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Goodwin v. Cockrell

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division

October 6, 2014

SHERMAN D. GOODWIN, Plaintiff and Counterclaim Defendant.,
v.
ANTOINETTE MAGEE COCKRELL, and JUDY I. SULLIVAN, Co-Executrix of the Estate of ARTHUR E. COCKRELL, Defendants and Counterclaimants

For Sherman D. Goodwin, Plaintiff: Wesley Charles Cooper, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stevenson L. Weeks, Wheatly, Wheatly, Weeks, Lupton & Massie, P.A., Beaufort, NC.

For Antoinette Magee Cockrell, Judy I. Sullivan, Co-Executrix of the Estate of Arthur E. Cockrell, Defendants, Counter Claimants: Christopher A. Abel, LEAD ATTORNEY, Willcox & Savage, PC, Norfolk, VA; Stephen Royce Jackson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Pretlow & Pretlow, P.C., Suffolk, VA.

For Sherman D. Goodwin, Counter Defendant: Wesley Charles Cooper, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stevenson L. Weeks, Wheatly, Wheatly, Weeks, Lupton & Massie, P.A., Beaufort, NC; Thomas Henry Moore, Attorney General's Office, Raleigh, NC.

For Judy I. Sullivan, Co-Executrix of the Estate of Arthur E. Cockrell, Antoinette Magee Cockrell, ThirdParty Plaintiffs: Stephen Royce Jackson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Pretlow & Pretlow, P.C., Suffolk, VA.

Page 739

ORDER

James C. Fox, Senior United States District Judge.

This matter is before the court on the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DE-33] filed by Plaintiff and Counterclaim Defendant Sherman D. Goodwin. Defendants and Counterclaimants Antoinette Magee Cockrell and Judy I. Sullivan, Co-Executrix of the Estate of Arthur E. Cockrell (collectively, " the Estate" ) have responded, and Goodwin has replied. This matter is therefore ripe for disposition. For the reasons more fully set forth below, the motion is DENIED.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

Goodwin initiated this admiralty action by filing the Complaint [DE-1] on August 27, 2013, seeking personal injury damages he alleges resulted from a September 4, 2010, collision between the motor vessel CARTERET, piloted by Goodwin, and the motor yacht TONI SEA, operated by the Estate's testate, Cockrell. At the time of the collision, Goodwin was employed by the State of North Carolina as the master of the CARTERET, and was piloting the car ferry as part of the state's ferry system.

The Estate timely filed its Answer, Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaim [DE-9], and specifically asserts the Counterclaim against Goodwin in his individual capacity. The Estate also filed a Third-Party Complaint against the State of North Carolina-Department of Transportation [DE-10], but later filed a Notice of Dismissal of Third Party Complaint [DE-21] pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i).

Goodwin thereafter moved for partial summary judgment on the Counterclaim asserted against him, claiming the protection of Eleventh Amendment immunity. After the Estate had responded thereto, and on the same day Goodwin filed his Reply in support of his motion, Thomas Henry Moore, an Assistant Attorney General in the Transportation Section of the North Carolina Department of Justice, entered " a limited Notice of Appearance for Sherman D. Goodwin on the Counterclaim asserted against Mr. Goodwin to the extent that the Counterclaim is a de facto claim against Mr. Goodwin in his official capacity as a State of North Carolina employee." Notice of Appearance [DE-36].

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

At summary judgment, the court must examine the evidence presented by both parties and determine if there is a need for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Greater Balt. Ctr. for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc. v. Mayor & City Council of Balt., 721 F.3d 264, 283 (4th Cir. 2013). The court examines " whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of ...


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