Opinions from the SC Court of Appeals

On Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, the South Carolina Court of Appeals published one opinion: Forman v. SCDLLR.

Karen Forman appeals the decision of the Administrative Law Court (“ALC”) affirming the order the SC Dept. of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, State Board of Social Work Examiners (“Board”) prohibiting her from working as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and barring her from all independent social work practice.

The Board served Forman with a Notice of Charges alleging that she had engaged in misconduct in violation of the Social Work Examiners Practice Act. Specifically, the  Notice alleged Forman failed to conduct a full investigation, failed to disclose to the family court of her probationary status and potential conflicts of interest, and had billed for services she had not performed. The Board found that Forman had committed fraud and ordered her to no longer work as a GAL. The Board also prohibited her from all independent practice in the field, and required her to submit to the Board semi-annually written reports from her supervisors for two years.

Forman appealed to the ALC arguing she was entitled to quasi-judicial immunity and the Board lacked authority to discipline her for her work as a GAL.The ALC found substantial evidence supported the Board’s decision that she had violated  SC Code 40-63-110(B) by representing that she had performed services that she did not perform. The ALC reversed the Board’s finding on the issue of failure to disclose. Additionally the ALC remanded the matter of sanction for the Board to reconsider. The Board imposed the same sanctions as in the original order and the ALC affirmed. This appeal followed.

This Court made the following findings that: 1.) quasi-judicial immunity for GALs does not extend to disciplinary proceedings; 2.) there was substantial evidence exists in the report t support the Board’s findings Forman committed fraud., 3.) that the Board has authority to discipline Forman for her actions and to issue the sanctions it imposed on Forman.

On Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016, the Court published four opinions:In the Matter of the Estate of Marion M. Key, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision to reduce the personal representative’s compensation for settling an estate. The Court reversed the circuit court’s decision to affirm the probate court’s award of attorney’s fees to Respondent’s counsel, finding the common fund doctrine inapplicable under the facts of the case.

Miteva v. Robinson was an appeal from the family court, in which, the Court of Appeals affirmed the family court’s decision to grant the parties a divorce based on on-year’s separation and to divide the marital estate evenly between the parties. The Court modified the award of attorney’s fees, based on the parties’ success on certain issues and inadequate proof that Wife hindered litigation.

In Pee Dee Health v. Estate of Hugh S. Thompson,  Pee Dee Health Care, P.A. (“PDHC) appeals the circuit court’s award of sanctions to the estate of Hugh S. Thompson (the Estate). PDHC argues the court erred in failing to dismiss the Estate’s motion for sanctions as untimely, granting Rule 11 sanctions when PDHC’s filings and arguments to the court were not frivolous, awarding sanctions for the thirty hours the Estate’s counsel spent responding to discovery requests served upon third parties, not reducing the award for the time the Estate’s counsel spent preparing the sanctions motion, and ignoring the Estate’s inequitable conduct when deciding to grant sanctions. The Estate cross-appealed, arguing the court erred in concluding its claim for sanctions under the South Carolina Frivolous Civil Proceedings Sanctions Act (the FCPSA) was untimely and not awarding additional sanctions.The Court vacated the court’s award of Rule 11 sanctions holding that the Estate failed to file its motion within a reasonable time of discovering PDHC’s alleged improprieties.Additionally, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of the corresponding award of fees for time spent in response to PDHC’s motion to strike.  The Court vacated in part and affirmed in part.

In  Gordon v. Lancaster, Lancaster appealed an order awarding damages to Respondent Frank Gordon, Jr,. Individually and as Trustee as Trustee of the Dorothy S. Gordon Trust, in a lawsuit Gordon filed to collect on a prior judgment he obtained against Lancaster’s uncle. On appeal, Lancaster argued the underlying judgment was no longer enforceable and challenged the findings that he and his uncle engaged in various fraudulent conveyances. This Court found that the action was active, pursuant to  S.C. Code Section 15-39-30, because it was filed before the ten-year period expired and Gordon continued to pursue satisfaction of his judgment. Additionally, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s finding on all other remaining issues.

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