Opinions from the South Carolina Supreme Court

On Wednesday, the South Carolina Supreme Court published two opinions:

In the Matter of Charles Lee Anderson, the Court suspends an attorney from the practice of law retroactive to the date of his interim suspension. The suspension comes as a result of the attorney’s failure to abide by a client’s decision concerning the objectives of representation and engaging in or assisting a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent.

In the Matter of William Isaac Diggs, the Court disbarred an attorney from the practice of law due to Respondent’s failure to notify the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) of his disbarment from the North Carolina State Bar, as required by Rule 29(a) of the Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement.

On September 14th, the South Carolina Supreme Court published three opinions:

In the Matter of Chester County Magistrate Angel Underwood, the respondent admitted to misconduct and consented to a public reprimand including one year suspension imposed retroactively from the date of her interim suspension.  Subsequent to Respondent being appointed to Magistrate, Respondent’s husband was elected for Sheriff of Chester County. Respondent continued to hear matters involving Chester County Sheriff Department. Respondent was found to have violated the relevant sections of the Code of Judicial Conduct for not correctly following the  process for  remittal requirements for disqualification on matters where a potential  conflict of interest existed. Accordingly, the Court published this public reprimand.

In Joseph v. SC Dept. of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, the Court overruled its decision in Sloan v. South Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, 370 S.C. 452, 636 S.E.2d 598 (2006), and reversed the circuit court’s dismissal of Appellant claims challenging a 2011 position statement from the SC Board of Physical Therapy in which the Board (“the Board”) interpreted the fee for referral prohibition  in SC Code Section 40-45-110(A)(1) to prohibit in-practice referrals from a physician to a physical therapist (“PT”). The Board has long sought to require PTs to provide their services directly to patients or through a practice group of PTs. Other licensed professionals in South Carolina, such as occupational therapists, speech therapists, and nurse practitioners may be employed by physicians. Thus, physicians’ offices may not provide PT services by employing licenses PTs, and PTs may not provide services while employed by a physician or physicians’ practice group.

This Court found that continuing to recognize the interpretation in Sloan creates an absurd situation by strictly prohibiting physician-PT employment relationship without considering the resulting ethical implications or patient well being. Accordingly, the Court overruled Sloan as an unconstitutional interpretation  of section 40-45-110(A)(1) and held that the statute prohibits only referral-for-pay situations rather than prohibiting all employer-employee relationships between physicians and physical therapists.

Justice Kittredge concurred in result in a separate opinion. Justice Beatty dissented in a separate opinion in which Justice Pleicones concurred.

In the Matter of Kenneth C. Krawcheck, the Court suspended the respondent with additional conditions retroactively for misconduct including, inter alia, failure to pay a court reporter, failure to reimburse the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, and failure to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representation of a client.

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