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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Supreme Court Published Opinions - March 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.


3-4-2020 - Opinions

27950 - York v. Longlands Plantation

In this contest for death benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act, we must determine whether a girlfriend can qualify as a dependent. The commission found that because the girlfriend was engaged in an illicit relationship in violation of our fornication statute, she could not recover the death benefits as a matter of public policy. The court of appeals reversed, finding, notwithstanding the fact the girlfriend's initial claim was based on being the deceased's common-law wife, there was no evidence of fornication in the record. Because the relevant facts are not in dispute, we reverse and award benefits to the deceased's mother.

3-11-2020 - Opinions

27951 - Crane v. Raber's Discount Tire Rack

After granting a writ of certiorari to review the court of appeals decision in Crane v. Raber's Discount Tire Rack, Op. No. 2018-UP-085 (S.C. Ct. App. filed Feb. 14, 2018), we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand to the commission for a new hearing as to whether Danny Crane is entitled to temporary total disability benefits, permanent impairment, or future medical care. The commissioner who initially heard Crane's case found he was not credible. It was improper for the commissioner to deny Crane's claims for hearing loss based on credibility without explaining any basis on which the credibility finding could justify ignoring objective medical evidence.

27952 - State v. Field

We affirm the sentencing court's decision to grant Field credit for time served because the State did not preserve its argument for our review.

27953 - Ethier v. Fairfield Memorial

In this medical malpractice action, Petitioners Phillip and Jeanne Ethier appeal a verdict in favor of Respondent Dr. Guy Bibeau, who misdiagnosed a popliteal aneurysm as a probable spider bite. Petitioners contend the court of appeals erred in affirming the trial court's decision to deny granting a new trial based on intentional juror concealment and premature deliberations. We reverse and remand for a new trial.

27954 - State v. Prather

Robert Jared Prather was convicted of murder and strong arm robbery. The court of appeals reversed Prather's convictions and remanded the case for a new trial. State v. Prather, 422 S.C. 96, 810 S.E.2d 419 (Ct. App. 2017). We granted the State's petition for a writ of certiorari. We now reverse the court of appeals and reinstate Prather's convictions and sentences.

3-18-2020 - Opinions

27955 - State v. Kinard

We issued a writ of certiorari to review the court of appeals' decision in State v. Kinard, 427 S.C. 367, 831 S.E.2d 138 (Ct. App. 2019). We now dismiss the writ as improvidently granted.

27956 - In the Matter of Samuel Drose

The Court accepted an agreement for Discipline by Consent entered into between Respondent and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel in which Respondent admitted his conduct violated provisions of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct and constituted grounds for discipline. The Court suspend Respondent from the practice of law for three years, retroactive to the date of his interim suspension, and ordered Respondent repay $26,437.32 the Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection paid out on his behalf.

27957 - Westbrook v. Murkin Group

The Court found a Florida limited liability company that provides debt collection services to its clients in exchange for a contingency fee engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in South Carolina and enjoined the company from engaging in any further such conduct.

27958 - State v. Smith

The Court reverses Petitioner's convictions and remands for a new trial, finding felony attempted-murder is not a recognized crime in South Carolina, and the trial court may not give an implied malice jury charge when there is also evidence the defendant acted in self-defense.

3-25-2020 - Opinions

27959 - State v. Simmons

Appellant was convicted of six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in the second degree. This Court certified the case from the Court of Appeals pursuant to Rule 204(b), SCACR, to consider whether: (1) section 16-15-405 of the South Carolina Code, which criminalizes the sexual exploitation of a minor, is unconstitutionally overbroad; (2) the trial court erred in finding Simmons opened the door to the introduction of a computer forensic examiner's testimony regarding the contents of an external hard drive; (3) the trial court erred in refusing to suppress evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant; and (4) the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on third-party guilt. While we uphold the constitutionality of section 16-15-405 and the validity of the search warrant, we reverse Simmons' convictions because the trial court erred in finding defense counsel opened the door.