March 26, 2014 South Carolina Court of Appeals published opinions

Meehan v Meehan

Wife sought to enforce a payment provision in a prenuptial agreement as part of the parties divorce action. The family court ruled the agreement lodged jurisdiction over the payment issue in the circuit court and also denied a motion to amend the complaint to seek attorney fees. The panel affirmed in part reversed in part and remanded. It affirmed the jurisdictional ruling holding that the agreement plainly divested the family court of jurisdiction over all issues except divorce and child support and custody. It reversed on the pleading issue holding the agreement did not waive attorney fees as to child support and custody, the issue was raised at trial and husband would suffer no prejudice from allowing the amendment. The case was remanded for consideration of the attorney fee issue.

CoastalStates Bank v Hanover Homes of South Carolina, LLC

Bank sued a guarantor of loans to Homes for payment on the defaulted loans. The circuit court granted summary judgment to Bank. The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part. It held that the guarantees were not demand notes as each had a specific maturity. Thus the statute of limitations runs from default not from signature and the case was therefore timely filed. It reversed judgment on the guarantees issue holding that there was a genuine dispute as to the material fact of whether or not the release of Homes by Bank also released the guarantor as some of the guarantee can be read to provide release when Homes is released and some could be read to make the guarantee survived the release. The case was remanded for further proceedings.

Richardson v State

Richardson obtained post-conviction relief and a new sentencing based on the trial court’s ruling that the circuit court had power to suspend her mandatory minimum sentence. The panel reversed holding that because the crime Richardson pled guilty to, homicide by child abuse, carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, her mandatory minimum sentence could not be suspended because South Carolina code 24-21-410 prohibits suspended sentences for crimes punishable by life imprisonment or death. Thus, Richardson was not entitled to post-conviction relief.

Lynch v South Carolina Self Storage Centers, Inc.

Lynch moved for a new trail alleging juror misconduct. The circuit court denied her motion. The panel, 2-1, affirmed. The majority held that the only evidence presented in support of the motion came from a juror, concerned conduct within the jury deliberations, did not concern outside influences on the jury and thus the evidence was properly excluded and no hearing was needed. The majority also held that the voir dire questions were ambiguous and there was thus no intentional withholding of one jurors alleged views about Lynch’s attorney. The dissent argued there was enough evidence of misconduct to require a hearing.

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