Brooks Pierce Files Potential Class Action Suit Regarding the Constitutionality of the Doctrine of Necessaries


Brooks Pierce attorneys Bob King, Dan Smith, and Elizabeth Troutman recently filed a lawsuit in Guilford County Superior Court on behalf of plaintiff Annah Awartani challenging the constitutionality of the Doctrine of Necessaries. The Doctrine is a common law rule that makes one spouse automatically liable for the other spouse’s “necessary” medical expenses. However, the North Carolina Constitution specifically says that a wife “may not be liable for any debts, obligation, or engagements of her husband.”

The case, which was filed in late January, alleges that after her husband’s death Awartani discovered that Moses Cone Hospital had sued her and obtained judgments against her for her husband’s medical expenses. The judgments, which total tens of thousands of dollars, resulted in a lien on Awartani’s home and impaired her credit. The suit asks that the Court strike down the Doctrine of Necessaries as conflicting with Article X, Section 4 of the North Carolina Constitution. 

The Complaint also asks the Court to certify the claims as a class action on behalf of wives across North Carolina that have had judgments entered against them solely due to the Doctrine of Necessaries. The suit asks that any monies paid by the class members under the Doctrine be returned, with interest. 

The Greensboro News & Record has covered the suit and its potential implications. That article can be seen here.

The Complaint can be seen by clicking the link below. 

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