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Swint v. Doe

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

April 16, 2019

CHINA LASHAE SWINT, a minor child, by and through her Guardian ad Litem, SUSANNAH L. BROWN, Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN DOE, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF ARON JOHNSON, JR.; LYDIA WILLIAMS, TERRIE COVINGTON; VERDIE MAE DEGREE; SARAH JASCSON; SELMA PHILLIPS; KATIE SARRATT; and DEEGEE HERNDON, Defendants.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 27 February 2019.

          Appeal by Defendants from order entered 8 June 2018 by Judge Nathaniel J. Poovey in Catawba County Superior Court No. 16 CVS 1469.

          Morgan Law, PLLC, by William E. Morgan, for Plaintiffs.

          The Law Firm of John C. Hensley, Jr. P.C., by Michael J. Greer, for Defendants.

          DILLON, JUDGE.

         Defendants Lydia Williams, Verdie Mae Degree, Sarah Jackson, Selma Phillips, and Katie Sarratt (the "Defendants") appeal from an order granting Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff China Swint, a minor child, commenced this action to establish that Aron Johnson, Jr., now deceased, was her father. Ms. Swint seeks to establish the paternity of Mr. Johnson in this action so that she can assert a right of inheritance in a pending special proceeding, docket number 15-E-734, regarding the administration of Mr. Johnson's estate.

         In December 2014, Mr. Johnson passed away, leaving no will. In 2015, within a year of Mr. Johnson's death, the special proceeding for the administration of his estate referenced above was commenced. Over the course of the next year, relatives of Mr. Johnson litigated issues concerning the proper administration of his estate.

         At the time of Mr. Johnson's death, Ms. Swint was an adolescent minor. In June 2016, Ms. Swint, through her guardian ad litem, commenced this present action seeking a judgment establishing Mr. Johnson's paternity and a declaration that she is, therefore, entitled to rights of inheritance under our Intestate Succession Act.

         Defendants, all relatives of Mr. Johnson, answered, denying Ms. Swint's paternity claim.

         Ms. Swint and one of the Defendants filed cross-motions for summary judgment. After a hearing on the matter, Ms. Swint's motion for summary judgment was granted and the Defendant's motion for summary judgment was denied. Defendants timely appealed.

         II. Analysis

         Defendants argue that the trial court erred in granting Ms. Swint's ...


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