Court Dismisses Appeal in North Carolina Nursing Home Abuse Case Based on Improper Filing and Failure to Comply with Appellate Rules

Nursing homes provide an important service in our community, ensuring that elderly individuals with the support and care they need in the end stages of life. But some of these facilities fail to provide adequate care or even allow abuse to happen, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. At Maurer Law, we have served countless individuals throughout North Carolina with exploring a potential claim against the nursing home facility that failed to provide care for their loved one. We know how painful and stressful this situation can be and will ensure that your rights are protected to the fullest extent.

In a recent case, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered a wrongful death claim against a nursing home facility. The administrator of the decedent’s estate brought a John Doe claim seeking subpoena power to investigate a fall that allegedly led to the decedent’s death, alleging that negligence was the cause of the fall. The facility responded by filing a motion to dismiss the complaint and denying the allegations. It asserted that the decedent was contributorily negligent and that it had already satisfied the defendant’s discovery requests seeking the decedent’s medical records.

The plaintiff filed motions to amend and argued that the defendant had not provided enough discovery to assist the plaintiff with prosecution of the case and moved to compel production of documents that it alleged the defendant was withholding. The plaintiff also alleged that he retained an expert who concluded that the nursing home engaged in malpractice and that he wished to add a cause for “nursing home malpractice” to the complaint. The trial court denied the motion to amend the complaint noting that both requests the plaintiff made to amend failed to include a certification of compliance in accordance with Rule 9(j). It also noted that the statute of limitations to add a new cause for medical malpractice had expired.

The defendant then moved for summary judgment, which the lower court granted. The plaintiff appealed but labeled the appeal as being from the court’s order denying his motion to amend the complaint.  The order denying the motion for leave to amend was an interlocutory order, meaning one that did not result in a final judgment. In order to appeal an interlocutory order, the appellee must designate the interlocutory order and the final judgment in the case. The appellee in this case did not note the final order.

The appellate court noted its general practice of not immediately rejecting an improperly designated appeal if it can be fairly inferred from the papers that the appellee meant to appeal from another specific judgment. Because the appellee did not note the final judgment in his appeal, the appellate court concluded it did not have jurisdiction to review the case. Therefore, it dismissed the appeal without reviewing it.

If you or someone you love was injured in a nursing home, you may be entitled to compensation from the facility and/or people who hurt you or your loved one. The attorneys at Maurer Law are seasoned Charlotte personal injury lawyers who believe that you deserve compassionate and responsive legal counsel during this difficult time. To set up your free consultation call us at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

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