State of North Carolina Decides Not to Appeal Fisheries Management Lawsuit to North Carolina Supreme Court
Lawsuit will Proceed to Pre-Trial Discovery Phase
RALEIGH (Oct. 14, 2022) - The lawsuit brought by 86 citizen plaintiffs and the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina to hold the State accountable for mismanaging North Carolina's coastal fisheries will continue without an appeal to the North Carolina Supreme Court, it was confirmed on Tuesday.
In July 2021, a Wake County trial judge rejected the State's request for immunity from the lawsuit. The State appealed that decision, and on September 6 of this year, the North Carolina Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the decision, rejecting all of the State's arguments on appeal. As the Court of Appeals explained in its opinion (a copy of which can be found here), the State has "an affirmative duty . . . to preserve the people's right to fish and harvest fish," which includes a "duty to preserve fisheries for the benefit of the public" and a "duty to keep fisheries safe from injury, harm, or destruction for all time." On Tuesday, it was confirmed that the State of North Carolina will not appeal that decision further to the North Carolina Supreme Court, the state's highest court.
As a result, the case will be remanded back to the trial court, where the lawsuit will proceed to a pre-trial discovery phase where the plaintiffs have an opportunity to establish the merits of their claims-claims that CCA NC and the citizen coalition maintain are supported by overwhelming evidence, including the State's own data.
"We look forward to proving our case on the merits and ensuring that a legacy of sustainable coastal fisheries will be there for all our children and grandchildren," said CCA NC's Executive Director, David Sneed.