An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority.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. COA03-747

NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS

Filed: 20 April 2004

GILBERT MEEKINS, JR.,
GUARDIAN AD LITEM FOR
GILBERT MICHAEL MEEKINS,
III,

    Plaintiff,

v .                         Robeson County
                            No. 02 CVS 1442
THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF
ROBESON COUNTY,

    Defendant.

    Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 14 March 2003 by Judge Jack Thompson in Superior Court, Robeson County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 16 March 2004.

    Chad W. Hammonds for plaintiff appellant.

    Locklear, Jacobs, Hunt & Brooks, by Grady L. Hunt, for defendant appellee.

    WYNN, Judge.

    
    Gilbert Meekins, Jr., guardian ad litem for Gilbert Michael Meekins, III, Plaintiff, contends the doctrine of sovereign immunity does not shield Defendant Robeson County Public Schools in this action for negligence, and that the trial court therefore erred in granting summary judgment to Defendant. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm the order of the trial court.
    On 9 April 2002, Plaintiff filed a complaint in Robeson County Superior Court seeking compensatory damages for injuries hesustained as a student at Union Elementary School. On 14 October 2002, Plaintiff served Defendant with his request for monetary relief sought in the amount of $30,000.00. Defendant thereafter filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the basis of sovereign immunity. In support thereof, Defendant filed the affidavits of Edwin Dunlap, Jr., Executive Director and Treasurer of the North Carolina School Boards Trust, and Cathy Jacobs, financial officer for Defendant. Both affidavits averred that Defendant participated in a risk management program of the North Carolina School Boards Trust. Defendant submitted a copy of the trust fund coverage agreement it held as a participant in the risk management program.
    Defendant's motion for summary judgment came before the trial court on 27 January 2003. That same day, Plaintiff filed an amended answer, requesting monetary relief in the amount of $150,000.00. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant, and Plaintiff appealed.
    _____________________________________________________
    The dispositive issue on appeal is whether Plaintiff properly amended his request for monetary relief. Plaintiff acknowledges that Defendant's participation in the North Carolina School Boards Trust does not qualify as a purchase of liability insurance, and that Defendant is therefore entitled to governmental immunity from suit for claims for damages of less than $100,000.00. See, e.g., Ripellino v. N.C. School Bds. Ass'n, 158 N.C. App. 423, 427-29, 581 S.E.2d 88, 92-93 (2003) (holding that the Johnston County Board ofEducation's participation in the North Carolina School Boards Trust did not constitute a waiver of immunity for claims up to $100,000.00), cert. denied, __ N.C. __, __ S.E.2d __(5 February 2004); Lucas v. Swain Cty. Bd. of Educ., 154 N.C. App. 357, 365, 573 S.E.2d 538, 543 (2002) (holding that the Swain County Board of Education's participation in a general liability trust fund agreement with the North Carolina School Boards Trust did not qualify as a purchase of insurance and did not waive immunity from suit for claims less than $100,000.00); Hallman v. Charlotte- Mecklenburg Bd. of Educ., 124 N.C. App. 435, 477 S.E.2d 179 (1996) (holding that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education's participation in a risk management program administered by the city's Division of Insurance and Risk Management was not tantamount to the purchase of liability insurance and did not constitute a waiver of its governmental immunity). Plaintiff argues, however, that he properly amended his claim for monetary relief to request damages in excess of $100,000.00, from which Defendant is not immune. We disagree.
    Rule 8 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure provides in pertinent part as follows:
        In all negligence actions, and in all claims for punitive damages in any civil action, wherein the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of ten thousand dollars ($10,000), the pleading shall not state the demand for monetary relief, but shall state that the relief demanded is for damages incurred or to be incurred in excess of ten thousand dollars ($10,000). However, at any time after service of the claim for relief, any party may request of the claimant a written statement of the monetary reliefsought, and the claimant shall, within 30 days after such service, provide such statement, which shall not be filed with the clerk until the action has been called for trial or entry of default entered. Such statement may be amended in the manner and at times as provided by Rule 15.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 8(a)(2) (2003). Here, Defendant requested a written statement of the monetary relief sought, which Plaintiff served upon Defendant on 14 October 2002. The monetary relief sought by Plaintiff was $30,000.00. Pursuant to Rule 8, Plaintiff was allowed to amend his statement for monetary relief “in the manner and at times as provided by Rule 15.” Id.
    Rule 15 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to
        amend his pleading once as a matter of course at any time before a responsive pleading is served or, if the pleading is one to which no responsive pleading is permitted and the action has not been placed upon the trial calendar, he may so amend it at any time within 30 days after it is served. Otherwise a party may amend his pleading only by leave of court or by written consent of the adverse party; and leave shall be freely given when justice so requires. A party shall plead in response to an amended pleading within 30 days after service of the amended pleading, unless the court otherwise orders.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 15(a) (2003). A party is not required to serve a responsive pleading to a statement of monetary relief, and Plaintiff was therefore free to amend his statement as a matter of course within the thirty-day time period after he served Defendant. Plaintiff, however, failed to amend his statement within this time frame. Under Rule 15, Plaintiff was then limitedto amending his statement (1) by leave of court or (2) by written consent of the adverse party. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 15(a).
    On 27 January 2003, the date upon which the trial court heard Defendant's motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff filed an unverified “amended answer” to Defendant's request for monetary relief sought, wherein Plaintiff requested monetary relief in the amount of $150,000.00. However, the record shows no evidence that Defendant consented to the amendment nor is there evidence that Plaintiff amended the statement by leave of the trial court. Consequently, the record fails to show that Plaintiff complied with Rule 15 in seeking to amend his statement for monetary relief.
    In sum, under existing case law, we are mandated to hold that Defendant was entitled to immunity for causes of action seeking damages in an amount less than $100,000.00. Accordingly, since the statement for monetary relief sought by Plaintiff was in the amount of $30,000.00, we must hold that the trial court correctly granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment on the basis of immunity.
    The order of the trial court is hereby,
    Affirmed.
    Judges HUNTER and TYSON concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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