At Ward and Smith, our attorneys represent clients before all levels of the North Carolina court system. We are pleased to announce that one of our recent appellate victories was recently highlighted by North Carolina Lawyers Weekly — a publication devoted to reporting on noteworthy legal developments in the state.
The case involved an elderly couple who were attacked in their home after hiring a Health-Pro home aide who orchestrated a home invasion and armed robbery in September 2016.
Personal injury attorney Jeremy Wilson secured a $750,000 verdict for the couple in a jury trial held in Pitt County in April 2018. That verdict was appealed and overturned by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, which then was appealed and overturned by the North Carolina Supreme Court. The case, according to the publication, "resulted in the clarification of case law regarding negligent hiring, supervision or retention." From the article:
The Keith’s appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court. The Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals and reinstated the jury’s verdict. The Supreme Court concluded that the Keiths had presented a claim for negligent hiring, supervision, or retention, and, while these claims do have additional requirements under North Carolina law, the Keith’s presented sufficient evidence to reach the jury.
The Supreme Court found that the Court of Appeals had erred in applying an overly restrictive interpretation of Little v. Omega Meats. The Supreme Court concluded that the jury verdict should be reinstated. In its opinion, the Supreme Court clarified case law concerning what evidence must exist to establish a valid claim for negligent hiring, supervision, or retention. With interest, the Keith’s jury verdict totaled at over $1 million.
The Supreme court clarified case law and the required standard, including that an employer may owe a duty of care to a victim of an employee’s intentional conduct, “when there is a nexus between the employment relationship and the injury.”
While the Supreme Court opinion doesn’t expand on employer liability, it clarifies this area of the law, which is vital for the legal community, employers, and members of the public.
Jeremy Wilson, Chris Edwards, and Alex Dale handled the appeal, representing the plaintiffs before the Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court.