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University Statements

Statement on Proceedings

The following statement was provided to Law360 in response to a request for comment on Wednesday, June 26, 2024. 

In recent weeks, news media have reported about legal proceedings related to Poe Hall and individuals who want to conduct independent testing. To clarify, this refers to testing on behalf of specific individuals who are either litigants in actions against the university or have indicated an intent to pursue litigation against the university. Notwithstanding the litigation, the university continues to engage and consult with independent third parties, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and recently shared Geosyntec’s report publicly

The university respects the rights of individuals to pursue legal claims. NC State recognizes that others may be interested in conducting their own investigations of the environmental conditions in Poe Hall as part of a litigation claim. Litigation proceedings are subject to the rules of the courts, which outline how and when information to support those claims may be obtained. As a state agency, the university’s statutorily granted sovereign immunity impacts the forum and procedures for such claims.  

Some of the litigation — specifically, the university’s appeal in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the related petition currently pending in the North Carolina Supreme Court — involves identifying the correct rules and processes for parties to follow in order to pursue information.

The appeal and petition arise from one matter brought by a single petitioner. A trial court ordered presuit discovery in a process that NC State disputes is the proper process. NC State appealed this decision. In its order issued on June 5, the Court of Appeals granted NC State’s request to stay the trial court’s order for presuit discovery in part and denied the request in part. NC State then filed a petition requesting a stay of the trial court’s order with the North Carolina Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has granted a temporary stay of the trial court’s order pending its review of NC State’s petition.

Complying with discovery in litigation is one of many interests — including providing information to EPA and NIOSH and, now, making plans for remediation — that the university continues to balance since voluntarily closing Poe Hall last November. To this end, while the building remains closed to the public, the university has been in touch with law firms that previously reached out to explore a path forward to enter the building and conduct environmental testing (in accordance with all safety requirements) before remediation begins. It is important to emphasize that the university does not waive any of its legal arguments on appeal but is working to accommodate these firms to facilitate next steps with Poe Hall. 

We do not intend to comment further on the specifics of the appeal at this time. Please see the Petition for Writ of Supersedeas and Motion for Temporary Stay filed with the Supreme Court for additional information.