THE STATE OF
In The Supreme Court
Carolyn Farnsworth, Appellant/Respondent,
Davis Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., Respondent/Appellant.
Larry R. Patterson, Circuit Court Judge
J. Derham Cole, Circuit Court Judge
Opinion No. 26120
Heard January 18, 2006 - Filed March 6, 2006
AFFIRMED IN PART; REVERSED IN PART
Charles J. Hodge and John G. Reckenbeil, both of Hodge Law Firm, of
Spartanburg, for Appellant/Respondent.
D. Ryan McCabe, R. Bryan Barnes, and Robert J. Thomas, all of Rogers, Townsend & Thomas, of
Columbia, for Respondent/Appellant.
JUSTICE PLEICONES: The circuit court ordered Appellant/Respondent Carolyn Farnsworth (Farnsworth) to comply with a settlement agreement between herself and Respondent/Appellant Davis Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. (Davis). Farnsworth appealed, and
Farnsworth brought an action against
Davis’s attorney accepted the offer by signing the letter. Soon thereafter, Farnsworth decided that she wanted a trial. She notified
I. Whether Rule 43(k), SCRCP, was satisfied.
II. Whether Rule 43(k) applies.
“Rule 43(k) is intended to prevent disputes as to the existence and terms of agreements regarding pending litigation.” Ashfort Corp. v. Palmetto Constr. Group, Inc., 318 S.C. 492, 493-94, 458 S.E.2d 533, 534 (1995). The rule provides, in pertinent part:
No agreement between counsel affecting the
proceedings in an action shall be binding unless
reduced to the form of a consent order or written
stipulation signed by counsel and entered in the
record, or unless made in open court and noted
upon the record.
Rule 43(k), SCRCP (emphasis added).
I. Satisfaction of Rule 43(k)
Prior to filing its motion to compel,
Here, Farnsworth rescinded the agreement before
II. Applicability of Rule 43(k)
Davis claims that compliance with Rule 43(k) is not required in this scenario, because Rule 43(k) does not apply to a written settlement agreement that the parties admit was duly executed. We disagree.
We have held in the past that Rule 43(k) applies to settlement agreements. Ashfort Corp., 318 S.C. at 494, 458 S.E.2d at 534.
The rule is plainly worded: “No agreement ... shall be binding unless” one of the three requirements is met. “Under our general rules of construction, the words of a statute must be given their plain and ordinary meaning without resort to subtle or forced construction to limit or expand the statute's operation.” State v. Muldrow, 348 S.C. 264, 268, 559 S.E.2d 847, 849 (2003). “In interpreting the meaning of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court applies the same rules of construction used to interpret statutes.” Maxwell v. Genez, 356 S.C. 617, 620, 591 S.E.2d 26, 27 (2003). Because Rule 43(k) plainly applies to all settlement agreements signed by counsel, we find no merit in
On Farnsworth’s appeal, we reverse. On
AFFIRMED IN PART; REVERSED IN PART.
 The cross-appeal is the product of this case’s unusual procedural path, which we need not address to resolve the issues before us. Both appeals involve the two issues addressed below.
 The rule was amended in 2003, with a sentence added at the end: “Settlement agreements shall be handled in accordance with Rule 41.1, SCRCP.” This amendment is irrelevant to the issues before us.
 Circuit Court Rule 14 provided:
No agreement or consent between parties, or their
attorneys, in respect to the proceedings in a cause,
shall be binding, unless the same shall have been
reduced to the form of an order by consent and
entered; or unless the evidence shall be in writing,
subscribed by the party against whom shall be
alleged, or by his attorney or counsel; or unless
made in open court and noted by the presiding
judge or the stenographer on his minutes by the
direction of the presiding judge.
Under this rule, Davis and Farnsworth’s agreement would be enforceable simply because it is in writing. Unlike Rule 43(k), Circuit Court Rule 14 did not contain the additional requirement that written agreements be entered into the record.