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


JIMMIE STACEY RIDDICK, Plaintiff v. MELVIN WOODROW MYERS, Defendant

COA98-123

(Filed 29 December 1998)

Jurisdiction--personal--Virginia plaintiff--North Carolina automobile accident

    The trial court correctly concluded that North Carolina courts lack personal jurisdiction over Myers where Riddick and Myers were involved in an automobile accident in North Carolina, a Virginia court awarded Myers a favorable judgment for property damages arising from the accident, Myers instituted another suit in Virginia for personal injuries and medical expenses, and Riddick brought this declaratory judgment action in North Carolina seeking a holding that North Carolina law controls disputes arising out of North Carolina accidents and that Myers is barred from maintaining a second action against Riddick, and Myers successfully moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Riddick has been adjudicated to be at fault by the Virginia court and North Carolina case law provides that N.C.G.S. § 1-105 is not available to obtain personal jurisdiction since Myers did not inflict the injury. Riddick is merely attempting to ask the court to declare that North Carolina law applies, an argument more properly made to the Virginia court which has personal jurisdiction over Myers.

    Appeal by plaintiff from judgment entered 8 October 1997 by Judge James R. Vosburgh in Dare County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 17 November 1998.

    Harris, Shields, Creech and Ward, P.A., by R. Brittain Blackerby and C. David Creech, for plaintiff appellant.

    No brief filed for appellee.

    HORTON, Judge.

    On 17 March 1995, plaintiff Jimmie Stacey Riddick, a North Carolina resident, and defendant Melvin Woodrow Myers, a Virginia resident, were involved in a motor vehicle accident near Gatesville, North Carolina. A Virginia District Court awarded Myers a favorable judgment for property damages arising from the accident. Thereafter, Myers instituted another suit in Virginia on 3 July 1997 and asserted a claim against Riddick for personal injuries and medical expenses arising from the same accident.

    On 27 May 1997, Riddick commenced the instant action in Gates County Superior Court seeking a declaratory judgment determining the rights of the parties, holding that North Carolina law controls disputes arising out of North Carolina accidents, and concluding that Myers is barred from maintaining a second cause of action against Riddick. In response to Riddick's declaratory judgment action in North Carolina, Myers filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 12(b)(2) (1990) based on lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. We conclude the trial court was correct.

    N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-75.4 (1996) provides, in part, that:

            A court of this State having jurisdiction of the subject matter has jurisdiction over a person served in an action pursuant to Rule 4(j), Rule 4(j1), or Rule 4(j3) of the Rules of Civil Procedure under any of the following circumstances:

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