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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Court of Appeals Published Opinions - January 2020

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.

1-8-2020 - Opinions

5705 - McCord v. Laurens County Health Care System

This appeal presents the question of whether a hospital, by virtue of either the language in its admission contract or an alleged special relationship with its patients, owes a duty to ensure a doctor practicing at the hospital maintains malpractice insurance coverage. Because we hold under these specific facts that Laurens County Health Care System and its successor Greenville Health System (collectively, Hospital) had no such duty to Appellants in contract or tort, we affirm the trial court's grant of summary judgment to Hospital.

5706 - State v. Simpson

The State appealed Jamie Lee Simpson's sentence following his guilty plea to four counts of second degree sexual exploitation of a minor, arguing the circuit court erred in permitting home detention in lieu of the minimum two years' imprisonment mandated by section 16 15 405 of the South Carolina Code. We reverse.

5707 - Pickens County v. SCDHEC

Pickens County (the County) appeals an Administrative Law Court (ALC) order dismissing its challenges to an unnoticed permit modification issued to MRR Pickens, LLC (MRR) by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The County argues the ALC erred in (1) dismissing the County's challenge to DHEC's permitting decision as untimely without considering whether DHEC complied with statutory and regulatory notice requirements; (2) dismissing based on the County's purported failure to exhaust administrative remedies; (3) granting MRR and DHEC's (collectively, Respondents) motions to dismiss based on evidence beyond the pleadings while denying the County the opportunity to conduct discovery; and (4) dismissing the case as untimely without resolving the status of the proposed intervenors. We reverse and remand.

1-15-2020 - Opinions

5708 - Beverly v. Grand Strand Regional

Jeanne Beverly appeals the circuit court's order granting Grand Strand Medical Center LLC's (Grand Strand's) motion to dismiss Beverly's claims for breach of contract, bad faith, and unjust enrichment. Beverly argues the circuit court erred in: (1) finding Beverly is not an intended third-party beneficiary of the preferred provider contract between Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of South Carolina and Grand Strand and (2) dismissing Beverly's claim for unjust enrichment, despite her complaint's allegation that Grand Strand impermissibly collected payments from Beverly and others "at a higher value than contracted for with BCBS." We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand to the circuit court for further proceedings.

5709 - Burke v. SCDOT

In this appeal, we must decide whether prejudgment interest in an inverse condemnation case is a question for the jury or the court. We conclude it is one for the court, and affirm the trial court's award of prejudgment interest.

5710 - Carter v. Bryant

Following the nolle pros dismissal of an assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (ABHAN) charge against him, Russell Shane Carter sued former York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant, in his official capacity as York County Sheriff, for false arrest and malicious prosecution. The trial court directed a verdict for Bryant on the false arrest claim but let the malicious prosecution claim proceed. The jury awarded Carter $150,000 actual damages. Both sides now appeal. Carter appeals the directed verdict against him on his false arrest claim and the exclusion of his expert witness. We affirm these rulings. Bryant raises several issues on appeal, including the fundamental one that the trial court should have granted him a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on Carter's malicious prosecution claim because the only reasonable inference from the evidence was that there was probable cause to arrest Carter. We agree with Bryant and, therefore, reverse the judgment against him.

5711 - Garrison v. Target Corporation

In this negligence action, Appellants/Respondents, Carla Denise Garrison and Clint Garrison (the Garrisons), challenge the circuit court's order setting aside the jury's $4.5 million punitive damages award, arguing (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that the conduct of Respondent/Appellant Target Corporation (Target) was reckless, willful, or wanton; (2) the verdict was not excessive; and (3) Target waived the application of the punitive damages caps set forth in section 15-32-530(A) of the South Carolina Code (Supp. 2018). The Garrisons also challenge the circuit court's pre-judgment interest award, arguing the circuit court erred by calculating the interest on compensatory damages only. Target appeals the circuit court's denial of its motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict as to liability, arguing there was insufficient evidence of Target's constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition on its premises. Target also appeals the denial of its motion for a new trial absolute, arguing the punitive damages award reflected the jury's passion, caprice, and prejudice. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for a remittitur of the jury's punitive damages award.

1-22-2020 - Opinions

5712 - Halsey v. Simmons

In this action to declare a delinquent property tax sale invalid, Appellants Brenda Halsey ("Mrs. Halsey") and her children contend that the Master-In-Equity erred in finding county officials by way of Respondents Vernon L. Price, the Delinquent Tax Collector, and Jackie W. Williams, the County Treasurer, strictly complied with the notice requirements of S.C. Code Ann. ยง 12-51-40 (2014). Specifically, Appellants contend that the Master erred by (1) finding the tax sale valid because (i) the notices were not sent to the best address available, and (ii) the notices were not sent to Mrs. Halsey; and (2) granting a directed verdict for Respondents because (i) Appellants were denied the opportunity to present evidence, (ii) the testimony showed that the requirements of section 12-51-40 were not followed, (iii) the ruling was based on an incomplete record, and (iv) Price had actual notice that Mrs. Halsey was the owner of the property at issue. We affirm.