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2009-MO-059 - Jeffrey Thompson and John Smith v. Dorchester County

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court


Jeffrey Thompson and John Smith, Appellants,

v.

Dorchester County, Respondent.

Appeal from Dorchester County
James C. Williams, Jr., Circuit Court Judge


Memorandum Opinion No. 2009-MO-059
Heard October 20, 2009 – Filed November 9, 2009


AFFIRMED


John  O’Leary, of O'Leary & Associates, of Columbia, for Appellants.

Caroline Wrenn Cleveland, of Cleveland Law, of Charleston, for Respondent.

___________

PER CURIAM:  Appellants Jeffrey Thompson and John Smith, who are former Dorchester County deputy sheriffs, filed suit against Respondent Dorchester County after they were terminated from their positions.  The trial court granted Respondent’s motion for summary judgment.  We affirm pursuant to Rule 220(b)(1), SCACR, in light of our settled law that the sheriff and the sheriff’s deputies are state officers and not county employees.  See S.C. Const. art. V, § 24 (establishing the sheriff as an elected office); S.C. Code Ann. § 23-13-10 (Supp. 2008) (granting the sheriff authority to hire deputies and holding the sheriff responsible for the neglect or misconduct of his deputies); Cone v. Nettles, 308 S.C. 109, 112, 417 S.E.2d 523, 525 (1992) (holding that a sheriff’s deputy is a state official); Heath v. Aiken County, 295 S.C. 416, 418, 368 S.E.2d 904, 905 (1988) (holding that the sheriff’s deputies are not county employees).  Further, we also affirm pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 15-78-110 (Supp. 2008) (establishing a two-year statute of limitations when suing a governmental entity for a tort). 

TOAL, C.J., WALLER, PLEICONES, BEATTY and KITTREDGE, JJ., concur.