Appeal by plaintiff from Rouse, Judge. Order entered 11 August 1981 in Superior Court, Craven County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 8 April 1982.
Hill, Judge. Judges Hedrick and Becton concur.
We initially note that this appeal is subject to dismissal under Rule 54(b) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure as premature and fragmentary; it is from an interlocutory order which adjudicates fewer than all of the claims of the parties, and the trial judge has not determined that there is no just reason for delay. This rule is for the benefit of the parties as well as the court since it reduces the multiplicity of appeals, saving time and money for all concerned. Nevertheless, because this appeal is already before us at this time, and in the interest of saving further time and money for all concerned, we elect to treat the appeal as a petition for writ of certiorari, grant it, and dispose of the questions raised.
Plaintiff's sole arguments present the question of whether the judge erred in granting defendant's motion to dismiss his claims for special damages and punitive damages. His claim for special damages is, in part, as follows:
Page 348} Second Claim For Relief
II. The Defendant's refusal to provide or pay the benefits and coverages under the provisions of the policy attached hereto as Exhibit A has been in bad faith and a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
III. As a direct and proximate result of the actions of the Defendant in delaying and denying benefits due the Plaintiff under the policy, the Plaintiff has sustained compensable economic losses including but not limited to expert witness fees, construction estimate fees, photograph fees, loss of time, and other incidental expenses in the sum of $10,000.00, and has suffered embarrassment and humiliation, unnecessary mental pain and suffering, and emotional distress and discomfort, all to his detriment and damage in the amount of $20,000.00.
IV. As a direct and proximate result of the actions of the Defendant in delaying and denying benefits due the Plaintiff under the policy the Plaintiff has sustained and incurred legal expenses to protect this interest under his policy with the Defendant.
Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages is, in part, as follows:
II. The Defendant has refused to settle Plaintiff's claim in good faith; has refused to acknowledge the damage estimates of Plaintiff or contractors hired by the Plaintiff; has refused to assign qualified agents to identify and estimate the amount of damage to Plaintiff's property; and upon information and belief, Defendant's agent acting within the course and scope of his employment in investigating Plaintiff's claim offered sums of money to local individuals and did other things in an attempt to discredit Plaintiff's claim and credibility.
III. The actions of the Defendant above-stated and the Defendant's refusal to settle or ...