Women and Justice: Court: North Carolina Court of Appeals

Domestic Case Law

Elrod v. Elrod North Carolina Court of Appeals (2008)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Plaintiff and Defendant were married in 1998 but entered into a separation agreement in 2007.  Plaintiff and Defendant were living together.  They were discussing work that needed to be done around the house when defendant husband requested that the wife look at the door sweep.  The wife bent down to look and subsequently could not recall anything that took place until she woke up around 3:00 am and found herself in bed with a “terrible headache” and extreme nausea.  Defendant told her that she had had a seizure and had hit her head.  She went to the hospital.  The doctor found that her injuries were life-threatening and consistent with domestic violence, not with a seizure.  Her family members testified that at the hospital defendant acted nervous.  When her son insinuated to defendant that defendant caused the injuries, defendant responded “What man would walk away from three million dollars?”  Three days later plaintiff filed a complaint and motion for a domestic violence protective order.  The trial court entered the protective order, finding that defendant caused the plaintiff’s severe injuries.  Defendant appealed, arguing that the finding was “not supported by competent evidence” and “the findings did not support the conclusion that domestic violence had occurred.”  The appellate court noted that in North Carolina, domestic violence is “the commission of one or more of the following acts upon an aggrieved party or upon a minor child residing with or in the custody of the aggrieved party by a person with whom the aggrieved party has or has had a personal relationship, but does not include acts of self-defense: (1) Attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury.”  The court reviewed the evidence and found that it supported the trial court’s finding – the defendant’s testimony was “not plausible.”  



Gersch v. Fantasia North Carolina Court of Appeals (2007)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Plaintiff and defendant were engaged and had one child.  The trial court entered a protective order due to plaintiff’s allegation that defendant hit her during a visitation exchange.  Plaintiff had a visitation exchange of infant son with defendant at plaintiff’s parents’ house.  Plaintiff’s father carried their infant son towards his house.  Defendant allegedly punched and kicked plaintiff’s father.  When plaintiff tried to pull him away, he threw her into the railing.  The court found that the trial court’s finding was supported by competent evidence, and was not persuaded by defendant’s “assertion that the trial court improperly shifted the burden of proof onto defendant in determining that defendant committed an act of domestic violence.”  Because the trial court found that defendant did not “rebut plaintiff’s testimony that she received bruises on her left side as the result of being slung into the railing, . . . the trial court believed Ms. Gersch.”