Brief Fact Summary.
King was previously sued by Blanton in a negligence action, after the parties were involved in a car accident. That action was settled; Blanton dismissed her claims in exchange for a cash settlement. No counterclaims were filed in the earlier action by King. King subsequently filed this action, seeking recovery from Blanton for Blanton’s alleged negligence in causing the car accident. Blanton moved to dismiss. The motion to dismiss, which was treated as one for summary judgment, was granted, and the court dismissed the King’s action, with prejudice. King appealed.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
On the facts presented, failure to file a compulsory counterclaim constituted a waiver and estopped Plaintiff from bringing a second negligence action based on the same events that gave rise to the first action.
It is well recognized, however, that actions for unfair or deceptive trade practices are distinct from actions for breach of contract, and that a mere breach of contract, even if intentional, is not sufficiently unfair or deceptive to sustain an action under N.C.G.S. Â§ 75-1.View Full Point of Law
King and Blanton were involved in a car accident. Blanton sued King in a prior negligence action. The prior action was settled; Blanton dismissed her claims in that action in exchange for a cash settlement. The parties agreed that no counterclaims were filed in the earlier action by King. King subsequently filed this action, now seeking to recover from Blanton for Blanton’s alleged negligence in causing the car accident. Blanton alleged that King’s action should have been filed as a compulsory counterclaim, and moved to dismiss. The court considered documents outside the pleadings on the motion to dismiss, which was treated as one for summary judgment. Blanton’s dismissal motion was granted and King’s complaint was dismissed, with prejudice. King appealed.
Did the trial court err in granting summary judgment for Blanton?
No. The trial court properly granted summary judgment for Blanton based on King’s failure to file a compulsory counterclaim.
King’s claim in this action arose out of the same transaction or occurrence as the prior action, in which she was the defendant. Her claim against Blanton was therefore a compulsory counterclaim. On the facts presented — including that there were more than nine months between the filing of the prior action and its settlement and that the record did not indicate that King was unaware of her right to file a counterclaim or that she would forfeit her right to file a claim if she did not file a counterclaim — King was precluded from bringing a new action based on the same events that gave rise to the first one.