March 20, 2013 South Carolina Court of Appeals published opinions

Simmons v Berkeley Electric Cooperatives, Inc.

Simmons sued for a declaration of rights and damages for utility use f his property. The master in equity found both utilities proved express and prescriptive easements. The panel affirmed n part, reversed in part and remanded. As to Berkeley, the panel held that it had an express easement to put up power lines, that the evidence submitted proved the lines had been in place and in plain view for over 20 years which both demonstrated the parties understanding of the scope of the easement and proved prescriptive use for eth statutory period. As to the other utility, the panel held that the master erred in finding an express easement as the county did not have power to grant such an easement. It also held that the undisputed evidence proved the water main was installed in 1978 under a mistaken claim of right and thus the utility had a prescriptive easement. However, the evidence was insufficient to determine if the branch lines to residences for water were also subject to a prescriptive easement and that issue was remanded for further proceedings.

State v Policao

Policao and three other defendants skipped bail. After notice and a hearing, the trial court ordered the full amount of their bail bonds estreated. The bail bond companies appealed the orders. The panel affirmed. It held that consistent with South Carolina Supreme Court precedent, the state had three years after the bench warrant for Policao or the other defendants had been issued and thirty days expired to bring the estreatment action. Here, all the actions were brought within the three year window and the actions were thus timely. The panel held the appellants’ laches argument unpreserved and in any event laches did not apply as there was no prejudice from delay and in fact the delay benefited from the delay as it provided more time to locate the defendants. It held an agreement that the trail court abused in discretion by not considering required factors before forfeiting the bonds were unpreserved and in any event failed on the merits as none of the bail bondsman knew where the defendants were, there was evidence several were out of the country and the bond money was necessary to engage in worldwide searches for them.

Judy v Judy

Appellant Judy transferred land in his name to his sons and treated the land as his own. When sued by Appellee Judy, the sons transferred the land to their mother. Appellee Judy sued to set aside both sets of transfers as violative of the Statute of Elizabeth. The trial court granted relief and the panel affirmed. It held the initial and subsequent transfers were morally fraudulent as they were done a few months before trials on claims against Appellant Judy and his sons and Appellant Judy continued to treat eh land as his own. Additionally, the burden of proof was on Appellant Judy to prove the validity of the free transfers within the family and, as he presented no evidence, he failed to meet this burden. The panel finally held that as there was no vexatious conduct aside from Appellant Judy’s fraudulent transfers, there was no basis to award attorney fees against him and that portion of the judgment was reversed.

Reeping v JEBBCO, LLC

Reeping sued to set aside a tax sale of their property in Orangeburg County. The trial court denied their request ruling Orangeburg County complied with the tax sale statutes and the statute of limitations had run. The panel reversed. It held teat Orangeburg County was on actual notice that the Reeping’s had a new address and since it failed to use that best address, the tax sale statutes were violated. The panel also held the statute of limitations had not run because the failure to give notice rendered the tax sale void and the two year limitations period did not apply.

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