An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA02-501


Filed: 1 April 2003



v .                         Union County
                            No. 84 CVD 1045


    Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 9 November 2001 by Judge Christopher W. Bragg in Union County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 29 January 2003.

    Harrington Law Firm, by Larry E. Harrington, for plaintiff- appellee.

    Clark, Griffin & McCollum, L.L.P., by Joe P. McCollum, Jr., for defendant-appellant.

    HUDSON, Judge.

    Defendant George Lee Miller appeals an order requiring that he pay his former wife, plaintiff Florence A. Miller, for certain costs incurred supporting their children. The district court determined that defendant owed plaintiff $17,133.00, an amount that the court calculated based on an in-camera review of exhibits and affidavits submitted by the parties. Defendant then moved to set aside the court's judgment on the basis that he had not agreed to an in-camera review in lieu of a hearing. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the decision of the district court.
    In December 1984, plaintiff filed a complaint seeking custody of her minor children and child support. The parties reached an agreement and entered into a consent order in December 1985, pursuant to which defendant agreed to pay, in addition to child support, one half of all uninsured medical and dental expenses and all expenses for clothing and extraordinary recreational expenses for the children. The parties' divorce was finalized in June 1988.
    At a hearing in August 1995, the district court found that both children had reached eighteen years of age and had graduated from high school and that there was no arrearage of child support. The district court therefore terminated defendant's obligations to pay child support. The court also moved the case to the civil docket to address “other outstanding arrears in connection to medical, dental, and other expenses incurred by the children.”
    In September 1998, defendant filed a motion in the cause in which he alleged that no arrears were due and prayed that any and all obligations to plaintiff be terminated. Thereafter, both parties submitted affidavits alleging that they had incurred expenses and asking that the court order reimbursement.
    In a hearing in April 2000, the court found that defendant owed $17,133.00, plus costs, to plaintiff. That figure included one-half of uninsured medical expenses, plus clothing, and extraordinary recreational expenses for the children that defendanthad not paid. Defendant moved to set aside the verdict,   (See footnote 1)  arguing that he had never received notice of the hearing and that the court had impermissibly decided the matter upon affidavits that the parties had submitted. The court denied defendant's motion in October 2001. It found that notice of the April 2000 hearing had been sent to the attorneys for both parties. The court also found that it had held a hearing in September 1999, at which both parties were represented by counsel. The court explained that it had announced in open court that the issues between the parties were mathematical, that “[b]oth parties had full and complete understanding that the court was examining in camera the exhibits submitted,” and that it would determine what defendant owed based on those exhibits and affidavits.
    Defendant appeals both the judgment and the court's denial of his motion for relief from the judgment. He argues, specifically, that the record does not support the trial court's finding that he agreed for the trial court to conduct an in-camera examination of the affidavits and exhibits in lieu of a hearing. We disagree.
    In general, a motion for relief from “judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b) is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court and the standard of appellate review is limited to determining whether the court abused its discretion.” Viera v. Viera, __ N.C. App. __, __ S.E.2d __, __ (2003). Abuse of discretion is shownonly when “the challenged actions are manifestly unsupported by reason.” Blankenship v. Town and Country Ford, Inc., __ N.C. App. __, __, 574 S.E.2d 132, 134 (2002). Here, we do not believe that the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant's motion to set aside the verdict. At the hearing on defendant's motion, the trial judge summarized why he had calculated defendant's obligations based on the affidavits and exhibits submitted rather than conducting a hearing. He explained that he had met with attorneys for both parties in chambers and that the “issue was--the issue that was put before me at that time was look, Judge, here are all the receipts. Here are all the bills. . . . It's just a matter of accounting. And I distinctly remember [defendant's lawyer] saying that's right, Judge. And, basically, at the time, I had probably two inches of bills, checks and receipts to go through and to calculate numbers and come up with it and that was the product of what happened on April the 18th.” Then, after the judge summarized what had occurred, counsel for defendant replied, “I've got no quarrel with what you're saying.”
    Based upon this record, we conclude that the court did not err. Counsel for defendant specifically acknowledged that defendant's previous lawyer had agreed to the trial court's decision to conduct an in-camera review of the submitted affidavits and exhibits and to render a decision based on that review. Given counsel's agreement to the procedure, we see no merit to this argument. Nor do we see any evidence that the court abused itsdiscretion, either in rendering the judgment against Mr. Miller or denying his motion to set aside the verdict.
    Judges MARTIN and STEELMAN concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

Footnote: 1
     Although defendant's motion was titled “Motion To Set Aside Verdict,” it actually is a motion for relief from the court's judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b) of our Rules of Civil Procedure, and we will analyze it as such.

*** Converted from WordPerfect ***