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
Shirley, A. Kirk, Appellant,
Mumford, Inc., d/b/a Health Force, Respondent.
Thomas L. Hughston, Jr., Circuit Court Judge
Unpublished Opinion No. 2006-UP-179
Submitted March 1, 2006 – Filed April 4, 2006
Geoffrey H. Waggoner, of
Charleston, for Appellant.
Graham Pollock Powell, of
Charleston, for Respondent.
PER CURIAM: Shirley Kirk contends the trial court erred in directing a verdict on all claims including the claims of respondeat superior, breach of implied and express warranties, and negligent hiring. We affirm.
Shirley Kirk and her daughter are disabled and require assistance with daily activities at home. Mumford, Inc., d/b/a Health Force (Mumford) provides at-home services through Personal Care Aides (PCAs). In 1997, Kirk hired Mumford to provide home health care services on a regular basis. Thereafter, Mumford provided a series of employees to perform a variety of services at Kirk’s home for her and her daughter’s benefit.
In the spring of 2001, Kirk noticed items of jewelry and other property were missing from her home and called the police. An investigation was conducted but no items were recovered. In April of 2002, Kirk noticed additional items were missing, and shortly thereafter, a Mumford employee, Shirley Caples, confessed to the theft and led police to a pawnshop where some items of property were recovered. Mumford immediately terminated Caples’ employment.
Kirk commenced the instant action with an amended complaint filed on August 14, 2003, asserting causes of action for breach of contract and negligent hiring. Linda Sue Gilpatrick, Mumford’s office manager, testified about how Mumford hired employees to work as PCAs. Gilpatrick testified that typically the PCA seeks employment after reading a newspaper ad. As part of the application process, the prospective employee completes a written application, identifies two references, and is given a competency exam before an interview. Generally, a receptionist reviews the application, checks the references, and administers the competency test. In addition, Mumford relies on the references and background checks to determine the character of the applicant.
On her application, Caples indicated that she had prior experience at the
As part of the application process, Caples took a written “Competency Evaluation” which required a minimum score of 70 for employment. Caples scored a 76.5. Also included in the application process was the requirement that all potential employees authorize, in writing, a criminal records check. Because of the cost, however, no such checks were actually conducted by Mumford. On her application, Caples denied any criminal convictions.
At the trial, Kirk called George Vessel, a licensed private investigator, who testified regarding the manner and expense of background checks. He testified that he generally uses a computer to conduct a 10 to 20-year address history search through one of several databases to which he subscribes. Additionally, he does a search for social security numbers and names. He charges a client $25 for such a search; however, he said that anyone with a business license can subscribe to these services and pay $.25 to $5 for a basic search. In November 2003, Vessel conducted a background check on Caples. Using only her name, he learned that she was associated with three social security numbers. He also learned that she had ten addresses in the past twelve years. Vessel found four different name variations and three dates of birth for Caples. He considered these results to be “red flags” and justification for a further search that revealed a felony DUI charge and a sentence of five years probation, in the State of
Prior to the case being submitted to the jury, Mumford moved for a directed verdict on all causes of action. The trial court granted the motion. This appeal followed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
When ruling on directed verdict or JNOV motions, the trial court must view the evidence and the inferences that reasonably can be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Sabb v. S.C. State Univ., 350 S.C. 416, 427, 567 S.E.2d 231, 236 (2002). “The trial court must deny the motions when the evidence yields more than one inference or its inference is in doubt.”
I. Claim for Respondeat Superior
Kirk contends the trial court erred in directing a verdict on her claim of liability based on respondeat superior because there was uncontroverted evidence that an employee of Mumford, while employed as a PCA, stole jewelry and other items belonging to Kirk.
The issue of respondeat superior is not raised in Kirk’s amended complaint, nor is it addressed in the trial court’s order granting a directed verdict. Kirk did not file a motion to reconsider. In order for an issue to be preserved for appellate review, it must have been raised to and ruled upon by the trial court.
II. Claim for Breach of Expressed and Implied Warranties
Kirk contends the trial court erred in directing a verdict for her claims of breach of expressed and implied warranties because there was evidence from which the jury could have found Mumford assured Kirk that its employees were trustworthy and would respect her property, and thereafter one of those employees stole items from Kirk.
In Kirk’s amended complaint, she refers to breach of expressed and implied warranty in terms of a breach of contract issue, and the issues of breach of expressed or implied warranties were not addressed in the trial court’s order. The issue of a warranty, whether express or implied, was never addressed and Kirk did not file a motion to reconsider. Therefore, this issue has not been preserved for our review.
Kirk contends the trial court erred by directing a verdict on her claim of liability based on negligent hiring because there was evidence that Mumford assumed a duty to perform background checks and a background check would have prevented the placement of the employee in her home. We disagree.
III. Claim Based on Negligent Hiring
The action of negligent hiring “generally turn[s] on two fundamental elements—knowledge of the employer and forseeability of harm to third parties.” Doe v. ATC, Inc., ___ S.C. ___, 624 S.E.2d 447, 450 (Ct. App. 2005). “[T]hese elements are analyzed in terms of the number and nature of prior acts of wrongdoing by the employee, and the nexus or similarity between the prior acts and the ultimate harm caused.”
In this case, Vessel testified that had Mumford performed a background check, it would have discovered that Caples had an alternate name, multiple addresses, multiple social security numbers, and a DUI in
BEATTY, SHORT, and WILLIAMS, JJ., concur.
 We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.
 “An affirmative legal duty exists only if created by statute, contract, relationship, status, property interest, or some other special circumstance.” Hendricks v.