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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Court of Appeals Published Opinions - July 2023

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.

7-5-2023 - Opinions

5987 - The State v. Tammy C. Moorer

Tammy C. Moorer (Tammy) appeals her convictions for kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap. She argues the trial court erred in (1) failing to grant her motion for a directed verdict; (2) admitting text messages that were sexually explicit and referenced drug use; (3) allowing an expert in forensic video analysis to testify the Moorers' truck was the vehicle videotaped going to and from the area where Victim was last known to be; (4) excluding her alibi witnesses because she failed to comply with Rule 5(e)(1), SCRCrimP; and (5) excluding several defense witnesses because they violated the sequestration order. We affirm.

5997 - Washington v. State

In this post-conviction relief (PCR) action, Mack Washington, Jr. appeals the denial of his PCR application. He contends the PCR court erred in not finding trial counsel was ineffective for failing to preserve the issue of an improper closing argument for direct appeal when the solicitor referred to "a pattern" of conduct and asked the jury "[w]ho among us is safe[?]" We reverse.

7-12-2023 - Opinions

5998 - Annie L. Myers v. Town of Calhoun Falls

In this property dispute involving the abandonment of a railway line, Annie Myers and other property owners (collectively, Respondents) sought a judgment against Savannah Valley Trails, Inc. and the Town of Calhoun Falls (collectively, SVT) declaring Respondents were the property owners in fee simple of their respective properties, which were each subject to an easement held by Seaboard System Railroad, Inc. (Railroad). On appeal, SVT argues (1) the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction; (2) the doctrine of laches barred Respondents' claims; and (3) the trial court erred in finding that when Railroad abandoned the line at issue, the rights accompanying the previously granted easements reverted back to Respondents. We affirm.

7-19-2023 - Opinions

6000 - Jeffrey Fossett v. Melissa Fossett

In this custody dispute, Appellant Jeffrey Fossett (Father) challenges an order denying a modification of his and Melissa Fossett's (Mother) custody arrangement. Father maintains that the family court erred in failing to consider some substantial changes in circumstances and argues that the attorney's and guardian ad litem's (GAL) fee arrangements are inequitable. We affirm.

7-26-2023 - Opinions

6001 - Green v. McGee

This case arises out of an unusual car wreck. Green sued Hudgins and McGee, claiming both were at fault for the wreck even though the only collision was between McGee's vehicle and hers. She won a verdict of roughly $88,000 actual damages, punitive damages of $35,000 against McGee, and punitive damages of $35,000 against Hudgins. She appealed. Hudgins, the instigator of the vehicular pursuit, filed a cross-appeal. The main issue in the case is how to properly account for Green's $100,000 pretrial settlement with McGee's insurance carrier. Both Green and Hudgins argue the trial court erred on this point, but they reach different conclusions. Green argues the trial court impermissibly converted the separate punitive awards to a joint award and that she is due more money, not less. Hudgins argues that his liability to Green is completely extinguished because even though the jury awarded Green more than $100,000 in damages, Hudgins' share of the judgment is less than the $100,000 Green has already received. We agree that the trial court's setoff calculation was not correct, but we disagree with Hudgins' argument that this extinguishes all of his liability to Green. We respectfully disagree with the parties' remaining arguments for reversal.

6002 - Downing v. Downing

Richard W. Downing (Husband) appeals the family court's order denying his request for a reduction in his alimony obligation and awarding attorney's fees to Rebecca B. Downing (Wife). On appeal, Husband argues the family court (1) failed to analyze the factors enumerated in section 20-3-170(B) of the South Carolina Code (2014), (2) improperly characterized his deferred compensation benefit as income, (3) erred in finding there had not been a material change in circumstances, and (4) erred in awarding Wife $42,000 in attorney's fees. We affirm.

6003 - Gleaton v. Orangeburg County

This is an appeal in an action for slander of title. The story began with a flawed tax sale, but there were several mistakes for years after. The master-in-equity found in favor of Orangeburg County based on findings that the County did not publish a false statement impugning the owner's title and did not act with malice. We agree with the owner's arguments that the record does not support the master's findings and that the master did not apply the proper legal standard. Therefore, we reverse and remand.

6004 - Abruzzo v. Bravo Media Productions LLC

Bravo Media Productions, LLC, Haymaker Media, Inc., NBC Universal Media, LLC, Comcast Corporation, Craig Conover, Chelsea Meissner, and Madison LeCroy (Appellants) appeal the circuit court's Form 4 Order denying their motion to dismiss Joseph Abruzzo's amended complaint and compel arbitration. Appellants assert the arbitrator should decide whether Abruzzo's claims are subject to arbitration. We reverse the circuit court's order and remand for an order compelling arbitration.

6005 - South Carolina CVS Pharmacy v. KPP Hilton Head, LLC

This case is about an option to renew a commercial lease. The tenant, South Carolina CVS Pharmacy, LLC, mailed its written notice of its intent to exercise the option, and it was available for the landlord to pick up at the local post office a day before the lease's deadline for providing notice. The landlord did not retrieve the notice until the following week. The master-in-equity found CVS did not comply with the deadline. CVS argues this decision was error. We agree with CVS and reverse.