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2008-UP-206 - Pools Plus v. Timmons

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

Pools Plus, Inc., Respondent,

v.

Angela Timmons, Appellant.


Appeal From Sumter County
Howard P. King, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2008-UP-206
Submitted March 4, 2008 – Filed March 25, 2008   


AFFIRMED


John E. Miles, of Sumter, John S. Nichols, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Michael M. Jordan, of Sumter, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  This case arises from a contract between Pools Plus, Inc. and Angela Timmons for Pools Plus to construct an in-ground swimming pool on Timmons’s property.  Timmons withheld partial payment after determining the pool was unsatisfactory.  Timmons appeals the trial court’s introduction of the contract into evidence and the award of prejudgment interest to Pools Plus.  We affirm.[1]

1.  Timmons contracted with Pools Plus to install an in-ground swimming pool on her property.  Upon completion of the pool, Timmons was dissatisfied, claiming the pool leaked, filled with dirt during heavy rain, and had other malfunctions.  Timmons refused to pay the approximately $8800 remaining due on the contract.  Pools Plus filed a lawsuit seeking to recover the money owed.  At trial, Pools Plus offered into evidence a contract detailing the agreement between the parties.  The contract was only signed by an employee of Pools Plus.  The trial court admitted the contract over the objection of Timmons, who argued the contract could not represent the agreement as it lacked Timmons’s signature.  The jury found for Pools Plus and awarded them $8801.60.

Timmons now argues the trial court erred in failing to grant a new trial after erroneously admitting the contract into evidence.  “The admission of evidence is a matter left to the discretion of the trial judge and, absent clear abuse, will not be disturbed on appeal.”  Carlyle v. Tuomey Hosp., 305 S.C. 187, 193, 407 S.E.2d 630, 633 (1991).  Likewise, the grant or denial of a new trial motion falls within the trial court’s discretion, and the trial court’s decision will only be disturbed on appeal if it is controlled by an error of law or wholly unsupported by the evidence.  Sabb v. South Carolina State Univ., 350 S.C. 416, 427, 567 S.E.2d 231, 236 (2002).

Under the facts of this case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the contract, even though the contract lacked Timmons’s signature.  Our courts have held that “[a] contract does not always require the signature of both parties; it may be sufficient, if signed by one and accepted and acted on by the other.”  Jaffe v. Gibbons, 290 S.C. 468, 473, 351 S.E.2d 343, 346 (Ct. App. 1986); see also Peddler, Inc. v. Rikard, 266 S.C. 28, 32, 221 S.E.2d 115, 117 (1975).

In her answer, Timmons admitted to entering into a contract with Pools Plus.  At trial, Timmons acknowledged the contract offered into evidence, even though unsigned by her, accurately reflected the basic terms of the contract.  Further, Timmons stated she owed about $8800 on the pool.  Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion as evidence existed supporting the contract’s admission and no error of law was made.  Accordingly, a new trial was not warranted.

2.  Timmons additionally disputes the trial court’s award of prejudgment interest.  Prejudgment interest is appropriate “on obligations to pay money from the time when, either by agreement of the parties or operation of law, the payment is demandable, if the sum is certain or capable of being reduced to certainty.”  Butler Contracting, Inc. v. Court Street, LLC, 369 S.C. 121, 133, 631 S.E.2d 252, 258 (2006).  “The right of a party to prejudgment interest is not affected by rights of discount or offset claimed by the opposing party.  It is the character of the claim and not the defense to it that determines whether prejudgment interest is allowable.”  Id. at 133-34, 631 S.E.2d at 259.

At trial, Timmons stated, “I still owe the $8800.”  She additionally said, “I refused to pay the portion that was due until the pool was satisfactory.”  Timmons simply refused to pay as she was dissatisfied with her pool; however, Timmons’s disappointment does not shield her from prejudgment interest.  Here, the amount owed was in fact reduced to certainty for Timmons acknowledged her remaining obligation.  Consequently, the amount awarded to her was properly subject to prejudgment interest.

Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is

AFFIRMED.

HUFF, KITTREDGE, and WILLIAMS, JJ., concur.


[1]  We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.