NICHOLAS A. RIDDLE, Plaintiff
BUNCOMBE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION; JAMES BEATTY, in his Individual Capacity, and in his Official Capacity with the Buncombe County Board of Education; and RODERICK BROWN, JR., in his Individual Capacity, and in his Official Capacity with the Buncombe County Board of Education, Defendants
by plaintiff from order entered 19 May 2016 by Judge Gary
Gavenus in Buncombe County No. 16 CVS 625 Superior Court.
Heard in the Court of Appeals 19 April 2017.
Charles G. Monnett III & Associates, by Randall J.
Phillips, for plaintiff-appellant.
Williams, L.L.P., by Gregory C. York and Jared A. Johnson,
Barden & Cury, P.A., by Alexandra Cury, for
defendant-appellee Roderick Brown, Jr., in his individual
A. Riddle ("plaintiff") appeals from the trial
court's order dismissing his action pursuant to N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 12(b)(6) (2015). Plaintiff alleged
negligent infliction of emotional distress claims against the
Buncombe County Board of Education ("BCBE"); James
Beatty ("Beatty"), individually and in his official
capacity with the BCBE; and Roderick Brown, Jr.
("Brown"), individually and in his official
capacity with the BCBE (collectively,
"defendants"). On appeal, the issue is whether it
was reasonably foreseeable that plaintiff would suffer severe
emotional distress as a proximate result of defendants'
allegedly negligent acts, which led to the death of
plaintiff's teammate and friend, Donald Boyer Crotty
("Crotty"). After careful review, we hold that
plaintiff's injury was not reasonably foreseeable.
Therefore, we affirm the trial court's order dismissing
plaintiff's claims were dismissed pretrial pursuant to
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 12(b)(6), "the facts
set forth herein are taken from the allegations of the
complaint, which must be taken as true at this point."
Johnson v. Ruark Obstetrics & Gynecology Assocs.,
P.A., 327 N.C. 283, 286, 395 S.E.2d 85, 87,
reh'g denied, 327 N.C. 644, 399 S.E.2d 133
2011, Beatty was a teacher and the varsity football coach at
T.C. Roberson High School ("T.C. Roberson") in
Buncombe County, North Carolina. Plaintiff and Brown were
members of the football team. T.C. Roberson football players
had access to various equipment, including a John Deere
motorized vehicle ("the John Deere") that was
routinely used to move items during and after practice.
Beatty authorized the team's use of the John Deere,
notwithstanding the fact that all players were minors and
that none of BCBE's representatives had ever trained or
instructed them regarding the vehicle's safe operation.
to the complaint, on 11 July 2011, plaintiff, Brown, and
other members of the team were scrimmaging and participating
in drills on the T.C. Roberson football field. Beatty
instructed Brown to use the John Deere to transport large
Gatorade coolers across the field from an area near the
50-yard line. Brown, traveling at an unsafe and excessive
rate of speed, drove the John Deere across the field as
plaintiff, Crotty, and several players walked toward him.
When they realized that Brown was driving directly at them,
the players moved to avoid the John Deere. However, Brown
simultaneously turned the steering wheel to the right and
collided with Crotty, entrapping him with the front hood of
the vehicle. Crotty's head struck the asphalt running
track, and the John Deere's right tires traveled over his
body and head. Crotty immediately displayed signs of brain
injury and was only partially responsive as witnesses tended
February 2016, plaintiff filed the instant action in Buncombe
County Superior Court. Plaintiff alleged, inter alia,
that Beatty and Brown committed negligent acts that
proximately and foreseeably caused plaintiff to suffer severe
emotional distress, and that all defendants were jointly and
severally liable for plaintiff's injury. On 1 April 2016,
defendants filed an answer denying negligence and asserting
various affirmative defenses. Defendants' answer also
included a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
upon which relief could be granted, pursuant to N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 1A-1, Rule 12(b)(6). Following a hearing, the
trial court granted defendants' motion to dismiss.
argues that the trial court erroneously granted
defendants' motion to dismiss because he sufficiently
alleged claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress
arising out of concern for (1) himself and (2) his teammate
and friend, Crotty. We disagree.
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss "tests the legal sufficiency
of the complaint. In ruling on the motion the allegations of
the complaint must be viewed as admitted, and on that basis
the court must determine as a matter of law whether the
allegations state a claim for which relief may be
granted." Stanback v. Stanback, 297 N.C. 181,
185, 254 S.E.2d 611, 615 (1979) (citations omitted). On
appeal, "[t]his Court must conduct a de novo
review of the pleadings to determine their legal sufficiency
and to determine whether the trial court's ruling on the
motion to dismiss was ...