PHILIP J. MOHR, as Administrator of the Estate of Sam Monroe Matthews, Plaintiff,
JOHN C. MATTHEWS, GLORIA MATTHEWS, and JOBY MATTHEWS, Defendants
Heard in the Court of Appeals August 27, 2014
Wall Esleeck Babcock, LLP, by Andrew L. Fitzgerald, Hannah K. Albertson, and Margaret S. Shipley, for plaintiff-appellant.
Davis and Hamrick, L.L.P., by James G. Welsh, Jr., for defendant-appellee John C. Matthews.
Pinto Coates Kyre & Bowers, PLLC, by Richard L. Pinto and Deborah J. Bowers, for defendants-appellees Gloria Matthews and Joby Matthews.
DAVIS, Judge. Judges HUNTER, Robert C., and DILLON concur.
Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 12 November
2013 by Judge David L. Hall in Forsyth County Superior Court, No. 13 CVS 2020.
Philip J. Mohr (" Plaintiff" ), administrator of the Estate of Sam Monroe Matthews, appeals from the trial court's order granting the motion to dismiss of Defendants John C. Matthews (" John" ), Gloria Matthews (" Gloria" ), and Joby Matthews (" Joby" ) (collectively " Defendants" ) pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. On appeal, Plaintiff contends that his complaint stated a valid claim for negligence regarding the death of Sam Monroe Matthews (" Sam" ). Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Defendants negligently allowed Sam to consume an excessive amount of alcohol despite their knowledge of his intent to operate a motor vehicle. After careful review, we affirm.
We have summarized the pertinent facts below using Plaintiff's own statements from his complaint, which we treat as true in reviewing the trial court's order dismissing his complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). See, e.g., Stein v. Asheville City Bd. of Educ., 360 N.C. 321, 325, 626 S.E.2d 263, 266 (2006) ( " When reviewing a complaint dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6), we treat a plaintiff's factual allegations as true." ).
On 1 April 2011, Sam, who at the time was 19 years old, attended a cookout at the home of his paternal grandparents, Joby and Gloria, in Davie County, North Carolina. Sam's father, John, and his stepmother, Lisa Matthews, were also at the cookout. Sam arrived at around 7:00 p.m. and began drinking beer and liquor provided to him by Defendants. During the course of the evening, Sam continued to consume alcoholic beverages and became visibly intoxicated. Defendants continued to provide Sam with additional alcoholic drinks and encouraged him to continue drinking despite his noticeably increasing level of intoxication.
Prior to 1 April 2011, Defendants had on a number of occasions provided Sam with alcohol and permitted him to consume alcohol at their homes despite the fact that he was under the legal drinking age. Defendants had actively encouraged Sam to drink alcoholic beverages on these occasions and had hosted parties where alcohol was provided to other individuals below the legal drinking age who were in attendance. Defendants were aware that following his consumption of alcoholic beverages at such gatherings, Sam would often drive -- especially when he was agitated or angry.
At the cookout on the evening of 1 April 2011, Sam and John had a disagreement concerning whether John would provide money for Sam to attend college. Earlier that evening, one or more of Defendants had talked with Sam about him taking Gloria's car back to ...