South Carolina Court of Appeals’ Opinion

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On September 23rd, the South Carolina Court of Appeals published two opinions: Sifonios v. Town of Surfside Beach and State v. Brown.

In Sifonios v. Town of Surfside Beach, John Sifonios appealed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Town of Surfside Beach (the Town) as to the validity of a lease agreement. Although the Town never signed or delivered the lease agreement, Sifonios asserts that sufficient signatory and delivery acts occurred when the Surfside Beach Town Council  approved the proposed form of the lease and posted the minutes recording this approval on its website.

The Court found Sifoni’s claims  that the Town intended to deliver the Lease Agreement when it posted the meeting minutes to be without merit for two reasons: First, this argument ignores the conditions precedent to delivery, which the record reflects were explicitly stated several times in the Town Council’s meeting minutes However, the minutes from Town Council’s special meeting evidence a clear intent to reconvene or, at a minimum, receive the results of the background and credit checks before it would authorize the Town Administrator to enter into the Lease Agreement.  Second, Appellant’s own failure to act in accordance with the Lease Agreement’s terms confirms that neither party interpreted the posting of the minutes to constitute valid delivery. Pursuant Article II, section 2.2. of the lease, Sifonios was to pay the Town a security deposit upon delivery. Sifonios offered no evidence to show that he had tendered this security deposit. Accordingly, the Court affirms.

In State v. Brown, Lamar Sequan Brown appeals his conviction for first-degree burglary, arguing the trial court should not have admitted evidence obtained from a warrantless search of the contents of his code-locked cell phone. The State argues the trial court properly found the police could search the phone without a warrant because it was abandoned property left at the scene of a crime. This Court agreed with the State’s argument and  affirms the holding of the trial court.

On Wednesday, September 16th, the Court of Appeals published one opinion in Canal Insurance Co. v. National House Movers.  This was a declaratory judgment action, in which, Canal Insurance Co. appealed the circuit court’s finding that National House Movers, LLC’s (NHM) commercial automobile insurance policy provided indemnity coverage for injuries Kevin Jones sustained while working for NHM. This Court disagreed with Canal’s contention that Jones was an employee, as opposed to a “temporary worker,” and affirmed the circuit court’s order.

On September 9th, the South Carolina Court of Appeals published one opinion in Lucero v. State. The Court reversed the PCR court’s finding that the standard in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), applied retroactively in South Carolina. In Padilla, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “counsel must inform her client whether his plea carries the risk of deportation.” In Chadiez v. U.S., 133 S.Ct. 1103, 1107 (2013), the Court found that Padilla did not apply retroactively and “defendants whose convictions became final prior to Padilla therefore cannot benefit from its holding.

Here, Lucero argued that even thought Padilla created a new rule, which would usually forbid retroactive application, South Carolina should apply it retroactively. This Court rejected that argument and found that Padilla is not a watershed rule and therefore cannot be applied retroactively.

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