Opinions from the South Carolina Court of Appeals

Court of AppealsToday, the South Carolina Court of Appeals published three opinions:

In Chapman v. SCDSS, Chapmen filed a grievance against his employer, South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS), alleging his termination was improper. On appeal, he argues the Administrative Law Court (ALC) erred in (1) finding he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies by not timely filing his grievance, and (2) failing to find DSS was estopped from raising the issue even if he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.

This Appellate Court reversed on both issues finding that Chapman did timely file his grievance when counsel, filing a letter on his behalf, included the substantive information that was required pursuant to Form 1449 of the Grievance Procedure Model Policy. The court noted to find otherwise would elevate form over substance, where the purpose of the form was to provide notice was satisfied. Additionally the Court found that because Chapman’s filing was sufficient, and therefore timely, that he complied with the applicable regulations to file his grievance within the required fourteen calendar day limit. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded the case  to the ALC.

In State v. Scott involved an appeal of the circuit court’s finding that Scott was immune from prosecution for murder based on S.C. Code Ann § 16-11-440. The statute codifies the common law Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground defenses. The Court affirmed the circuit court’s finding that Scott was immune from prosecution pursuant to subsection (C) of the § 16-11-440, because the evidence showed that Scott’s actions of firing a firearm was in direct response to an attack, not just the vehicles driving by his home. The Court declined to address the circuit court’s ruling under subsection (A) and vacated the circuit court’s order to the extent it equates Scott’s belief the vehicles posed a threat with an attack. Accordingly, the Court affirmed as modified.

J. McDonald concurred in a separate opinion.

In Davis v. SCDMV, the SC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) appealed the administrative law court’s (ALC) decision to reinstate James Davis’s driver’s license. This Court upholds the ALC’s ruling, finding the DMV’s six-year delay in declaring Davis a habitual offender was fundamentally unfair and required reinstatement of Davis’s driver’s license.

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