Today, the North Carolina Court of Appeals said that it did not have the authority to adopt the "new" standard for consideration of a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion articulated last year by the United States Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, __ U.S. __, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007).
If Twombly is to become the law of North Carolina, that is now up to the North Carolina Supreme Court. Given the pace of appeals in North Carolina, it’s going to take a while to see whether that will happen.
The Court’s decision came in a rather bizarre case, Holleman v. Aiken, which was brought by a very enthusiastic fan of Clay Aiken, of American Idol fame. Plaintiff, the author of a book about Aiken’s life, claimed that Aiken and others had defamed her by saying that her book was not authorized by them and by refusing to endorse her book. Among other things, Plaintiff wanted an injunction requiring Aiken to endorse her book on his website, to write an endorsement for the back of the book, and to write an introduction to her book thanking her for writing it.
The Court affirmed the dismissal of virtually all of Plaintiff’s claims, including claims for libel per se and libel per quod, notwithstanding its refusal to adopt the Twombly standard. Judge Stroud, writing for the Court of Appeals, said that "our courts cannot be used to force celebrities or their family or friends into making endorsements for another person’s profit."