September 11, 2013 South Carolina Supreme Court published opinions

Henderson v Summerville Ford-Mercury, Inc.

Henderson won an arbitration award against Summerville. Summerville paid the award. Henderson then moved to confirm the award in state court. Summerville objected. The trail court confirmed the award and entered judgment. The Court affirmed. It held that state procedural law applied as the Federal Arbitration Act only preempts contrary substantive state law. It further held that the result would be the same under the Act and South Carolina Code 15-48-120 as each requires confirmation unless an award is vacated, modified or corrected none of which occurred here. The court also held that payment of an arbitral award does not moot or otherwise make a case nonjusticable. Rather, payment is a defense to execution on the judgment. As confirmation is a ministerial act mandated by 15-48-120, confirmation was proper. The Court noted that Summerville could have avoided a judgment entered on the public record by settling. Having chosen to arbitrate, it cannot avoid the confirmation process which is simply another phase of the process.

Price v Peachtree Electrical Services, Inc.

Peachtree appealed a worker’s compensation award. The Court of Appeals held the original determination of responsibility was not immediately appealable under general appellate jurisdiction standards and thus not binding as law of the case. The Court, with two justices concurring in result only, affirmed as modified. The majority held that under recent Court precedent, whether an order is reviewable in the administrative law context is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act not the general appellate standards. However, as the initial determination was not immediately appealable under the Act, the result was affirmed.

The Home Builders Association of South Carolina v School District Number 2 of Dorchester County

Association sued District for a declaration that the impact fees levied on new homes were levied under an unconstitutional special legislation. The trial court granted judgment to district on the pleadings. The Court, with one judge concurring in result only and one justice dissenting, reversed. The majority held that because the complaint alleged there are no peculiar or unique circumstances which justify District being the only school district allowed to assess impact fees and if that fact is proven, Association would be entitled to judgment, the trial court erred in granting judgment on the pleadings. The case was remanded for further proceedings. The dissent argued that the legislature has historically had great flexibility in passing laws concerning school district funding, that the 85 current districts vary greatly in size and resources and thus the impact fee is a constitutional act and the judgment here should be affirmed.


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