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American Oil Co., Inc. v. AAN Real Estate, LLC

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

March 4, 2014

AMERICAN OIL COMPANY, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
AAN REAL ESTATE, LLC, Defendant.

Heard in the Court of Appeals 3 February 2014.

Page 845

Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 20 June 2013 by Judge Eric L. Levinson in Mecklenburg County Superior Court.

Ferguson, Scarbrough, Hayes, Hawkins & DeMay, P.A., Concord, by James E. Scarbrough, for plaintiff.

Erwin, Bishop, Capitano & Moss, P.A., Charlotte, by Fenton T. Erwin, Jr., for defendant.

ELMORE, Judge.

Plaintiff appeals from an order entered 20 June 2013 granting defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. After careful consideration, we affirm the trial court's order.

I. Facts

AAN Real Estate, LLC (defendant) entered into a lease agreement (the lease) with American Oil Group (lessee) on 28 June 2012, whereby lessee agreed to lease the premises at 5320 and 5324 E. Independence Boulevard in Charlotte from defendant for use as a car wash and vehicle maintenance business. On 22 January 2013, American Oil Company, Inc. (plaintiff) filed a complaint alleging that defendant breached the lease terms by failing to " install the vehicle lifts until on or about December 1, 2012" in violation of the lease's " Lessor's Work" provision. Shortly thereafter, plaintiff filed an amended complaint on 14 February 2013 alleging more lease breaches. In addition to attaching a copy of the lease as " Exhibit A" in the amended complaint, plaintiff alleged that: 1.) its party name was " American Oil Company Inc.[; ]" 2.) it was " a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of North Carolina with a place of business in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina[; ]" and 3.) defendant was " a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of North Carolina with a place of business in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina." The amended complaint never referenced plaintiff's relationship to lessee. In response to the amended complaint, defendant filed a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. After a hearing in Mecklenburg County Superior Court, Judge Eric L. Levinson granted defendant's motion to dismiss in an order entered 20 June 2013. Plaintiff filed a timely notice of appeal on 18 July 2013 to this Court from Judge Levinson's order.

II. Analysis

Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in granting defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). Specifically, plaintiff avers that its differing party name in the amended complaint and the lease was insufficient to dismiss the amended complaint. We disagree.

" The motion to dismiss under N.C.R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. In ruling on the motion[,] the allegations of the complaint must be viewed as admitted, and on that basis the court must determine as a matter of law whether the allegations state a claim for which relief may be granted." Stanback v. Stanback, 297 N.C. 181, 185, 254 S.E.2d 611, 615 (1979) (citations omitted). " This Court must conduct a de novo review of the pleadings to determine their legal sufficiency and to determine whether the trial court's ruling on the motion to dismiss was correct." Leary v. N.C. Forest Prods., Inc., 157 N.C.App. 396, 400, 580 S.E.2d 1, 4, aff'd per curiam, 357 N.C. 567, 597 S.E.2d 673 (2003). A dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate when an " insurmountable bar to recovery" exists on the face of the complaint. Meadows v. Iredell County, 187 N.C.App. 785, 787, 653 S.E.2d 925, 927 (2007) (citation and quotation omitted). A party that lacks standing to bring a claim constitutes an insurmountable bar to recovery, and a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) is the proper legal mechanism to seek dismissal of a complaint on such grounds. Id. Standing refers to " a party's right to have a court decide the merits of a dispute." Teague v. Bayer AG, 195 N.C.App. 18, 23, 671 S.E.2d 550, 554 (2009)

Page 846

(citation and quotation omitted). Without standing, the courts of this State lack subject matter jurisdiction to ...


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