Anderson v. SeaScape at Holden Plantation, LLC

Decision Date02 June 2015
Docket NumberNo. COA14–1088.,COA14–1088.
Citation241 N.C.App. 191,773 S.E.2d 78
CourtNorth Carolina Court of Appeals
Parties John Wilton ANDERSON, Sr., Trustee for the John Wilton Anderson, Sr. Revocable Trust Dated May 1990; Robert D. Anderson and wife, Patricia A. Anderson; Al Artale and wife, Debbie Artale; Bald Eagle Ventures, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company; Robert W. Barbour and wife, Katherine G. Barbour; Douglas R. Barr and wife, Karen W. Barr ; Daniel T. Bartell and wife, Barbara J. Bartell; Mitchell W. Becker; George D. Beecham and wife, Jacqueline J. Beecham; Karen H. Beiger; Gary E. Blair and wife, Kathleen P. Blair; Ann M. Boileau and husband, Paul Boileau; Gerard C. Bradley and wife, Susan M. Bradley ; Robert William Bricker and wife, Patricia Anne Bricker; Toby J. Bronstein; James W. Burns and wife, Carol J. Burns; John T. Butler; Joseph R. Capka and wife, Susan J. Capka; Joseph S. Capobianco and wife, Barbara K. Capobianco; Isaac H. Chappell and Jean M. Haney as Co–Trustees of the Isaac H. Chappell Trust dated October 10, 2000; Kenneth A. Clagett and wife, Mary Ellen Clagett; Edward Earl Clay and wife, Charlene Hough Clay; Gary E. Coleman and wife, Holly H. Coleman; Walter N. Coley and wife, Carroll M. Coley; Harry W. Cone and wife, Elenore W. Cone; Maurice C. Connolly and wife, Madeline S. Connolly; Jerry W. Crider and wife, Belinda W. Crider; Richard S. Cromlish, Jr. and wife, Sandra K. Cromlish; Laura Deatkine and husband, Michael J. Warmack; Norvell B. Deatkine and wife, Theresa M. Deatkine; Robert E. Demers and wife, Donna L. Foote; Jan S. Deneroff And Karen Gill Deneroff, as Co–Trustees of the Deneroff Family Trust dated November 2, 2006; Paul A. Denett and wife, Lucy Q. Denett; Jerome V. Diekemper and wife, Karen M. Diekemper; Mark W. Dorset and wife, Deborah M. Dorset; Michael R. DuPre, Sr. and wife, Molly H. DuPre; Donald D. Edwards and Betty M. Edwards as Trustees of the Edwards Family Trust dated December 21, 1992; Troy D. Ellington and wife, Betty S. Ellington; Peter W. Fastnacht and wife, Carole Ann Fastnacht; Rick D. Fauteux and wife, Brenda S. Fauteux; William H. Foertsch and wife, Pamela G. Foertsch; Louis J. Fratto, Jr. and wife, Eileen M. Fratto; Robert A. Funk and wife, Beatriz B. Funk; Robert A. Mink and wife, Beatriz B. Funk, as Trustees of the Funk Living Trust dated March 22, 1999; Jolanta T. Gal; Joseph Garbarino and wife, Betty Garbarino; Robert J. Gettings and wife, Katherine Anne Gettings; Tim Gibble and wife, Susan Gibble; Rocklin E. Gmeiner, Jr. and Marsha A. Gmeiner, Trustees under The Gmeiner Family Trust, dated August 21, 2008; Harry J. Graham and wife, Maryanne S. Graham; Richard A. Grano and wife, Angela M. Grano; Rodney Laverne Grow and wife, Jo Elaine Grow; Ronald E. Guay and wife, Doris M. Guay; Leon J. Harrison and wife, Margaret A. Harrison; Glen A. Hatzai and wife, Barbara A. Hatzai; Kjell Hestvedt and wife, Anne T. Hestvedt; Larry H. Hites and wife, Kari F. Hites; Dennis E. Hoffacker and Sue E. Hoffacker as Trustees of the Sue E. Hoffacker Revocable Living Trust dated February 9, 1998; John E. Howard and wife, Marye C. Howard; James S. Hutchison and wife, Pamela E. Hutchison; Charles L. Ingram and wife, Rhonda M. Ingram; Thomas M. Inman and wife, Diane M. Inman; William R. Jonas and wife, Dian M. Jonas; Michael G. Kidd and wife, Virginia G. Kidd; H. William Kuchler and wife, Patricia A. Kuchler; Scott C. Lee and wife, Cynthia A. Lee ; Peter J. Lewis and wife, Janet L. Lewis; James R. Little and wife, Bonita S. Little; Patrick M. Loonam and wife, Patricia E. Loonam; Donald G. Luff and wife, Judith A. Luff; Mark E. Mainardi and Frances B. Mainardi, as Trustees of the Mainardi Living Trust dated January 23, 1997; Anthony Margliano and wife, Erin Margliano; Joseph E. McDermott and wife, Mary M. McDermott ; John O. McElroy and wife, Kethleen A. McElroy; George J. McQuillen and wife, Barbara J. McQuillen; Steven J. Meadow and Brenda K. Meadow, trustees of the Meadow Revocable Trust dated January 12, 2010; George Edward Mertens, III and wife, Nancy Mertens; Michael A. Mickiewicz, Trustee of the Michael A. Mickiewicz Trust dated April 21, 2011; Jacqueline A. Mickiewicz, Trustee of the Jacqueline A. Mickiewicz Trust dated April 21, 2011; Terry Lee Miller and wife, Joan C. Miller; Terry Stephen Molnar; Marian E. Carlucci; Michael R. Monetti and wife, Irene A. Monetti; Mima S. Nedelcovych and wife, Sally Nedelcovych; William W. Nightingale and wife, Bonnie Nightingale; Keith Okolichany and wife, Linda A. Okolichany; Richard L. Pastorius and wife, Bonnie L. Pastorius; John J. Patrone and wife, Linda D. Patrone; Louis M. Pacelli and wife, Marleen S. Pacelli; Laurence F. Piazza and wife, Cheryl Ann Piazza; Jack L. Raidiger and wife, Judy K. Raidiger; Frank Rinaldi and wife, Rosemarie Rinaldi; Timothy T. Roseberry and wife, Suzanne Roseberry; Eileen Rosenfeld and Robert W. Rosenfeld, as Trustees under the Eileen Rosenfeld Living Trust dated August 9, 2000; George M. Savell and wife, Maria Violet Savell; Dennis J. Scharf and wife, Cheryl H. Scharf; Francis G. Scharoun and wife, Deborah M. Scharoun; Robert L. Schorr; John Francis Seely and wife, Janet Cave Seely; Ernest J. Sewell and wife, Rowena P. Sewell; William M. Shook and wife, Susan M. Shook; Craig A. Skaja and wife, Christine C. Skaja; Charles M. Smith and wife, Lois S. Smith; Helga Smith; Thomas W. Smith and wife, Martha B. Smith; Alan H. Spiro and wife, Rhonda B. Spiro; Kenneth Steeples and wife, Eileen P. Steeples; Richard L. Steinberg and wife, Barbara J. Steinberg ; Thomas Sturgill and wife, Linda Sturgill; Scott Sullivan and wife, Loretta F. Sullivan; John M. Swoboda as Trustee of the John M. Swoboda Revocable Living Trust dated November 29, 2002; Carol L. Swoboda as Trustee of the Carol L. Swoboda Revocable Living Trust dated October 28, 2002; Robert C. Therrien and wife, Jane A. Therrien; Harvey L. Thompson and wife, Rosalyn Thompson; Pauline Tompkins; Derrail Turner and wife, Pansey Turner; William E. Wilkinson and wife, Betty R. Wilkinson; James M. Williams and wife, Patricia E. Williams ; Thomas P. Wolfe and wife, Julia T. Wolfe; James J. Yorio and wife, Deborah L. Yorio; Joseph Zalman and wife, Valerie Zalman; Eugene E. Zielinski and wife, Rebecca R. Zielinski, Plaintiffs, v. SEASCAPE AT HOLDEN PLANTATION, LLC, a North Carolina limited liability company, f/k/a SeaScape at Holden Plantation, Inc. ; The Coastal Companies, LLC, a North Carolina limited liability company, d/b/a Mark Saunders Luxury Homes; Eastern Carolinas' Construction & Development LLC, a North Carolina limited liability company, f/k/a Eastern Carolinas' Construction & Development Corporation; Coastal Construction Of Eastern NC, LLC, a North Carolina limited liability company, f/k/a Coastal Development & Realty Builder, Inc.; Mas Properties, LLC, a North Carolina limited liability company; Mark A. Saunders ; Cape Fear Engineering, Inc., a North Carolina corporation; Executive Board of SeaScape at Holden Plantation Property Owners Association, Inc.; Eric Johnson; Curt Bolden; Helen Stead ; Tony Bradford Cheers; Carroll Lipscombe; Sean D. Scanlon; Daniel H. Weeks; Richard Genova; Susan Lawing; Dean Satrape; Grace Wrigley; Brunswick County; Brunswick County Inspection Department; Elmer Delaney Aycock; Harold Douglas Morrison; Anthony Sion Wicker; David Meacham Stanley, Defendants.

Whitfield Bryson & Mason LLP, by Daniel K. Bryson and Matthew E. Lee, Raleigh, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Ward and Smith, P.A., Wilmington, by Ryal W. Tayloe and Allen N. Trask, III, for intervenor-appellee SeaScape at Holden Plantation Property Owners Association, Inc.

Wall Templeton & Haldrup, P.A., by Mark Langdon and William W. Silverman, Raleigh, for defendants-appellees SeaScape at Holden Plantation LLC, The Coastal Companies LLC, and Eastern Carolinas Construction and Development LLC.

Hamlet & Associates, PLLC, Wilmington, by H. Mark Hamlet and Rebecca A. Scherrer, for defendant-appellee Coastal Construction of Eastern NC, LLC.

Young Moore and Henderson, P.A., Raleigh, by Robert C. deRosset, and Graebe Hanna & Sullivan, PLLC, Raleigh, by Christopher T. Graebe, for defendants-appellees Mark A. Saunders and MAS Properties, LLC.

Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP, Wilmington, by John D. Martin and Patrick M. Mincey, for defendant-appellee Cape Fear Engineering, Inc.

Chesnutt, Clemmons & Peacock, P.A., New Bern, by Gary H. Clemmons, for defendants-appellees Daniel Weeks, Susan Lawing, Richard Genova, Sean Scanlon, Dean Satrape, and the Executive Board of SeaScape at Holden Plantation Property Owners Association, Inc.

INMAN, Judge.

Plaintiffs are 262 property owners in SeaScape at Holden Plantation ("SeaScape"), a residential subdivision near Holden Beach, North Carolina. They appeal from the trial court's orders: (1) dismissing plaintiffs' derivative claims brought on behalf of SeaScape at Holden Plantation Property Owners Association, Inc. ("the POA") against third parties involved in the development and construction of SeaScape1 ; (2) dismissing plaintiffs' derivative claims against certain members of the POA's Executive Board and the Executive Board itself2 ; and (3) denying plaintiffs' motion to dismiss the POA's intervenor complaint. After careful review, we affirm the trial court's orders.

Although the facts of this case are unique, the legal issues presented are characteristic of corporate governance disputes between homeowners and managing bodies of planned communities. Among other things, this Court must consider the principles of derivative litigation as well as the statutory framework for intracorporate governance under the North Carolina Planned Community Act and the North Carolina Nonprofit Corporation Act.

Background

Plaintiffs allege the following in their Fourth Amended Verified Complaint filed 31 March 2014: In 1999, Mark Saunders (together with related LLCs3 , "the Developers") began developing SeaScape, an upscale 542–lot coastal residential subdivision. The SeaScape plans...

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