Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
2008-UP-304 - Layne v. Gateway Construction Company, Inc.

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

Steve Layne and Jody Layne, Appellants,

v.

Gateway Construction Company, Inc., Respondent.


Appeal From Lexington County
 Larry R. Patterson, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2008-UP-304
Submitted June 1, 2008 – Filed June 11, 2008   


AFFIRMED


Brian Pratt Robinson, of Columbia, for Appellants.

Claude E. Hardin, Jr., of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM: In this breach of contract action, Steve Layne and Jody Layne (the Laynes) appeal the trial court’s partial denial of their motion for a new trial nisi remittitur.  We affirm.[1]

FACTS

The Laynes hired Gateway Construction Company, Inc., to build a new house pursuant to a written contract.  After Gateway began construction, the Laynes requested that Gateway work outside of the contract and amend the construction schedule so the Laynes could obtain a particular interest rate.  The Laynes requested a lien release from Gateway as required for the closing.  Gateway issued a conditional lien release stating $50,711.00 remained due on the project through July 25, 2003.  After the closing, the Laynes failed to pay as set forth in the conditional lien release.  Gateway, therefore, ceased construction on the project.  The Laynes subsequently brought this action against Gateway for breach of contract, breach of contract accompanied by a fraudulent act, negligence, breach of warranty, and violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act.  Gateway answered and counterclaimed, alleging breach of contract.

At trial, Andrew Guliano, Gateway’s president, testified Gateway’s damages totaled $108,380, including the contract balance of $50,711, $21,073.50 in other damages, and $36,595.50 in interest.  Gateway reduced the total by $9,000 in retainage fees.  The jury returned a verdict in favor of Gateway in the amount of $99,380.  The Laynes moved for a new trial nisi remittitur, arguing the jury awarded compound interest and the verdict included a double recovery of damages.  The trial court granted the Laynes’ motion as to the issue of compound interest and reduced the damages to $92,933.99.  The Laynes again moved to alter or amend the judgment because the trial court’s order did not address the double recovery of damages issue, and the trial court denied the motion.  The Laynes appeal.   

LAW / ANALYSIS

The Laynes argue the trial court erred in denying their motion for a new trial nisi remittitur to the extent that the damages included a double recovery.  Specifically, the Laynes argue the $21,073.50 Gateway claimed as “other damages” was also included in the contract balance of $50,711.00.  

In a breach of contract action, the measure of damages is the loss actually suffered as the result of the breach.  Collins Holding Corp. v. Landrum, 360 S.C. 346, 350, 601 S.E.2d 332, 333 (2004).  The amount of damages remains largely within the discretion of the finder of fact, as reviewed by the trial judge.  Mishoe v. QHG of Lake City, Inc., 366 S.C. 195, 201, 621 S.E.2d 363, 366 (Ct. App. 2005).  A motion for new trial nisi remittitur asks the trial court to reduce the verdict because the verdict is merely excessive.  See O’Neal v. Bowles, 314 S.C. 525, 527, 431 S.E.2d 555, 556 (1993).  The denial of a motion for a new trial nisi is within the trial court’s discretion and will not be reversed on appeal absent an abuse of discretion.  Id.  An abuse of discretion occurs when the conclusions of the trial court either lack evidentiary support or are controlled by an error of law. State v. McDonald, 343 S.C. 319, 325, 540 S.E.2d 464, 467 (2000).

Here, evidence supports the trial court’s partial denial of the Layne’s motion for a remittitur.  The damages awarded by the jury were within the range of evidence presented at trial.  Guliano stated he used Gateway’s general ledger to calculate the total cost and damages attributed to the project.   He testified Gateway’s damages totaled $99,380.  In addition, Gateway introduced an exhibit demonstrating that costs, labor, and interest totaled $99,380. 

AFFIRMED.

SHORT and KONDUROS, JJ., and GOOLSBY, A.J., concur.


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