May 27, 2024

What is a motion for judgment on the pleadings in North Carolina?

If you find yourself in a civil lawsuit here in North Carolina, you’re likely preparing yourself for a long road ahead. But this is not always the case, and under the right conditions the case may be resolved quickly by a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the Rules of Civil Procedure.  

What Exactly is a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings?  

In any North Carolina civil lawsuit the parties submit pleadings stating their factual allegations and legal contentions. This is usually the “complaint” for plaintiffs and the “answer” for defendants. A motion for judgment on the pleadings asserts that based upon the parties’ respective pleadings, the moving party is entitled to judgment (i.e., win the case) without any further proceedings. 

Here’s a Wake County example: Alan slips on a grape in the produce section of a Cary Food Lion. He sues the grocery store for negligence related to failing to clean up debris from the floor. But, Alan forgets to include any allegation that he suffered any injury as a result of the slip and fall. Food Lion could respond, admit every allegation in Alan’s complaint, but still move for Judgment on the Pleadings because Alan did not suffer any injuries! 

Plaintiffs can also move for judgment on the pleadings, although this is rarer—basically contending that based upon the defense’s answer, the Plaintiff is entitled to win the case without further litigation.  

Why This Matters  

Hopefully you now understand the basic premise here—get a court to reach an early decision before starting discovery proceedings. In fact, discovery is usually the most expensive and time-sucking phase of lawsuits. It involves lots of back-and-forth document productions, long depositions, and tricky procedural wrangling. An early determination of the case can avoid those costs.  

This information is provided by Harris Legal for general benefit, education, and interest. If you have a specific legal question, you should consult with an attorney.