After Major Trial Court Victory for Coastal Fisheries, Appellate Court Hears State’s Request for “Immunity” from Lawsuit

After Major Trial Court Victory for Coastal Fisheries, Appellate Court Hears State’s Request for “Immunity” from Lawsuit

A three-judge panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals heard arguments last week in the lawsuit brought by a group of 86 citizen plaintiffs and the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina to hold the State accountable for perpetuating the long-running, ongoing decline of North Carolina’s coastal fisheries.

Last summer, in a major victory for coastal fisheries, the trial court rejected all the State’s arguments and sided with the plaintiffs in a preliminary ruling that allowed the lawsuit to move forward. Last Tuesday, however, the State asked the Court of Appeals for “sovereign immunity” from the lawsuit, arguing that the State should not be held accountable and that it should not have to defend the case on the merits.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs and CCA NC pushed back forcefully, outlining how the State is fully accountable under North Carolina’s public trust doctrine and the North Carolina Constitution’s Fishing Rights Amendment, adding that no court in American history has ever done what the State is asking the Court of Appeals to do in this case. As explained by the plaintiffs’ legal team, the State’s request for absolute immunity amounts to an outdated argument that “the King can do no wrong,” in which case the public trust doctrine, which has protected coastal fisheries and other public trust resources for centuries, would be rendered meaningless.

The Court’s decision is expected sometime later this year.

CCA NC is firmly committed to the belief that all citizens-including conservation groups, public anglers, consumers, commercial fishermen, seafood dealers, and the recreational fishing industry-will benefit from working with the State and its agencies to make the long-term health and viability of North Carolina’s coastal fisheries a top priority.

To read more about the lawsuit and find out how you can help, please visit our website: Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina | CCA NC


Media contact:

Charles Upchurch

(919) 395-1588


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