Raleigh, N.C. — The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday agreed with a Wake County judge who tossed out a lawsuit by a woman who gave up twins for adoption and later abducted them.
The unanimous ruling essentially closes the door on Allison Quets' quest to re-establish visitation rights with the two children, who are now 4 years old.
Quets, who gave birth to the twins but wasn't their biological mother, took the children from their adoptive parents, Kevin and Denise Needham of Apex, following an approved visit in December 2006. Authorities apprehended Quets a week later in Ottawa, Ontario, and returned the twins to the Needhams.
Quets later pleaded guilty to a charge of international kidnapping and was placed on probation for five years and fined $15,000.
Despite the kidnapping conviction, Quets continued to fight the adoption, saying she was ill after suffering medical problems during her pregnancy and that she signed adoption papers under duress.
After Florida trial and appellate courts terminated Quets' parental rights, she pursued the case in Wake County. She maintained the adoption was contingent upon her "retaining a continuing and familiar role" in the lives of the children after the adoption was finalized and sought visitation rights.
District Judge Anne Salisbury dismissed her claims last year, ruling she couldn't seek visitation because her parental rights had been terminated. Salisbury also ordered Quets to pay the Needhams' legal fees.
The Court of Appeals agreed with Salisbury that the validity of the adoption had been decided by Florida courts, so Quets couldn't continue to argue the case in North Carolina. But the appellate judges reversed Salisbury's order that Quets pay the Needhams' legal fees.
"I think the court recognized both the novelty and difficulty of the issues raised by (Quets') complaint filing and addressed those issues thoughtfully, if adversely, to Allison," said her attorney, Mike Harrell. "I am, of course, thrilled that the Court of Appeals reversed the sanctions ruling against Allison."
Harrell said Quets could still pursue the case in Florida, where a judge has never ruled on the Needhams' request to set aside the adoption agreement because of the kidnapping.
Speaking on behalf of the Needhams, friend Kat Moncol said, "They are relieved and happy with the decision. They hate that it had to come to this."
A Florida appeals court previously upheld an order for Quets to pay $28,000 in legal fees the Needhams amassed in that state.
Deborah Sandlin, a Raleigh lawyer representing the couple, said they might file suit against Quets to recoup their $7,000 in legal fees in North Carolina.