Lawsuit against Stevens limps forward

By Terri Flagg -

DOBSON — The majority of William Neil Shelton’s lawsuit against defendants including Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-90, was thrown out this week.

For Shelton, it’s a win.

“I expected the whole thing to be dismissed,” he said. “There are parts of it moving forward. That’s a victory.”

Shelton filed suit against Stevens, Zachary Smith Brintle, the Stevens and Brintle Law Firm and Kim Hiatt Shelton in November 2015, seeking relief on a series of claims stemming from the lawyers’ alleged tactics when representing Kim Shelton, his ex-wife, in their divorce and custody battle.

Those claims include conversion, fraud, intentional and negligent representation, defamation, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, fraudulent misrepresentation, false imprisonment and unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Presiding Judge Lindsay Davis heard the defendants’ motions to dismiss the suit in the July term of Superior Court, and filed an order with his decisions this week.

An amended order was filed Thursday, that apparently included only a date change from the original.

The motions, one filed by Kim Shelton and another by “the law firm defendants,” as Davis wrote, were based on rule 12(b)(6), a state rule of civil procedure.

“In deciding such a motion the judge assumes that all the facts pled by the plaintiff are true and the only question then is whether, assuming the facts are true, the plaintiff has a valid legal claim against the defendant,” explained Erika Wilson, assistant professor of law, UNC School of Law.

“The success of a 12(b)(6) depends upon the type of case,” Wilson continued. “In fraud and civil rights cases for example, it’s much easier for defendants to prevail on a 12(b)(6) due to heightened pleading standards in those cases. In other cases, it’s not unusual for a plaintiff to survive.”

The only claims to survive the motion were a portion of the conversion claim against Kim Shelton, the claim of malicious prosecution against all the defendants and a portion of the claim for punitive damages.

The remaining claims were dismissed with prejudice, which bars the plaintiff from filing any later lawsuit on the same claim, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, third pocket edition.

Stevens said she was unable to comment on the pending lawsuit, and several attempts to contact her attorney, Chad Bomar, of Clemmons, were not immediately successful.

Shelton noted that he wrote the lawsuit himself and has so far handled the case without an attorney.

“I’d rather lose completely fighting than do nothing about it,” he said. “We’ll just keep on plugging along.”

By Terri Flagg

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

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