This week, I published a post on this blog in which I suggested that a case involving $5 million in controversy could be designated to the Business Court without the Court having to analyze the nature of the claims before it to see if they met any of the bases for mandatory jurisdiction contained in G.S. §7A-45.4.
That was wrong, and it provoked a torrent of controversy directed to me. Well, probably not a torrent to you, but a torrent to me: an email and a phone call from Business Court Chief Judge Gale and an email from an eminent attorney friend in Raleigh. I'm glad that Judge Gale looks at my blog (I think that Judge Bledsoe, Judge McGuire, and Judge Robinson look at it too), but I'm unhappy that I might have said anything on this blog that generated a phone call from Judge Gale and which could have steered anyone in the wrong direction.
Let me start by saying that you shouldn't rely on my blog for legal advice or its accuracy. There is a disclaimer buried somewhere in this blog which says exactly that.
Notwithstanding that disclaimer, I'm pretty serious about getting it right with this blog. So let's look at the part of the statute governing designations to the Business Court which I didn't describe correctly on Monday: G.S. §7A-45.4(b)(2). It says:
An action described in subdivision (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), or (8) of subsection (a) of this section in which the amount in controversy computed in accordance with G.S. 7A-243 is at least five million dollars ($5,000,000) shall be designated as a mandatory complex business case by the party whose pleading caused the amount in controversy to equal or exceed five million dollars ($5,000,000).
So the statute is pretty clear that an amount in controversy of more than $5 million, standing alone, isn't enough to make a case mandatory for designation to the Business Court.
The case still has to fall within the grounds set forth in G.S. Section 7A-45.4(a)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), or (8). So when I suggested in my last post that Judge Gale didn't have to analyze whether the Complaint in Southeastern Automotive, Inc. v. Genuine Parts Co. 2016 NCBC 61 qualified as an intellectual property case because more than $5 million was in controversy, I was not right.