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2008-UP-705 - Robinson v. The Estate of Harris

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

Sara Mae Robinson, Mary Ann Campbell, James Scott, Ellis Scott, William Scott, Shirley Pinckney Hughes, Julius Steven Brown, Leon Brown, Annabell Brown, Loretta Ladson, Kathleen Brown, Mozelle B. Rembert, Patricia Frickling, Ruth Mitchell, Gwendolyn Dunn, Angela Hamilton, Geraldine Jameson, Remus Prioleau, Julius Prioleau, Anthony Prioleau, Judy Brown, Franklin Brown, Kathy Young, Kenneth Prioleau, Willis Jameson, Melvin Pinckney, William "Alonzie" Pinckney, Ruth Fussell, Hattie Wilson, Marie Watson, Gloria Becoat, Angela T. Burnett, and Lawrence Redmond, Appellants,

v.

The Estate of Eloise Pinckney Harris, Jerome C. Harris, as Personal Representative and sole heir and devisee of the Estate of Eloise P. Harris, Daniel Duggan, Mark F. Teseniar, Nan M. Teseniar, David Savage, Lisa M. Shogry-Savage, Debbie S. Dinovo, Martine A. Hutton, The Converse Company, LLC, Judy Pinckney Singleton, Mary Leavy, Michelle Davis, Leroy Brisbane, Frances Brisbane, and John Doe, Jane Doe, Richard Roe and Mary Roe, who are fictitious names representing all unknown persons and the heirs at law or devisees of the following deceased persons known as Simeon B. Pinckney, Isabella Pinckney, Alex Pinckney, Mary Pinckney, Samuel James Pinckney, Rebecca Riley Pinckney, James H. Pinckney, William Brown, Sara Pinckney, Julia H. Pinckney, Laura Riley Pinckney Heyward, Herbert Pinckney, Ellis Pinckney, Jannie Gathers, Robert Seabrook, Annie Haley Pinckney, Lillian Pinckney Seabrook, Simeon B. Pinckney, Jr., Matthew G. Pinckney, Mary Riley, John Riley, Richard Riley, Daniel McLeod, and all other persons unknown claiming any right, title, estate, interest, or lien upon the real estate tracts described in the Compliant herein,Defendants,

of whom The Estate of Eloise Pinckney Harris, Jerome C. Harris and Judy P. Singleton are Respondents.


Appeal From Charleston County
 R. Markley Dennis, Jr., Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2008-UP-705
Submitted November 3, 2008 – Filed December 16, 2008   


REVERSED AND REMANDED


George J. Morris, of Charleston, Walter  Bilbro, Jr., of Charleston, for Appellants.

Edward M. Brown, of Charleston, for Respondents.

Charles M. Feeley, of Summerville, for Guardian Ad Litem.

PER CURIAM:  This is an action to quiet title to four tracts of real property in James Island, South Carolina.  At issue in this appeal, is a ten-acre tract that had once been owned by Simeon B. Pinckney.  In their complaint, Sara Mae Robinson and the other named appellants (collectively “Appellants”) claimed title to the property based on their assertion that they are the sole surviving legitimate heirs of Simeon B. Pinckney.  They further alleged that, through fraudulent cross-deeds from individuals with no lawful interest in the property, the tract was eventually conveyed to the now deceased Eloise Pinckney Harris, who during her lifetime had attempted to convey a part of the tract to Judy P. Singleton.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the Estate of Eloise Pinckney Harris, Jerome C. Harris, as Personal Representative and sole heir and devisee of the Estate of Eloise P. Harris, and Judy P. Singleton (collectively “Respondents”), holding Appellants’ lawsuit to quiet title on the ten-acre tract was untimely.  This appeal followed.  We reverse and remand.[1]

1.  The trial court granted summary judgment to Respondents on the ground that this lawsuit was barred under section 15-3-340 of the South Carolina Code (2005).  We hold this was error.  Whereas section 15-3-340 addresses actions for either the recovery of real property or the recovery of possession of real property, Appellants’ amended complaint asserted the ownership interest in the subject property asserted by the Estate of Eloise Harris and the devisees of Eloise Harris were based on “erroneous forgeries and fraudulent cross-deeds and devises.”  This allegation was the gravamen of Appellants’ lawsuit insofar as it concerned the ten-acre tract.  As such, any limitation period set by section 15-3-340 would be inapplicable.  See McKinnon v. Summers, 224 S.C. 331, 336, 79 S.E.2d 146, 148 (1953) (stating a complaint for cancellation of a deed on the ground of forgery is different from an action for the recovery of real property).  Moreover, even if we were to take the complaint at face value as one to quiet title, such an action would not governed by section 15-3-340.  See Fox v. Moultrie, 379 S.C. 609, 613, 777 S.E.2d 915, 917 (2008) (“An action to quiet title is one in equity.”); Parr v. Parr, 268 S.C. 58, 67, 231 S.E.2d 695, 699 (1977) (stating statutes of limitation are generally not applicable in equitable actions). 

2.  In their briefs, the parties address both the applicability of laches and the legal ramifications of Appellants’ failure to file claims against the estates of Ellis Pinckney and Isadora Pinckney.  Neither point, however, is a basis on which to affirm the appealed order.  The trial court’s reference to Appellants’ failure to file claims against the estates of Ellis Pinckney and Isadora Pinckney was not presented as an independent ground for summary judgment, and there is no mention of laches in the appealed order. 

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

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


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