Moye v. Thrifty Gas Co., Inc.

Decision Date20 March 1979
Docket NumberNo. 781SC370,781SC370
Citation40 N.C.App. 310,252 S.E.2d 837
PartiesElnora Regina MOYE, Elnora Marie Moye, Selma Hardy, Charity R. Twine and Hilton Moye v. The THRIFTY GAS CO., INC., Clarence Jones, Gladys Warlick and Williams Energy Company.
CourtNorth Carolina Court of Appeals

Moore & Moore, by Milton E. Moore, Williamston, and Malone, Johnson, Dejarmon & Spaulding, by Albert L. Willis and T. Mdodana Ringer, Jr., Durham, for plaintiffs appellant.

Haywood, Denny & Miller, by George W. Miller, Jr. and David M. Lomas, Durham, for defendant appellees The Thrifty Gas Co., Inc. Clarence Jones, and Gladys Warlick.

Teague, Johnson, Patterson, Dilthey & Clay, by Grady S. Patterson, Jr., Robert W. Sumner and Alene Mercer, Raleigh, for defendant appellee Williams Energy Co.

CARLTON, Judge.

The primary question for determination is whether the trial court erred in allowing the motions for summary judgment.

G.S. 1A-1, Rule 56(c) provides in part as follows:

The (summary) judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that any party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.

By the clear language of the rule itself, the motion for summary judgment can be granted only upon a showing by the movant (1) that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and (2) that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Kiser v. Snyder, 17 N.C.App. 445, 194 S.E.2d 638 (1973). Upon motion for summary judgment the burden is on the moving party to establish the lack of a triable issue of fact. 11 Strong, N.C Index 3d, Rules of Civil Procedure, § 56.2, p. 354. Where a moving party supports his motion for summary judgment by appropriate means, which are uncontroverted, the trial judge is fully justified in granting relief thereon. However, it is further clear that summary judgment should be granted with caution and only where the movant has established the nonexistence of any genuine issue of fact. That showing must be made in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment and that party should be accorded all favorable inferences that may be deduced from the showing. The reason for this is that a party should not be deprived of an adequate opportunity fully to develop his case by witnesses in a trial where the issues involved make such procedure the appropriate one. Rogers v. Peabody Coal Co., 342 F.2d 749 (6th Cir. 1965). The papers of the moving party are carefully scrutinized and those of the opposing party are, on the whole, indulgently regarded. Singleton v. Stewart, 280 N.C. 460, 186 S.E.2d 400 (1972).

While G.S. 1A-1, Rule 56, like its federal counterpart, is available in all types of litigation to both plaintiff and defendant, both state and federal decisions have established the proposition that issues of negligence are ordinarily not susceptible of summary adjudication either for or against the claimant, but should be resolved by trial in the ordinary manner. It is only in exceptional negligence cases that summary judgment is appropriate. Stricter application of the summary judgment motion to negligence cases has evolved because, in those situations, the rule of the prudent man (or other applicable standard of care) must be applied, and ordinarily the jury should apply it under appropriate instructions from the court. Page v. Sloan, 281 N.C. 697, 190 S.E.2d 189 (1972); 6 Moore's Federal Practice § 56.17, at 2583 (2d ed. 1971); Rogers v. Peabody Coal Company, supra; Kiser v. Snyder, supra. The intrinsic procedural difficulty of summary judgment, and the confusion in dealing with the device in negligence actions, is that even though there is no dispute about how an accident occurred, the presence or absence of negligence often remains a question of fact which requires a trial under traditional principles of the law of negligence. 73 Am.Jur.2d, Summary Judgment, § 6, p. 729.

In applying the foregoing rules to the evidentiary material before us in the case at bar, we conclude that the motion for summary judgment was improperly allowed for the defendants Thrifty Gas Company, Clarence Jones and Gladys Warlick.

These defendants and the plaintiffs offered directly conflicting affidavits. The affidavit of the consulting engineer, Ronald E. Kirk, offered by plaintiffs, concluded as follows:

Based on the foregoing stated reasons, it is my professional opinion that the Wallace report of the subject explosion, and the affidavit given by Mr. Wallace to the court, which I am personally familiar with, do not conclusively establish as a matter of scientific fact any one of the following:

(1) That a space heater valve was in the "on" position before the explosion; and,

(2) That the installation of the heating system was done in complete compliance with the American National Standards Institute and other recognized codes of safety standards.

In light of the conflicting expert affidavits, it is clear that a genuine issue of fact as to negligence was raised and that the defendants failed to carry the burden of showing that there was a lack of any triable issue of fact and that they were therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Obviously necessary to our decision above is a finding that the affidavit of Ronald E. Kirk was admissible at the hearing. These defendants argue that it was not properly admissible. We disagree.

G.S. 1A-1, Rule 56(e) provides that affidavits in support of or in opposition to a motion for summary judgment "shall be made on personal knowledge, shall set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated therein." These defendants argue that the Kirk affidavit is not based on personal knowledge in that it is a critique of the Wallace affidavit and therefore is based on hearsay.

We believe the Kirk affidavit meets the test of G.S. 1A-1, Rule 56(e). The affiant was...

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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • March 15, 2013
    ...renders the Court unable to declare Plaintiffs' claim insufficient as a matter of law. See generally Moye v. Thrifty Gas Co., Inc., 40 N.C. App. 310, 315, 252 S.E.2d 837, 841 (1979) ("In light of the conflicting expert affidavits, it is clear that a genuine issue of fact as to negligence wa......
  • Hinson v. United Financial Services, Inc., COA95-459
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • August 6, 1996
    ...most favorable to the nonmoving party, allowing the nonmoving party all favorable inferences as to the facts. Moye v. Thrifty Gas Co., 40 N.C.App. 310, 314, 252 S.E.2d 837, 841, disc. review denied, 297 N.C. 611, 257 S.E.2d 219 Defendant prevailed on its motion for summary judgment because ......
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    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • October 6, 2015
    ...granted with caution and only where the movant has established the nonexistence of any genuine issue of fact." Moye v. Thrifty Gas Co., 40 N.C.App. 310, 314, 252 S.E.2d 837, 841 (1979). This Court reviews a grant of summary judgment de novo . In re Will of Jones, 362 N.C. 569, 573, 669 S.E.......
  • Atl. Coast Props., Inc. v. Saunders
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • October 6, 2015
    ...granted with caution and only where the movant has established the nonexistence of any genuine issue of fact." Moye v. Thrifty Gas Co., 40 N.C. App. 310, 314, 252 S.E.2d 837, 841 (1979). This Court reviews a grant of summary judgment de novo. In re Will of Jones, 362 N.C. 569, 573, 669 S.E.......
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