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Municipal – Real Property – Easements – Governmental Immunity – Insurance

Municipal – Real Property – Easements – Governmental Immunity – Insurance

Plaintiffs have an easement over a gravel road on a servient tract; the new owner of the servient tract developed that tract, built a road that crosses the gravel road, and offered the road to the defendant-town for dedication. The town has not accepted the dedication, but plaintiffs included the town as a defendant in their action against the new owner, which action asserts claims for declaratory judgment, substantial interference with easement, violation of easement, private nuisance, trespass and permanent injunction. Because road dedication is a governmental function, and because the town’s insurance policy preserves governmental immunity, the trial court correctly found that the town was immune from suit.

We affirm the trial court’s grant of the town’s motion to dismiss on grounds of governmental immunity. Otherwise, this appeal is dismissed as interlocutory.

Plaintiffs are not entitled to an immediate appeal under Corum v. Univ. of N.C., 330 N.C. 761, 413 S.E.2d 276 (1992), or Sandhill Amusements, Inc. v. Sheriff of Onslow Cnty., 236 N.C. App. 340, 762 S.E.2d 666 (2014), rev’d per curiam for the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion, 368 N.C. 91, 773 S.E.2d 55 (2015). Here, unlike Corum, plaintiffs’ claim for declaratory relief is not “a direct cause of action under the State Constitution for alleged violations of” their individual rights. Nor is this case like Sandhill Amusements, where this court conducted a narrow, fact specific inquiry, and determined that a declaratory judgment was the only way plaintiffs could dispute the state’s directives, “which effectively barred any future sale and current placement of their kiosks [(allegedly illegal video sweepstakes machines)].”

Craig v. Town of Huntersville (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-091-23, 23 pp.) (Fred Gore, J.) Appealed from Mecklenburg County Superior Court (Lisa Bell, J.) David William Murray for plaintiffs; David Carson, Kathleen Burchette, Patrick Flanagan, Steven Bader, Henrietta Golding and Brooke Watson for defendants. North Carolina Court of Appeals (unpublished)

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