining the answer is substantially the same for the party serving the interrogatory as for the party served, it is a sufficient answer to such interrogatory to specify the records from which the answer may be derived or ascertained and to afford to the party serving the interrogatory reasonable opportunity to examine, audit or inspect such records and to make copies, compilations, abstracts or summaries. A specification shall be in sufficient detail to permit the interrogating party to locate and to identify, as readily as can the party served, the records from which the answer may be ascertained.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, c. 1156, s. 4.5; 1975, c. 99; c. 762, s. 2; 1987, c. 73; c. 613, s. 1; 2011-199, s. 3(c).)

 

Rule 34. Production of documents, electronically stored information, and things; entry upon land for inspection and other purposes.

(a)        Scope. - Any party may serve on any other party a request (i) to produce and permit the party making the request, or someone acting on that party's behalf, to inspect and copy, test, or sample any designated documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things which constitute or contain matters within the scope of Rule 26(b) and which are in the possession, custody or control of the party upon whom the request is served; or (ii) to permit entry upon designated land or other property in the possession or control of the party upon whom the request is served for the purpose of inspection and measuring, surveying, photographing, testing, or sampling the property or any designated object or operation thereon, within the scope of Rule 26(b).

(b)        Procedure. - The request may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party. The request shall set forth the items to be inspected either by individual item or by category, and describe each item and category with reasonable particularity. The request shall specify a reasonable time, place, and manner of making the inspection and performing the related acts. The request may specify the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced.

The party upon whom the request is served shall serve a written response within 30 days after the service of the request, except that a defendant may serve a response within 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The response shall state, with respect to each item or category, that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested, unless the request is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated. If objection is made to part of an item or category, the part shall be specified. In addition to other bases for objection, the response may state an objection to production of electronically stored information from sources that the party identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. The response may also state an objection to a requested form for producing electronically stored information. If the responding party objects to a requested form, or if no form is specified in the request, the party must state the form or forms it intends to use. The party submitting the request may move for an order under Rule 37(a) with respect to any objection to or other failure to respond to the request or any part thereof, or any failure to permit inspection as requested.

Unless otherwise stipulated by the parties or ordered by the court, the following procedures apply to producing documents or electronically stored information:

(1)        A party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request;

(2)        If a request does not specify a form for producing the electronically stored information, a party must produce it in a reasonably usable form or forms; and

(3)        A party need not produce the same electronically stored information in more than one form.

(b1)      Form of response. - There shall be sufficient space following each request in which the respondent may state the response. The respondent shall: (1) state the response in the space provided, using additional pages if necessary; or (2) restate the request to be followed by the response. An objection to a request shall be made by stating the objection and the reason therefor either in the space following the request or following the restated request.

(c)        Persons not parties. - This rule does not preclude an independent action against a person not a party for production of documents and things and permission to enter upon land.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, s. 8; 1973, c. 923, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1987, c. 613, s. 2; 2011-199, s. 4.)

 

Rule 35. Physical and mental examination of persons.

(a)        Order for examination. - When the mental or physical condition (including the blood group) of a party, or of an agent or a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, a judge of the court in which the action is pending as defined by Rule 30(h) may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination by a physician or to produce for examination his agent or the person in his custody or legal control. The order may be made only on motion for good cause shown and upon notice to the person to be examined and to all parties and shall specify the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination and the person or persons by whom it is to be made.

(b)        Report of examining physician. -

(1)        If requested by the party against whom an order is made under Rule 35(a) or the person examined, the party causing the examination to be made shall deliver to him a copy of a detailed written report of the examining physician setting out his findings, including results of all tests made, diagnoses and conclusions, together with like reports of all  earlier examinations of the same condition. After such request and delivery the party causing the examination shall be entitled upon request to receive from the party against whom the order is made a like report of any examination, previously or thereafter made, of the same condition, unless, in the case of a report of examination of a person not a party, the party shows that he is unable to obtain it. The court on motion may make an order against a party requiring delivery of a report on such terms as are just, and if a physician fails or refuses to make a report the court may exclude his testimony if offered at the trial.

(2)        By requesting and obtaining a report of the examination so ordered or by taking the deposition of the examiner, the party examined waives any privilege he may have in that action or any other involving the same controversy, regarding the testimony of every other person who has examined or may thereafter examine him in respect of the same mental or physical condition.

(3)        This subsection applies to examinations made by agreement of the parties, unless the agreement expressly provides otherwise. This subsection does not preclude discovery of a report of an examining physician or the taking of a deposition of the physician in accordance with the provisions of any other rule. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2.)

 

Rule 36. Requests for admission; effect of admission.

 

(a)        Request for admission. - A party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission, for purposes of the pending action only, of the truth of any matters within the scope of Rule 26(b) set forth in the request that relate to statements or opinions of fact or of the application of law to fact, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request. Copies of documents shall be served with the request unless they have been or are otherwise furnished or made available for inspection and copying. The request may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party. If the request is served with service of the summons and complaint, the summons shall so state.

Each matter of which an admission is requested shall be separately set forth. The matter is admitted unless, within 30 days after service of the request, or within such shorter or longer time as the court may allow, the party to whom the request is directed serves upon the party requesting the admission a written answer or objection addressed to the matter, signed by the party or by his attorney, but, unless the court shortens the time, a defendant shall not be required to serve answers or objections before the expiration of 60 days after service of the summons and complaint upon him. If objection is made, the reasons therefor shall be stated. The answer shall specifically deny the matter or set forth in detail the reasons why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny the matter. A denial shall fairly meet the substance of the requested admission, and when good faith requires that a party qualify his answer or deny only a part of the matter of which an admission is requested, he shall specify so much of it as is true and qualify or deny the remainder. An answering party may not give lack of information or knowledge as a reason for failure to admit or deny unless he states that he has made reasonable inquiry and that the information known or readily obtainable by him is insufficient to enable him to admit or deny. A party who considers that a matter of which an admission has been requested presents a genuine issue for trial may not, on that ground alone, object to the request; he may, subject to the provisions of Rule 37(c), deny the matter or set forth reasons why he cannot admit or deny it.

There shall be sufficient space following each request in which the respondent may state the response.  The respondent shall:

(1)        State the response in the space provided, using additional pages if necessary; or

(2)        Restate the request to be followed by the response.  An objection to a request shall be made by stating the objection and the reason therefor either in the space following the request or following the restated request.

The party who has requested the admissions may move to determine the sufficiency of the answers or objections. Unless the court determines that an objection is justified, it shall order that an answer be served. If the court determines that an answer does not comply with the requirements of this rule, it may order either that the matter is admitted or that an amended answer be served. The court may, in lieu of these orders, determine that final disposition of the request be made at a pretrial conference or at a designated time prior to trial. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.

(b)        Effect of admission. - Any matter admitted under this rule is conclusively established unless the court on motion permits withdrawal or amendment of the admission. Subject to the provisions of Rule 16 governing amendment of a pretrial order, the court may permit withdrawal or amendment when the presentation of the merits of the action will be subserved thereby and the party who obtained the admission fails to satisfy the court that withdrawal or amendment will prejudice him in maintaining his action or defense on the merits. Any admission made by a party under this rule is for the purpose of pending action only and is not an admission by him for any other purpose nor may it be used against him in any other proceeding. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1981, c. 384, ss. 1, 2; 1987, c. 613, s. 3.)

 

Rule 37. Failure to make discovery; sanctions.

(a)        Motion for order compelling discovery. - A party, upon reasonable notice to other parties and all persons affected thereby, may apply for an order compelling discovery as follows:

(1)        Appropriate Court. - An application for an order to a party or a deponent who is not a party may be made to a judge of the court in which the action is pending, or, on matters relating to a deposition where the deposition is being taken in this State, to a judge of the court in the county where the deposition is being taken, as defined by Rule 30(h).

(2)        Motion. - If a deponent fails to answer a question propounded or submitted under Rules 30 or 31, or a corporation or other entity fails to make a designation under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a), or a party fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule 33, or if a party, in response to a request for inspection submitted under Rule 34, fails to respond that inspection will be permitted as requested or fails to permit inspection as requested, the discovering party may move for an order compelling an answer, or a designation, or an order compelling inspection in accordance with the request. The motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make the discovery in an effort to secure the information or material without court action. When taking a deposition on oral examination, the proponent of the question shall complete the examination on all other matters before the examination is adjourned, in order to apply for an order. If the motion is based upon an objection to production of electronically stored information from sources the objecting party identified as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost, the objecting party has the burden of showing that the basis for the objection exists.

      If the court denies the motion in whole or in part, it may make such protective order as it would have been empowered to make on a motion made pursuant to Rule 26(c).

(3)        Evasive or Incomplete Answer. - For purposes of this subdivision an evasive or incomplete answer is to be treated as a failure to answer.

(4)        Award of Expenses of Motion. - If the motion is granted, the court shall, after opportunity for hearing, require the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the motion or the party advising such conduct or both of them to pay to the moving party the reasonable expenses incurred in obtaining the order, including attorney's fees, unless the court finds that the opposition to the motion was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

      If the motion is denied, the court shall, after opportunity for hearing, require the moving party to pay to the party or deponent who opposed the motion the reasonable expenses incurred in opposing the motion, including attorney's fees, unless the court finds that the making of the motion was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

      If the motion is granted in part and denied in part, the court may apportion the reasonable expenses incurred in relation to the motion among the parties and persons in a just manner.

(b)        Failure to comply with order. -

(1)        Sanctions by Court in County Where Deposition Is Taken. - If a deponent fails to be sworn or to answer a question after being directed to do so by a judge of the court in the county in which the deposition is being taken, the failure may be considered a contempt of that court.

(2)        Sanctions by Court in Which Action Is Pending. - If a party or an officer, director, or managing agent of a party or a person designated under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a) to testify on behalf of a party fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery, including an order made under section (a) of this rule or Rule 35, or if a party fails to obey an order entered under Rule 26(f) a judge of the court in which the action is pending may make such orders in regard to the failure as are just, and among others the following:

a.         An order that the matters regarding which the order was made or any other designated facts shall be taken to be established for the purposes of the action in accordance with the claim of the party obtaining the order;

b.         An order refusing to allow the disobedient party to support or oppose designated claims or defenses, or prohibiting the party from introducing designated matters in evidence;

c.         An order striking out pleadings or parts thereof, or staying further proceedings until the order is obeyed, or dismissing the action or proceeding or any part thereof, or rendering a judgment by default against the disobedient party;

d.         In lieu of any of the foregoing orders or in addition thereto, an order treating as a contempt of court the failure to obey any orders except an order to submit to a physical or mental examination;

e.         Where a party has failed to comply with an order under Rule 35(a) requiring the party to produce another for examination, such orders as are listed in subdivisions a, b, and c of this subsection, unless the party failing to comply shows that the party is unable to produce such person for examination.

      In lieu of any of the foregoing orders or in addition thereto, the court shall require the party failing to obey the order to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure, unless the court finds that the failure was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

(b1)      Failure to provide electronically stored information. - Absent exceptional circumstances, a court may not impose sanctions under these rules on a party for failing to provide electronically stored information lost as a result of routine, good-faith operation of an electronic information system.

(c)        Expenses on failure to admit. - If a party fails to admit the genuineness of any document or the truth of any matter as requested under Rule 36, and if the party requesting the admissions thereafter proves the genuineness of the document or the truth of the matter, the requesting party may apply to the court for an order requiring the other party to pay to him or her the reasonable expenses incurred in making that proof, including reasonable attorney's fees. The court shall make the order unless it finds that (i) the request was held objectionable pursuant to Rule 36(a), or (ii) the admission sought was of no substantial importance, or (iii) the party failing to admit had reasonable ground to believe that he or she might prevail on the matter, or (iv) there was other good reason for the failure to admit.

(d)       Failure of party to attend at own deposition or serve answers to interrogatories or respond to request for inspection. - If a party or an officer, director, or managing agent of a party or a person designated under Rule 30(b)(6) or 31(a) to testify on behalf of a party fails (i) to appear before the person who is to take the deposition, after being served with a proper notice, or (ii) to serve answers or objections to interrogatories submitted under Rule 33, after proper service of the interrogatories, or (iii) to serve a written response to a request for inspection submitted under Rule 34, after proper service of the request, the court in which the action is pending on motion may make such orders in regard to the failure as are just, and among others it may take any action authorized under subdivisions a, b, and c of subsection (b)(2) of this rule. In lieu of any order or in addition thereto, the court shall require the party failing to act to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure, unless the court finds that the failure was substantially justified or that other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

The failure to act described in this section may not be excused on the ground that the discovery sought is objectionable unless the party failing to act has applied for a protective order as provided by Rule 26(c).

(e),       (f) Reserved for future codification purposes.

(g)        Failure to participate in the framing of a discovery plan. - If a party or the party's attorney fails to participate in good faith in the framing of a discovery plan by agreement as is required by Rule 26(f), the court may, after opportunity for hearing, require such party or the party's attorney to pay to any other party the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1973, c. 827, s. 1; 1975, c. 762, s. 2; 1985, c. 603, ss. 5-7; 2001-379, s. 5; 2011-199, s. 5.)

 

 

Article 6.

Trials.

Rule 38. Jury trial of right.

(a)        Right preserved. - The right of trial by jury as declared by the Constitution or statutes of North Carolina shall be preserved to the parties inviolate.

(b)        Demand. - Any party may demand a trial by jury of any issue triable of right by a jury by serving upon the other parties a demand  therefor in writing at any time after commencement of the action and not later than 10 days after the service of the last pleading directed to such issue. Such demand may be made in the pleading of the party or endorsed on the pleading.

(c)        Demand - Specification of issues. - In his demand a party may specify the issues which he wishes so tried; otherwise, he shall be deemed to have demanded trial by jury for all the issues so triable. If a party has demanded trial by jury for only some of the issues, any other party within 10 days after service of the last pleading directed to such issues or within 10 days after service of the demand, whichever is later, or such lesser time as the court may order, may serve a demand for trial by jury of any other or all of the issues in the action.

(d)       Waiver. - Except in actions wherein jury trial cannot be waived, the failure of a party to serve a demand as required by this rule and file it as required by Rule 5(d) constitutes a waiver by him  of trial by jury. A demand for trial by jury as herein provided may not be withdrawn without the consent of the parties who have pleaded or otherwise appear in the action.

(e)        Right granted. - The right of trial by jury as to the issue of just compensation shall be granted to the parties involved in any condemnation proceeding brought by bodies politic, corporations or persons which possess the power of eminent domain. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1973, c. 149.)

 

Rule 39. Trial by jury or by the court.

(a)        By jury. - When trial by jury has been demanded and has not been withdrawn as provided in Rule 38, the action shall be designated upon the docket as a jury action. The trial of all issues so demanded shall be by jury, unless

(1)        The parties who have pleaded or otherwise appeared in the action or their attorneys of record, by written stipulation filed with the court or by an oral stipulation made in open court and entered in the minutes, consent to trial by the court sitting without a jury, or

(2)        The court upon motion or of its own initiative finds that a right of trial by jury of some or all of those issues does not exist under the Constitution or statutes.

(b)        By the court. - Issues not demanded for trial by jury as provided in Rule 38 shall be tried by the court; but, notwithstanding the failure of a party to demand a trial by jury in an action in which such a demand might have been made of right, the court in its discretion upon motion or of its own initiative may order a trial by jury of any or all issues.

(c)        Advisory jury and trial by consent. - In all actions not triable of right by a jury the court upon motion or if its own initiative may try any issue or question of fact with an advisory jury or the court, with the consent of the parties, may order a trial with a jury whose verdict has the same effect as if trial by jury had been a matter of right. In either event the jury shall be selected in the manner provided by Rule 47(a). (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 40.  Assignment of cases for trial; continuances.

(a)        The senior resident superior court judge of any superior court district or set of districts as defined in G.S. 7A-41.1 may provide by rule for the calendaring of actions for trial in the superior court division of the various counties within his district or set of districts. Calendaring of actions for trial in the district court shall be in accordance with G.S. 7A-146. Precedence shall be given to actions entitled thereto by any statute of this State.

(b)        No continuance shall be granted except upon application to the court. A continuance may be granted only for good cause shown and upon such terms and conditions as justice may require. Good cause for granting a continuance shall include those instances when a party to the proceeding, a witness, or counsel of record has an obligation of service to the State of North Carolina, including service as a member of the General Assembly or the Rules Review Commission. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, s. 9; 1985, c. 603, s. 8; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1037, s. 43; 1997-34, s. 10.)

 

Rule 41. Dismissal of actions.

(a)        Voluntary dismissal; effect thereof. -

(1)        By Plaintiff; by Stipulation. - Subject to the provisions of Rule 23(c) and of any statute of this State, an action or any claim therein may be dismissed by the plaintiff without order of court (i) by filing a notice of dismissal at any time before the plaintiff rests his case, or; (ii) by filing a stipulation of dismissal signed by all parties who have appeared in the action. Unless otherwise stated in the notice of dismissal or stipulation, the dismissal is without prejudice, except that a notice of dismissal operates as an adjudication upon the merits when filed by a plaintiff who has once dismissed in any court of this or any other state or of the United States, an action based on or including the same claim. If an action commenced within the time prescribed therefor, or any claim therein, is dismissed without prejudice under this subsection, a new action based on the same claim may be commenced within one year after such dismissal unless a stipulation filed under (ii) of this subsection shall specify a shorter time.

(2)        By Order of Judge. - Except as provided in subsection (1) of this section, an action or any claim therein shall not be dismissed at the plaintiff's instance save upon order of the  judge and upon such terms and conditions as justice requires. Unless otherwise specified in the order, a dismissal under this subsection is without prejudice. If an action commenced within the time prescribed therefor, or any claim therein, is dismissed without prejudice under this subsection, a new action based on the same claim may be commenced within one year after such dismissal unless the judge shall specify in his order a shorter time.

(b)        Involuntary dismissal; effect thereof. - For failure of the plaintiff to prosecute or to comply with these rules or any order of court, a defendant may move for dismissal of an action or of any claim therein against him. After the plaintiff, in an action tried by the court without a jury, has completed the presentation of his evidence, the defendant, without waiving his right to offer evidence in the event the motion is not granted, may move for a dismissal on the ground that upon the facts and the law the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. The court as trier of the facts may then determine them and render judgment against the plaintiff or may decline to render any judgment until the close of all the evidence. If the court  renders judgment on the merits against the plaintiff, the court shall  make findings as provided in Rule 52(a). Unless the court in its order for dismissal otherwise specifies, a dismissal under this section and  any dismissal not provided for in this rule, other than a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, for improper venue, or for failure to join a necessary party, operates as an adjudication upon the merits. If the court specifies that the dismissal of an action commenced within the time prescribed therefor, or any claim therein, is without prejudice, it may also specify in its order that a new action based on the same claim may be commenced within one year or less after such dismissal.

(c)        Dismissal of counterclaim; crossclaim, or third-party claim. - The provisions of this rule apply to the dismissal of any counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim.

(d)       Costs. - A plaintiff who dismisses an action or claim under section (a) of this rule shall be taxed with the costs of the action unless the action was brought in forma pauperis. If a plaintiff who has once dismissed an action in any court commences an action based upon or including the same claim against the same defendant before the payment of the costs of the action previously dismissed, unless such previous action was brought in forma pauperis, the court, upon motion of the defendant, shall make an order for the payment of such costs by the plaintiff within 30 days and shall stay the proceedings in the action until the plaintiff has complied with the order. If the plaintiff does not comply with the order, the court shall dismiss the action. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, s. 10; 1977, c. 290.)

 

Rule 42. Consolidation; separate trials.

(a)        Consolidation. - Except as provided in subdivision (b)(2) of this section, when actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending in one division of the court, the judge may order a joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; he may order all the actions consolidated; and he may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay. When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending in both the superior and the district court of the same county, a judge of the superior court in which the action is pending may order all the actions consolidated, and he may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.

(b)        Separate trials. -

(1)        The court may in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice and shall for considerations of venue upon timely motion order a separate trial of any claim, cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party claim, or of any separate issue or of any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-party claims, or issues.

(2)        Upon motion of any party in an action that includes a claim commenced under Article 1G of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes involving a managed care entity as defined in G.S. 90-21.50, the court shall order separate discovery and a separate trial of any claim, cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party claim against a physician or other medical provider.

(3)        Upon motion of any party in an action in tort wherein the plaintiff seeks damages exceeding one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000), the court shall order separate trials for the issue of liability and the issue of damages, unless the court for good cause shown orders a single trial. Evidence relating solely to compensatory damages shall not be admissible until the trier of fact has determined that the defendant is liable. The same trier of fact that tries the issues relating to liability shall try the issues relating to damages.

(4)        Pursuant to G.S. 1-267.1, any facial challenge to the validity of an act of the General Assembly, other than a challenge to plans apportioning or redistricting State legislative or congressional districts, shall be heard by a three-judge panel in the Superior Court of Wake County if a claimant raises such a challenge in the claimant's complaint or amended complaint in any court in this State, or if such a challenge is raised by the defendant in the defendant's answer, responsive pleading, or within 30 days of filing the defendant's answer or responsive pleading. In that event, the court shall, on its own motion, transfer that portion of the action challenging the validity of the act of the General Assembly to the Superior Court of Wake County for resolution by a three-judge panel if, after all other matters in the action have been resolved, a determination as to the facial validity of an act of the General Assembly must be made in order to completely resolve any matters in the case. The court in which the action originated shall maintain jurisdiction over all matters other than the challenge to the act's facial validity and shall stay all matters that are contingent upon the outcome of the challenge to the act's facial validity pending a ruling on that challenge and until all appeal rights are exhausted. Once the three-judge panel has ruled and all appeal rights have been exhausted, the matter shall be transferred or remanded to the three-judge panel or the trial court in which the action originated for resolution of any outstanding matters, as appropriate.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2001-446, s. 4.8; 2011-400, s. 2; 2014-100, s. 18B.16(c).)

 

Rule 43. Evidence.

(a)        Form. - In all trials the testimony of witnesses shall be taken orally in open court, unless otherwise provided by these rules.

(b)        Examination of hostile witnesses and adverse parties. - A party may interrogate any unwilling or hostile witness by leading questions and may contradict and impeach him in all respects as if he had been called by the adverse party. A party may call an adverse party or an agent or employee of an adverse party, or an officer, director, or employee of a public or private corporation or of a partnership or association which is an adverse party, or an officer, agent or employee of a state, county or municipal government or agency thereof which is an adverse party, and interrogate him by leading questions and contradict and impeach him in all respects as if he had  been called by the adverse party.

(c)        Record of excluded evidence. - In an action tried before a jury, if an objection to a question propounded to a witness is sustained by the court, the court on request of the examining attorney shall order a record made of the answer the witness would have given. The court may add such other or further statement as clearly shows the character of the evidence, the form in which it was offered, the objection made and the ruling thereon. In actions tried without a jury the same procedure may be followed, except that the court upon request shall take and report the evidence in full, unless it clearly appears  that the evidence is not admissible on any grounds or that the witness is privileged.

(d)       Affirmation in lieu of oath. - Whenever under these rules an oath is required to be taken, a solemn affirmation may be accepted in lieu thereof.

(e)        Evidence on motions. - When a motion is based on facts not appearing of record the court may hear the matter on affidavits presented by the respective parties, but the court may direct that the matter be heard wholly or partly on oral testimony or depositions. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 44. Proof of official record.

(a)        Authentication of copy. - An official record or an entry therein, when admissible for any purpose, may be evidence by an  official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody of the record, or by his deputy, and accompanied with a certificate that such officer has the custody. If the office in which the record is kept is without the State of North Carolina but within the United States or within a territory or insular possession subject to the dominion of the United States, the certificate may be made by a judge of a court of record of the political subdivision in which the record is kept, authenticated by the seal of the court, or may be made by any public officer having a seal of office and having official duties in the political subdivision in which the record is kept, authenticated by the seal of his office. If the office in which the record is kept is in a foreign state or country, the certificate may be made by a secretary of embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent or by any officer in the foreign service of the United States stationed in the foreign state or country in which the record is kept, and authenticated by the seal of his office.

(b)        Proof of lack of record. - A written statement signed by an officer having the custody of an official record or by his deputy that after diligent search no record or entry of a specified tenor is found to exist in the records of his office, accompanied by a certificate as above provided, is admissible as evidence that the records of his office contain no such record or entry.

(c)        Other proof. - This rule does not prevent the proof of official records specified in Title 28, U.S.C. §§ 1738 and 1739 in the manner therein provided; nor of entry or lack of entry in official records by any method authorized by any other applicable statute or by the rules of evidence at common law. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 44.1.  Determination of foreign law.

A party who intends to raise an issue concerning the law of a foreign country shall give notice by pleadings or by other reasonable written notice.  The court, in determining foreign law, may consider any relevant material or source, including testimony, whether or not submitted by a party or admissible under Chapter 8 of the General Statutes and State law. The court's determination shall be treated as a ruling on a question of law. (1995, c. 389, s. 5.)

 

Rule 45. Subpoena.

(a)        Form; Issuance. -

(1)        Every subpoena shall state all of the following:

a.         The title of the action, the name of the court in which the action is pending, the number of the civil action, and the name of the party at whose instance the witness is summoned.

b.         A command to each person to whom it is directed to attend and give testimony or to produce and permit inspection and copying of designated records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things in the possession, custody, or control of that person therein specified.

c.         The protections of persons subject to subpoenas under subsection (c) of this rule.

d.         The requirements for responses to subpoenas under subsection (d) of this rule.

(2)        A command to produce records, books, papers, electronically stored information, or tangible things may be joined with a command to appear at trial or hearing or at a deposition, or any subpoena may be issued separately. A subpoena may specify the form or forms in which electronically stored information is to be produced.

(3)        A subpoena shall issue from the court in which the action is pending.

(4)        The clerk of court in which the action is pending shall issue a subpoena, signed but otherwise blank, to a party requesting it, who shall complete it before service. Any judge of the superior court, judge of the district court, magistrate, or attorney, as officer of the court, may also issue and sign a subpoena.

(b)        Service. -

(1)        Manner. - Any subpoena may be served by the sheriff, by the sheriff's deputy, by a coroner, or by any person who is not a party and is not less than 18 years of age. Service of a subpoena upon a person named therein shall be made by delivering a copy thereof to that person or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. Service of a subpoena for the attendance of a witness only may also be made by telephone communication with the person named therein only by a sheriff, the sheriff's designee who is not less than 18 years of age and is not a party, or a coroner.

(2)        Service of copy. - A copy of the subpoena served under subdivision (b)(1) of this subsection shall also be served upon each party in the manner prescribed by Rule 5(b).

(3)        Subdivision (b)(2) of this subsection does not apply to subpoenas issued under G.S. 15A-801 or G.S. 15A-802.

(c)        Protection of Persons Subject to Subpoena. -

(1)        Avoid undue burden or expense. - A party or an attorney responsible for the issuance and service of a subpoena shall take reasonable steps to avoid imposing an undue burden or expense on a person subject to the subpoena. The court shall enforce this subdivision and impose upon the party or attorney in violation of this requirement an appropriate sanction that may include compensating the person unduly burdened for lost earnings and for reasonable attorney's fees.

(2)        For production of public records or hospital medical records. - Where the subpoena commands any custodian of public records or any custodian of hospital medical records, as defined in G.S. 8-44.1, to appear for the sole purpose of producing certain records in the custodian's custody, the custodian subpoenaed may, in lieu of personal appearance, tender to the court in which the action is pending by registered or certified mail or by personal delivery, on or before the time specified in the subpoena, certified copies of the records requested together with a copy of the subpoena and an affidavit by the custodian testifying that the copies are true and correct copies and that the records were made and kept in the regular course of business, or if no such records are in the custodian's custody, an affidavit to that effect. When the copies of records are personally delivered under this subdivision, a receipt shall be obtained from the person receiving the records. Any original or certified copy of records or an affidavit delivered according to the provisions of this subdivision, unless otherwise objectionable, shall be admissible in any action or proceeding without further certification or authentication. Copies of hospital medical records tendered under this subdivision shall not be open to inspection or copied by any person, except to the parties to the case or proceedings and their attorneys in depositions, until ordered published by the judge at the time of the hearing or trial. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to waive the physician-patient privilege or to require any privileged communication under law to be disclosed.

(3)        Written objection to subpoenas. - Subject to subsection (d) of this rule, a person commanded to appear at a deposition or to produce and permit the inspection and copying of records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things may, within 10 days after service of the subpoena or before the time specified for compliance if the time is less than 10 days after service, serve upon the party or the attorney designated in the subpoena written objection to the subpoena, setting forth the specific grounds for the objection. The written objection shall comply with the requirements of Rule 11. Each of the following grounds may be sufficient for objecting to a subpoena:

a.         The subpoena fails to allow reasonable time for compliance.

b.         The subpoena requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter and no exception or waiver applies to the privilege or protection.

c.         The subpoena subjects a person to an undue burden or expense.

d.         The subpoena is otherwise unreasonable or oppressive.

e.         The subpoena is procedurally defective.

(4)        Order of court required to override objection. - If objection is made under subdivision (3) of this subsection, the party serving the subpoena shall not be entitled to compel the subpoenaed person's appearance at a deposition or to inspect and copy materials to which an objection has been made except pursuant to an order of the court. If objection is made, the party serving the subpoena may, upon notice to the subpoenaed person, move at any time for an order to compel the subpoenaed person's appearance at the deposition or the production of the materials designated in the subpoena. The motion shall be filed in the court in the county in which the deposition or production of materials is to occur.

(5)        Motion to quash or modify subpoena. - A person commanded to appear at a trial, hearing, deposition, or to produce and permit the inspection and copying of records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible things, within 10 days after service of the subpoena or before the time specified for compliance if the time is less than 10 days after service, may file a motion to quash or modify the subpoena. The court shall quash or modify the subpoena if the subpoenaed person demonstrates the existence of any of the reasons set forth in subdivision (3) of this subsection. The motion shall be filed in the court in the county in which the trial, hearing, deposition, or production of materials is to occur.

(6)        Order to compel; expenses to comply with subpoena. - When a court enters an order compelling a deposition or the production of records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible things, the order shall protect any person who is not a party or an agent of a party from significant expense resulting from complying with the subpoena. The court may order that the person to whom the subpoena is addressed will be reasonably compensated for the cost of producing the records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things specified in the subpoena.

(7)        Trade secrets; confidential information. -  When a subpoena requires disclosure of a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information, a court may, to protect a person subject to or affected by the subpoena, quash or modify the subpoena, or when the party on whose behalf the subpoena is issued shows a substantial need for the testimony or material that cannot otherwise be met without undue hardship, the court may order a person to make an appearance or produce the materials only on specified conditions stated in the order.

(8)        Order to quash; expenses. - When a court enters an order quashing or modifying the subpoena, the court may order the party on whose behalf the subpoena is issued to pay all or part of the subpoenaed person's reasonable expenses including attorney's fees.

(d)       Duties in Responding to Subpoenas. -

(1)        Form of response. - A person responding to a subpoena to produce records, books, documents, electronically stored information, or tangible things shall produce them as they are kept in the usual course of business or shall organize and label them to correspond with the categories in the request.

(2)        Form of producing electronically stored information not specified. - If a subpoena does not specify a form for producing electronically stored information, the person responding must produce it in a form or forms in which it ordinarily is maintained or in a reasonably useable form or forms.

(3)        Electronically stored information in only one form. - The person responding need not produce the same electronically stored information in more than one form.

(4)        Inaccessible electronically stored information. - The person responding need not provide discovery of electronically stored information from sources that the person identifies as not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. On motion to compel discovery or for a protective order, the person responding must show that the information is not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost. If that showing is made, the court may nonetheless order discovery from such sources if the requesting party shows good cause, after considering the limitations of Rule 26(b)(1a). The court may specify conditions for discovery, including requiring the party that seeks discovery from a nonparty to bear the costs of locating, preserving, collecting, and producing the electronically stored information involved.

(5)        Specificity of objection. - When information subject to a subpoena is withheld on the objection that it is subject to protection as trial preparation materials, or that it is otherwise privileged, the objection shall be made with specificity and shall be supported by a description of the nature of the communications, records, books, papers, documents, electronically stored information, or other tangible things not produced, sufficient for the requesting party to contest the objection.

(d1)     Opportunity for Inspection of Subpoenaed Material. - A party or attorney responsible for the issuance and service of a subpoena shall, within five business days after the receipt of material produced in compliance with the subpoena, serve all other parties with notice of receipt of the material produced in compliance with the subpoena and, upon request, shall provide all other parties a reasonable opportunity to copy and inspect such material at the expense of the inspecting party.

(e)        Contempt; Expenses to Force Compliance With Subpoena. -

(1)        Failure by any person without adequate excuse to obey a subpoena served upon the person may be deemed a contempt of court. Failure by any party without adequate cause to obey a subpoena served upon the party shall also subject the party to the sanctions provided in Rule 37(d).

(2)        The court may award costs and attorney's fees to the party who issued a subpoena if the court determines that a person objected to the subpoena or filed a motion to quash or modify the subpoena, and the objection or motion was unreasonable or was made for improper purposes such as unnecessary delay.

(f)        Discovery From Persons Residing Outside the State. -

(1)        Any party may obtain discovery from a person residing in another state of the United States or a territory or an insular possession subject to its jurisdiction in any one or more of the following forms: (i) oral depositions, (ii) depositions upon written questions, or (iii) requests for production of documents and tangible things. In doing so, the party shall use and follow any applicable process and procedures required and available under the laws of the state, territory, or insular possession where the discovery is to be obtained. If required by the process or procedure of the state, territory, or insular possession where the discovery is to be obtained, a commission may issue from the court in which the action is pending in accordance with the procedures set forth in subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(2)        Obtaining a commission. -

a.         The party desiring a commission to obtain discovery outside the State shall prepare and file a motion indicating the party's intent to obtain a commission and requesting that the commission be issued.

b.         The motion shall indicate that the moving party has conferred, or describe fully the moving party's good faith attempts to confer, with counsel for all other parties regarding the request and shall indicate whether the motion is unopposed. The motion shall also attach a copy of any proposed subpoena, notice of deposition, or other papers to be served on the person from whom the moving party is seeking to obtain discovery.

c.         The motion shall indicate that counsel for the moving party has read the applicable rules and procedures of the foreign state and that the moving party will comply with those rules and procedures in obtaining the requested discovery.

d.         If the motion reflects that it is unopposed or indicates that the moving party has made reasonable, good faith efforts to confer with all other parties and that no other party has indicated that it opposes the motion, the motion shall immediately be placed on the calendar for a hearing within 20 days before the court in which the action is pending where the commission shall be issued. However, if the court determines, in its discretion, that the moving party has failed to make reasonable, good faith efforts to confer with all other parties prior to filing the motion, the court shall refuse to issue the commission, and the motion shall be denied.

e.         If the motion does not reflect that it is unopposed or that the moving party has made reasonable, good faith efforts to confer with all other parties and that no other party has indicated that it opposes the motion, any party wishing to oppose the motion shall file written objections to issuance of the commission within 10 days of being served with the motion, and the motion shall immediately be placed on the calendar for a hearing to be held within 20 days before the court in which the action is pending. The hearing may be held by telephone in the court's discretion. The court may refuse to issue the commission only upon a showing of substantial good cause to deny the motion.

f.          If the court, in its discretion, determines that any party opposing the motion did so without good cause, the court shall require the party opposing the motion to pay the moving party the reasonable costs and expenses incurred in obtaining the order, including attorneys' fees, unless circumstances exist which make an award of expenses unjust.

(3)        In addition to any terms required by the foreign jurisdiction to initiate the process of obtaining the requested discovery, the commission shall:

a.         State the time and place at which the requested discovery is to occur;

b.         State the name and address of the person from whom the discovery is sought, if known, and, if unknown, a general description sufficient to identify the person or the particular class or group to which he or she belongs; and

c.         Attach a copy of any case management order, discovery order, local rule, or other rule or order establishing any discovery deadlines in the North Carolina action.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 886, s. 1; 1971, c. 159; 1975, c. 762, s. 3; 1983, c. 665, s. 1; c. 722; 1989, c. 262, s. 1; 2003-276, s. 1; 2007-514, s. 1; 2011-199, s. 6; 2011-247, s. 3.)

 

Rule 46. Objections and exceptions.

(a)        Rulings on admissibility of evidence. -

(1)        When there is objection to the admission of evidence on the ground that the witness is for a specified reason incompetent or not qualified or disqualified, it shall be deemed that a like objection has been made to any subsequent admission of evidence from the witness in question. Similarly, when there is objection to the admission of evidence involving a specified line of questioning, it shall be deemed that a like objection has been taken to any subsequent admission of evidence involving the same line of questioning.

(2)        If there is proper objection to the admission of evidence and the objection is overruled, the ruling of the court shall be deemed excepted to by the party making the objection. If an objection to the admission of evidence is sustained or if the court for any reason excludes evidence offered by a party, the ruling of the court shall be deemed excepted to by the party offering the evidence.

(3)        No objections are necessary with respect to questions propounded to a witness by the court or a juror but it shall be deemed that each such question has been properly objected to and that the objection has been overruled and that an exception has been taken to the ruling of the court by all parties to the action.

(b)        Pretrial rulings, interlocutory orders, trial rulings, and other orders not directed to the admissibility of evidence. - With respect to pretrial rulings, interlocutory orders, trial rulings, and other orders of the court not directed to the admissibility of evidence, formal objections and exceptions are unnecessary. In order to preserve an exception to any such ruling or order or to the court's failure to make any such ruling or order, it shall be sufficient if a party, at the time the ruling or order is made or sought, makes known to the court the party's objection to the action of the court or makes known the action that the party desires the court to take and the party's grounds for its position. If a party has no opportunity to object or except to a ruling or order at the time it is made, the absence of an objection or exception does not thereafter prejudice that party.

(c)        Repealed by Session Laws 2001-379, s. 6. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2001-379, s. 6.)

 

Rule 47. Jurors.

Inquiry as to the fitness and competency of any person to serve as a juror and the challenging of such person shall be as provided in Chapter 9 of the General Statutes. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 48. Juries of less than twelve - majority verdict.

Except in actions in which a jury is required by statute, the parties may stipulate that the jury will consist of any number less than 12 or that a verdict or a finding of a stated majority of the jurors shall be taken as the verdict or finding of the jury. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 49. Verdicts.

(a)        General and special verdicts. - The judge may require a jury to return either a general or a special verdict and in all cases may instruct the jury, if it renders a general verdict, to find upon particular questions of fact, to be stated in writing, and may direct a written finding thereon. A general verdict is that by which the jury pronounces generally upon all or any of the issues, either in favor of the plaintiff or defendant. A special verdict is that by which the jury finds the facts only.

(b)        Framing of issues. - Issues shall be framed in concise and direct terms, and prolixity and confusion must be avoided by not having too many issues. The issues, material to be tried, must be made up by the attorneys appearing in the action, or by the judge presiding, and reducing to writing, before or during the trial.

(c)        Waiver of jury trial on issue. - If, in submitting the issues to the jury, the judge omits any issue of fact raised by the pleadings or by the evidence, each party waives his right to a trial by jury of the issue so omitted unless before the jury retires he demands its submission to the jury. As to an issue omitted without such demand the judge may make a finding; or, if he fails to do so, he shall be deemed to have made a finding in accord with the judgment entered.

(d)       Special finding inconsistent with general verdict. - Where a special finding of facts is inconsistent with the general verdict, the former controls, and the judge shall give judgment accordingly. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 50. Motion for a directed verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

(a)        When made; effect. - A party who moves for a directed  verdict at the close of the evidence offered by an opponent may offer  evidence in the event that the motion is not granted, without having reserved the right so to do and to the same extent as if the motion had not been made. A motion for a directed verdict which is not granted is not a waiver of trial by jury even though all parties to the action have moved for directed verdicts. A motion for a directed verdict shall state the specific grounds therefor. The order granting  a motion for a directed verdict shall be effective without any assent  of the jury.

(b)        Motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. -

(1)        Whenever a motion for a directed verdict made at the close of all the evidence is denied or for any reason is not granted,  the submission of the action to the jury shall be deemed to be subject to a later determination of the legal questions raised by the motion. Not later than 10 days after entry of judgment, a party who has moved for a directed verdict may move to have the verdict and any judgment entered thereon set aside and to have judgment entered in accordance with his motion for a directed verdict; or if a verdict was not returned such party, within 10 days after the jury has been discharged, may move for judgment in accordance with his motion for a directed verdict. In either case the motion shall be granted if it appears that the motion for directed verdict could properly have been granted. A motion for a new trial may be joined with this motion, or a new trial may be prayed for in the alternative. If a verdict was returned the  judge may allow the judgment to stand or may set aside the judgment and either order a new trial or direct the entry of  judgment as if the requested verdict had been directed. If no verdict was returned the judge may direct the entry of judgment as if the requested verdict had been directed or may order a new trial. Not later than ten (10) days after entry of judgment or the discharge of the jury if a verdict was not returned, the judge on his own motion may, with or without further notice and hearing, grant, deny, or redeny a motion for directed verdict made at the close of all the evidence that was denied or for any reason was not granted.

(2)        An appellate court, on finding that a trial judge should have granted a motion for directed verdict made at the close of all the evidence, may not direct entry of judgment in accordance with the motion unless the party who made the motion for a directed verdict also moved for judgment in accordance with Rule 50(b)(1) or the trial judge on his own motion granted, denied or redenied the motion for a directed verdict in accordance with Rule 50(b)(1).

(c)        Motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict - Conditional rulings on grant of motion. -

(1)        If the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, provided for in section (b) of this rule, is granted, the court shall also rule on the motion for new trial, if any, by determining whether it should be granted if the judgment is thereafter vacated or reversed, and shall specify the grounds for granting or denying the motion for the new trial. If the motion for new trial is thus conditionally granted, the order thereon does not affect the finality of the judgment. In case the motion for new trial has been conditionally granted and the judgment is reversed on appeal, the new trial shall proceed unless the appellate division has otherwise ordered. In case the motion for new trial has been conditionally denied, the appellee on appeal may assert error in that denial; and if the judgment is reversed on appeal, subsequent proceedings shall be in accordance with the order of the appellate division.

(2)        The party whose verdict has been set aside on motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict may serve a motion for a new trial pursuant to Rule 59 not later than 10 days after entry of the judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

(d)       Motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict - Denial of  motion. - If the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict is denied, the party who prevailed on that motion may, as appellee, assert grounds entitling him to a new trial in the event the appellate division concludes that the trial court erred in denying the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. If the appellate division reverses the judgment, nothing in this rule precludes it from determining that the appellee is entitled to a new trial, or from directing the trial court to determine whether a new trial shall be granted. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, s. 11.)

 

Rule 51. Instructions to jury.

(a)        Judge to explain law but give no opinion on facts. - In charging the jury in any action governed by these rules, a judge shall not give an opinion as to whether or not a fact is fully or sufficiently proved and shall not be required to state, summarize or recapitulate the evidence, or to explain the application of the law to the evidence. If the judge undertakes to state the contentions of the parties, he shall give equal stress to the contentions of each party.

(b)        Requests for special instructions. - Requests for special instructions must be in writing, entitled in the cause, and signed by the counsel or party submitting them. Such requests for special instructions must be submitted to the judge before the judge's charge to the jury is begun. The judge may, in his discretion, consider such requests regardless of the time they are made. Written requests for special instructions shall, after their submission to the judge, be filed with the clerk as a part of the record.

(c)        Judge not to comment on verdict. - The judge shall make no comment on any verdict in open court in the presence or hearing of any member of the jury panel; and if any judge shall make any comment as herein prohibited or shall praise or criticize any jury on account of its verdict, whether such praise, criticism or comment be made inadvertently or intentionally, such praise, criticism or comment by the judge shall for any party to any other action remaining to be tried constitute valid grounds as a matter of right for a continuance of any action to a time when all members of the jury panel are no longer serving. The provisions of this section shall not be applicable upon the hearing of motions for a new trial or for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1985, c. 537, s. 2.)

 

Rule 52. Findings by the court.

(a)        Findings. -

(1)        In all actions tried upon the facts without a jury or with an advisory jury, the court shall find the facts specially and state separately its conclusions of law thereon and direct the entry of the appropriate judgment.

(2)        Findings of fact and conclusions of law are necessary on decisions of any motion or order ex mero motu only when requested by a party and as provided by Rule 41(b). Similarly, findings of fact and conclusions of law are necessary on the granting or denying of a preliminary injunction or any other provisional remedy only when required by statute expressly relating to such remedy or requested by a party.

(3)        If an opinion or memorandum of decision is filed, it will be  sufficient if the findings of fact and conclusions of law appear therein.

(b)        Amendment. - Upon motion of a party made not later than 10 days after entry of judgment the court may amend its findings or make additional findings and may amend the judgment accordingly. The motion may be made with a motion for a new trial pursuant to Rule 59.

(c)        Review on appeal. - When findings of fact are made in actions tried by the court without a jury, the question of the sufficiency of  the evidence to support the findings may be raised on appeal whether or not the party raising the question has made in the trial court an objection to such findings or has made a motion to amend them or a motion for judgment, or a request for specific findings. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, s. 12.)

 

Rule 53. Referees.

(a)        Kinds of reference. -

(1)        By Consent. - Any or all of the issues in an action may be referred upon the written consent of the parties except in actions to annul a marriage, actions for divorce, actions for divorce from bed and board, actions for alimony without the divorce or actions in which a ground of annulment or divorce is in issue.

(2)        Compulsory. - Where the parties do not consent to a reference, the court may, upon the application of any party or on its own motion, order a reference in the following cases:

a.         Where the trial of an issue requires the examination of a long or complicated account; in which case the referee may be directed to hear and decide the whole issue, or to report upon any specific question of fact involved therein.

b.         Where the taking of an account is necessary for the information of the court before judgment, or for carrying a judgment or order into effect.

c.         Where the case involves a complicated question of boundary, or requires a personal view of the premises.

d.         Where a question of fact arises outside the pleadings, upon motion or otherwise, at any stage of the action.

(b)        Jury trial. -

(1)        Where the reference is by consent, the parties waive the right to have any of the issues within the scope of the reference passed on by a jury.

(2)        A compulsory reference does not deprive any party of his right to a trial by jury, which right he may preserve by

a.         Objecting to the order of compulsory reference at the time it is made, and

b.         By filing specific exceptions to particular findings of fact made by the referee within 30 days after the referee files his report with the clerk of the court in which the action is pending, and

c.         By formulating appropriate issues based upon the exceptions taken and demanding a jury trial upon such issues. Such issues shall be tendered at the same time the exceptions to the referee's report are filed. If there is a trial by jury upon any issue referred, the trial shall be only upon the evidence taken before the referee.

(c)        Appointment. - The parties may agree in writing upon one or more persons not exceeding three, and a reference shall be ordered  to such person or persons in appropriate cases. If the parties do not  agree, the court shall appoint one or more referees, not exceeding three, but no person shall be appointed referee to whom all parties in the action object.

(d)       Compensation. - The compensation to be allowed a referee shall be fixed by the court and charged in the bill of costs. After appointment of a referee, the court may from time to time order advancements by one or more of the parties of sums to be applied to the referee's compensation. Such advancements may be apportioned between the parties in such manner as the court sees fit. Advancements so made shall be taken into account in the final fixing of costs and such adjustments made as the court then deems proper.

(e)        Powers. - The order of reference to the referee may specify or limit his powers and may direct him to report only upon particular issues or to do or perform particular acts or to receive and report evidence only and may fix the time and place for beginning and closing the hearings and for the filing of the referee's report. Subject to the specifications and limitations stated in the order, every referee has power to administer oaths in any proceeding before him, and has generally the power vested in a referee by law. The referee shall have the same power to grant adjournments and to allow amendments to pleadings and to the summons as the judge and upon the same terms and with like effect. The referee shall have the same power as the judge to preserve order and punish all violations thereof, to compel the attendance of witnesses before him by attachment, and to punish them as for contempt for nonattendance or for refusal to be sworn or to testify. The parties may procure the attendance of witnesses before the referee by the issuance and service of subpoenas as provided in Rule 45.

(f)        Proceedings. -

(1)        Meetings. - When a reference is made, the clerk shall forthwith furnish the referee with a copy of the order of reference. Upon receipt thereof unless the order of reference otherwise provides, the referee shall forthwith set a time and place for the first meeting of the parties or their attorneys to be held within 20 days after the date of the order of reference and shall notify the parties or their attorneys. It is the duty of the referee to proceed with all reasonable diligence. Any party, on notice to all other parties and the referee, may apply to the court for an order requiring the referee to expedite the proceedings and to make his report. If a party fails to appear at the time and place appointed, the referee may proceed ex parte, or, in his discretion, may adjourn the proceedings to a future day, giving notice to the absent party of the adjournment.

(2)        Statement of Accounts. - When matters of accounting are in issue before the referee, he may prescribe the form in which the accounts shall be submitted and in any proper case may require or receive in evidence a statement by a certified public accountant or other qualified accountant who is called as a witness. Upon objection of a party to any of the items thus submitted or upon a showing that the form of statement is insufficient, the referee may require a different form of statement to be furnished, or the accounts of specific items thereof to be proved by oral examination of the accounting parties or upon written interrogatories or in such other manner as he directs.

(3)        Testimony Reduced to Writing. - The testimony of all witnesses must be reduced to writing by the referee, or by someone acting under his direction and shall be filed in the  cause and constitute a part of the record.

(g)        Report. -

(1)        Contents and Filing. - The referee shall prepare a report upon the matters submitted to him by the order of reference and shall include therein his decision on all matters so submitted. If required to make findings of fact and conclusions of law, he shall set them forth separately in the report. He shall file the report with the clerk of the court in which the action is pending and unless otherwise directed by the order of reference, shall file with it a transcript of the proceedings and of the evidence and the original exhibits. Before filing his report a referee may submit a draft thereof to counsel for all parties for the purpose of receiving their suggestions. The clerk shall forthwith mail to all parties notice of the filing.

(2)        Exceptions and Review. - All or any part of the report may be excepted to by any party within 30 days from the filing of the report. Thereafter, and upon 10 days' notice to the other parties, any party may apply to the judge for action on the report. The judge after hearing may adopt, modify or reject the report in whole or in part, render judgment, or may remand the proceedings to the referee with instructions. No judgment may be rendered on any reference except by the judge. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1969, c. 895, s. 13.)

 

 

Article 7.

Judgment.

Rule 54. Judgments.

(a)        Definition. - A judgment is either interlocutory or the final determination of the rights of the parties.

(b)        Judgment upon multiple claims or involving multiple parties. - When more than one claim for relief is presented in an action, whether as a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim, or when multiple parties are involved, the court may enter a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the claims or parties only if there is no just reason for delay and it is so determined in the judgment. Such judgment shall then be subject to review by appeal or as otherwise provided by these rules or other statutes. In the absence of entry of such a final judgment, any order or other form of decision, however designated, which adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties shall not terminate the action as to any of the claims or parties and  shall not then be subject to review either by appeal or otherwise except as expressly provided by these rules or other statutes. Similarly, in the absence of entry of such a final judgment, any order or other form of decision is subject to revision at any time before the entry of judgment adjudicating all the claims and the rights and liabilities of all the parties.

(c)        Demand for judgment. - A judgment by default shall not be different in kind from or exceed in amount that prayed for in the demand for judgment. Except as to a party against whom a judgment is entered by default, every final judgment shall grant the relief to which the party in whose favor it is rendered is entitled, even if the party has not demanded such relief in his pleadings. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 55. Default.

(a)        Entry. - When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or is otherwise subject to default judgment as provided by these rules or by statute and that fact is made to appear by affidavit, motion of attorney for the plaintiff, or otherwise, the clerk shall enter his default.

(b)        Judgment. - Judgment by default may be entered as follows:

(1)        By the Clerk. - When the plaintiff's claim against a defendant is for a sum certain or for a sum which can by computation be made certain, the clerk upon request of the plaintiff and upon affidavit of the amount due shall enter judgment for that amount and costs against the defendant, if the defendant has been defaulted for failure to appear and if the defendant is not an infant or incompetent person. A verified pleading may be used in lieu of an affidavit when the pleading contains information sufficient to determine or compute the sum certain.

                  In all cases wherein, pursuant to this rule, the clerk enters judgment by default upon a claim for debt which is secured by any pledge, mortgage, deed of trust or other contractual security in respect of which foreclosure may be had, or upon a claim to enforce a lien for unpaid taxes or assessments under G.S. 105-414, the clerk may likewise make all further orders required to consummate foreclosure in accordance with the procedure provided in Article 29A of Chapter 1 of the General Statutes, entitled "Judicial Sales."

(2)        By the Judge. -

a.         In all other cases the party entitled to a judgment by default shall apply to the judge therefor; but no judgment by default shall be entered against an infant or incompetent person unless represented in the action by a guardian ad litem or other such representative who has appeared therein. If the party against whom judgment by default is sought has appeared in the action, that party (or, if appearing by representative, the representative) shall be served with written notice of the application for judgment at least three days prior to the hearing on such application. If, in order to enable the judge to enter judgment or to carry it into effect, it is necessary to take an account or to determine the amount of damages or to establish the truth of any averment by evidence or to take an investigation of any other matter, the judge may conduct such hearings or order such references as the judge deems necessary and proper and shall accord a right of trial by jury to the parties when and as required by the Constitution or by any statute of North Carolina. If the plaintiff seeks to establish paternity under Article 3 of Chapter 49 of the General Statutes and the defendant fails to appear, the judge shall enter judgment by default.

b.         A motion for judgment by default may be decided by the court without a hearing if:

1.         The motion specifically provides that the court will decide the motion for judgment by default without a hearing if the party against whom judgment is sought fails to serve a written response, stating the grounds for opposing the motion, within 30 days of service of the motion; and

2.         The party against whom judgment is sought fails to serve the response in accordance with this sub-subdivision.

(c)        Service by publication. - When service of the summons has been made by published notice, no judgment shall be entered on default until the plaintiff shall have filed a bond, approved by the court, conditioned to abide such order as the court may make touching the restitution of any property collected or obtained by virtue of the judgment in case a defense is thereafter permitted and sustained; provided, that in actions involving the title to real estate or to foreclose mortgages thereon or in actions in which the State of North Carolina or a county or municipality thereof is the plaintiff such bond shall not be required.

(d)       Setting aside default. - For good cause shown the court may set aside an entry of default, and, if a judgment by default has been entered, the judge may set it aside in accordance with Rule 60(b).

(e)        Plaintiffs, counterclaimants, cross claimants. - The provisions of this rule apply whether the party entitled to the judgment by default is a plaintiff, a third-party plaintiff, or a party who has pleaded a crossclaim or counterclaim. In all cases a judgment by default is subject to the limitations of Rule 54(c).

(f)        Judgment against the State of North Carolina. - No judgment by default shall be entered against the State of North Carolina or an officer in his official capacity or agency thereof unless the claimant establishes his claim or right to relief by evidence. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, cc. 542, 1101; 1977, c. 675; 1991, c. 278, s. 1; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 733, s. 3; 1999-187, s. 1.)

 

Rule 56. Summary judgment.

(a)        For claimant. - A party seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or crossclaim or to obtain a declaratory judgment may, at any time after the expiration of 30 days from the commencement of the action or after service of a motion for summary judgment by the adverse party, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part thereof.

(b)        For defending party. - A party against whom a claim, counterclaim, or crossclaim is asserted or a declaratory judgment is sought, may, at any time, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in his favor as to all or any part thereof.

(c)        Motion and proceedings thereon. - The motion shall be served at least 10 days before the time fixed for the hearing. The adverse party may serve opposing affidavits at least two days before the hearing. If the opposing affidavit is not served on the other parties at least two days before the hearing on the motion, the court may continue the matter for a reasonable period to allow the responding party to prepare a response, proceed with the matter without considering the untimely served affidavit, or take such other action as the ends of justice require. For the purpose of this two-day requirement only, service shall mean personal delivery, facsimile transmission, or other means such that the party actually receives the affidavit within the required time.

The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that any party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be rendered on the issue of liability alone although there is genuine issue as to the amount of damages. Summary judgment, when appropriate, may be rendered against the moving party.

(d)       Case not fully adjudicated on motion. - If on motion under this rule judgment is not rendered upon the whole case or for all the relief asked and a trial is necessary, the court at the hearing of the motion, by examining the pleadings and the evidence before it and by interrogating counsel, shall if practicable ascertain what material facts exist without substantial controversy and what material facts are actually and in good faith controverted. It shall thereupon make an order specifying the facts that appear without substantial controversy, including the extent to which the amount of damages or other relief is not in controversy, and directing such further proceedings in the action as are just. Upon the trial of the action the facts so specified shall be deemed established.

(e)        Form of affidavits; further testimony; defense required. - Supporting and opposing affidavits shall be made on personal knowledge, shall set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated therein. Sworn or certified copies of all papers or parts thereof referred to in an affidavit shall be attached thereto or served therewith. The court may permit affidavits to be supplemented or opposed by depositions, answers to interrogatories, or further affidavits. When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in this rule, an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but his response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If he does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against him.

(f)        When affidavits are unavailable. - Should it appear from the affidavits of a party opposing the motion that he cannot for reasons stated present by affidavit facts essential to justify his opposition, the court may refuse the application for judgment or may order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or depositions to be taken or discovery to be had or may make such other order as is just.

(g)        Affidavits made in bad faith. - Should it appear to the satisfaction of the court at any time that any of the affidavits presented pursuant to this rule are presented in bad faith or solely for the purpose of delay, the court shall forthwith order the party employing them to pay to the other party the amount of the reasonable expenses which the filing of the affidavits caused him to incur, including reasonable attorney's fees. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2000-127, s. 6.)

 

Rule 57. Declaratory judgments.

The procedure for obtaining a declaratory judgment pursuant to Article 26, Chapter 1, General Statutes of North Carolina, shall be in accordance with these rules, and the right to trial by jury may be  demanded under the circumstances and in the manner provided in Rules 38 and 39. The existence of another adequate remedy does not preclude a judgment for declaratory relief in cases where it is appropriate. The court may order a prompt hearing of an action for a declaratory judgment and may advance it on the calendar. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 58. Entry of judgment.

Subject to the provisions of Rule 54(b), a judgment is entered when it is reduced to writing, signed by the judge, and filed with the clerk of court. The party designated by the judge or, if the judge does not otherwise designate, the party who prepares the judgment, shall serve a copy of the judgment upon all other parties within three days after the judgment is entered. Service and proof of service shall be in accordance with Rule 5. If service is by mail, three days shall be added to the time periods prescribed by Rule 50(b), Rule 52(b), and Rule 59. All time periods within which a party may further act pursuant to Rule 50(b), Rule 52(b), or Rule 59 shall be tolled for the duration of any period of noncompliance with this service requirement, provided however that no time period under Rule 50(b), Rule 52(b), or Rule 59 shall be tolled longer than 90 days from the date the judgment is entered. Subject to the provisions of Rule 7(b)(4), consent for the signing and entry of a judgment out of term, session, county, and district shall be deemed to have been given unless an express objection to such action was made on the record prior to the end of the term or session at which the matter was heard.

Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, any judgment entered by a magistrate in a small claims action pursuant to Article 19 of Chapter 7A shall be entered in accordance with this Rule except judgments announced and signed in open court at the conclusion of a trial are considered to be served on the parties, and copies of any judgment not announced and signed in open court at the conclusion of a trial shall be served by the magistrate on all parties in accordance with this Rule, within three days after the judgment is entered. If service is by mail, three days shall be added to the time periods prescribed by G.S. 7A-228. All time periods within which a party may further act pursuant to G.S. 7A-228 shall be tolled for the duration of any period of noncompliance of this service requirement, provided that no time period shall be tolled longer than 90 days from the date judgment is entered. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 594, s. 1; 2005-163, s. 2.)

 

Rule 59. New trials; amendment of judgments.

(a)        Grounds. - A new trial may be granted to all or any of the parties and on all or part of the issues for any of the following causes or grounds:

(1)        Any irregularity by which any party was prevented from having a fair trial;

(2)        Misconduct of the jury or prevailing party;

(3)        Accident or surprise which ordinary prudence could not have guarded against;

(4)        Newly discovered evidence material for the party making the motion which he could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced at the trial;

(5)        Manifest disregard by the jury of the instructions of the court;

(6)        Excessive or inadequate damages appearing to have been given under the influence of passion or prejudice;

(7)        Insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict or that the verdict is contrary to law;

(8)        Error in law occurring at the trial and objected to by the party making the motion, or

(9)        Any other reason heretofore recognized as grounds for new trial.

On a motion for a new trial in an action tried without a jury, the court may open the judgment if one has been entered, take additional testimony, amend findings of fact and conclusions of law or make new findings and conclusions, and direct the entry of a new judgment.

(b)        Time for motion. - A motion for a new trial shall be served not later than 10 days after entry of the judgment.

(c)        Time for serving affidavits. - When a motion for new trial is based upon affidavits they shall be served with the motion. The opposing party has 10 days after such service within which to serve opposing affidavits, which period may be extended for an additional period not exceeding 30 days either by the court for good cause shown or by the parties by written stipulation. The court may permit reply affidavits.

(d)       On initiative of court. - Not later than 10 days after entry of judgment the court of its own initiative, on notice to the parties and hearing, may order a new trial for any reason for which it might have granted a new trial on motion of a party, and in the order shall specify the grounds therefor.

(e)        Motion to alter or amend a judgment. - A motion to alter or amend the judgment under section (a) of this rule shall be served not later than 10 days after entry of the judgment.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2014-115, s. 1.)

 

Rule 60. Relief from judgment or order.

(a)        Clerical mistakes. - Clerical mistakes in judgments, orders or other parts of the record and errors therein arising from oversight or omission may be corrected by the judge at any time on his own initiative or on the motion of any party and after such notice, if any, as the judge orders. During the pendency of an appeal, such mistakes may be so corrected before the appeal is docketed in the appellate division, and thereafter while the appeal is pending may be so corrected with leave of the appellate division.

(b)        Mistakes; inadvertence; excusable neglect; newly discovered evidence; fraud, etc. - On motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or his legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:

(1)        Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;

(2)        Newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);

(3)        Fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party;

(4)        The judgment is void;

(5)        The judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged, or  a prior judgment upon which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application; or

(6)        Any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the  judgment.

The motion shall be made within a reasonable time, and for reasons (1), (2) and (3) not more than one year after the judgment, order, or  proceeding was entered or taken. A motion under this section does not affect the finality of a judgment or suspend its operation. This rule does not limit the power of a court to entertain an independent action to relieve a party from a judgment, order, or proceeding, or to set aside a judgment for fraud upon the court. The procedure for obtaining any relief from a judgment, order, or proceeding shall be by motion as prescribed in these rules or by an independent action.

(c)        Judgments rendered by the clerk. - The clerk may, in respect of judgments rendered by himself, exercise the same powers authorized in sections (a) and (b). The judge has like powers in respect of such judgments. Where such powers are exercised by the clerk, appeals may be had to the judge in the manner provided by law.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 61. Harmless error.

No error in either the admission or exclusion of evidence and no error or defect in any ruling or order or in anything done or omitted by any of the parties is ground for granting a new trial or for setting aside a verdict or for vacating, modifying, or otherwise disturbing a judgment or order, unless refusal to take such action amounts to the denial of a substantial right. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 62. Stay of proceedings to enforce a judgment.

(a)        Automatic stay; exceptions - Injunctions and receiverships. - Except as otherwise stated herein, no execution shall issue upon a judgment nor shall proceedings be taken for its enforcement until the expiration of the time provided in the controlling statute or rule of appellate procedure for giving notice of appeal from the judgment. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, an interlocutory or final judgment in an action for an injunction or in a receivership action shall not be stayed during the period after its entry and until an appeal is taken or during the pendency of an appeal. The provisions of section (c) govern the suspending, modifying, restoring, or granting of an injunction during the pendency of an appeal.

(b)        Stay on motion for new trial or for judgment. - In its discretion and on such conditions for the security of the adverse party as are proper, the court may stay the execution of or any proceedings to enforce a judgment pending the disposition of a motion for a new trial or to alter or amend a judgment made pursuant to Rule 59, or of a motion for relief from a judgment or order made pursuant to Rule 60, or of a motion for judgment made pursuant to Rule 50, or of a motion for amendment to the findings or for additional findings made pursuant to Rule 52(b). If the time provided in the controlling statute or rule of appellate procedure for giving notice of appeal from the judgment had not expired before a stay under this subsection was entered, that time shall begin to run immediately upon the expiration of any stay under this section, and no execution shall issue nor shall proceedings be taken for enforcement of the judgment until the expiration of that time.

(c)        Injunction pending appeal. - When an appeal is taken from an interlocutory or final judgment granting, dissolving, or denying an injunction, the court in its discretion may suspend, modify, restore, or grant an injunction during the pendency of the appeal upon such terms as to bond or otherwise as it considers proper for the security of the rights of the adverse party.

(d)       Stay upon appeal. - When an appeal is taken, the appellant may obtain a stay of execution, subject to the exceptions contained in section (a), by proceeding in accordance with and subject to the conditions of G.S. 1-289, G.S. 1-290, G.S. 1-291, G.S. 1-292, G.S. 1-293, G.S. 1-294, and G.S. 1-295.

When stay is had by giving supersedeas bond, the bond may be given at or after the time of filing the notice of appeal or of procuring the order allowing the appeal as the case may be, and stay is then effective when the supersedeas bond is approved by the court.

(e)        Stay in favor of North Carolina, city, county, local board of education, or agency thereof. - When an appeal is taken by the State of North Carolina, or a city or a county thereof, a local board of education, or an officer in his official capacity or agency thereof or by direction of any department or agency of the State of North Carolina or a city or county thereof or a local board of education and the operation or enforcement of the judgment is stayed, no bond, obligation, or other security shall be required from the appellant.

(f)        Power of appellate court not limited. - The provisions of this rule do not limit any power of an appellate court or of a judge or justice thereof to stay proceedings during the pendency of an appeal or to suspend, modify, restore, or grant an injunction during the pendency of an appeal or to make any order appropriate to preserve the status quo or the effectiveness of the judgment subsequently to be entered.

(g)        Stay of judgment as to multiple claims or multiple parties. - When a court has ordered a final judgment under the conditions stated in Rule 54(b), the court may stay enforcement of that judgment until the entering of a subsequent judgment or judgments and may prescribe such conditions as are necessary to secure the benefit thereof to the party in whose favor the judgment is entered.

(h)        Right to immediate interlocutory appeal of order granting or denying injunctive relief in as-applied constitutional challenge. - Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a party shall have the right of immediate appeal (i) from an adverse ruling by a trial court granting or denying interlocutory, temporary, or permanent injunctive or declaratory relief restraining the State or a political subdivision of the State from enforcing the operation or execution of an act of the General Assembly as applied against a party in a civil action or (ii) from an adverse ruling by a trial court denying a motion to stay an injunction restraining the State or a political subdivision of the State from enforcing the operation or execution of an act of the General Assembly as applied against a party in a civil action. This subsection only applies where the State or a political subdivision of the State is a party in the civil action. This subsection does not apply to facial challenges heard by a three-judge panel pursuant to G.S. 1-267.1.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1973, c. 91; 1979, c. 820, s. 10; 1987, c. 462, s. 1; 1989, c. 377, ss. 3, 4; 2014-100, s. 18B.16(d).)

 

Rule 63. Disability of a judge.

If by reason of death, sickness or other disability, resignation, retirement, expiration of term, removal from office, or other reason, a judge before whom an action has been tried or a hearing has been held is unable to perform the duties to be performed by the court under these rules after a verdict is returned or a trial or hearing is otherwise concluded, then those duties, including entry of judgment, may be performed:

(1)        In actions in the superior court by the judge senior in point of continuous service on the superior court regularly holding the courts of the district. If this judge is under a disability, then the resident judge of the district senior in point of service on the superior court may perform those duties. If a resident judge, while holding court in the judge's own district suffers disability and there is no other resident judge of the district, such duties may be performed by a judge of the superior court designated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

(2)        In actions in the district court, by the chief judge of the district, or if the chief judge is disabled, by any judge of the district court designated by the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

If the substituted judge is satisfied that he or she cannot perform those duties because the judge did not preside at the trial or hearing or for any other reason, the judge may, in the judge's discretion, grant a new trial or hearing. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2001-379, s. 7.)

 

 

Article 8.

Miscellaneous.

Rule 64. Seizure of person or property.

At the commencement of and during the course of an action, all remedies providing for seizure of person or property for the purpose of securing satisfaction of the judgment ultimately to be entered in the action are available under the circumstances and in the manner provided by the law of this State. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 65. Injunctions.

(a)        Preliminary injunction; notice. - No preliminary injunction shall be issued without notice to the adverse party.

(b)        Temporary restraining order; notice; hearing; duration. - A temporary restraining order may be granted without written or oral notice to the adverse party or that party's attorney only if (i) it clearly appears from specific facts shown by affidavit or by verified complaint that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to the applicant before the adverse party or that party's attorney can be heard in opposition, and (ii) the applicant's attorney certifies to the court in writing the efforts, if any, that have been made to give the notice and the reasons supporting the claim that notice should not be required. Every temporary restraining order granted without notice shall be endorsed with the date and hour of issuance; shall be filed forthwith in the clerk's office and entered of record; shall define the injury and state why it is irreparable and why the order was granted without notice; and shall expire by its terms within such time after entry, not to exceed 10 days, as the judge fixes, unless within the time so fixed the order, for good cause shown, is extended for a like period or unless the party against whom the order is directed consents that it may be extended for a longer period. The reasons for the extension shall be entered of record. In case a temporary restraining order is granted without notice and a motion for a preliminary injunction is made, it shall be set down for hearing at the earliest possible time and takes precedence over all matters except older matters of the same character; and when the motion comes on for hearing, the party who obtained the temporary restraining order shall proceed with a motion for a preliminary injunction, and, if he does not do so, the judge shall dissolve the temporary restraining order. On two days' notice to the party who obtained the temporary restraining order without notice or on such shorter notice to that party as the judge may prescribe, the adverse party may appear and move its dissolution or modification and in that event the judge shall proceed to hear and determine such motion as expeditiously as the ends of justice require. Damages may be awarded in an order for dissolution as provided in section (e).

(c)        Security. - No restraining order or preliminary injunction shall issue except upon the giving of security by the applicant, in such sum as the judge deems proper, for the payment of such costs and damages as may be incurred or suffered by any party who is found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained. No such security shall be required of the State of North Carolina or of any county or municipality thereof, or any officer or agency thereof acting in an official capacity, but damages may be awarded against such party in accord with this rule. In suits between spouses relating to support, alimony, custody of children, separation, divorce from bed and board, and absolute divorce no such security shall be required of the plaintiff spouse as a condition precedent to the issuing of a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction enjoining the defendant spouse from interfering with, threatening, or in any way molesting the plaintiff spouse during pendency of the suit, until further order of the court, but damages may be awarded against such party in accord with this rule.

A surety upon a bond or undertaking under this rule submits himself to the jurisdiction of the court and irrevocably appoints the clerk of the court as his agent upon whom any papers affecting his liability on the bond or undertaking may be served. His liability may be enforced on motion without the necessity of an independent action. The motion and such notice of the motion as the court prescribes may be served on the clerk of the court, who shall forthwith mail copies to the persons giving the security and the sureties thereon if their addresses are known.

(d)       Form and scope of injunction or restraining order. - Every order granting an injunction and every restraining order shall set forth the reasons for its issuance; shall be specific in terms; shall describe in reasonable detail, and not by reference to the complaint or other document, the act or acts enjoined or restrained; and is binding only upon the parties to the action, their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and upon those persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice in any manner of the order by personal service or otherwise.

(e)        Damages on dissolution. - An order or judgment dissolving an injunction or restraining order may include an award of damages against the party procuring the injunction and the sureties on his undertaking without a showing of malice or want of probable cause in procuring the injunction. The damages may be determined by the judge, or he may direct that they be determined by a referee or jury. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2001-379, s. 8.)

 

Rule 66 through Rule 67.  Omitted.

 

Rule 68. Offer of judgment and disclaimer.

(a)        Offer of judgment. - At any time more than 10 days before the trial begins, a party defending against a claim may serve upon the adverse party an offer to allow judgment to be taken against him for the money or property or to the effect specified in his offer, with costs then accrued. If within 10 days after the service of the offer the adverse party serves written notice that the offer is accepted, either party may then file the offer and notice of acceptance together with proof of service thereof and thereupon the clerk shall enter judgment. An offer not accepted within 10 days after its service shall be deemed withdrawn and evidence of the offer is not admissible except in a proceeding to determine costs. If the judgment finally obtained by the offeree is not more favorable than the offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred after the making of the offer. The fact that an offer is made but not accepted does not preclude a subsequent offer.

(b)        Conditional offer of judgment for damages. - A party defending against a claim arising in contract or quasi contract may, with his responsive pleading, serve upon the claimant an offer in writing that if he fails in his defense, the damages shall be assessed at a specified sum; and if the claimant signifies his acceptance thereof in writing within 20 days of the service of such offer, and on the trial prevails, his damages shall be assessed accordingly. If the claimant does not accept the offer, he must prove his damages as if the offer had not been made. If the damages assessed in the claimant's favor do not exceed the sum stated in the offer, the party defending shall recover the costs in respect to the question of damages. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 68.1. Confession of judgment.

 

(a)        For present or future liability. - A judgment by confession may be entered without action at any time in accordance with the procedure prescribed by this rule. Such judgment may be for money due or for money that may become due. Such judgment may also be  entered for alimony or for support of minor children.

(b)        Procedure. - A prospective defendant desiring to confess judgment shall file with the clerk of the superior court as provided in section (c) a statement in writing signed and verified or sworn to by such defendant authorizing the entry of judgment for the amount stated. The statement shall contain the name of the prospective plaintiff, his county of residence, the name of the defendant, his county of residence, and shall concisely show why the defendant is or may become liable to the plaintiff.

If either the plaintiff or defendant is not a natural person, for the purposes of this rule its county of residence shall be considered to be the county in which it has its principal place of business, whether in this State or not.

(c)        Where entered. - Judgment by confession may be entered only in the county where the defendant resides or has real property or in the county where the plaintiff resides but the entry of judgment in any county shall be conclusive evidence that this section has been complied with.

(d)       Form of entry. - When a statement in conformity with this rule is filed with the clerk of the superior court, the clerk shall enter judgment thereon for the amount confessed, and docket the judgment as in other cases, with costs, together with disbursements. The statement, with the judgment, shall become the judgment roll.

(e)        Force and effect. - Judgments entered in conformity with this rule shall have the same effect as other judgments except that no judgment by confession shall be held to be res judicata as to any fact in any civil action except in an action on the judgment confessed. When such judgment is for alimony or support of minor children, the failure of the defendant to make any payments as required by such judgment shall subject him to such penalties as may be adjudged by the court as in any other case of contempt of its orders. Executions may be issued and enforced in the same manner as upon other judgments. When the full amount of the judgment is not all due, or is payable in installments, and the installments are not all due, execution may issue upon such judgment for the collection of such sums as have become due and shall be in usual form. Notwithstanding the issue and satisfaction of such execution, the judgment remains as security for the sums thereafter to become due; and whenever any further sum becomes due, execution may in like manner be issued. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1987, c. 288.)

 

Rule 69.  Omitted.

 

Rule 70. Judgment for specific acts; vesting title.

If a judgment directs a party to execute a conveyance of land or to deliver deeds or other documents or to perform any other specific act and the party fails to comply within the time specified, the judge may direct the act to be done at the cost of the disobedient party by some other person appointed by the judge and the act when so done has like effect as if done by the party. On application of the party entitled to performance, the clerk shall issue a writ of attachment or sequestration against the property of the disobedient party to compel obedience to the judgment. The judge may also in proper cases adjudge the party in contempt. If real or personal property is within the State, the judge in lieu of directing a conveyance thereof may enter a judgment divesting the title of any party and vesting it in others and such judgment has the effect of a conveyance executed in due form of law. When any order or judgment is for the delivery of possession, the party in whose favor it is entered is entitled to execution upon application to the clerk upon payment of the necessary fees. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)

 

Rule 71 through Rule 83.  Omitted.

 

Rule 84. Forms.

The following forms are sufficient under these rules and are intended to indicate the simplicity and brevity of statement which the rules contemplate:

(1) Complaint on a Promissory Note.

1.  On or about ________, ________, defendant executed and delivered to plaintiff a promissory note [in the following words and figures: (here set out the note verbatim)]; [a copy of which is hereto annexed as Exhibit A]; [whereby defendant promised to pay to plaintiff or order on ____________, ________, the sum of ____________ dollars with interest thereon at the rate of ______ percent per annum].

2.  Defendant owes to plaintiff the amount of said note and interest.

Wherefore, plaintiff demands judgment against defendant for the sum of ____________ dollars, interest and costs.

(2) Complaint on Account.

Defendant owes plaintiff ____________ dollars according to the account hereto annexed as Exhibit A.

Wherefore, plaintiff demands judgment against defendant for the sum of ____________ dollars, interest and costs.

(3) Complaint for Negligence.

1.  On ________, ________, at [name of place where accident occurred], defendant negligently drove a motor vehicle against plaintiff who was then crossing said street.

2.  Defendant was negligent in that:

(a)        Defendant drove at an excessive speed.

(b)        Defendant drove through a red light.

(c)        Defendant failed to yield the right-of-way to plaintiff in a marked crosswalk.

3.  As a result plaintiff was thrown down and had his leg broken and was otherwise injured, was prevented from transacting his business, suffered great pain of body and mind, and incurred expenses for medical attention and hospitalization [in the sum of one thousand dollars] (or) [in an amount not yet determined].

Wherefore, plaintiff demands judgment against defendant in the sum of ________ dollars and costs.

(4) Complaint for Negligence.

(Where Plaintiff Is Unable to Determine Definitely Whether

One or the Other of Two Persons Is Responsible or

Whether Both Are Responsible and Where His

Evidence May Justify a Finding of Willfulness

or of Recklessness or of Negligence.

1.  On ______, ______, at ______, defendant X or defendant Y, or both defendants X and Y, willfully or recklessly or negligently drove or caused to be driven a motor vehicle against plaintiff who was then crossing said street.

2.  Defendant X or defendant Y, or both defendants X and Y were negligent in that:

(a)        Either defendant or both defendants drove at an excessive speed.

(b)        Either defendant or both defendants drove through a red light.

(c)        Either defendant or both defendants failed to yield the right-of-way to plaintiff in a marked crosswalk.

3.  As a result plaintiff was thrown down and had his leg broken and was otherwise injured, was prevented from transacting his business, suffered great pain of body and mind, and incurred expenses for medical attention and hospitalization [in the sum of one thousand dollars] (or) [in an amount not yet determined].

Wherefore, plaintiff demands judgment against X or against Y or against both in the sum of ____________ dollars and costs.

(5) Complaint for Specific Performance.

1.  On or about __________, _______, plaintiff and defendant entered into an agreement in writing, a copy of which is hereto annexed as Exhibit A.

2.  In accord with the provisions of said agreement plaintiff tendered to defendant the purchase price and requested a conveyance of the land, but defendant refused to accept the tender and refused to make the conveyance.

3.  Plaintiff now offers to pay the purchase price.

Wherefore, plaintiff demands (1) that defendant be required specifically to perform said agreement, (2) damages in the sum of ________ dollars, and (3) that if specific performance is not granted plaintiff have judgment against defendant in the sum of ________ dollars.

(6) Complaint in the Alternative.

I.

Defendant owes plaintiff __________ dollars according to the account hereto annexed as Exhibit A.

II. ALTERNATIVE COUNT

Plaintiff claims in the alternative that defendant owes plaintiff ____________ dollars for goods sold and delivered by plaintiff to defendant between ____________, ________, and ____________, ________.

(7) Complaint for Fraud.

1.  On __________, ______, at _________, defendant with intent to defraud plaintiff represented to plaintiff that ____________________.

2.  Said representations were known by defendant to be and were false. In truth, [what the facts actually were].

3.  Plaintiff believed and relied upon the false representations, and thus was induced to ____________.

4.  As a result of the foregoing, plaintiff has been damaged [nature and amount of damage].

Wherefore, plaintiff demands judgment against defendant for __________ dollars, interest and costs.

(8) Complaint for Money Paid by Mistake.

Defendant owes plaintiff ____________ dollars for money paid by plaintiff to defendant by mistake under the following circumstances:

1.  On ________, _____, at ________, pursuant to a contract _________, plaintiff paid defendant ________ dollars.

(9) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.

Plaintiff moves that judgment be entered for plaintiff on the pleadings, on the ground that the undisputed facts appearing therein entitle plaintiff to such judgment as a matter of law.

(10) Motion for More Definite Statement.

Defendant moves for an order directing plaintiff to file a more definite statement of the following matters: [set out]

The ground of this motion is that plaintiff 's complaint is so [vague] [ambiguous] in respect to these matters that defendant cannot reasonably be required to frame an answer hereto, in that the complaint __________________.

(11) Answer to Complaint.

First Defense

The complaint fails to state a claim against defendant upon which relief can be granted.

Second Defense

If defendant is indebted to plaintiff as alleged in the complaint, he is indebted to plaintiff jointly with X. X is alive; is a resident of the State of North Carolina, and is subject to the jurisdiction of this court as to serve of process; and has not been made a party.

Third Defense

1.  Defendant admits the allegations contained in paragraphs ________ and ________ of the complaint.

2.  Defendant alleges that he is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations contained in paragraph ________ of the complaint.

3.  Defendant denies each and every other allegation contained in the complaint.

Fourth Defense

The right of action set forth in the complaint did not accrue within ________ year next before the commencement of this action.

Counterclaim

[Here set forth any claim as a counterclaim in the manner in which a claim is pleaded in a complaint.]Crossclaim Against Defendant Y

[Here set forth the claim constituting a crossclaim against defendant Y in the manner in which a claim is pleaded in a complaint.]

Dated: ____________.

_________________

Attorney for Defendant

(12) Motion to Bring in Third-Party Defendant.

Defendant moves for leave to make X a party to this action and that there be served upon him summons and third-party complaint as set forth in Exhibit A attached.

(13) Third-Party Complaint.

__________________,

Plaintiff,

v.

______________________,

Defendant and Third-Party Complaint

Third-Party Plaintiff,

v.

____________________

Third-Party Defendant.

Civil Action No. ________

1.  Plaintiff ______ has filed against defendant ________ a complaint, a copy of which is attached as "Exhibit C."

2.  [Here state the grounds upon which the defendant and third-party plaintiff is entitled to recover from the third-party defendant all or part of what plaintiff may recover from the defendant and third-party plaintiff.]

Wherefore, plaintiff demands judgment against third-party defendant ________ for all sums that may be adjudged against defendant ________ in favor of plaintiff.

(14) Complaint for Negligence Under Federal Employer's Liability

Act.

1.  During all the times herein mentioned defendant owned and operated in interstate commerce a railroad which passed through a tunnel located at _________ and known as Tunnel No. ________.

2.  On or about June 1, ________, defendant was repairing and enlarging the tunnel in order to protect interstate trains and passengers and freight from injury and in order to make the tunnel more conveniently usable for interstate commerce.

3.  In the course of thus repairing and enlarging the tunnel on said day defendant employed plaintiff as one of its workmen, and negligently put plaintiff to work in a portion of the tunnel which defendant had left unprotected and unsupported.

4.  By reason of defendant's negligence in thus putting plaintiff to work in that portion of the tunnel, plaintiff was, while so working pursuant to defendant's orders, struck and crushed by a rock which fell from the unsupported portion of the tunnel, and was (here describe plaintiff's injuries).

5.  Prior to these injuries, plaintiff was a strong, able-bodied man, capable of earning and actually earning ________ dollars per day. By these injuries he has been made incapable of any gainful activity, has suffered great physical and mental pain, and has incurred expense in the amount of _________ dollars for medicine, medical attendance, and hospitalization.

Wherefore, plaintiff demands judgment against defendant in the sum of _________ dollars and costs.

(15) Complaint for Interpleader and Declaratory Relief.

1.  On or about June 1, ________, plaintiff issued to G. H. a policy of life insurance whereby plaintiff promised to pay to K. L. as beneficiary the sum of ________ dollars upon the death of G. H. The policy required the payment by G. H. of a stipulated premium on June 1, ________, and annually thereafter as a condition precedent to its continuance in force.

2.  No part of the premium due June 1, ________, was ever paid and the policy ceased to have any force of effect on July 1, ________.

3.  Thereafter, on September 1, ________, G. H. and K. L. died as the result of a collision between a locomotive and the automobile in which G. H. and K. L. were riding.

4.  Defendant C. D. is the duly appointed and acting executor of the will of G. H.; defendant E. F. is the duly appointed and acting executor of the will of K. L.; defendant X. Y. claims to have been duly designed as beneficiary of said policy in place of K. L.

5.  Each of defendants, C. D., E. F., and X. Y. is claiming that the above-mentioned policy was in full force and effect at the time of the death of G. H.; each of them is claiming to be the only person entitled to receive payment of the amount of the policy and has made demand for payment thereof.

6.  By reason of these conflicting claims of the defendants, plaintiff is in great doubt as to which defendant is entitled to be paid the amount of the policy, if it was in force at the death of G. H.

Wherefore plaintiff demands that the court adjudge:

(1)        That none of the defendants is entitled to recover from plaintiff the amount of said policy or any part thereof.

(2)        That each of the defendants be restrained from instituting any action against plaintiff for the recovery of the amount of said policy or any part thereof.

(3)        That, if the court shall determine that said policy was in force at the death of G. H., the defendants be required to interplead and settle between themselves their rights to the money due under said policy, and that plaintiff be discharged from all liability in the premises except to the person whom the court shall adjudge entitled to the amount of said policy.

(4)        That plaintiff recover its costs.

(16) Averment of Capacity Under Rule 9(a).

(North Carolina Corporation)

Plaintiff is a corporation incorporated under the law of North Carolina having its principal office in [address].

(Foreign Corporation)

Plaintiff is a corporation incorporated under the law of the State of Delaware having [not having] a registered office in the State of North Carolina.

(Unincorporated Association)

Plaintiff is an unincorporated association organized under the law of the State of New York having its principal office in [address] and (if applicable) having a principal office in the State of North Carolina at [address], and as such has the capacity to sue in its own name in North Carolina.  (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1999-456, s. 59.)