RALEIGH — The N.C. Supreme Court has issued an order Wednesday dismissing the civil complaint between Gregory and Diane Nies and the town of Emerald Isle.
The court was scheduled Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, to hear an appeal of a 2014 ruling from Carteret County Superior Court Judge Jack Jenkins, who ruled in favor of Emerald Isle on the civil complaint over use of sandy beach property. The Nies appealed to the state Court of Appeals, but lost by unanimous vote. The N.C. Supreme Court agreed in April to take up the complaint.
The case became a matter of public interest due to the concern that the outcome might impact public use of beaches, public safety and beach nourishment projects. As a result, several other Carteret County municipalities, tourist interests and the state Coastal Resources Commission backed Emerald Isle on its case with amicus briefs – briefs submitted to a court by parties or organizations interested in an issue who wish to submit arguments in cases in which they’re not litigants – and with financial contributions to help pay Emerald Isle’s legal fees.
Brian Edes of Crossley, McIntosh, Collier, Hanley & Edes PLLC of Wilmington, lead attorney for Emerald Isle in the case, expressed his thanks to all the municipalities and agencies that gave their support.
“I’m very pleased the Court of Appeals’ decision will not be disturbed,” he said.
According to the N.C. Supreme Court’s docket sheet for the appeal, the appeal was dismissed “ex mero motu,” which Norwood Blanchard III, another attorney from Crossley, McIntosh, Collier, Hanley & Edes PLLC who worked with Mr. Edes on the case, means the court dismissed the appeal on its own motion, not by the request of either party.
“It means it (the case) is over in the North Carolina courts,” Mr. Blanchard said. “In theory, the plaintiffs could petition the U.S. Supreme Court. They’d have to file a petition there, because they don’t have an automatic appeal.”
Mr. Edes said he agreed with Mr. Blanchard, and that he hadn’t heard from the attorneys for the Nies on whether or not they intend to file such a petition. In an interview with News-Times staff, J. David Breemer, principal attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation of Sacramento, Calif., lead attorney for the Nies, said they will probably file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, but they will "take a few days to discuss it" before deciding.
"We're disappointed and the Nies are disappointed that this decision was made without an explanation (from the court)," Mr. Breemer said.
The Nies initially filed their complaint in Carteret County Civil Court in 2011. In the complaint, the Nieses alleged the town took property and cost them property value for a beachfront lot at 9099 Shipwreck Lane, when the town claimed eminent domain and created a perpetual and assignable easement and right-of-way for vehicles across part of the property there. The Nieses alleged the town took this property without compensation and sought over $3 million in compensation for the alleged damages.
In September, during the time the complaint was before the courts, the Nieses sold the property in question. However, their attorney said the selling of the property didn’t waive the claims they made against the town.
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-726-7081 ext. 206, email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.