Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
2004-UP-350 - Receivable Recovery Services v. Coates
THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE. IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals


Receivable Recovery Services, Appellant,

v.

Dona Sloan Coates,Respondent.


Appeal From Lexington County
 Rodney A. Peeples, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2004-UP-350
Submitted March 19, 2004 – Filed May 25, 2004


AFFIRMED


Charles F. Thompson, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Everett Hope Garner, of Columbia, for Respondent.


PER CURIAM:  Receivable Recovery Services (Receivable) appeals the circuit court and magistrate court’s order asserting the courts erred with regards to monies paid to Dona Sloan Coates (Coates) while Coates was working as a sales representative for Receivable. 

FACTS

Receivable hired Coates to work as a sales representative.  Receivable is in the business of collecting accounts receivables for other businesses.  Coates was hired at an initial base salary of $28,000.  During initial discussions with Richard Friend, the hiring supervisor at Receivable, regarding benefits Coates made a decision to waive hospitalization and medical benefits.  Friend told her that the waiver of benefits would result in a $200.00 automatic increase of her monthly salary. Friend also assured Coates he would “go to bat for her” to get more money. 

From the beginning of her employment, Coates was being paid $500 more monthly than the initial base salary.  Friend’s assurances caused Coates to believe the company intended to pay her the additional $500 monthly.  For six months Coates received the alleged $500 overpayment.  However, after four months of employment, Coates discussed the additional salary with Friend and thanked him for the increase.  During this discussion, Friend did not mention that the additional salary was an overpayment.  After Coates had worked at Receivable for six months and had received eleven checks, Coates spoke with Joe Messina, the owner of the corporation.  Shortly after the conversation with Messina, Coates terminated her employment with Receivable.

Messina made attempts to have Coates sign an agreement that said she was overpaid $500. [1] Additionally, Receivable deducted $754.67 from Coates’ payroll and $ 231.58 from Coates’ expenses, without her permission.

The magistrate found the testimony that the alleged overpayment resulted from ADP’s keying error unbelievable.  The magistrate found that although Coates had been getting more money and was aware of that, Receivable failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that there was an overpayment.  Receivable appealed to the circuit court, which found there was evidence in the record to affirm the magistrate’s ruling.  The circuit court affirmed the magistrate.  This appeal follows.       

ISSUES

1.  Did the circuit court err in holding that Coates was entitled to keep money mistakenly paid to her by Receivable when relevant case law clearly states a party may recover money mistakenly paid even if it was wholly responsible for the error?
2.  Did the magistrate err in holding Coates was entitled to keep money mistakenly paid to her by Receivable based on the judge’s speculation that Receivable meant to pay Coates?

LAW/ANALYSIS

Because this case originated in magistrate’s court, South Carolina Code Ann. § 18-7-170 (1985) is applicable.  Parks v. Characters Night Club, 345 S.C. 484, 490, 548 S.E.2d 605, 608 (Ct. App. 2001).  On appeal from magistrate’s court, the circuit court may make its own findings of fact. See S.C. Code Ann. § 18-7-170.  However, on appeal from a circuit court’s affirmance of a magistrate’s order, the appellate court’s review is more limited. This court will presume that an affirmance by a circuit court of a magistrate's judgment was made upon the merits where the testimony is sufficient to sustain the magistrate’s judgment and there are no facts that show the affirmance was influenced by an error of law.  Hadfield v. Gilchrist, 343 S.C. 88, 538 S.E.2d 268 (Ct. App. 2000). We therefore look to whether the circuit court order is controlled by an error of law or is unsupported by the facts. Parks, Id.

Receivable argues that Coates in not permitted to keep monies mistakenly paid to her.  We do not believe the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction to decide that issue.   Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 18-7-20, Receivable, within thirty days after judgment was announced at the trial, was to serve a notice of appeal, stating the grounds upon which its appeal was founded.  Receivable did not delineate any grounds or exceptions on its appeal to the circuit court. Accordingly, Receivable’s issues were not preserved for appellate review.

Even if we believed the issue was preserved for appellate review, we find there is sufficient evidence to support the lower court’s decision.

CONCLUSION

For the forgoing reasons, the decision of the circuit court is

AFFIRMED.

GOOLSBY, HOWARD and BEATTY, JJ., concur.


[1] Receivable hired an outside company, Automatic Data Processing (ADP), to handle payroll.  ADP was allegedly responsible for keying in the wrong amount for Coates.  Coates had no dealings with ADP. Receivable did not bring an action against ADP.