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Torts Keyed to Underwood
Hodges v. Carter
Citation:80 S.E.2d 144 (N.C. 1954)
The plaintiff owned a drugstore. One day, the plaintiff’s store was destroyed by a fire. At the time, the plaintiff was insured under four policies of fire insurance against loss of or damage to, said mercantile building and its contents. The plaintiff filed proof of loss with each of the four insurance companies which issued said policies. The insurance companies rejected the proofs of loss an declined to pay any part of the plaintiff’s losses resulting from said fire. The plaintiff later hired the defendant lawyers to institute legal actions against these insurers. The complaints and summons together with copies thereof, were mailed to the Commissioner of Insurance of the State of North Carolina. The Commissioner accepted service of summons and complaint in each case and forwarded a copy thereof by registered mail to the insurance company named defendant therein.
Each insurer moved to dismiss the action against it for want of proper service of process, arguing that the Insurance Commissioner was without authority, statutory or otherwise, to accept service of process issued against a foreign insurance company doing business in this state. The trial judge concluded that the service of process was sufficient. Judgment was entered in favor of the plaintiff. However, the insurance companies appealed. The North Carolina Supreme Court reversed holding that the service of process was deficient. By the time of this Supreme Court decision, the applicable statute of limitations had run. Therefore, the plaintiff could not bring a new claim against the insurers.
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