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Campbell v. Campbell

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

October 21, 2014

SUZANNE DAVIS CAMPBELL, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM TAYLOR CAMPBELL, III, Defendant

Argued September 11, 2014

Heard in the Court of Appeals 11 September 2014.

Allman Spry Davis Leggett & Crumpler, P.A., by Joslin Davis, Loretta C. Biggs and Anna E. Warburton, for plaintiff-appellant.

Wilson, Helms & Cartledge, LLP, by Gray Wilson and Lorin J. Lapidus, and Morrow, Porter, Vermitsky & Fowler, PLLC, by John F. Morrow, Sr. and John C. Vermitsky, for defendant-appellee.

DIETZ, Judge. Judges STEELMAN and GEER concur.

Page 631

Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 21 October 2013 by Judge William B. Reingold in Forsyth County District Court, No. 13 CVD 3111.

OPINION

DIETZ, Judge.

Plaintiff Suzanne Davis brings this interlocutory appeal from the trial court's order vacating her judgment of absolute divorce under Rule 60(b) of the Rules of Civil Procedure. The trial court, exercising its discretion under Rule 60(b), set aside Ms. Davis' divorce judgment so that her ex-husband William Campbell could assert a belated claim for equitable distribution.

This Court has held that an appeal from a trial court order setting aside an absolute divorce judgment " is interlocutory and subject to dismissal." See Baker v. Baker, 115 N.C.App. 337, 339, 444 S.E.2d 478, 480 (1994). Applying this precedent, our Court recently granted a motion to dismiss for lack of appellate jurisdiction in an appeal with facts nearly identical to those presented here. See Steele v. Steele, No. COA 14-231 (N.C. App. 2014). Mr. Campbell did not file a motion to dismiss this appeal, but we are obliged to review our own jurisdiction in every case. We hold that, although there may be factual circumstances in which the grant of a Rule 60(b) motion setting aside a divorce judgment affects a substantial right, Ms. Davis did not make a sufficient showing in this case. Accordingly, we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Factual Background

After a decade of marriage, Plaintiff Suzanne Davis and Defendant William Campbell separated on 11 May 2012. On 16 November 2012, Ms. Davis filed a complaint for equitable distribution, among other claims. Mr. Campbell filed an answer and counterclaim in that action, but mistakenly failed to assert his own claim for equitable distribution. Both parties engaged in several months of vigorous discovery and motions practice on the issue of equitable distribution.

On 13 May 2013, Ms. Davis filed a separate complaint for absolute divorce and to resume use of her maiden name. On 1 July 2013, the trial court granted Ms. Davis' unopposed motion for ...


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