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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Court of Appeals Published Opinions - March 2011

Note: Beginning in June 2012, opinions will be posted as Adobe PDFs. You can download a free copy of Adobe Reader here.

The summary following each opinion is prepared to offer lawyers and the public a general overview of what a particular opinion decides. The summary is not necessarily a full description of the issues discussed in an opinion.

3-2-2011 - Opinions

4798 - State v. Orozco

In this criminal matter, Orozco appeals his convictions of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of lewd act upon a child, arguing the trial court committed reversible error in (1) admitting testimony regarding Orozco's suicide attempt and (2) charging the jury that testimony of a child witness need not be corroborated. We affirm.

4799 - Trask v. Beaufort County

The Trasks sued Curtis Copeland, as Beaufort County Coroner and a funeral home and crematory owner, for his actions related to the investigation of their son's fatal car accident and its effect on the settlement value in another lawsuit. We find that various statutes governing coroners and crematory operators do not give rise to private rights of action for civil damages. We also agree with the circuit court that South Carolina does not recognize a cause of action for spoliation of evidence and that the South Carolina Tort Claims Act prohibits recovery of damages for emotional harm from a county coroner.

4800 - State v. Wallace

Timothy Wallace appeals his conviction and twenty-five year sentence for trafficking cocaine. He argues that the arresting officer did not have reasonable suspicion to detain him after the conclusion of a traffic stop, and thus, the trial judge erred in not suppressing cocaine seized from Wallace's car during the subsequent search. He also contends the judge erred in not suppressing a statement he made to the officer just before the drugs were found and in not granting a mistrial. We affirm.

4801 - The Estate of Helen Duffy

In this appeal from the probate court, the Court of Appeals finds Robert Davitt failed to present clear and convincing evidence that he was the common law spouse of the late Helen Duffy and thus affirms the probate court's denial of his claim for an elective share of her estate.

4802 - Bean v. S.C. Central Railroad

This is an appeal from a negligence action pursuant to the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) for personal injuries suffered by Shane Bean while working for South Carolina Central Railroad Company, Inc. (SCCR). The circuit court granted summary judgment to SCCR, noting Bean executed a valid release agreement that precluded all of his claims. In this appeal, Bean asserts numerous points of error, namely, that the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment to SCCR when (1) Bean presented evidence that the release was procured by fraud, the release was executed pursuant to a mutual mistake, and the release failed for lack of consideration; (2) Bean was not afforded a reasonable opportunity to conduct discovery essential to his claims prior to the grant of summary judgment; and (3) Bean presented evidence of SCCR's negligence as causing or contributing to his injury. We affirm.

4803 - State v. Branham

On appeal, we affirm the magistrate's refusal to dismiss Appellant Charles Brandon Branham's conviction for driving under the influence, first offense, due to the State's failure to provide Branham with a videotape of his breath alcohol analysis test.

4804 - State v. Warren

After sentencing, Appellant Ivory Warren filed a timely motion to withdraw her pleas. Warren later amended her post trial motion to request reconsideration of her sentence and specifically abandoned the motion to withdraw her plea. We find Warren's motion to reconsider her sentence was not timely filed.

3-9-2011 - Opinions

4806 - Kase v. Ebert

James Kase appeals the grant of summary judgment to DMX Transportation, Inc., in a personal injury lawsuit, arguing the trial judge erred in holding (1) DMX, as a matter of law, could not be held vicariously for its employee's assault on Kase and (2) DMX was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Kase's claims for negligent hiring, negligent supervision, and negligent retention.

4807 - Murphy v. Owens Corning

Owens Corning, Employer, and Gallagher Bassett Services, Carrier, appeal the Workers' Compensation Commission's order finding Lisa Murphy sustained compensable injuries arising from repetitive trauma. We affirm as modified.

3-10-2011 - Opinions

4805 - Limehouse v. Hulsey

This civil case from Charleston county was initially filed in state court and subsequently removed to federal district court. However, upon motion of the respondent, the federal court remanded the matter back to state court, whereupon default judgment was entered against the appellant. On appeal, the appellant alleges the trial court erred in: (1) exercising jurisdiction over the case, (2) failing to set aside the entry of default, (3) allegedly depriving the appellant of due process during the default damages trial, and (4) allowing an award of punitive damages. We affirm. C.J. Few dissents.

3-16-2011 - Opinions

4808 - Biggins v. Burdette

We affirm the family court's denial of Husband's request to terminate alimimony based on Wife's continued cohabitation. We also affirm the family court's award of attorney's fees to Wife.

4809 - Smallwood v. Smallwood

In this divorce action, King Smallwood (Husband) appeals the family court's final order and decree of divorce, arguing the family court erred in (1) finding three rental properties were marital property, (2) equitably dividing the Southern Union Revolving Fund account, and (3) including a portion of Husband's retirement relocation benefit in the marital estate.

3-23-2011 - Opinions

4810 - Menezes v. WL Ross & Co.

W.L. Ross & Co., LLC (WLR) and several of its board members appeal the circuit court's striking of two of their defenses and dismissal of their counterclaim in this direct shareholder lawsuit based on a release signed by Menezes in other litigation. We reverse and remand.

4811 - Prince v. Beaufort Memorial Hospital

Beaufort Memorial Hospital appeals from the trial court's decision declaring certain contents of its Quality Assurance Committee file discoverable and ordering a new trial. We reverse.

4812 - White v. SCDHEC

Appellant Coffin Point Plantation Homeowners Association (Coffin Point) seeks review of an order of the Administrative Law Court (ALC) requiring Coffin Point to rebuild its private community dock in accordance with its permit as originally issued on November 15, 2004, by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM). Coffin Point argues that the administrative law judge (ALJ) erred in concluding that the location of the dock constitutes a material harm to the policies of the South Carolina Coastal Zone Management Act, S.C. Code Ann. ยง 48-39-10 to -360 (2008 & Supp. 2010) (the Act). We affirm.

4813 - SCLLR v. Chastain

We affirm the Administrative Law Court's ruling that Chastain did not violate a cease and desist order prohibiting her from acting as a manufactured home dealer.

3-30-2011 - Opinions

4814 - Brown v. Brown

Sheri Denise Brown (Wife) and Phillip Ray Brown (Husband) were divorced in 2006. Wife appeals the family court's 2008 post-divorce order establishing terms for the sale of the marital home, arguing the family court erred in (1) assuming jurisdiction over matters previously reserved to another judge; (2) clarifying the divorce decree in general; (3) clarifying the divorce decree although its terms were clear; (4) clarifying the divorce decree under Rule 60(a), SCRCP; (5) establishing a pricing scheme and requiring automatic reductions in the selling price of the marital home; and (6) awarding Husband a "monetary judgment" with post-judgment interest. We reverse the family court's imposition of post-judgment interest, remand for continued supervision of the home sale, and affirm as to the remaining issues.