in the Court of Appeals 9 August 2017.
by Plaintiff from order entered 5 June 2014 by Judge Susan E.
Bray in Guilford County No. 13 CVS 6027 Superior Court.
Gregory A. Wendling, for Plaintiff-Appellant.
Teague, Rotenstreich, Stanaland, Fox & Holt, PLLC, by
Stephen G. Teague, for Defendant-Appellees.
property owners were damaged by the intentional acts of minor
children, the parents cannot be held liable if they did not
know or should not have known of the necessity for exercising
such control. The minors' "sneaking out" and
resulting injury to personal property could not have been
prevented by the exercise of reasonable care by the parents.
Summary judgment is proper in favor of defendants when
plaintiffs can show no genuine issue of material fact to
support their claims that the parents were negligent or in
breach of duty to supervise their minor children.
Properties, LLC ("Plaintiff") sued in Guilford
County Superior Court on claims of negligence, breach of
parent's, guardian's, and/or responsible adult's
duty to supervise minor children, trespass to real and
personal property, private nuisance, parental strict
liability for destruction of property by minors, and punitive
damages against the above named Defendants. The trial court
granted a motion for partial summary judgment for Sabahetha
Selak and Delisa Sparks ("Defendants") dismissing
the claims of negligence, breach of parent's,
guardians's and/or responsible adult's duty to
supervise minor children, trespass to real and personal
property, private nuisance, and punitive
damages. Defendants did not move for summary
judgment as to the complaint of parental strict liability for
destruction of property by minors. After a bench trial,
judgment was entered against Defendants in favor of Plaintiff
on 26 August 2016 for $6, 0000 each. On appeal, Plaintiff
argues that genuine issues of material facts as to its claims
of negligence and failure to supervise minor children exist
relative to Defendants, and thus partial summary judgment was
not appropriate. We affirm the trial court's order,
concluding that there were no genuine issues of material fact
existing relative to Defendants, and thus partial summary
judgment by the trial court was appropriate.
three separate occasions between 5 to 21 November 2010,
Defendants Javeno Holland, Justin LaShawn Williams, Matej
Selak, and Jeremy Tucker broke into and vandalized four
neighborhood properties owned by Plaintiff. At the time of
the vandalisms, Defendants Matej Selak and Jeremy Tucker were
both juveniles and lived with their mothers, Sabahetha Selak
and Delisa L. Sparks, respectively. Defendants Matej Selak
and Jeremy Tucker testified that, on each occasion of
vandalism, they had "snuck out" of the Defendant
Delisa Sparks's residence.
testified that they had no prior knowledge of their sons
sneaking out of the Sparks's residence. Although Matej
Selak and Jeremy Tucker both admitted to trying marijuana
once, both parents also testified that they did not know of
their respective sons using marijuana prior to 2010. Both
parents kept reasonable rules concerning their children's
curfew and behavior. Matej Selak admitted that he had snuck
out of his mother's house on two occasions. Jeremy Tucker
testified that he too had snuck out of his mother's house
"once or maybe twice." Both Matej Selak and Jeremy
Tucker testified that they had not previously engaged in
vandalism or acts of property damage.
Defendant Javeno Holland testified that he had heard that
Matej Selak had been involved in "something about him
messing up [a] football field", and that Jeremy Tucker
had been involved previously in an act of vandalism with
Jeremy's uncle, although he could provide no details for
either claim or vouch for whether or not they were true.
standard of review of an appeal from summary judgment is de
novo[.]" In re Will of Jones, 362 N.C. 569,
573, 669 S.E.2d 572, 576 (2008) (citation omitted). Summary
judgment is appropriately granted if the movant can prove
that "the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that any party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law." N.C. G.S § 1A-1, Rule
56 (2015); In re Estate of Redding v. Welborn, 170
N.C.App. 324, 329-30, 612 S.E.2d 664, 668 (2005). The movant
may meet its burden "(1) by showing an essential element
of the opposing party's claim is nonexistent or cannot be
proven, or (2) by showing through discovery that the opposing
party cannot produce evidence to support an essential element
of his or her claim." Belcher v. Fleetwood Enters.,
Inc., 162 N.C.App. 80, 84, 590 S.E.2d 15, 18 (2004).
Upon production of evidence supporting the motion for summary
judgment, the burden then shifts to the non-movant to produce
evidence of a prima facie case at trial. Welborn,
170 N.C.App. At 329, 612 S.E.2d at 668. Here, Plaintiff
failed to meet its burden on the elements of its claims for
negligence and breach of parent's, guardians's,
and/or responsible adult's duty to supervise minor
children by failing to produce any admissible evidence of a
prima facie case at trial.
correct rule is that the parent of an unemancipated child may
be held liable in damages for failing to exercise reasonable
control over the child's behavior if the parent had
the ability and the opportunity to control the child and knew
or should have known of the necessity for exercising such
control." Moore v. ...