in the Court of Appeals 23 March 2017.
by plaintiff from order entered 17 June 2016 by Judge Richard
D. Boner in Mecklenburg County, No. 15 CVS 16169 Superior
Wright & Houston, PLLC, by Caleb Brown, Richard S.
Wright, and Andrew T. Houston, for plaintiff-appellant.
Copeland Richards, PLLC, by Drew A. Richards, for
defendant-appellee Charles J. Cole.
Wright & Houston, PLLC ("Plaintiff"), appeals
from the trial court's order partially granting Sandra
and Charles Cole's (collectively "Defendants")
motion for summary judgment. After careful review, we dismiss
Plaintiff's appeal as interlocutory.
August 2015, Plaintiff, a law firm operating out of
Charlotte, North Carolina, filed a complaint in Mecklenburg
County Superior Court against Sandra Cole
("Sandra") and Charles Cole ("Charles")
concerning their failure to pay certain legal fees owed to
Plaintiff. In its complaint, Plaintiff alleged (1) a breach
of contract claim against Sandra; (2) a claim for unjust
enrichment and quantum meruit against both Sandra
and Charles; (3) a violation of the doctrine of necessities
against Charles; (4) a fraud claim against Charles; and (5) a
claim for negligent misrepresentation against both Sandra and
May 2016, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment as
to Plaintiff's claims. On 25 May 2016, Sandra filed for
bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the
Western District of North Carolina under Chapter 13 of the
United States Bankruptcy Code. As a result of her filing, the
automatic stay provided pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362 was
hearing on Defendants' motion was held before the
Honorable Richard D. Boner in Mecklenburg County Superior
Court on 8 June 2016. On 17 June 2016, Judge Boner entered an
order granting summary judgment in Charles' favor. The
order did not address Plaintiff's claims against Sandra.
Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal of the trial court's
summary judgment order on 15 July 2016.
initial matter, we note that the present appeal is
interlocutory. "Since summary judgment was allowed for
fewer than all the defendants and the judgment did not
contain a certification pursuant to G.S. § 1A-1, Rule
54(b), that there was 'no just reason for delay, '
plaintiff's appeal is premature unless the order allowing
summary judgment affected a substantial right."
Bernick v. Jurden, 306 N.C. 435, 438, 293 S.E.2d
405, 408 (1982). Although not raised by either party on
appeal, "whether an appeal is interlocutory presents a
jurisdictional issue, and this Court has an obligation to
address the issue sua sponte." Duval v. OM
Hospitality, LLC, 186 N.C.App. 390, 392, 651
S.E.2d 261, 263 (2007) (citation, internal quotation marks,
and brackets omitted). "A final judgment is one which
disposes of the cause as to all the parties, leaving nothing
to be judicially determined between them in the trial
court." Id. (citation omitted). Conversely, an
order or judgment is interlocutory if it does not settle all
of the issues in the case but rather "directs some
further proceeding preliminary to the final decree."__
Heavner v. Heavner, 73 N.C.App. 331, 332, 326 S.E.2d
78, 80, disc. review denied, 313 N.C. 601, 330
S.E.2d 610 (1985).
Generally, there is no right of immediate appeal from an
interlocutory order. The prohibition against appeals from
interlocutory orders prevents fragmentary, premature and
unnecessary appeals by permitting the trial court to bring
the case to final judgment before it is presented to the
appellate courts. However, there are two avenues by which a
party may immediately appeal an interlocutory order or
judgment. First, if the order or judgment is final as to some
but not all of the claims or parties, and the trial court
certifies the case for appeal pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat.
§ 1A-1, Rule 54(b), an immediate appeal will lie.
Second, an appeal is permitted under N.C. Gen. Stat.
§§ 1-277(a) and 7A-27(d)(1) if the trial
court's decision deprives the appellant of a substantial
right which would be lost absent immediate review.
Feltman v. City of Wilson, 238 N.C.App. 246, 250,
767 S.E.2d 615, 618-19 (2014) (internal citations and