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South Carolina
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Case of the Month
April 2005

Case Overview

Edward D. Sloan, Jr., individually and as a Citizen, Resident, Taxpayer and Registered Elector of the State of South Carolina, and on behalf of all others similarly situation v. The Department of Transportation, an Agency of South Carolina, and the Commission of the Department of Transportation, Robert W. Harrell, John N. Hardee, Eugene Stoddard, F. Hugh Atkins, B. Bayles Mack, L. Morgan Martin, and J.M. Truluck, in their capacities as Commissioners thereof.

Mr. Sloan brought three actions against respondents in an effort to enjoin the construction of three highway projects (Carolina Bays Parkway in Horry County; Highway 170 in Beaufort County; Cooper River Bridge in Charleston County). He maintained the design/build method of awarding contracts for these projects did not comply with the bidding and bond requirements set forth in S.C. Code Ann. §§ 57-5-1620 and -1660 (Supp. 2004). The cases were consolidated for trial. The trial judge found Mr. Sloan lacked standing as a taxpayer and that he did not have a particularized interest in the controversy. However, the trial judge allowed Mr. Sloan to proceed with the action, finding it involved a matter of great public importance. The trial judge eventually granted respondents’ motion for summary judgment.

Both Mr. Sloan and respondents filed an appeal. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial judge’s findings that Mr. Sloan lacked standing as a taxpayer and that he did not have a particularized interest in the controversy. However, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge’s finding that the issues involved were of such significant public importance to warrant allowing Mr. Sloan to proceed with the litigation. Sloan v. Dep’t of Transp., Op. No. 2003-UP-416 (S.C. Ct. App. filed June 19, 2003).

Mr. Sloan filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the South Carolina Supreme Court in which he argued the Court of Appeals erred in finding he did not have standing as a taxpayer to maintain the litigation. Specifically, Mr. Sloan maintained that as a state taxpayer he has an interest in the issues involved that is distinct from state citizens as a whole. He also maintained the Court of Appeals created two new rules limiting taxpayer standing: (1) that taxpayer standing may only be used to challenge unconstitutional statutes and not mere violations of statutes; and (2) a taxpayer cannot have standing if his individual interest is de minimis. He also argued the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the trial judge’s decision to allow him to proceed with the actions because they involve issues of public importance. Specifically, Mr. Sloan took issue with the Court of Appeals’ finding that he should not have been allowed to proceed on the basis of the public importance of the issues because there were potential plaintiffs who were directly affected by respondents’ actions who did not bring suit alleging respondents’ procedures were improper. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the Court of Appeals’ decision in light of the arguments made by Mr. Sloan.


Case Briefs

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Petitioner's Amended Brief (2 MB)

Brief of Respondent (2.65 MB)
Petitioner's Reply Brief (1.05 MB)

 


Oral Arguments

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