Tuesday, May 01, 2007, 2:09 PM

Multiple Sovereign Immunity Decisions Today

The Court of Appeals handed down multiple sovereign immunity decisions today, including this one and this one.

In one of the cases, a putative class action, the plaintiffs are individuals who have worked for state agencies under the classification of "temporary" employee for more than a year, and they allege they've been unlawfully denied the same benefits and privileges (leave, service credit, retirement benefits, and health insurance benefits) accorded to permanent employees of the State. The case reaffirms that sovereign immunity is not a defense to a claim brought directly under the NC Constitution or for a breach of contract claim (although sovereign immunity is not waived for an "implied contract" claim). The Court also held that sovereign immunity may not be waived by implication from the text of an administrative rule or regulation. On this issue the Court said: "If we were to hold, as plaintiffs request, that the Executive Branch's adoption of regulations bestowing rights on certain parties constitutes an implied waiver of sovereign immunity, we would in essence be allowing the Executive Branch to authorize suit against the State. To do so would be inconsistent with the well-established principle that '[i]t is for the General Assembly to determine when and under what circumstances the State may be sued.'"

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