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2004-UP-655 - Beraho v. Sinclair
Beraho and Sinclair were involved in a motor vehicle accident near the intersection of Rosewood Avenue and Assembly Street in

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

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

Enoch K. Beraho,        Appellant,

v.

Patricia Sinclair,        Respondent


Appeal From Richland County
James R. Barber, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2004-UP-655
Submitted December 1, 2004 – Filed December 22, 2004


AFFIRMED


Bidwell D. Moore, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Robert A. McKenzie and Gary H. Johnson, II, both of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM: This case is an appeal from a defense verdict rendered by a jury in a personal injury action arising from a motor vehicle accident.  We affirm the circuit court’s denial of the plaintiff’s motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a new trial.

FACTS

Enoch Beraho and Patricia Sinclair were involved in a motor vehicle accident near the intersection of Rosewood Avenue and Assembly Street in Columbia.  The basic facts are undisputed: Sinclair was driving west on Rosewood Avenue approaching the intersection at Assembly Street.  At the same time, Beraho was driving north on Assembly Street near the same intersection.  Sinclair turned right onto Assembly Street, and, at some point shortly thereafter, her vehicle collided with the rear end of Beraho’s vehicle.  Beraho subsequently brought the present personal injury action against Sinclair, seeking an award of damages as a result of Sinclair’s alleged negligence.

Sinclair denied she caused the accident.  At trial, she testified the accident occurred immediately after she made a right turn from Rosewood Avenue onto Assembly Street and was the result of Beraho having stopped his vehicle in the street for no apparent reason.  Beraho presented a different account: He testified the accident occurred approximately 150 yards further down Assembly Street from the Rosewood Avenue intersection, and that he did not abruptly stop in the street, but rather he claims he merely slowed down near a railroad crossing.

At the conclusion of the trial, the circuit judge charged the jury on the law of negligence and also the statutory prohibition against stopping a car in a roadway.  The jury returned a special verdict form finding that Beraho was 51 percent at fault and that Sinclair was 49 percent at fault.  Beraho made post-trial motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), new trial, and a new trial as to damages, all of which were denied by the circuit court.  This appeal followed.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

“In ruling on directed verdict or JNOV motions, the trial court is required to view the evidence and the inferences that reasonably can be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motions.” Sabb v. South Carolina State Univ., 350 S.C. 416, 427, 567 S.E.2d 231, 236 (2002). The motions must be denied by the trial court when the evidence yields more than one inference or its inference is in doubt. Steinke v. South Carolina Dep’t of Labor, Licensing & Regulation, 336 S.C. 373, 386, 520 S.E.2d 142, 148 (1999). On appeal from the denial of a motion for a directed verdict or JNOV, this court will reverse the trial court only where there is no evidence to support the ruling below. Id.; Creech v. South Carolina Wildlife & Marine Res. Dep’t, 328 S.C. 24, 29, 491 S.E.2d 571, 573 (1997).

LAW/ANALYSIS

Beraho claims the circuit court erred in denying his motion for JNOV, arguing there is no evidence that supports a finding of any liability on the part of the plaintiff.  We disagree.

As noted above, the circuit judge charged the jury on the prohibition against stopping a vehicle in a roadway which is set out in South Carolina Code section 56-5-2510.  This statute provides that:

No person shall stop, park, or leave standing a vehicle, whether attended or unattended, upon the roadway outside a business or residential district when it is practicable to stop, park, or leave the vehicle off the roadway. An unobstructed width of the highway opposite a standing vehicle must be left for the free passage of other vehicles and a clear view of the stopped vehicle must be available from a distance of two hundred feet in each direction upon the highway.   

S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-2510(A) (Supp. 2003). 

Beraho never raised any objection to the circuit judge charging the jury on this law.  Therefore, the propriety of this instruction and the ability of the jury to find liability based on a violation of this statute is not before this court.  We are simply left to determine whether there is any evidence to support such a finding of liability.

Reviewing of the record before us, it is clear there is sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude Beraho stopped his car in the roadway in violation of section 56-5-2510.  Sinclair’s testimony that Beraho had completely and abruptly stopped in the middle of the road was unequivocal.  Beraho’s testimony, on the other hand, was vague and conflicting.  Most notably, during cross-examination of Beraho, defense counsel confronted Beraho with several material inconsistencies in his deposition and trial testimony regarding the location of the accident and his memory of what occurred immediately before and after the accident.  The credibility of the witnesses and the conclusions and inferences that may be drawn from their testimony are matters left to the jury’s consideration.  Therefore, we find there is sufficient evidence in the record to sustain the circuit court’s denial of Beraho’s motion for JNOV.

CONCLUSION

We find there is sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict in favor of Sinclair and therefore affirm the circuit court’s denial of Beraho’s motion for JNOV.

AFFIRMED.

HUFF, KITTREDGE, and BEATTY, JJ., concur.