Decisions from the South Carolina Supreme Court for May 13, 2015

sc-supreme-courtToday, the South Carolina Supreme Court published four opinions: In the Matter of Max SingletonCentennial Casualty v. Western Surety Co., In the Matter of Kay Paschal, and In the Matter of Douglas Francis Gay.

 In the Matter of Max Singleton, the Court definitely suspends a lawyer from the practice of law in this state for nine months.

In Centennial Casualty v. Western Surety Co., the Court grants certiorari, reversed and remanded this case to the court of appeals.

A3 Auto Center (“A3”) sought to purchase three automobiles from other car dealerships (“Sellers”) and used Charleston Auto to facilitate the sale. All dealers and wholesalers are required to obtain a surety bond as indemnification for loss or damage suffered by an owner of a motor vehicle, or his legal representative under the Dealer Bond Statute. (S.C. Code Section 56-15-320(B) ) A3 obtained a surety bond from CNA Surety.

Charleston Auto located the three vehicles and arranged the sales. The bills of sale contained language appointing Charleston Auto as the agent and legal representative of both A3 and the Sellers. A3 paid Charleston Auto for the vehicles with three checks, which were eventually returned for insufficient funds. Charleston Auto sought reimbursement from its insurance carrier, Centennial Casualty Co. (“Petitioner”). Petitioner paid Charleston Auto’s claim and demanded reimbursement from CNA Surety (“CNA”) pursuant to A3’s surety bond. CNA refused to pay arguing that the Dealer Bond Statute did not apply to the transaction because neither Petitioner nor Charleston Auto was a “legal representative” who suffered a loss or damage. Petitioner filed suit against CNA, and the trial court found that Petitioner was entitled to reimbursement from CNA. The court of appeals reversed finding that Charleston Auto/Petitioner were not legal representatives in the transaction. This Court reversed the court of appeals decision finding the plain language of the statute is satisfied and thus Charleston Auto, as the legal representative, is entitled to bring an action on A3’s surety bond.

In the Matter of Kay Paschal, the Court definitely suspends a lawyer from the practice of law for a period of three years.

In the Matter of Douglas Francis Gay, the Court definitely suspends a lawyer from the practice of law in this state for three years.

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