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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Supreme Court Published Opinions - July 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.

7-3-2019 - Opinions

27899 - In the Matter of Melisa White Gay

7-17-2019 - Opinions

27900 - Martin v. State

We reverse the denial of post-conviction relief and remand for a new trial.

7-24-2019 - Opinions

27901 - Odom v. Town of McBee Election Comm

This is an appeal arising from a McBee Town Council election contest commenced by candidate Glenn Odom. We affirm the circuit court's decision to remand the proceedings to the McBee Municipal Election Commission. We modify the circuit court's order in two ways: first, we hold section 5-15-130 of the South Carolina Code (2004), standing alone, requires the four votes to be counted; second, to the extent that the circuit court's decision can be read to order the Commission to declare Odom a prevailing candidate without the four votes first being counted, we hold the four votes must first be counted before the results of the election can be determined. We remand to the Commission and order it to unseal the four provisional votes and apply those votes to the vote totals of the candidate(s) for whom the votes were cast, with the results of the election to then be declared accordingly.

27902 - Neumayer v. Philadelphia Indemnity

In this case, we decide whether notice clauses in automobile insurance policies are rendered meaningless by Section 38-77-142(C) of the South Carolina Code (2015). The trial court found the clause in this policy void and accordingly required the insurance company to pay the full default judgment entered against its insured. The insurer appealed, and we now reverse.

27903 - State v. Cross

We reverse the court of appeals' decision in State v. Cross, Op. No. 2016-UP-257 (S.C. Ct. App. filed June 8, 2016), and remand for a new trial, holding the trial court erred in denying Petitioner's motion to bifurcate his trial.

27904 - Wickersham v. Ford Motor Co

We answer two certified questions from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

27905 - Daufuskie Island v. SC Office of Regulatory Staff

Daufuskie Island Utility Company, Inc. (DIUC) appeals an order of the Public Service Commission regarding DIUC's application for a rate increase for the water and sewer service it provides to residents of Daufuskie Island. This is DIUC's second appeal to this Court regarding its application. After DIUC's first appeal, we reversed and remanded the case to the commission for a new hearing. On remand, the Office of Regulatory Staff and the commission employed an arbitrary, heightened standard of scrutiny to the evidence DIUC presented in support of a rate increase. This arbitrary, heightened standard of scrutiny affected substantial rights of DIUC. Therefore, we reverse the commission's order and remand to the commission for a third hearing on DIUC's application.

27906 - Tucker v. SCDOT

In this appeal from the workers' compensation commission, we address the timing requirement in South Carolina Code subsection 42-17-90(A) (2015) for a claim based on a change of condition.We hold the timing requirement is satisfied upon the filing of a Form 50 to initiate the claim.

27907 - Charleston County Assessor v. University Ventures

The Court affirms the court of appeals as modified, finding the court of appeals erred in determining which calendar years fell within the Charleston County Assessor's reassessment cycle, but correctly determined the value of the taxpayer's property.

27908 - Stone v. Thompson

This case initially came to the Court to consider whether an order from a bifurcated hearing determining the existence of a common-law marriage was immediately appealable. In Stone v. Thompson, 426 S.C. 291, 826 S.E.2d 868 (2019), we held it was and retained jurisdiction to consider the merits. We must now determine whether the family court was correct in finding Susan Thompson and Marion Stone were common-law married in 1989, as well as whether Stone was entitled to an award of attorney's fees. Our review in this case has prompted us to take stock of common-law marriage as a whole in South Carolina, and we believe the time has come to join the overwhelming national trend and abolish it, although we do so purely prospectively. As a result, the case before us remains. We do not believe Stone demonstrated the mutual assent required to prove a common-law marriage, and as a result, we hold the parties were not married and reverse the family court on the merits and as to the issue of attorney's fees.

27909 - Progressive Direct v. Reeves

On a certified question from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, we hold, under the present facts, the insurance company was not required to make an additional offer of underinsured motorist coverage.

7-31-2019 - Opinions

27910 - State v. Burdette

The Court reverses the court of appeals' decision and remands for a new trial. We hold the trial court's erroneous jury instruction was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. We also hold, regardless of the evidence presented at trial, a trial court shall no longer instruct a jury that malice may be inferred from the use of a deadly weapon.

27911 - Fishburne v. State

This case stems from the post-conviction relief (PCR) court's denial of relief to Derrick Fishburne. Because the PCR court's order contains no findings of fact as to one of Fishburne's primary PCR claims, we remand this matter to the PCR court for the PCR court to issue an order setting forth adequate findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding Fishburne's unaddressed PCR claim. In doing so, we again stress that PCR orders must be prepared in compliance with section 17-27-80 of the South Carolina Code (2014) and Rule 52(a) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.