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Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Branch
Supreme Court
Case of the Month
February 2005

Case Overview

Karl Albert Overcash, III, v. South Carolina Electric and Gas Company

On July 17, 1999, Mr. Overcash was riding in a boat on Lake Murray.  SCE&G owns Lake Murray.  Mr. Overcash's boat collided with a 250-foot wooden dock which connected property owned by Sarah and Crawford Clarkson to a small island located 100 yards away.  SCE&G had allowed the dock to be built and deeded the island to the Crawfords, but reserved the right to enforce covenants to prevent a nuisance or dangerous condition. 

Mr. Overcash filed a lawsuit against SCE&G in circuit court in Richland County.  He sought damages for the injuries he sustained.  He alleged, among other things, that the dock was a public nuisance for which SCE&G was responsible.  SCE&G asked the circuit court to dismiss the lawsuit because Mr. Overcash failed to establish that he suffered a special injury, different in kind from the general public, that would form the basis for a private cause of action for a public nuisance.  SCE&G argued that a "special injury" must involve an injury to property interests.  The circuit court dismissed that portion of Mr. Overcash's lawsuit that alleged a public nuisance.

Mr. Overcash appealed to the South Carolina Court of Appeals.  The Court of Appeals determined Mr. Overcash was entitled to bring a private cause of action for a public nuisance under S.C. Code Ann. � 49-1-10.  That law states that anyone who obstructs a navigable stream is guilty of a nuisance.  The Court of Appeals also determined that Mr. Overcash's accident constituted a "special injury" which entitled him to bring a private cause of action for public nuisance.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court's decision and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings.  A copy of the Court of Appeals' opinion is enclosed.

However, SCE&G filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the South Carolina Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals' decision that a private cause of action can be based on a violation of S.C. Code Ann. � 49-1-10 and that a personal injury may be considered a "special injury" which provides a basis for a private cause of action for public nuisance.    

Case Briefs

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Petitioner's Brief (893 KB)

Respondent's Brief (1.568 MB)
Petitioner's Reply Brief (489 KB)


Oral Arguments

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