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

8-7-2019 - Opinions

5672 - State v. Sledge

John Calvin Sledge appeals from his convictions and sentences for murder, unlawful conduct toward a child, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime arguing the trial court erred in (1) admitting portions of a 911 call because they amounted to inadmissible hearsay and were more prejudicial than probative, (2) admitting his statements to police because they were not freely and voluntarily given, and (3) imposing a five-year sentence for possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime because he was given a life sentence for the murder charge. We affirm the convictions but vacate the sentence imposed for the weapon possession.

5673 - Cricket Store 17 v. City of Columbia

Cricket Store 17 d/b/a Taboo (Taboo) appeals the order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the City of Columbia Board of Zoning Appeals in denying Taboo the right to request a special exception from a city ordinance limiting the operation of sexually-oriented shops within the limits of the City of Columbia. We affirm.

5674 - State v. Marshall

In this criminal appeal, Brandon Rashad Marshall, Jr. appeals his convictions for murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. On appeal, Marshall argues the circuit court erred in denying him immunity under the Protection of Persons and Property Act (the Act), S.C. Code Ann. §§ 16-11-410 to -450 (2015). We affirm.

5675 - Thompson v. Thompson

In this domestic relations matter, Jessica Pares (Wife) appeals the family court's Order from Rule to Show Cause/Motion, arguing the family court erred in (1) granting Robert Thompson's (Husband) Rule 60(b)(5), SCRCP, motion; (2) refusing to give Wife another opportunity to refinance the former marital home (the Home); (3) failing to make Husband solely responsible for the lien with Palmetto Coastal Investments, LLC (the Palmetto Lien); and (4) awarding attorney's fees to Husband and not awarding attorney's fees to Wife. We reverse and remand.

5676 - Hoyler v. The State of South Carolina

Appellant H. Marshall Hoyler challenges an order of the Master-in-Equity denying his request pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 48-39-220 (2008) to declare that Hoyler holds title to 95.27 acres of tidelands along the Beaufort River and abutting the Town of Port Royal. Hoyler argues that this property is readily identifiable from the plat incorporated into the deed to his predecessor in title and, therefore, the master improperly considered extrinsic evidence. Hoyler also argues the master erred by (1) allowing adjacent property owners to intervene in the action; (2) concluding the adjacent property owners had standing; (3) keeping the record open to allow Respondent Merry Land Properties, LLC to submit additional testimony; and (4) declining to hear post-trial motions in a timely manner. We affirm.

5677 - State v. Bowers

Late night verbal altercations at a local club escalated to a shootout, resulting in the death of two people, Dante Bailey and Michael Morgan, and the injury of two others, Robert Goodwine and Richard Green. Appellant Joseph Bowers was convicted for the (1) voluntary manslaughter of Michael Morgan, (2) assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature of Richard Green, and (3) possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Bowers argues the circuit court erred by instructing the jury on mutual combat and voluntary manslaughter because there is no evidence to support either charge. We reverse and remand for a new trial.

8-21-2019 - Opinions

5678 - Nelson v. Nelson

In this cross-appeal arising from an action for divorce, Harrison Shelby Nelson (Husband) appeals the family court's final order and final amended order. Melissa Star Nelson (Wife) appeals the family court's order granting Husband's motion pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. On appeal, Husband argues the family court erred in (1) finding the parties' property at 6 Judith Street had no mortgage; (2) valuing the property at 6 Judith Street; (3) finding Husband had a 50% ownership interest in 6 Judith Street; (4) valuing parties' property at 109 North Shelmore Boulevard; (5) failing to equitably divide the parties' debt; (6) including a vehicle owned by Wife's father as a marital asset and the loan to finance that vehicle as a marital debt; (7) making numerous findings not supported by the record; (8) failing to credit Husband for using the sale of proceeds from an investment property at 18 Reid Street for marital purposes; (9) failing to equitably divide the parties' personal property; and (10) requiring Husband to contribute to Wife's attorney's fees. In her cross-appeal, Wife argues the family court erred in (1) finding excusable neglect existed to grant Husband's Rule 60(b) motion; (2) causing her unfair prejudice by granting Husband's Rule 60(b) motion; and (3) failing to find Husband was estopped from seeking relief under Rule 60(b) due to his own bad conduct. We affirm.

5679 - Curry v. Carolina Insurance Group of SC

In this cross-appeal involving an insurance contract, Carolina Insurance Group of South Carolina, Inc. (CIG) and Maurice Derrick (collectively, CIG/Derrick) appeal the circuit court's (1) grant of Porthemos Curry's motion for summary judgment as to their affirmative defense of release and (2) considering extrinsic evidence in dismissing their defense of release. Curry also appeals, arguing the circuit court abused its discretion in granting CIG/Derrick's motion to amend their answer at trial to assert the affirmative defense of release. We affirm.

5680 - Newbern v. Ford Motor Company

Steven and Claudia Newbern sued Ford Motor Company alleging strict liability and negligence claims against Ford because of injuries Mr. Newbern suffered when the airbag in their vehicle deployed during an accident. On appeal, the Newberns argue the trial court erred in granting Ford's motion for directed verdict. Finding a lack of evidence in the record to support the Newberns' claims, we affirm.

5681 - Ralph v. McLaughlin

This case involves a property dispute on Seabrook Island between neighbors Richard and Eugenia Ralph ("the Ralphs"), and Paul and Susan McLaughlin ("the McLaughlins"). The dispute in question concerns the destruction of a drainage easement by the McLaughlins that, the Ralphs allege, exacerbated drainage issues on the Ralphs' property. At trial, the jury found for the Ralphs on their cause of action for trespass and awarded them $1,000 in nominal damages. On appeal, the Ralphs argue the circuit court erred in 1) failing to apply the rulings and factual determinations from a previous grant of summary judgment to a third-party defendant as the law of the case; 2) entering a directed verdict for the McLaughlins on the issue of punitive damages; 3) failing to find the McLaughlins trespassed as a matter of law; and 4) failing to grant the Ralphs a new trial absolute, a new trial nisi additur, or a new trial on damages. We reverse and remand the case for a new trial on compensatory damages and punitive damages.

8-28-2019 - Opinions

5682 - A.O. Smith Corp v. SCHEC

A.O. Smith Corporation appeals the dismissal of its contested case regarding the Town of McBee's (the Town) operation of the Town's wells, arguing the administrative law court erred in finding final approvals are not staff decisions subject to appeal under section 44-1-60 of the South Carolina Code because the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control had a legal duty to issue the final approvals and the applicable regulation does not provide for conditional approvals. We affirm.