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
In The Court of Appeals
Frankie Neal, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Francesca L. Neal, Appellant,
Ashleigh Place, Inc., S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and S.C. Department of Mental Health, Respondents.
William P. Keesley, Circuit Court Judge
Unpublished Opinion No. 2005-UP-190
Submitted March 1, 2005 – Filed March 14, 2005
Charles B. Ridley, Sr., of
Rock Hill, and Mitchell Jerry Williams, of Columbia, for Appellant.
James E. Parham, Jr., of Irmo; James M. Davis, of
Columbia; and Terry E. Richardson, Daniel S. Haltiwanger, and J. David Butler, all of Barnwell, for Respondents.
PER CURIAM: Frankie Neal, as personal representative of the estate of Francesca Neal, appeals from a grant of summary judgment in his wrongful death and survival action against Ashleigh Place, Inc., the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (DMH), and the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) (collectively “Respondents”). We affirm.
On June 27, 2002, Neal’s 14-year-old daughter, Francesca Neal, stole a car and was involved in a one-car accident that resulted in her death. Francesca had stolen vehicles on three occasions in the fifteen months prior to her death.
The first theft occurred on April 12, 2001 when Francesca broke into a neighbor’s home and stole her vehicle. As a result, Francesca was admitted to several institutions under the care of DMH and DJJ. After her release, on June 19, 2001, Francesca was placed at the Rock Hill Girls Home until eight days later, when she stole a van from the home and ran away. Francesca was again admitted to several DMH and DJJ facilities.
On October 1, 2001, Francesca was placed at the Ellen Hines Smith Girls Home in
On June 5, 2002, DJJ and DMH placed Francesca at
On May 15, 2003, Neal brought an action against Respondents for the wrongful death of Francesca, alleging that Ashleigh Place was negligent in failing to prevent Francesca from stealing the vehicle, and DJJ and DMH were grossly negligent in placing Francesca at Ashley Place and in failing to use slight care when they were notified that Francesca had stolen a staff member’s car keys. Respondents filed motions for summary judgment. After a hearing on February 2, 2004, the trial judge granted Respondents’ motions, holding that “no jury under these facts could determine that [Francesca] did not contribute to her death in a percentage of fault and wrongdoing that exceeded 50%.” Neal now appeals.
Neal argues the trial court erred by granting Respondents’ motions for summary judgment because issues of a party’s negligence are a question of fact for a jury in both negligence and comparative negligence scenarios. We disagree.
Summary judgment is appropriate when it is clear there is no issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Baughman v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 306 S.C. 101, 114-115, 410 S.E.2d 537, 545 (1991). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the evidence and the inferences that can be drawn therefrom should be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
To establish a cause of action in negligence, Neal must prove three elements: (1) a duty of care owed by Respondents to Francesca; (2) breach of that duty by a negligent act or omission; and (3) damage proximately resulting from the breach of duty. Bloom v. Ravoira, 339 S.C. 417, 422, 529 S.E.2d 710, 712 (2000).
Neal argues the trial court erred by granting summary judgment to Respondents DJJ and DMH because the evidence was sufficient for a jury to find gross negligence on their part.
South Carolina Code section 15-78-60(25) (2005) states that a governmental entity is only liable for a loss resulting from the “supervision, protection, control, confinement, or custody of any student, patient, prisoner, inmate, or client of any governmental entity” when the responsibility or duty is exercised in a grossly negligent manner. Our supreme court has defined gross negligence, as applied to a governmental entity, as “the intentional conscious failure to do something which it is incumbent upon one to do or the doing of a thing intentionally that one ought not to do.” Jinks v.
Neal claims that DJJ and DMH were grossly negligent in placing Francesca at
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Neal, it cannot be said that DJJ and DMH intentionally failed to do what they were obligated to do, which was to place Francesca in a group home and monitor her progress. Thus, the trial court did not err by granting DJJ and DMH’s motions for summary judgment.
Neal also argues the trial court erred by granting summary judgment to
Neal claims that
Furthermore, Neal argues the issue of Respondents’ negligence is a question of fact for a jury in a comparative negligence scenario. “However, under
In this case, the trial judge found that the “undisputed facts in this case cause the court to determine as a matter of law that any negligence on the part of the [Respondents] was exceeded by relevant conduct of [Francesca] that was negligent and reckless, at a minimum.” The court determined that even if
ANDERSON, BEATTY and SHORT, JJ., concur.
 We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.