Opinions from the South Carolina Court of Appeals

Court of AppealsIn June, the South Carolina Court of Appeals published the following opinions:

Gary v. Askey was a civil negligence and loss of consortium  action in which the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Charles Gary against American Medical Responses, Inc. (“AMR”).

AMR appealed arguing the  court erred in: (1) holding AMR could not escape liability for the negligent actions of a subcontractor because it owed Gary and absolute, nondelegable duty to provide safe transportation pursuant to its contract with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) and public policy; and (2) prematuraly granting summary judgment in favor of Gary when AMR was not afforded a full and fair opportunity to conduct discovery.

On the first issue raised on appeal, the Court found that the circuit court erred in interpreting that portions of the Contract indicated that the parties intended to impose an absolute duty upon AMR. The Court found nothing in the four corners of the Contract that indicated the parties intended for AMR to have an absolute duty. Accordingly, the Court reversed the holding of the circuit court.  Additionally, the Court declined to address the second issue raised on appeal.

Judge Few concurred in a separate opinion.

In One Belle Hall v. Trammell Crow, Tamko Building  Products, Inc. (Tamko) appealed the lower court’s denial of its motion to dismiss One Bell Property Owners Association, Inc. (the Association) and Brandy Ramey’s ( collectively Respondents) claims and compel them to arbitration. Tamko argues the court erred in finding the arbitration clause located in its limited warranty was unconscionable and unenforceable.

This Court held that the circuit court erred in finding the cumulative effect of the Warranty’s purportedly unlawful terms rendered the arbitration clause unconscionable and unenforceable. The Court cited previous cases in which it had held that the issue of the validity of an arbitration clause is distinct from the validity of the contract as a whole. Accordingly, the Court reversed the finding of lower court.

Putnam v. State was a post-conviction relief (PCR) action in which  Martina R. Putnam contends the PCR court erred in dismissing her application for PCR and finding trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to adequately prepare her case and call witnesses to testify in her defense. The Court,  constrained by its standard of review, affirmed the PCR court’s order of dismissal.The Court,  constrained by its standard of review, affirmed the PCR court’s order of dismissal.

Byrd v. McDonald was an action for partition and the determination of heirs and unknown persons (collectively, Appellants)  claiming an interest in the subject real property appealed the circuit court’s affirmance of the probate court’s decision to order the public sale of real property owned jointly by Appellants and McDonald.

On appeal, Appellants argue the probate court (1) erred in treating the percentages of ownership as personal property rather than as realty, (2) lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the partition action, (3) erred in applying section 15-61-25(A) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2012) rather than section 62-3-911 of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2012), (4) erred in finding Appellants failed to comply with the probate court’s order, (5) erred in holding partition by allotment was not practical and in ordering a public sale, and (6) erred in awarding reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to McDonald pursuant to section 15-61-110 of the South Carolina Code (2005).

The Court affirmed the probate court’s determination of the heirs and their percentages of the real property. However, the court reversed the remaining issues finding that the  probate court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the partition action.

Protection and Advocacy v. Buscemi is a declaratory judgment action where the trial court ordered Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. does not have authority to review the medical records of Community Training Home residents during its statutorily authorized inspections of living conditions under section 43-33-350 of the South Carolina Code. The Court affirmed the trial court’s order.

Doe v. City of Duncan, John Doe appealed the circuit court’s decision to dismiss his action pursuant to SCRCP 3, 12(b)(1), and 12(b)(2).

Doe argued that the circuit court failed to apply the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The Court affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal.

State v. Medley, the Court affirmed the DUI conviction of Matthew Medley.

West Anderson Water v. City of Anderson, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s order interpreting a contract between the Water District and Respondent City of Anderson allowing the City to provide water service to a certain site within the District’s boundaries.

In the Matter of the Estate of Marion M. Kay, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision to reduce the personal representative’s compensation for setting an estate. The Court reversed the circuit court’s decision to affirm the probate court’s award of attorney’s fees to Respondents’ counsel, finding the common doctrine fund inapplicable under the specific facts of the case.



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