Vaitovas v. City of Greenville, 051920 NCCA, COA19-732

Docket Nº:COA19-732
Opinion Judge:DIETZ, JUDGE
Party Name:MARY SUE VAITOVAS, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF GREENVILLE; PITT COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION; PHIL BERGER, in his capacity as President Pro Tempore of the Senate; and TIM MOORE, in his capacity as Speaker of House of Representatives, Defendants.
Attorney:Stam Law Firm, PLLC, by R. Daniel Gibson and Paul Stam, for plaintiff-appellant. Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP, by Robert J. King III, Jill R. Wilson, and Elizabeth L. Troutman, for defendants-appellees.
Judge Panel:Chief Judge McGEE and Judge YOUNG concur.
Case Date:May 19, 2020
Court:Court of Appeals of North Carolina
 
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MARY SUE VAITOVAS, Plaintiff,

v.

CITY OF GREENVILLE; PITT COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION; PHIL BERGER, in his capacity as President Pro Tempore of the Senate; and TIM MOORE, in his capacity as Speaker of House of Representatives, Defendants.

No. COA19-732

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

May 19, 2020

Heard in the Court of Appeals 7 January 2020.

Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 25 June 2019 by Judges Richard S. Gottlieb, William H. Coward, and Imelda J. Pate in Wake County Superior Court No. 18 CVS 9970

Stam Law Firm, PLLC, by R. Daniel Gibson and Paul Stam, for plaintiff-appellant.

Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP, by Robert J. King III, Jill R. Wilson, and Elizabeth L. Troutman, for defendants-appellees.

DIETZ, JUDGE

Plaintiff Mary Sue Vaitovas brought this facial constitutional challenge to a state law concerning automated red-light traffic cameras in the City of Greenville. Vaitovas argues that the law violates a provision of the North Carolina Constitution prohibiting local laws relating to health.

Vaitovas sued the City of Greenville and the Pitt County Board of Education, and also the State of North Carolina, through official-capacity claims against Phil Berger, the President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate, and Tim Moore, the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives.1

The trial court later transferred the case to a three-judge panel of superior court judges appointed by the Chief Justice because the allegations in the complaint are a facial constitutional challenge to a state law. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-267.1.

The three-judge panel then heard cross-motions for summary judgment from Vaitovas, the City of Greenville, and the Pitt County Board of Education. The court entered summary judgment in favor of Greenville and the Pitt County Board of Education and Vaitovas appealed. Vaitovas filed an appellant's brief and Greenville and the Pitt County Board of Education filed a joint appellee's brief. At oral argument, this Court posed a relevant question: where is the State of North Carolina and what happened to Vaitovas's claims against the State? The following exchange occurred between the Court and the parties:

JUDGE DIETZ: Can I ask a quick, just procedural question. Is the State a party in this case?

COUNSEL FOR GREENVILLE: I think they were a nominal party and I'm not quite sure how they disappeared from the case...

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