State Appeals Court Says Wrongful Death Suit Against City Of Fayetteville Can Continue

On August 4, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that a wrongful death suit against the city of Fayetteville over a student at Terry Sanford High School who died of the personal injuries he suffered when he drowned in a flooded ditch can continue.

According to the appellate court’s ruling, the government is not free from liability in operating a storm drain.

In the suit in question, the relatives of Jesse Marquil King filed suit against the city of Fayetteville after King, who was a rising senior at Terry Sanford High School, fell into a flooded ditch near Spruce Street and drowned during a heavy rainstorm in August 2005.

Court documents say that after becoming stuck in a drainage pipe that had been clogged with a tree branch, King was pulled beneath the water and drowned.

King’s family filed suit against the city two years after the fatal incident, alleging negligence in maintenance of the drain system.

The three-judge panel reached a unanimous conclusion that state law does not provide immunity for the operation of storm drains because it is not a governmental activity. The ruling upheld the prevision decision made by the trial court judge.

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