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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Deposition Testimony From Another Case Can be Used in Summary Judgment Filings in N.C.

by Gary Beaver

On 4/6/10, in First Gaston Bank of North Carolina v. City of Hickory, et. al., a bank sued Hickory and others when a storm drain collapsed on property owned by the bank. The bank appealed after the trial court granted the city summary judgment on the bank’s claim for negligence and inverse condemnation. The NC Court of Appeals affirmed holding:

(1) deposition testimony from another case, if it meets the requirement of an affidavit, may be used in summary judgment proceedings even if the party against whom it is used was not present or represented at the deposition;

(2) plaintiff’s inverse condemnation claim against the city failed because of lack of evidence of a taking; and

(3) plaintiff’s negligence claim against city failed because city did not owe a duty to the bank to inspect, maintain, and repair a collapsed storm drain or to warn the bank of the condition of the pipe which ran across property that the bank purchased.

The holding on the use of the deposition testimony makes eminent good sense as, in summary judgment proceedings, parties cannot stop the use of affidavits from witnesses to which the opposing party had no access. The lack of access to the deponents in the prior case is logically no different. The court reviewed leading commentators and federal court opinions interpreting and applying Rule 32(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which rule is similar to North Carolina’s Rule 32(a), and agreed with them in allowing the use of the deposition testimony.

1 comment:

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