In The Court of Appeals

University of Georgia,        Respondent,


Thomas J. Michael,        Appellant.

Appeal From Charleston County
Roger M. Young, Circuit Court Judge

Unpublished Opinion No. 2003-UP-054
Submitted November 20, 2002 – Filed January 17, 2003


Thomas J. Michael, of Charleston; for Appellant.

Leo A. Dryer, Jr., of Columbia; for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Thomas J. Michael appeals a judgment in favor of the University of Georgia for $3,218.38 plus costs.  We affirm. [1]


The University of Georgia brought this collection action on an account due for veterinarian services rendered to Michael’s two dogs.  After Michael paid the original estimate, he refused to pay the balance due because the dog treated for advanced cancer died, and the dog with cataracts became blind following surgery.  Based on his failure to answer requests to admit, the trial court granted judgment to the University for the full amount due.

Initially, we address Michael’s request for a jury trial.  A pro se litigant who is not an attorney is not generally granted greater latitude than anyone else in a judicial proceeding.  “Lack of familiarity with legal proceedings is unacceptable and the court will not hold a layman to any lesser standard than is applied to an attorney.”  Goodson v. Am. Bankers, Inc., 295 S.C. 400, 403, 368 S.E.2d 687, 689 (Ct. App. 1988); see also McCall v. A-T-O, Inc., 276 S.C. 143, 146, 276 S.E.2d 529, 530 (1981) (“This Court has never held a layman to a lesser standard than attorneys.”)

Rule 38 (a), SCRCP, provides: “The right of trial by jury as declared by the Constitution or as given by a statute of South Carolina shall be preserved to the parties inviolate.  Issues of fact in an action for the recovery of money only . . . must be tried by a jury, unless a jury trial be waived.”  Rule 38(a), SCRCP (emphasis added). 

Michael did not answer the University’s Requests to Admit.  Rule 36, SCRCP provides in pertinent part:

A party may serve upon any other party a written request for the admission, for purposes of the pending action only, of the truth of any matters within the scope of Rule 26(b) set forth in the request that relate to statements or opinions of fact or of the application of law to fact, including the genuineness of any documents described in the request. . . .

. . . The matter is admitted unless, within 30 days after service of the request . . . the party to whom the request is directed serves upon the party requesting the admission a written answer or objection addressed to the matter. . . .

. . . The court may . . . determine that final disposition of the request be made at a pre-trial conference or at any designated time prior to trial. . . .

(b) . . . Any matter admitted under this rule is conclusively established unless the court on motion permits withdrawal or amendment of the admission. . . .

Rule 36(a)&(b), SCRCP (emphasis added).  Failure to respond to request for admissions deems them admitted.  Hatchell v. Jackson, 290 S.C. 256, 258, 349 S.E.2d 407, 408 (Ct. App. 1986).  It is a well-established principle of law that “[s]ummary judgment is appropriate when it is clear there is no genuine issue of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”  Faile v. S.C. Dep’t of Juvenile Justice, 350 S.C. 315, 323, 566 S.E.2d 536, 540 (2002); see also Shaw v. City of Charleston, 351 S.C. 32, 40, 567 S.E.2d 530, 534 (Ct. App. 2002).

Thus, because all facts were deemed admitted and no factual issues remained to be resolved, Michael was not entitled to a trial by jury.  Moreover, as the trial court noted, the payment agreement specifically stated in bold print that it was not a fee quotation but merely an estimate subject to change.

The remainder of Michael’s issues on appeal are deemed abandoned and are affirmed pursuant to Rule 220(b), SCACR and the following authorities:  First Savings Bank v. McLean, 314 S.C. 361, 363, 444 S.E.2d 513, 514 (1994) (Appellant has abandoned his issues where he fails to “provide arguments or supporting authority for his assertion.”  The party challenging the ruling below has the burden of showing error.); Fields v. Melrose Ltd. P’ship, 312 S.C. 102, 106 n.3, 439 S.E.2d 283, 285, n.3 (Ct. App. 1993) (An issue is deemed abandoned on appeal, and therefore, not presented for review, if it is argued in a short, conclusory statement without supporting authority.); Video Gaming Consultants, Inc. v. S.C. Dep’t of Revenue, 342 S.C. 34, 42 n.7, 535 S.E.2d 642, 646 n.7 (2000); Glasscock, Inc. v. U.S. Fid. & Guar. Co., 348 S.C. 76, 81, 557 S.E.2d 689, 691 (Ct. App. 2001) (“South Carolina law clearly states that short, conclusory statements made without supporting authority are deemed abandoned on appeal and therefore not presented for review.”).



[1]           We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.