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The Royal Oak Concerned Citizens Association v. Brunswick County

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

April 1, 2014

THE ROYAL OAK CONCERNED CITIZENS ASSOCIATION, MARK HARDY, CURTIS MCMILLIAN and DENNIS MCMILLIAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, Defendant. THE ROYAL OAK CONCERNED CITIZENS ASSOCIATION, JAMES HARDY, CURTIS MCMILLIAN and DENNIS MCMILLIAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, Defendant

Heard in the Court of Appeals January 9, 2014.

Brunswick County. Nos. 11 CVS 1301; 12 CVS 1138.

UNC Center for Civil Rights, by Elizabeth Haddix and Bethan Eynon, Higgins & Owens, PLLC, by Raymond E. Owens, Jr., and Fair Housing Project, Legal Aid of North Carolina, by Jack Holtzman, for plaintiffs-appellees.

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP, by Julie B. Bradburn, Jacqueline Terry Hughes, and Kristen Y. Riggs, for defendant-appellant.

HUNTER, JR., Robert N., Judge. Judges STROUD and DILLON concur.

OPINION

Page 834

Appeals by defendant from orders entered 5 March and 6 May 2013 by Judge Mary Ann Tally in Brunswick County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 9 January 2014.

HUNTER, JR., Robert N., Judge.

Brunswick County (" Defendant" ) appeals from interlocutory orders compelling former Brunswick County Manager Marty Lawing (" Mr. Lawing" ) to appear for deposition. Defendant contends that because the orders do not indicate that Mr. Lawing is entitled to assert legislative and/or quasi-judicial immunity, he has been denied a substantial right that warrants our immediate review. For the following reasons, we disagree and dismiss Defendant's appeals.

I. Factual & Procedural History

On 3 June 2011, The Royal Oak Concerned Citizens Association, Curtis McMillian, and Dennis McMillian (collectively, " Plaintiffs" ) began this action by filing a complaint in Brunswick County Superior Court.[1] Plaintiffs' complaint was amended multiple times. Plaintiffs' third amended complaint, operative here, alleges violations of the North Carolina Fair Housing Act, the Equal Protection Clause under Article I, Section 19 of the North Carolina Constitution, and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-136(c). These causes of action stem from an alleged pattern and practice of racial discrimination by Defendant, culminating in Defendant's decision to rezone property in Plaintiffs' community to accommodate the expansion of an existing landfill. The complaint also seeks a declaration that Defendant's rezoning of the property was unlawful, invalid, and void.

During discovery, Plaintiffs noticed the depositions of Mr. Lawing and former Brunswick County Commissioner William Sue (" Mr. Sue" ). Following Defendant's refusal to produce Mr. Lawing and Mr. Sue, Plaintiffs filed a motion to compel their depositions. Defendant responded by filing a motion for a protective order prohibiting the depositions on the grounds that Mr. Lawing and Mr. Sue have legislative and quasi-judicial immunity. Following a hearing on the matter, the trial court filed a written order dated 5 March 2013 allowing Plaintiffs' motion to compel. The order, in part, stated:

The Court will compel Mr. Sue and Mr. Lawing to appear for depositions at a time that is mutually convenient for the parties and the attorneys but will set the following conditions upon the deposition of former County Commissioner William Sue:

a ...


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