THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
Catherine Roche, as
for the Estate of George
Young Brothers, Inc., of
Florence, d/b/a Days Inn
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF
Appeal From Florence County
Daniel E. Martin, Sr., Circuit Court Judge
Opinion No. 24829
Heard May 27, 1998 - Filed August 10, 1998
William P. Hatfield and Gary I. Finklea, both of
The Hyman Law Firm, of Florence, for petitioner.
William Reynolds Williams, and C. Craig, Young,
both of Willcox, McLeod, Buyck & Williams,
of Florence, for respondent.
TOAL, A.J.: This case involves a default judgment in a negligence
action. George Roche originally brought this negligence action against
Respondent Young Brothers, d/b/a Days Inn East ("Young Brothers"), as a
result of a slip-and-fall accident in Young Brothers' motel parking lot.
Petitioner Catherine Roche, as personal representative of her husband's
estate, appeals the Court of Appeals' decision that Young Brothers' consent
was required prior to the circuit court appointing a special referee to consider
the damages matter. We reverse and reinstate the special referee's order.
On March 19, 1990, Roche slipped and fell in the parking lot of Young
Brothers' motel located in Florence, South Carolina. Roche filed suit against
Young Brothers in circuit court on August 31, 1990. Young Brothers failed
to answer Roche's complaint. A default was entered against Young Brothers
on November 2, 1990. Without notice to Young Brothers, a damages hearing
was held before the circuit court on February 6, 1992. The circuit court
awarded Roche $15,000.00 in actual damages and $30,000.00 in punitive
On February 14, 1992, Young Brothers filed a motion to set aside the
default judgment under Rule 60(b), SCRCP. Young Brothers argued that the
judgment should be set aside because service of process was not perfected,
and, in the alternative, a new damages hearing should be granted because
it did not receive notice of the hearing. The circuit court denied the motion.
In July 1992, Young Brothers appealed the judgment to the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court's default judgment, finding
service of process had not been perfected. Roche v. Young Bros., Inc. of
Florence, 313 S.C. 356, 437 S.E.2d 560 (Ct. A