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North Carolina: Subject Matter Jurisdiction Can Be Raised at Any Time

August 15, 2018 (1 min read)

A challenge to a court’s jurisdiction can be offered at any time, held a North Carolina appellate court. Accordingly, in a wrongful death action filed by the administratrix of a young woman’s estate against the deceased’s employer, that employer could contest the court’s ability to hear the case, even after the trial court entered a default judgment against the defendants for more than $2 million. Moreover, because subject-matter jurisdiction is a legal matter independent of parties' conduct, the doctrines of equitable estoppel or laches provided no basis for the trial court to refuse to resolve the jurisdictional challenge. Here, the trial court concluded that the defendant was equitably estopped from defensively raising the exclusivity provision of the state’s Workers' Compensation Act based on his prior contrary extrajudicial statement that the deceased was not his employee but rather an independent contractor. The defendant’s conduct was irrelevant.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law(LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Burgess v. Smith, 2018 N.C. App. LEXIS 753(Aug. 7, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 100.01.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law