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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Supreme Court Published Opinions - September 2022

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.

9-14-2022 - Opinions

28110 - Books-A-Million, Inc., v. South Carolina Department of Revenue

For $25 per year, customers of Books-A-Million ("taxpayer") can become members in the "Millionaires Club" to receive retail discounts. These memberships became the subject of a tax audit by the South Carolina Department of Revenue and, as a result, taxpayer was assessed nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars in back taxes. The Administrative Law Court ("ALC") agreed with the Department's assessment, and the court of appeals affirmed on the grounds that the "proceeding or accruing" language of our sales tax act includes the returns from Millionaire's Club sales. We affirm.

28111 - Poly-Med, Inc. v. Novus Scientific Pte. Ltd., Novus Scientific, Inc.; Novus Scientific AB

In answering certified questions from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the Court holds South Carolina does not recognize the continuing breach theory in applying the statute of limitations to breach-of-contract claims, but whether separate breaches trigger a new, separate statute of limitations depends on what the contracting parties intended.

28112 - South Carolina Public Interest Foundation and John Crangle v. Alan Wilson, Attorney General for the State of South Carolina

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson retained Respondents Willoughby & Hoefer, P.A., and Davidson, Wren & DeMasters, P.A., (collectively, the Law Firms) to represent the State in litigation against the United States Department of Energy (DOE). Wilson and the Law Firms executed a litigation retention agreement, which provided that the Law Firms were hired on a contingent fee basis. Appellants challenged the contingency fee provision, claiming it was unconstitutional and unreasonable. The circuit court dismissed Appellants' claims for lack of standing. We reverse the circuit court's finding that Appellants lack public importance standing and remand for the circuit court to consider the merits of Appellants' claims.

28113 - Jimmy A. Richardson, II, Solicitor for the 15th Judicial Circuit v. Twenty Thousand Seven Hundred Seventy-One, U.S. Currency and Travis Green

This case presents a facial challenge to our civil asset forfeiture statutory scheme following law enforcement's seizure of cash and contraband during the execution of a search warrant. The circuit court concluded sections 44-53-520 and -530 of the South Carolina Code (2018) are facially unconstitutional under both the Excessive Fines Clause and the Due Process Clause of the federal and state constitutions. We reverse and remand to the circuit court.

28114 - Patricia Damico and Lenna Lucas v. Lennar Carolinas, LLC, Spring Grove Plantation Development, Inc

The Court affirms in part and reverses in part the decision of the court of appeals, finding (1) the Federal Arbitration Act applies; (2) the arbitration agreement is contained solely within Section 16 of the purchase and sale agreement; and (3) the arbitration agreement is unconscionable. The Court therefore reinstates the circuit court's denial of Lennar's motion to compel arbitration and remands for further proceedings.

9-21-2022 - Opinions

28115 - Progressive Direct v. Shanna Groves

In this case we determine whether uninsured or underinsured benefits may be recovered when an individual is shot and killed by another motorist as both cars are stopped at a traffic light. In deciding this question, we revisit and attempt to clarify our somewhat conflicting jurisprudence as to whether such injuries arise out of the "ownership, maintenance, or use" of an automobile. We hold that gunshot injuries do not arise out of the use of an automobile. Therefore, we reverse the court of appeals and reinstate the judgment of the circuit court.

28116 - The State v. John McCarty

The circuit court denied Petitioner's motion for immunity under the South Carolina Protection of Persons and Property Act for his use of deadly force to defend another individual who was being attacked at their home. The court of appeals affirmed. We granted a petition for a writ of certiorari and now reverse the decision of the court of appeals and remand the matter to the circuit court.

9-28-2022 - Opinions

28117 - State v. Michael N. Frasier, Jr.

Petitioner Michael Frasier was convicted of trafficking cocaine in excess of 100 grams after police discovered cocaine during a traffic stop for an inoperable brake light. The questions before the Court concern whether police had reasonable suspicion to prolong the traffic encounter and whether Frasier consented to the search. The trial court concluded the officer had reasonable suspicion and Frasier consented, and the court of appeals affirmed. In deciding these two issues, we clarify the scope of this Court's standard of review in the Fourth Amendment context. Ultimately, we reverse the court of appeals because law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion to prolong the traffic stop and Frasier did not consent to the search.