Ha v. Nationwide

Erwin Byrd

NCAJ Member & Amicus Consultant

Erwin Byrd started working with NCAJ in January 2020. Her legal career began with a seven-year stint at Legal Aid of North Carolina, where she was a staff attorney for its statewide project, Advocates for Children’s Services. There, she represented children in matters involving special education, access to a constitutionally adequate education, school discipline and Medicaid. Byrd taught school discipline law as an adjunct at North Carolina Central University School of Law and clerked from 2017-2019 for Justice Samuel J. Ervin IV at the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

She is an avid reader, loves writing and enjoys researching all areas of law (with the possible exception of taxation and trusts and estates law). At NCAJ, she is the contracted amicus consultant, who writes and assists in the drafting and filing of amicus briefs in North Carolina state and federal appellate courts. This year, she is the president of her children’s elementary school PTA, and has found that’s about all the extracurricular work she can sustain. Byrd is a graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee in Tennessee and the University of North Carolina School of Law. She, her husband and their two children live in Durham and can often be found at a soccer field or in a lake or river.

Case Link View Now
Opinion Filed August 14, 2020
Attorney for the Case John Kirby
Amicus Brief Writers Erwin Byrd
Court NC Supreme Court
Docket No. 312A19

Plaintiffs, who had recently contracted and paid for homeowners’ insurance, lost their home to a fire.  The homeowners called their insurer, Nationwide, and were notified for the first time that their insurance policy had been cancelled two months prior.  At trial, Nationwide argued that mailing the cancellation notice via regular mail satisfied N.C.G.S. § 58-41-15(c), which requires the insurance company to “furnish” notice of cancellation of insurance policies in existence for sixty days or fewer.  The trial court agreed, but the Court of Appeals determined that the Legislature, with N.C.G.S. § 58-41-15(c), intended to require the insurance company to prove delivery, rather than mere mailing, of the cancellation notice.

The amicus brief states that Nationwide and its amicus could not argue for the first time before the Supreme Court that N.C.G.S.  § 58-41-15(c) does not apply to plaintiffs’ policy, particularly since that argument conflicts with defendant’s stance throughout the litigation.  The amicus brief also argued that the term “furnish” creates a higher standard of notification than regular mail, and that the statute should be read liberally in favor of coverage, in light of its purpose and the public policy in favor of notifying newly insureds that their homeowners’ policy will be cancelled.