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2008-UP-607 - DeWitt v. Charleston Gas Light, 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


Merrill DeWitt, Respondent,

v.

Charleston Gas Light, Inc. and Debra M. McKinley, Individually and d/b/a Charleston Gas Light, Inc., Defendants,

Of Whom Charleston Gas Light, Inc. is the Appellant.


Appeal From Charleston County
 Thomas L. Hughston, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2008-UP-607
Submitted November 3, 2008 – Filed November 6, 2008


AFFIRMED


Allan R. Holmes, of Charleston, for Appellant.

Alan D. Toporek, of Charleston, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  In this breach of employment contract action, Debra McKinley argues the trial court erred in failing to grant her motion for directed verdict based on her good faith belief that cause existed to terminate Merrill DeWitt’s employment.  Additionally, McKinley argues she should be afforded a new trial, and she contends a rule requiring only a good faith belief in cause for termination should apply to all employment contracts, not only unilateral contracts.  We affirm pursuant to Rule 220(b), SCACR, and the following authorities:

1.  As to the question of whether the trial court erred in denying McKinley’s motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV):  McMillan v. Oconee Mem’l Hosp., Inc., 367 S.C. 559, 564, 626 S.E.2d 884, 886 (2006) and Curcio v. Caterpillar, Inc., 355 S.C. 316, 320, 585 S.E.2d 272, 274 (2003) (both holding when reviewing a circuit court’s ruling on a directed verdict or JNOV, this court will reverse the ruling only when no evidence supports the ruling); Connor v. City of Forest Acres, 348 S.C. 454, 464, 560 S.E.2d 606, 611 (2002) (“The appropriate test on the issue of breach is as follows: If the fact finder finds a contract to terminate only for cause, he must determine whether the employer had a reasonable good faith belief that sufficient cause existed for termination.”) (internal quotations omitted) (first emphasis added).

2.  As to whether the trial court erred in denying McKinley’s request for a new trial based on the jurors’ failure to comply with the trial court’s jury instructions:  In re Michael H., 360 S.C. 540, 546, 602 S.E.2d 729, 732 (2004) (“An issue may not be raised for the first time on appeal.  In order to preserve an issue for appeal, it must be raised to and ruled upon by the trial court.”); Lucas v. Rawl Family Ltd. P’ship, 359 S.C. 505, 510-11, 598 S.E.2d 712, 715 (2004) (“It is well settled that, but for a very few exceptional circumstances, an appellate court cannot address an issue unless it was raised to and ruled upon by the trial court.”). 

3.  As to whether the rule requiring only a reasonable good faith belief in cause for termination should apply to all employment contracts, not just unilateral contracts:  In re Michael H., 360 S.C. at 546, 602 S.E.2d at 732 (“An issue may not be raised for the first time on appeal.  In order to preserve an issue for appeal, it must be raised to and ruled upon by the trial court.”); Lucas v. Rawl Family Ltd. P’ship, 359 S.C. at 510-11, 598 S.E.2d at 715 (“It is well settled that, but for a very few exceptional circumstances, an appellate court cannot address an issue unless it was raised to and ruled upon by the trial court.”).

AFFIRMED.

ANDERSON, HUFF, and THOMAS, JJ., concur.