July 10, 2013 South Carolina Supreme Court published opinion

Wachovia Bank, N.A. v Coffey

Coffey’s husband mortgaged property owned solely by Coffey without her knowledge and consent. Wachovia did not perform a title search. After husband’s death, Coffey refused to pay on the mortgage and Wachovia sued for foreclosure. The master in equity ruled Wachovia committed unauthorized practice of law and had unclean hands and granted judgment to Coffey. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Court, 3-2, affirmed as modified. The majority held that as husband had no interest in the real property, the mortgage was invalid and Wachovia had no interest to foreclose on. The majority rejected equitable relief as equity does not reach third parties who are made parties to an agreement through the fault of others. Justice Pleisonces, joined by Justice Hearn, dissented arguing that Wachovia sought relief under several theories and the case should be remanded for analysis. The dissent also expressed concern that this decision will bar equitable relief for parties who make a mistake which would impact equity law generally in South Carolina.

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