Rule 54. Judgments.
(a) Definition. - A judgment is either interlocutory or the final determination of the rights of the parties.
(b) Judgment upon multiple claims or involving multiple parties. - When more than one claim for relief is presented in an action, whether as a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim, or when multiple parties are involved, the court may enter a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the claims or parties only if there is no just reason for delay and it is so determined in the judgment. Such judgment shall then be subject to review by appeal or as otherwise provided by these rules or other statutes. In the absence of entry of such a final judgment, any order or other form of decision, however designated, which adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties shall not terminate the action as to any of the claims or parties and shall not then be subject to review either by appeal or otherwise except as expressly provided by these rules or other statutes. Similarly, in the absence of entry of such a final judgment, any order or other form of decision is subject to revision at any time before the entry of judgment adjudicating all the claims and the rights and liabilities of all the parties.
(c) Demand for judgment. - A judgment by default shall not be different in kind from or exceed in amount that prayed for in the demand for judgment. Except as to a party against whom a judgment is entered by default, every final judgment shall grant the relief to which the party in whose favor it is rendered is entitled, even if the party has not demanded such relief in his pleadings. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)
Rule 55. Default.
(a) Entry. - When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or is otherwise subject to default judgment as provided by these rules or by statute and that fact is made to appear by affidavit, motion of attorney for the plaintiff, or otherwise, the clerk shall enter his default.
(b) Judgment. - Judgment by default may be entered as follows:
(1) By the Clerk. - When the plaintiff's claim against a defendant is for a sum certain or for a sum which can by computation be made certain, the clerk upon request of the plaintiff and upon affidavit of the amount due shall enter judgment for that amount and costs against the defendant, if the defendant has been defaulted for failure to appear and if the defendant is not an infant or incompetent person. A verified pleading may be used in lieu of an affidavit when the pleading contains information sufficient to determine or compute the sum certain.
In all cases wherein, pursuant to this rule, the clerk enters judgment by default upon a claim for debt which is secured by any pledge, mortgage, deed of trust or other contractual security in respect of which foreclosure may be had, or upon a claim to enforce a lien for unpaid taxes or assessments under G.S. 105-414, the clerk may likewise make all further orders required to consummate foreclosure in accordance with the procedure provided in Article 29A of Chapter 1 of the General Statutes, entitled "Judicial Sales."
(2) By the Judge. -
a. In all other cases the party entitled to a judgment by default shall apply to the judge therefor; but no judgment by default shall be entered against an infant or incompetent person unless represented in the action by a guardian ad litem or other such representative who has appeared therein. If the party against whom judgment by default is sought has appeared in the action, that party (or, if appearing by representative, the representative) shall be served with written notice of the application for judgment at least three days prior to the hearing on such application. If, in order to enable the judge to enter judgment or to carry it into effect, it is necessary to take an account or to determine the amount of damages or to establish the truth of any averment by evidence or to take an investigation of any other matter, the judge may conduct such hearings or order such references as the judge deems necessary and proper and shall accord a right of trial by jury to the parties when and as required by the Constitution or by any statute of North Carolina. If the plaintiff seeks to establish paternity under Article 3 of Chapter 49 of the General Statutes and the defendant fails to appear, the judge shall enter judgment by default.
b. A motion for judgment by default may be decided by the court without a hearing if:
1. The motion specifically provides that the court will decide the motion for judgment by default without a hearing if the party against whom judgment is sought fails to serve a written response, stating the grounds for opposing the motion, within 30 days of service of the motion; and
2. The party against whom judgment is sought fails to serve the response in accordance with this sub-subdivision.
(c) Service by publication. - When service of the summons has been made by published notice, no judgment shall be entered on default until the plaintiff shall have filed a bond, approved by the court, conditioned to abide such order as the court may make touching the restitution of any property collected or obtained by virtue of the judgment in case a defense is thereafter permitted and sustained; provided, that in actions involving the title to real estate or to foreclose mortgages thereon or in actions in which the State of North Carolina or a county or municipality thereof is the plaintiff such bond shall not be required.
(d) Setting aside default. - For good cause shown the court may set aside an entry of default, and, if a judgment by default has been entered, the judge may set it aside in accordance with Rule 60(b).
(e) Plaintiffs, counterclaimants, cross claimants. - The provisions of this rule apply whether the party entitled to the judgment by default is a plaintiff, a third-party plaintiff, or a party who has pleaded a crossclaim or counterclaim. In all cases a judgment by default is subject to the limitations of Rule 54(c).
(f) Judgment against the State of North Carolina. - No judgment by default shall be entered against the State of North Carolina or an officer in his official capacity or agency thereof unless the claimant establishes his claim or right to relief by evidence. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1971, cc. 542, 1101; 1977, c. 675; 1991, c. 278, s. 1; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 733, s. 3; 1999-187, s. 1.)
Rule 56. Summary judgment.
(a) For claimant. - A party seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or crossclaim or to obtain a declaratory judgment may, at any time after the expiration of 30 days from the commencement of the action or after service of a motion for summary judgment by the adverse party, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part thereof.
(b) For defending party. - A party against whom a claim, counterclaim, or crossclaim is asserted or a declaratory judgment is sought, may, at any time, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in his favor as to all or any part thereof.
(c) Motion and proceedings thereon. - The motion shall be served at least 10 days before the time fixed for the hearing. The adverse party may serve opposing affidavits at least two days before the hearing. If the opposing affidavit is not served on the other parties at least two days before the hearing on the motion, the court may continue the matter for a reasonable period to allow the responding party to prepare a response, proceed with the matter without considering the untimely served affidavit, or take such other action as the ends of justice require. For the purpose of this two-day requirement only, service shall mean personal delivery, facsimile transmission, or other means such that the party actually receives the affidavit within the required time.
The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that any party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be rendered on the issue of liability alone although there is genuine issue as to the amount of damages. Summary judgment, when appropriate, may be rendered against the moving party.
(d) Case not fully adjudicated on motion. - If on motion under this rule judgment is not rendered upon the whole case or for all the relief asked and a trial is necessary, the court at the hearing of the motion, by examining the pleadings and the evidence before it and by interrogating counsel, shall if practicable ascertain what material facts exist without substantial controversy and what material facts are actually and in good faith controverted. It shall thereupon make an order specifying the facts that appear without substantial controversy, including the extent to which the amount of damages or other relief is not in controversy, and directing such further proceedings in the action as are just. Upon the trial of the action the facts so specified shall be deemed established.
(e) Form of affidavits; further testimony; defense required. - Supporting and opposing affidavits shall be made on personal knowledge, shall set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated therein. Sworn or certified copies of all papers or parts thereof referred to in an affidavit shall be attached thereto or served therewith. The court may permit affidavits to be supplemented or opposed by depositions, answers to interrogatories, or further affidavits. When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in this rule, an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but his response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If he does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against him.
(f) When affidavits are unavailable. - Should it appear from the affidavits of a party opposing the motion that he cannot for reasons stated present by affidavit facts essential to justify his opposition, the court may refuse the application for judgment or may order a continuance to permit affidavits to be obtained or depositions to be taken or discovery to be had or may make such other order as is just.
(g) Affidavits made in bad faith. - Should it appear to the satisfaction of the court at any time that any of the affidavits presented pursuant to this rule are presented in bad faith or solely for the purpose of delay, the court shall forthwith order the party employing them to pay to the other party the amount of the reasonable expenses which the filing of the affidavits caused him to incur, including reasonable attorney's fees. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2000-127, s. 6.)
Rule 57. Declaratory judgments.
The procedure for obtaining a declaratory judgment pursuant to Article 26, Chapter 1, General Statutes of North Carolina, shall be in accordance with these rules, and the right to trial by jury may be demanded under the circumstances and in the manner provided in Rules 38 and 39. The existence of another adequate remedy does not preclude a judgment for declaratory relief in cases where it is appropriate. The court may order a prompt hearing of an action for a declaratory judgment and may advance it on the calendar. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)
Rule 58. Entry of judgment.
Subject to the provisions of Rule 54(b), a judgment is entered when it is reduced to writing, signed by the judge, and filed with the clerk of court pursuant to Rule 5. The party designated by the judge or, if the judge does not otherwise designate, the party who prepares the judgment, shall serve a copy of the judgment upon all other parties within three days after the judgment is entered. Service and proof of service shall be in accordance with Rule 5. If service is by mail, three days shall be added to the time periods prescribed by Rule 50(b), Rule 52(b), and Rule 59. All time periods within which a party may further act pursuant to Rule 50(b), Rule 52(b), or Rule 59 shall be tolled for the duration of any period of noncompliance with this service requirement, provided however that no time period under Rule 50(b), Rule 52(b), or Rule 59 shall be tolled longer than 90 days from the date the judgment is entered. Subject to the provisions of Rule 7(b)(4), consent for the signing and entry of a judgment out of term, session, county, and district shall be deemed to have been given unless an express objection to such action was made on the record prior to the end of the term or session at which the matter was heard.
Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, any judgment entered by a magistrate in a small claims action pursuant to Article 19 of Chapter 7A shall be entered in accordance with this Rule except judgments announced and signed in open court at the conclusion of a trial are considered to be served on the parties, and copies of any judgment not announced and signed in open court at the conclusion of a trial shall be served by the magistrate on all parties in accordance with this Rule, within three days after the judgment is entered. If service is by mail, three days shall be added to the time periods prescribed by G.S. 7A-228. All time periods within which a party may further act pursuant to G.S. 7A-228 shall be tolled for the duration of any period of noncompliance of this service requirement, provided that no time period shall be tolled longer than 90 days from the date judgment is entered. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 594, s. 1; 2005-163, s. 2; 2017-158, s. 2.)
Rule 59. New trials; amendment of judgments.
(a) Grounds. - A new trial may be granted to all or any of the parties and on all or part of the issues for any of the following causes or grounds:
(1) Any irregularity by which any party was prevented from having a fair trial;
(2) Misconduct of the jury or prevailing party;
(3) Accident or surprise which ordinary prudence could not have guarded against;
(4) Newly discovered evidence material for the party making the motion which he could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced at the trial;
(5) Manifest disregard by the jury of the instructions of the court;
(6) Excessive or inadequate damages appearing to have been given under the influence of passion or prejudice;
(7) Insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict or that the verdict is contrary to law;
(8) Error in law occurring at the trial and objected to by the party making the motion, or
(9) Any other reason heretofore recognized as grounds for new trial.
On a motion for a new trial in an action tried without a jury, the court may open the judgment if one has been entered, take additional testimony, amend findings of fact and conclusions of law or make new findings and conclusions, and direct the entry of a new judgment.
(b) Time for motion. - A motion for a new trial shall be served not later than 10 days after entry of the judgment.
(c) Time for serving affidavits. - When a motion for new trial is based upon affidavits they shall be served with the motion. The opposing party has 10 days after such service within which to serve opposing affidavits, which period may be extended for an additional period not exceeding 30 days either by the court for good cause shown or by the parties by written stipulation. The court may permit reply affidavits.
(d) On initiative of court. - Not later than 10 days after entry of judgment the court of its own initiative, on notice to the parties and hearing, may order a new trial for any reason for which it might have granted a new trial on motion of a party, and in the order shall specify the grounds therefor.
(e) Motion to alter or amend a judgment. - A motion to alter or amend the judgment under section (a) of this rule shall be served not later than 10 days after entry of the judgment. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2014-115, s. 1.)
Rule 60. Relief from judgment or order.
(a) Clerical mistakes. - Clerical mistakes in judgments, orders or other parts of the record and errors therein arising from oversight or omission may be corrected by the judge at any time on his own initiative or on the motion of any party and after such notice, if any, as the judge orders. During the pendency of an appeal, such mistakes may be so corrected before the appeal is docketed in the appellate division, and thereafter while the appeal is pending may be so corrected with leave of the appellate division.
(b) Mistakes; inadvertence; excusable neglect; newly discovered evidence; fraud, etc. - On motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or his legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:
(1) Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) Newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);
(3) Fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party;
(4) The judgment is void;
(5) The judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged, or a prior judgment upon which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application; or
(6) Any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.
The motion shall be made within a reasonable time, and for reasons (1), (2) and (3) not more than one year after the judgment, order, or proceeding was entered or taken. A motion under this section does not affect the finality of a judgment or suspend its operation. This rule does not limit the power of a court to entertain an independent action to relieve a party from a judgment, order, or proceeding, or to set aside a judgment for fraud upon the court. The procedure for obtaining any relief from a judgment, order, or proceeding shall be by motion as prescribed in these rules or by an independent action.
(c) Judgments rendered by the clerk. - The clerk may, in respect of judgments rendered by himself, exercise the same powers authorized in sections (a) and (b). The judge has like powers in respect of such judgments. Where such powers are exercised by the clerk, appeals may be had to the judge in the manner provided by law. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)
Rule 61. Harmless error.
No error in either the admission or exclusion of evidence and no error or defect in any ruling or order or in anything done or omitted by any of the parties is ground for granting a new trial or for setting aside a verdict or for vacating, modifying, or otherwise disturbing a judgment or order, unless refusal to take such action amounts to the denial of a substantial right. (1967, c. 954, s. 1.)
Rule 62. Stay of proceedings to enforce a judgment.
(a) Automatic stay; exceptions - Injunctions and receiverships. - Except as otherwise stated herein, no execution shall issue upon a judgment nor shall proceedings be taken for its enforcement until the expiration of the time provided in the controlling statute or rule of appellate procedure for giving notice of appeal from the judgment. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, an interlocutory or final judgment in an action for an injunction or in a receivership action shall not be stayed during the period after its entry and until an appeal is taken or during the pendency of an appeal. The provisions of section (c) govern the suspending, modifying, restoring, or granting of an injunction during the pendency of an appeal.
(b) Stay on motion for new trial or for judgment. - In its discretion and on such conditions for the security of the adverse party as are proper, the court may stay the execution of or any proceedings to enforce a judgment pending the disposition of a motion for a new trial or to alter or amend a judgment made pursuant to Rule 59, or of a motion for relief from a judgment or order made pursuant to Rule 60, or of a motion for judgment made pursuant to Rule 50, or of a motion for amendment to the findings or for additional findings made pursuant to Rule 52(b). If the time provided in the controlling statute or rule of appellate procedure for giving notice of appeal from the judgment had not expired before a stay under this subsection was entered, that time shall begin to run immediately upon the expiration of any stay under this section, and no execution shall issue nor shall proceedings be taken for enforcement of the judgment until the expiration of that time.
(c) Injunction pending appeal. - When an appeal is taken from an interlocutory or final judgment granting, dissolving, or denying an injunction, the court in its discretion may suspend, modify, restore, or grant an injunction during the pendency of the appeal upon such terms as to bond or otherwise as it considers proper for the security of the rights of the adverse party.
(d) Stay upon appeal. - When an appeal is taken, the appellant may obtain a stay of execution, subject to the exceptions contained in section (a), by proceeding in accordance with and subject to the conditions of G.S. 1-289, G.S. 1-290, G.S. 1-291, G.S. 1-292, G.S. 1-293, G.S. 1-294, and G.S. 1-295.
When stay is had by giving supersedeas bond, the bond may be given at or after the time of filing the notice of appeal or of procuring the order allowing the appeal as the case may be, and stay is then effective when the supersedeas bond is approved by the court.
(e) Stay in favor of North Carolina, city, county, local board of education, or agency thereof. - When an appeal is taken by the State of North Carolina, or a city or a county thereof, a local board of education, or an officer in his official capacity or agency thereof or by direction of any department or agency of the State of North Carolina or a city or county thereof or a local board of education and the operation or enforcement of the judgment is stayed, no bond, obligation, or other security shall be required from the appellant.
(f) Power of appellate court not limited. - The provisions of this rule do not limit any power of an appellate court or of a judge or justice thereof to stay proceedings during the pendency of an appeal or to suspend, modify, restore, or grant an injunction during the pendency of an appeal or to make any order appropriate to preserve the status quo or the effectiveness of the judgment subsequently to be entered.
(g) Stay of judgment as to multiple claims or multiple parties. - When a court has ordered a final judgment under the conditions stated in Rule 54(b), the court may stay enforcement of that judgment until the entering of a subsequent judgment or judgments and may prescribe such conditions as are necessary to secure the benefit thereof to the party in whose favor the judgment is entered.
(h) Right to immediate interlocutory appeal of order granting or denying injunctive relief in as-applied constitutional challenge. - Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a party shall have the right of immediate appeal (i) from an adverse ruling by a trial court granting or denying interlocutory, temporary, or permanent injunctive or declaratory relief restraining the State or a political subdivision of the State from enforcing the operation or execution of an act of the General Assembly as applied against a party in a civil action or (ii) from an adverse ruling by a trial court denying a motion to stay an injunction restraining the State or a political subdivision of the State from enforcing the operation or execution of an act of the General Assembly as applied against a party in a civil action. This subsection only applies where the State or a political subdivision of the State is a party in the civil action. This subsection does not apply to facial challenges heard by a three-judge panel pursuant to G.S. 1-267.1. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 1973, c. 91; 1979, c. 820, s. 10; 1987, c. 462, s. 1; 1989, c. 377, ss. 3, 4; 2014-100, s. 18B.16(d).)
Rule 63. Disability of a judge.
If by reason of death, sickness or other disability, resignation, retirement, expiration of term, removal from office, or other reason, a judge before whom an action has been tried or a hearing has been held is unable to perform the duties to be performed by the court under these rules after a verdict is returned or a trial or hearing is otherwise concluded, then those duties, including entry of judgment, may be performed:
(1) In actions in the superior court by the judge senior in point of continuous service on the superior court regularly holding the courts of the district. If this judge is under a disability, then the resident judge of the district senior in point of service on the superior court may perform those duties. If a resident judge, while holding court in the judge's own district suffers disability and there is no other resident judge of the district, such duties may be performed by a judge of the superior court designated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
(2) In actions in the district court, by the chief judge of the district, or if the chief judge is disabled, by any judge of the district court designated by the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
If the substituted judge is satisfied that he or she cannot perform those duties because the judge did not preside at the trial or hearing or for any other reason, the judge may, in the judge's discretion, grant a new trial or hearing. (1967, c. 954, s. 1; 2001-379, s. 7.)