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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Court of Appeals Published Opinions - May 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.

5-1-2019 - Opinions

5643 - Reeves v. SCMIRF

In this declaratory judgment action, the South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund (SCMIRF) appeals the portion of the circuit court's order entering judgment in favor of Ashley Reeves (Reeves), Personal Representative of the Estate of Albert Carl Reeves (Bert Reeves), regarding indemnity coverage under a pooled self-insurance liability fund (the Coverage Contract). SCMIRF argues the circuit court erred in (1) finding Reeves was entitled to more than $1,000,000 in indemnity coverage under the Coverage Contract's terms; (2) failing to analyze the coverage issue exclusively under the Coverage Contract's provisions for "Personal Injury;" (3) finding because there were separate wrongful death and survivorship action claims with different measures of damages there was more than $1,000,000 in indemnity coverage available under the Coverage Contract; and (4) finding an ambiguity in the Coverage Contract as to whether "Occurrence" is defined by different acts of negligence or the resulting damage. Reeves cross-appeals the portion of the circuit court's order entering judgment in favor of SCMIRF regarding the South Carolina Tort Claims Act (the Act). Reeves asserts (1) SCMIRF is not subject to the Act because SCMIRF is a not political subdivision of South Carolina; and (2) the Act is inapplicable to, and does not limit the recovery in, a breach of contract claim. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

5644 - Stott v. White Oak Manor, Inc.

In this civil case, White Oak Manor, Inc. (White Oak), a skilled nursing facility, appeals the circuit court's order denying White Oak's motion to compel arbitration of wrongful death and survival actions brought by Hilda Stott as personal representative of the estate of Jolly P. Davis (Decedent). On appeal, White Oak argues the circuit court erred in finding Stott lacked the authority to execute White Oak's admission documents, including an arbitration agreement (the Arbitration Agreement), on Decedent's behalf.

5645 - Vicary v. Town of Awendaw

This case comes before this court on remand after our supreme court's decision in Vicary v. Town of Awendaw, 425 S.C. 350, 822 S.E.2d 600 (2018), with instructions to address the Town of Awendaw's arguments that the circuit court erred in finding: (1) the Town never received a proper petition requesting the annexation of land within the Francis Marion National Forest (Ten-Foot Strip); (2) the Town falsely claimed it had a proper petition to annex the Ten-Foot Strip; (3) the Town was estopped from asserting a statute of limitations defense; and (4) the statutory time period for challenging the annexation was tolled. After a review of the record, we affirm the circuit court.

5-8-2019 - Opinions

5646 - Grays Hill Baptist Church v. Beaufort County

In this consolidated appeal, Beaufort County and the United States of America (collectively, Appellants) argue the master-in-equity erred in reversing the Beaufort County Planning Commission's decisions requiring Grays Hill Baptist Church (the Church) to apply for a new development permit and denying the Church's subsequent application for the permit to construct a fellowship hall. Appellants contend the Church's 1997 development permit did not allow it to pursue additional development ten years later, and the County's 2006 ordinances addressing areas near the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station proscribed approval of the Church's new development application. Appellants further argue the master erred in finding the Beaufort County Zoning Board of Appeals (the Zoning Board) erroneously denied the Church's request for a zoning variance. We reverse the decisions of the master and reinstate the orders of the Planning Commission and Zoning Board.

5647 - Klein v. Barrett

In this appeal from family court, April Gilbert Klein (Wife) argues the family court erred in (1) setting joint custody, (2) ordering Wife to pay a portion of Mark Anthony Barrett's (Husband's) attorney's fees and costs, (3) ordering Wife to pay two-thirds of the guardian ad litem's fees and costs, and (4) ordering Wife to pay child support. We affirm.

5648 - State v. Dean

The State appeals the trial court's order granting a new trial in Edward Lee Dean's conviction of first degree burglary, grand larceny, and malicious injury to real property. We dismiss the State's appeal.

5-15-2019 - Opinions

5649 - State v. Grier

Jermaine D. Grier appeals his conviction for possession of contraband by a county or municipal prisoner, arguing the circuit court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict and refusing to charge the jury with section 24-3-965 of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2018), which governs the possession of certain contraband by inmates incarcerated with the South Carolina Department of Corrections. We affirm.

5650 - State v. Kotowski

Felix Kotowski appeals his convictions for manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of less than one gram of methamphetamine, arguing the trial court erred in (1) denying his motion to suppress evidence seized during a "knock and talk," (2) denying his motion to suppress evidence seized during a protective sweep of a residence where Kotowski was an overnight guest, and (3) admitting National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) records into evidence because admission of the evidence is hearsay and lacked foundation, the evidence violated Kotowski's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation as the State failed to introduce a records custodian, and the danger of unfair prejudice substantially outweighed the probative value of the records. We affirm.

5-22-2019 - Opinions

5651 - The Estate of James Brown

In this estate controversy, we must decide whether some of the beneficiaries (the Probate Code defines them as "successors") under a Will can agree to settle an action they brought to contest the Will and the accompanying Estate plan without the consent of all the beneficiaries. We hold that, under the unique circumstances of this case, they can because the settlement neither binds the non settling beneficiaries nor changes the Will or the Estate plan.

5-29-2019 - Opinions

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.

5652 - Wardlaw v. SCDSS

South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) appeals the order of the family court that granted Darius Wardlaw a temporary restraining order (TRO), requiring DSS to remove Wardlaw from the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect (Registry) pending further administrative review. DSS argues (1) the family court's order is not moot, (2) the family court was without subject matter jurisdiction to entertain Wardlaw's motion for temporary relief prior to the exhaustion of administrative remedies, (3) the family court was without authority to issue its order, and (4) the order is void ab initio because it was issued in violation of Rule 65(c), SCRCP. We affirm.