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

8-5-2020 - Opinions

5753 - Beneficial Financial I v. Jon Windham

In this foreclosure action, Beneficial Financial I Inc., lender, challenges the grant of summary judgment to Jon Windham, borrower, on his counterclaims. Beneficial argues Windham was not entitled to the award even though Beneficial did not submit evidence in opposition at the hearing because Windham did not meet his burden of proof for any of the causes of action. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

8-12-2020 - Opinions

5755 - Connelly v. The Main Street America Group

Stephany A. Connelly and James M. Connelly (Respondents) filed this declaratory judgment action against The Main Street America Group, Old Dominion Insurance Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company (collectively, Insurers), Debbie Cohn, and Freya Trezona. Insurers appeal the trial court's grant of summary judgment to Respondents. Insurers argue the trial court erred in (1) finding legal entitlement to recovery is not a condition precedent to recovery of uninsured motorist coverage; (2) finding the immunity granted by the Workers' Compensation Act transforms a fully insured vehicle into an uninsured vehicle; and (3) failing to effectuate legislative intent. We affirm.

5756 - Wayne's Automotive Center v. SCDPS

This cross-appeal arises from Wayne's Automotive Center, Inc.'s (Wayne's) sanction by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (the Department) relating to a towing bill issued to a third-party, J.H.O.C., Inc. d/b/a Premier Transportation (Premier). The Administrative Law Court (ALC) reduced the sanction issued by the Department from a 120-day suspension from the Department's wrecker rotation schedule to a 60-day suspension. Wayne's maintains the ALC erred in not vacating the suspension entirely. The Department contends the ALC erred in not upholding the 120-day suspension. We affirm.

5757 - Grant v. Chevrolet

In this action filed pursuant to the South Carolina Regulation of Manufacturers, Distributors, and Dealers Act (the Dealers Act), Jud Kuhn Chevrolet (Dealer) appeals the circuit court's order compelling class arbitration. On appeal, Dealer contends the arbitration clause is silent as to class arbitration, and thus, the circuit court erred in inferring the parties' consent to class arbitration from the Dealers Act and the American Arbitration Association's (AAA) Supplementary Rules for Class Arbitrations (the Supplemental Rules). We agree and reverse the circuit court's order in part.

5758 - State v. Franks

Deshanndon M. Franks appeals his convictions for murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Franks argues the trial court erred by qualifying the State's witness as an expert and by instructing the jury it could infer malice from the use of a deadly weapon. We affirm.

8-19-2020 - Opinions

5759 - Young v. Keel

In this declaratory judgment action appeal, we must decide whether the expungement of Andrew Young's conviction for Lewd Act with a minor relieves him of the requirement to register as a sex offender. We conclude it does not.

5760 - State v. Gibbs

This opinion holds the circuit court did not err in allowing a police officer to testify about the basic function of certain firearms in light of that officer's experience with firearms and that the circuit court did not err in allowing the State to reference that officer's testimony during its closing argument.

5761 - Fine Housing, Inc. v. Sloan

In this legal malpractice action, Fine Housing, Inc. appeals the circuit court's order granting William Sloan Jr.'s motion to disqualify Fine Housing's counsel, Charles Altman, as a necessary witness. We affirm as modified.

5762 - Carpenter v. SCDC

Charles Carpenter alleges he is being unlawfully held in prison because his sentences for conspiracy in trafficking cocaine and conspiracy in trafficking marijuana have expired. He raised these allegations in two separate civil actions: a petition for writ of habeas corpus and a declaratory judgment action. After a bench trial, the circuit court ruled Carpenter was procedurally barred from raising his allegations in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, and even if not barred, his allegations lacked merit. The circuit court therefore granted declaratory judgment in favor of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC). Carpenter appeals these findings and also claims the circuit court erred in failing to rule on his declaratory judgment claims against the State and by failing to disclose a disqualifying bias in favor of the State. We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand in part.

5763 - State v. Weatherall

Mitchell Weatherall appeals his conviction for murder and his sentence of life imprisonment. Weatherall argues the trial court abused its discretion by (1) denying his Batson challenges, which were based on race and sexual orientation, and (2) refusing to charge section 17-25-65 of the South Carolina Code (2015) because an imprisoned State's witness testified he did not expect to receive any benefit from his testimony. We affirm.

5764 - State Farm v. Windham

Myra M. Windham appeals the circuit court's grant of summary judgment to State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company on its declaratory judgment action. State Farm sought a determination that Windham could not stack her underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage from her policies with it when she was in an automobile accident while driving a rental car. We reverse.

5765 - Turner v. Thomas

In this domestic relations matter, Richard Thomas (Grandfather) appeals the family court's findings, arguing the family court erred in (1) finding Charles Garrard, Jr. (Garrard) is the de facto custodian of the minor child (Child), (2) admitting improper hearsay evidence, (3) finding Garrard is a psychological parent to Child, (4) awarding custody of Child to Mitzi Turner (Grandmother), (5) requiring Grandfather to pay Grandmother's and Garrad's attorneys' fees, and (6) requiring Grandfather to pay a greater share of the Guardian Ad Litem's (GAL) fees. We affirm.

5766 - State v. Hopkins

In this criminal appeal, Rohaime Jamar Hopkins appeals his conviction for murder. On appeal, Hopkins argues the trial court erred in (1) admitting State's Exhibits 7 and 8 (the Cell Phone Records), (2) admitting State's Exhibit 9 (the Text Message), and (3) allowing Michael Taylor's testimony. We affirm.

5767 - Hillerby v. State

In this appeal of an order denying Post Conviction Relief, the Petitioner claims the circuit court erred in finding trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to consult with a forensic pathologist and failing to present a pathologist's testimony during his trial for homicide by child abuse. We affirm the denial of relief because we agree with the PCR court's finding that it is not reasonably likely this evidence would have affected the end result at trial.

5768 - State v. Nelson

Antwuan Levon Nelson appeals from his convictions for voluntary manslaughter and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, asserting the trial court erred in refusing to grant him a continuance or declare a mistrial when his key defense witness was in the hospital and unavailable to testify. We reverse Nelson's convictions and remand for a new trial.

8-26-2020 - Opinions

5770 - Sanders v. Smith

Cynthia Sanders (Wife) appeals the family court's order denying her motion to set aside or vacate a 2010 divorce decree granting William Smith (Husband) a default divorce on the ground of one year's continuous separation. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

5771 - Whitesell v. Whitesell

This opinion holds the family court did not err in not specifically evaluating each witnesses' credibility and that the family court did not err in finding that Mother properly pled a claim for attorney's fees. Further, no errors combined to deprive Father of a fair trial.

5772 - Nexstar Media Group, Inc. v. Davis Roofing Group, LLC

Nexstar brought an action against Davis Roofing and Mahoney for a judgment for the balance due for advertising services Nexstar provided to Davis Roofing based upon an agreement Mahoney signed. Davis Roofing argued requests to admit it sent to Mahoney should be deemed admitted under Rule 36, SCRCP, because Mahoney did not respond. The Master-in-Equity declined to deem the unanswered requests admitted, and Davis Roofing appealed. We affirm the decision of the master.