Decisions from the South Carolina Court of Appeals

sccourtofappealsYesterday the South Carolina Court of Appeals published four opinions.  Court summaries of the opinions can be found here.

In SCDSS v. Massey, the Appeals Court reversed and remanded the Family Court decision.  The case involved a dispute between the parents and the DSS over the permanent custody and location of three children.  In 2010, the mother, Katrina Massey, and the father, Michael Jackson, agreed that DSS could have legal and physical custody of their two children.  This would enable the parents to complete treatment plans.  In 2011, the Family Court approved this agreement without an “affirmative finding of fact of the existence of harm or threat of harm to the minor children.”  Meanwhile another child was born who also became subject to this agreement.  In 2013, the Family Court, at the request of DSS, held a permanency placement hearing.  The parents disagreed, arguing that they wanted and were entitled to a reunification plan.  The parents demanded a merits hearing on removal, arguing that a finding of abuse or neglect had never been made against them.  DSS claimed such a finding was unnecessary prior to a permanency hearing, and the Family Court agreed.  The Appeals Court disagreed, reversing  and chiding Charleston County for its removal actions, noting that it found them “troubling.”  The Court held that the “…statutes covering removal actions apply rather than the statutes governing intervention actions…” in this case.

56 Leinbach Investors v. Magnolia Paradigm involved a contractual dispute between the parties over leased property.  A master reformed the contract between the parties because of a “mutual mistake.”  The parties disagreed and appealed.  The South Carolina Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, in part, holding that Leinbach had breached the lease but that Magnolia failed to “…prove it was entitled to rent abatement under the lease or restitution based on its unjust enrichment claim.”

Stogsdill v. SCDHHS involved an appeal from the Administrative Law Court (ALC.)  Because of a severe birth defect, Stogsdill had “significant physical disabilities” that required extensive aid with normal daily living activities.  Stogsdill was receiving service aid from DDSN in the amount of 69 hours per week.  In 2010, a cap on the number of service hours  available to non-institutionalized individuals was instituted.  In order to maintain this cap, DDSN reduced the number of service hours available to Stogsdill.  He objected and appealed.  The Administrative Law Court held for SCDHHS.    The South Carolina Court of Appeals concluded that while the administrative appeals process did not deny Stogsdill due process, the record lacked sufficient evidence to support the ALC’s conclusion that “…Stogsdill’s risk of institutionalization was merely speculative….”  Thus the Court remanded the decision  for “…consideration of the appropriate services to be provided without the restrictions of the 2010 Waiver.”

Dozier v. American Red Cross involved an appeal of a decision by the  Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC.)  While working for the American Red Cross (ARC) as a phlebotomist, Dozier was involved in an accident, alleging bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome.  A year later, she filed another workers’ compensation claim, alleging further injuries to her arms, back, neck, etc.  Between 2009 – 2001, the ARC continued to pay Dozier’s benefits and medical expenses.  Dozier insisted that she was permanently disabled but the ARC disagreed and demanded a hearing.  The WCC concluded that Dozier was not permanently disabled so Dozier appealed.  The South Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the WCC, concluding that a “…5% impairment rating does not per se equate to permanent and total disability….”

About Lisa Smith-Butler

Associate Professor of Law Charleston School of Law 385 Meeting St., Suite 322B Charleston, S.C. 29403 843.377.2144
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