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)(1), SCACR.
THE STATE OF
In The Court of Appeals
Shirley J. Griffin and Henry R. Griffin, and Jacquelyn G. Burke and Michael J. Burke, Respondents,
White Oak Properties, LLC, Eugene Grissom McDonald, III, a/k/a Gris McDonald, and Home Shop Realty Company,
Home Shop Realty Company is Appellant.
L. Casey Manning, Circuit Court Judge
Unpublished Opinion No. 2005-UP-301
Heard March 8, 2005 – Filed April 27, 2005
W. Shell Suber, Jr. and Robert J. Thomas, both of
Columbia, for Appellant.
Clifford O. Koon, Paul D. de Holczer, and Mary Frances Gibson, all of
Columbia, for Respondents.
PER CURIAM: Home Shop Realty Company appeals from the trial judge’s denial of a directed verdict and award of attorney’s fees in favor of Shirley and Henry Griffin and Jacquelyn and Michael Burke on their breach of contract action. We reverse.
In 2000, Eugene Grissom McDonald was employed as a real estate agent for Home Shop Realty, a real estate brokerage company. McDonald was also the sole member of a limited liability company called White Oak Properties, LLC. White Oak was formed for the purpose of purchasing, renovating, and reselling investment property. In April of 2000, White Oak purchased real estate located at
During that same time, the Griffins became interested in purchasing investment property to be used as a residence by the Burkes, their daughter and son-in-law. While house hunting, the Burkes saw the Crystal Drive property with a Home Shop Realty sign in the front yard listing McDonald’s number as the contact number. The Burkes called the number, talked with McDonald, and were shown the property. Based on the Burkes’ representations, the Griffins decided to purchase the
On December 13, 2000, the Griffins entered into a contract for sale with White Oak, through McDonald, to purchase the
When the Burkes moved into the
At trial, Shirley Griffin and the Burkes all testified that they knew McDonald and White Oak were the owners and sellers of the
Home Shop moved for a directed verdict on the grounds that McDonald was the seller, and there was no evidence McDonald was acting as the agent of Home Shop. The trial judge denied the motion. The causes of action were submitted to the jury through a special verdict form. The jury rejected all of the Burkes’ and Griffins’ causes of action, except breach of contract. Through the special verdict form, the jury found “Defendants breached the Contract for the purchase of the home on
Through an “Order Dealing with Post-trial Motions,” the trial judge granted the Griffins’ and Burkes’ motion for attorney’s fees in the amount of $40,626. Home Shop made a “Motion for an Interpretation of the Verdict or in the alternative Judgment For This Defendant Not Withstanding the Verdict” on the grounds that it was not a party to the contract for sale. The trial judge denied the motion, stating:
Home Shop presented evidence at trial and argued at the appropriate times that no agency relationship existed between Home Shop and the McDonald Defendants that would render Home Shop liable to a judgment in this case. However, ample evidence was presented at trial that Home Shop allowed the McDonald Defendants to list and sell property through Home Shop’s brokerage. A Home Shop sign was placed on the subject property as an advertisement for sale. Whit Suber, the owner and Broker at Home Shop, entered the premises on one or more occasions during the time the house was listed for sale according to the key box activity report which was entered into evidence. Home Shop was also the listing Broker when the house was listed on the multiple listing service. Suber denied that he ever personally showed the house to potential buyers. However, the uncontradicted evidence of his accessing the multiple listing service key box and his failure to provide a plausible explanation for his entry other than “showing” the house, is sufficient to allow the jury to reasonably infer the existence of an agency relationship. At the very least, the uncontradicted documentary and testimonial evidence of Home Shop’s sign being on the property supports an inference of apparent authority.
Finally, the judge denied all of White Oak’s and McDonald’s motions. The trial judge reiterated that judgment was entered against all defendants - McDonald, White Oak, and Home Shop. Home Shop renewed its motions and argued that attorney’s fees should not be assessed against it because it was not a party to the contract. These motions were also denied. Home Shop appeals.
Home Shop asserts the trial judge erred in denying its motion for a directed verdict on the breach of contract claim because there is no evidence that Home Shop was a party to the contract for sale or participated in the sale. We agree.
In reviewing a denial of a motion for directed verdict, this court must view all evidence and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the opposing party. Bultman v. Barber, 277 S.C. 5, 7, 281 S.E.2d 791, 792 (1981). “However, this does not give the Court license to ignore facts unfavorable to that party. In essence, we must determine whether a verdict for a party opposing the motion would be reasonably possible under the facts as liberally construed in his favor.”
The Griffins do not dispute that Home Shop was not a party to the contract for sale or the installment sales contract between themselves and White Oak and McDonald. Because Home Shop was not a party to the contract, “it owed no duty or obligation thereunder.” Drafts v. Shull Sausage Co., 276 S.C. 52, 54, 275 S.E.2d 577, 578 (1981); see also Roundtree Villas Ass’n, Inc. v. 4701 Kings Corp., 282 S.C. 415, 423, 321 S.E.2d 46, 51 (1984) (finding the trial judge erred in failing to grant a directed verdict on a breach of warranty claim, even though warranties existed, because the appellants did not enter into any warranty agreements).
Rather, the Griffins assert that Home Shop should be held to a duty under the contract for sale because McDonald was acting as Home Shop’s agent in connection with the sale. We disagree.
Although McDonald may or may not have acted as an agent for Home Shop with respect to marketing the property, there is absolutely no evidence that McDonald acted as an agent for Home Shop in signing the sales contract. See Frasier v. Palmetto Homes of Florence, Inc., 323 S.C. 240, 244, 473 S.E.2d 865, 867 (Ct. App. 1996) (“A party asserting agency as a basis of liability must prove the existence of the agency, and the agency must be clearly established by the facts.”).
With respect to the contract for sale of the
As a result, the trial judge erred in denying Home Shop’s motion for a directed verdict on the Griffins’ breach of contract cause of action.
HEARN, C.J., GOOLSBY and WILLIAMS, JJ., concur.
 The Griffins argue that Home Shop’s argument is not preserved for appeal because although Home Shop argued that McDonald was not acting as its agent, it never argued that it was not a party to the contract for sale. However, Home Shop’s argument has consistently been that McDonald, not Home Shop, was the seller of the house and that McDonald did not act as an agent of Home Shop in the sale. Simply because Home Shop has changed the specific terminology used in its argument on appeal does not mean the issue is not preserved. See McKissick v. J.F. Cleckley & Co., 325 S.C. 327, 344, 479 S.E.2d 67, 75 (Ct. App. 1996) (“[An argument] should be sufficiently specific to bring into focus the precise nature of the [issue] so that it can be reasonably understood by the trial judge.”).
 Home Shop also argues that the trial judge erred in assessing attorney’s fees against it because it was not a party to the contract. We need not address this issue on appeal. See Futch v. McAllister Towing of Georgetown, Inc., 335 S.C. 598, 613, 518 S.E.2d 591, 598 (1999) (finding an appellate court need not address remaining issues when disposition of prior issues is dispositive).