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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Court of Appeals Published Opinions - January 2019

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.


1-4-2019 - Opinions

5607 - In the Interest of Jairus J. V.

In this appeal, Jairus J.V. (Appellant) argues the family court erred in adjudicating him delinquent for possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number when law enforcement was able to decipher the serial number on the handgun.

5608 - Wellin v. Wellin

Peter J. Wellin, Cynthia W. Plum, and Marjorie W. King appeal the circuit court's order affirming the probate court's order that required the Wellin Family 2009 Irrevocable Trust to pay approximately $50 million to Synovus Bank as Special Conservator II for their father, Keith S. Wellin. We reverse.

5609 - State v. Fuller

Michael Antwon Fuller appeals his convictions on charges of kidnapping, unlawful carrying of a pistol, possession of a stolen pistol, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, arguing the trial court erred in preventing him from cross-examining his accuser about her prior convictions for driving under the influence (DUI). Fuller also appeals the trial court's directive that his name be placed on the South Carolina Sex Offender Registry even though the same jury acquitted him on charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) and first-degree assault and battery.

5610 - Brown v. Key

Heather Key (Mother) appeals the family court's order mandating visitation between her child (Child) and Child's paternal grandmother, Lori Brown (Grandmother). Mother maintains the family court erred in finding Grandmother established her right to visitation pursuant to section 63-3-530(33) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2018). We reverse.

5611 - State v. Patterson

James Patterson appeals his convictions of armed robbery, grand larceny, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, arguing the trial court erred in (1) admitting DNA evidence that was not authenticated through proper chain of custody testimony, (2) admitting DNA evidence that constituted improper evidence of a prior bad act, and (3) indicating to the jury during opening statements that a trial was "a search for the truth."

1-9-2019 - Opinions

5598 - Brown v. Odom

In this domestic relations matter, Grady C. Odom (Husband) appeals the family court's divorce decree, arguing the family court erred in (1) finding that Husband's limited liability company, Twin Oaks Villas, LLC, transmuted into marital property; (2) imposing a constructive trust on Husband's LLC; and (3) including property in the marital estate that the parties did not own as of the date of filing.

5612 - Gibson v. Epting

Linda Gibson and several of her companies Heritage Seven, LLC, Seven Oaks Apartments, LLC, and 3205 Palm Boulevard, LLC (collectively, Gibson)?appeal the circuit court order granting summary judgment to Andrew Epting, Jr., George J. Kefalos, Gedney M. Howe, III, John S. West, and their respective law firms (collectively, Respondents). We affirm.

5613 - Quicken Loans v. Wilson

Quicken Loans, Inc. (Quicken) filed this foreclosure action against Wayne D. Wilson; Calvin O. Wilson, III; any other Heirs-in-Law or devisees of Ezekiel (Ellen) T. Wilson, deceased, their heirs, personal representatives, administrators, successors and assigns, and all other persons entitled to claim through them; all unknown persons with any right, title or interests in the real estate described herein; also any persons who may be in a class designated as John Doe; any unknown minors or persons under a disability being a class designated as Richard Roe; and Park Sterling Bank (collectively, Respondent). Quicken appeals the special referee's order granting Respondent's motion for partial summary judgment, arguing the special referee erred in (1) holding Quicken violated the Attorney Preference Statute (the Act); (2) finding unconscionability is a remedy for a violation of the Act; (3) failing to find Respondent's counterclaim time-barred by the statute of limitations; (4) denying Quicken's jury trial demand and motion to amend the pleadings; and (5) relying on confidential information subject to a protective order in an unrelated case.

1-16-2019 - Opinions

5614 - Charleston Electrical Services, Inc. v. Rahall

In this action for contribution, Charleston Electrical Services, Inc. (CES) and its insurance carrier, Selective Insurance Company of South Carolina (Selective), appeal the master-in-equity's order granting judgment in favor of Wanda Rahall. We affirm.

5615 - Rent-A-Center v. SCDOR

Rent-A-Center East, Inc. and Rent Way, Inc. (collectively, Taxpayers) appeal the decision of the Administrative Law Court (ALC) finding the gross proceeds from Taxpayers' rental of tangible personal property included fees from the sale of "Optional Liability Waiver Provisions" (Waivers). On appeal, Taxpayers argue the ALC erred in: (1) failing to apply the appropriate rules of statutory construction to the applicable taxing statutes; (2) finding the Waivers were taxable when no imposition statute imposes a tax on waivers; (3) relying on the measure of tax statute when no imposition statute was invoked; (4) finding the Waiver proceeds were part of Taxpayers' gross proceeds of sale; (5) failing to determine whether the intangible Waivers were subject to sales tax; and (6) finding the "Consumer Rental-Purchase Agreements" (Rental Agreements) and Waivers constituted a single agreement or transaction. We affirm.

5616 - Owens v. ADC Engineering, Inc.

In this wrongful termination action, James Owens appeals a circuit court order granting summary judgment in favor of ADC Engineering. Owens argues the circuit court erred in holding (1) that his discharge from ADC did not give rise to a cause of action under the public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine and (2) that his opposition to the construction of a parking garage was not protected political speech under section 16-17-560 of the South Carolina Code (2015).

5617 - Allwin v. Russ Cooper Associates, Inc.

In this construction defect litigation, Maria Allwin appeals the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Russ Cooper Associates, Inc. and Shope Reno Wharton (collectively, Respondents). As the circuit court properly found the statute of limitations bars Allwin's claims, we affirm.

1-23-2019 - Opinions

5618 - Derrick v. Moore

This is an appeal from a circuit court order compelling Lisa Moore (Client) to resolve a fee dispute through the Resolution of Fee Disputes Board of the South Carolina Bar (the Board). Client argues (1) Jean Derrick (Attorney) waived the right to compel her appearance before the Board by first filing an action in the circuit court, (2) the circuit court lacked authority to compel Client's appearance before the Board, and (3) Attorney's fee agreement is unenforceable under the South Carolina Uniform Arbitration Act.

5619 - State v. Simpson

Suzanna Simpson appeals her convictions for murder, attempted murder, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Simpson argues the trial court erred in (1) admitting forensic expert testimony, (2) excluding expert testimony, and (3) denying her motion for a directed verdict. We affirm.

1-30-2019 - Opinions

5620 - Sanders v. SCDMV

Bradley Sanders appeals the suspension of his driver's license by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The Office of Motor Vehicles Hearings (OMVH) sustained the suspension and the Administrative Law Court (ALC) affirmed. On appeal, Sanders argues the ALC erred in affirming (1) the admission of hearsay evidence to establish his inability to submit to a breath test, and (2) the finding that Officer Scott Desrochers presented a prima facie case that the individual who determined Sanders was unable to submit to a breath test was a licensed medical professional pursuant to section 56-5-2950(A) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2016). We affirm.

5621 - Nestler v. Fields

A jury awarded Gary Nestler $7,117.50 actual damages for personal injuries sustained as a result of a car wreck caused by Joseph Fields. Fields admitted he was at fault in causing the wreck and Nestler's injuries, so the trial concerned only the amount of Nestler's damages. Nestler did not introduce the $7,117.50 amount of his medical bills into evidence, but the trial court overruled his relevance objection when Fields offered them. The trial court also overruled his objection to charging the jury the law regarding mitigation of damages. The trial court denied Nestler's motion for new trial. Nestler appeals, arguing the trial court erred in admitting the amount of his medical bills, charging the jury on mitigation, and denying his new trial motion. We affirm the well-reasoned rulings of the skilled trial judge.

5622 - Gecy v. Somerset Point

In this civil case, Benjamin C. Gecy, River City Developers, LLC, and River City Real Estate, LLC (collectively, River City) appeal the circuit court's order granting partial summary judgment to Hilton C. Smith, Jr., Coosaw Investments, LLC, and Hilton C. Smith, Jr., Inc. of South Carolina (collectively, Coosaw) on River City's malicious prosecution claim. On appeal, River City argues the circuit court erred in finding River City was unable to prove the element of favorable termination of proceedings. We affirm.