42-68. Expedited proceedings.

Where the complaint is filed as a small claim, the expedited process for summary ejectment, as provided in Article 3 of this Chapter and Chapter 7A of the General Statutes, applies. Where the complaint is filed initially in the district court or a judgment by the magistrate is appealed to the district court, the procedure in G.S. 42-34(b) through (g), if applicable, and the following procedures apply:

(1) Expedited Hearing. - When a complaint is filed initiating an action pursuant to this Article, the court shall set the matter for a hearing which shall be held on an expedited basis and within the first term of court falling after 30 days from the service of the complaint on all defendants or from service of notice of appeal from a magistrate's judgment, unless either party obtains a continuance. However, where a defendant files a counterclaim, the court shall reset the trial for the first term of court falling after 30 days from the defendant's service of the counterclaim.

(2) Standards for Continuances. - The court shall not grant a continuance, nor shall it stay the civil proceedings pending the disposition of any related criminal proceedings, except as required to complete permitted discovery, to have the plaintiff reply to a counterclaim, or for compelling and extraordinary reasons or on application of the district attorney for good cause shown.

(3) When Presented. - The defendant in an action brought in district court pursuant to this Article shall serve an answer within 20 days after service of the summons and complaint, or within 20 days after service of the appeal to district court when the action was initially brought in small claims court. The plaintiff shall serve a reply to a counterclaim in the answer within 20 days after service of the answer.

(4) Extensions of Time for Filing. - The parties to an action brought pursuant to this Article shall not be entitled to an extension of time for completing an act required by subdivision (3) of this section, except for compelling and extraordinary reasons.

(5) Default. - A party to an action brought pursuant to this Article who fails to plead in accordance with the time periods in subdivision (3) of this section shall be subject to the provisions of G.S. 1A-1, Rule 55.

(6) Rules of Civil Procedure. - Unless otherwise provided for in this Article, G.S. 1A-1, the Rules of Civil Procedure, shall apply in the district court to all actions brought pursuant to this Article. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)