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Court of Appeals of North Carolina
January 12, 2000, Heard in the Court of Appeals ; March 7, 2000, Filed
[**841] [*752] HORTON, Judge.
At the time of the accident from which this litigation arose, the plaintiff had a valid policy of automobile liability insurance issued by Farm Bureau. In addition to providing plaintiff with liability [***5] coverage, the policy also provided her with uninsured motorist coverage. ] However, in order for an uninsured motorist carrier to be bound by a judgment against the uninsured motorist, the insurer must be "served with copy of summons, complaint or other process in the action against the uninsured motorist by registered or certified mail, return [*753] receipt requested, or in any manner provided by law . . . ." N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-279.21(b)(3)(a) (1999). Once the insurer is served, it "shall be a party to the action between the insured and the uninsured motorist though not named in the caption of the pleadings and may defend the suit in the name of the uninsured motorist or in its own name." Id.
Here, the accident in question occurred on 31 March 1995. Thus, the three-year statute of limitations applicable to automobile negligence actions ran on 31 March 1998. Prior to the expiration of the limitations period, plaintiff instituted an action to recover for her personal injuries against the allegedly negligent driver and owner of the uninsured vehicle with which she collided. A summons was properly issued and both individual defendants were personally served with the summons and complaint. [***6] The record does not, however, reveal any attempt by plaintiff to serve a copy of the original summons and complaint on Farm Bureau, her uninsured motorist carrier within the statutory time limit. Instead, a series of alias or pluries summonses were issued and directed to the named defendants. Plaintiff states in her brief to this Court that the additional summonses were issued "to keep the action alive [**842] and in the event it became necessary to serve the uninsured motorist (UM) carrier."
Eventually, on 14 August 1998, a summons was issued and directed to "H. Julian Philpott, Jr., Registered Agent for North Carolina Farm Bureau Agency," and delivered to Mr. Philpott by certified mail, return receipt requested, on 17 August 1998. As a result of that delivery, the unnamed defendant filed an answer but also pled the statute of limitations in bar and moved to dismiss for insufficiency of process. The affidavit filed by the litigation supervisor for the unnamed defendant states that North Carolina Farm Bureau Agency is not a subsidiary of, nor affiliated with, North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company. However, it does appear that H. Julian Philpott, Jr., serves as the registered [***7] agent for both entities. Process was first served on Mr. Philpott as registered agent for North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company on 10 December 1998.
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136 N.C. App. 750 *; 525 S.E.2d 839 **; 2000 N.C. App. LEXIS 154 ***
KENYA PAYLOR THOMAS, Plaintiff, v. OLANDO ELLIOT WASHINGTON and DARRELL A. CAMPBELL, Defendants.
Prior History: [***1] Appeal by plaintiff from summary judgment entered 22 January 1999 by Judge Sanford L. Steelman, Jr., in Guilford County Superior Court.
summons, uninsured motorist, insurer, carrier, mail, statute of limitations, registered, pluries, alias, three-year, summonses
Civil Procedure, Pleadings, Service of Process, General Overview, Insurance Law, Coverage, Uninsured Motorists, Contracts Law, Defenses, Affirmative Defenses, Statute of Limitations, Governments, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations, Motor Vehicle Insurance, Vehicle Ownership, Conditional Sales, Torts, Wrongful Death & Survival Actions, Procedural Matters, Commencement & Prosecution, Complaints, Proof of Service, Methods of Service, Mail, Service on Corporations