by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A Map Act case involving property owners targeted by the official corridor map for Winston-Salem’s Northern Beltway will head back to a trial court, thanks to a split ruling today from the N.C. Supreme Court. The court’s majority ruled that a lawsuit from seven plaintiffs cannot be expanded to included more than 800 property owners targeted by the map.
The majority in the 5-2 case upheld a ruling from the trial court judge, later upheld by the N.C. Court of Appeals, that the property owners could not get “class certification” to allow the suit to apply to all property owners affected by the Northern Beltway map. But the Supreme Court majority vacated the Appeals Court’s ruling on the merits of the affected property owners’ claims against the N.C. Department of Transportation. A trial court will now hear those claims.
Justices Paul Newby and Mark Martin dissented in the case. They believe the trial court used the wrong legal analysis in rejecting “class certification.” They would have sent the case back to the trial court to address that issue, as well as the merits of the individual property owners’ case.