Copyright 1998 - N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts


ALFRED LEE PACK, Plaintiff, v. RANDOLPH OIL COMPANY, JANIE L. THORNBURG, FLOYD S. PIKE ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, INCORPORATED, and AUDIE G. SIMMONS, Defendants. ALFRED LEE PACK, Plaintiff, v. RANDOLPH OIL COMPANY, JANIE L. THORNBURG, FLOYD S. PIKE ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, INCORPORATED, and AUDIE G. SIMMONS,      Defendants.

No. COA97-1209

(Filed 21 July 1998)

Trials -- law of the case -- remanded

The trial court should have allowed defendants' motion in limine seeking to preclude presentation of evidence relating to credit card use where Pack filed a complaint alleging defamation in that defendants had falsely accused him of taking kickbacks and had falsely accused him of charging personal items to his employer's credit card; the trial court granted defendants' motion for directed verdict with respect to the credit card claim at the end of Pack's evidence; the kickbacks claim was submitted to the jury and the jury returned a verdict for Pack; the trial court set aside that verdict and granted a new trial, and that order was affirmed on appeal; defendants filed a motion in limine to preclude evidence of the credit card claim in that the directed verdict during the first trial was the law of the case; and the court denied the motion. The directed verdict in the first trial was a final judgment on the merits from which Pack did not appeal and the judgment thus became the law of the case on that claim, so that the trial court should have allowed defendants' motion in limine seeking to preclude the credit card evidence. The failure of defendants to object at trial to that evidence is not fatal because no objection is necessary when the trial court explicitly denies a party's motion in limine after a thorough hearing, when there is no suggestion that the trial court would reconsider its ruling, and when the evidence presented at trial is directly related to the issues raised in the motion in limine. The broad language of the order directing a "new trial" did not mandate a new trial with respect to the issues addressed in the directed verdict, which were not before the trial court at the time the new trial motion was addressed.

    Appeal by defendants appellants Floyd S. Pike Electrical Contractor, Incorporated and Audie G. Simmons from judgment filed 20 February 1997 by Judge James M. Webb in Guilford County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 3 June 1998.

    


Footnote: 1     Although the judgment rendered by the trial court was also against Randolph Oil Company and Janie L. Thornburg, those parties did not appeal the judgment.
Footnote: 2     Assuming, without deciding, that the trial court would, in granting a new trial, have the authority to vacate all prior rulings, the order must be specific and we will not presume that such was intended.

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