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2010-UP-507 - Cue-NcNei v. Watt

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 Court of Appeals

Karen Cue-McNeil, as Guardian ad Litem of Tori M., a minor, Appellant,

v.

George W. Watt, M.D., Medical Park OB/GYN, P.A., and Palmetto Health Alliance d/b/a Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital, Respondents.


Appeal From Richland County
G. Thomas Cooper, Jr., Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No.    2010-UP-507
Submitted November 1, 2010 – Filed November 18, 2010
Withdrawn, Submitted and Refiled January 31, 2011


AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART


Edward L. Graham, of Florence, for Appellant.

Andrew F. Lindemann, Mason A. Summers, and George C. Beighley, of Columbia, for Respondents George W. Watt, M.D. and Medical Park OB/GYN, P.A.

James E. Parham, Jr., of Irmo, for Respondent Palmetto Health Alliance d/b/a Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital.

PER CURIAM:  Appellant Karen Cue-McNeil (Mother) brought this medical malpractice action in her capacity as guardian ad litem for her minor daughter, Tori M. (Daughter), against George W. Watt, M.D., Medical Park OB/GYN, P.A., and Palmetto Health Alliance d/b/a Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital (collectively Respondents) to recover damages for allegedly negligent medical care during Daughter's birth.  The circuit court granted partial summary judgment to Respondents, concluding that only a minor's parents, not the minor herself, have a cause of action for the recovery of medical expenses resulting from the minor's injury.  Mother appeals. 

In its order granting partial summary judgment, the circuit court concluded that summary judgment is proper for an action by a minor attempting to collect medical expenses during minority "because she does not have the capacity to sue."  We agree that a minor may not recover medical expenses incurred during minority from a tortfeasor in her own personal injury action, and we affirm this part of the circuit court's order.[1]  However, it is possible to infer from the circuit court's conclusion that the entirety of Daughter's personal injury action against Respondent is invalid because she does not have the legal capacity to bring this action.  To the extent that the trial court implied that Daughter did not properly bring her action through a guardian ad litem and therefore may not pursue damages other than medical expenses, the statement is erroneous and is therefore vacated.  Daughter properly brought this action against Respondents through her guardian ad litem pursuant to Rule 17(c), SCRCP, which states in pertinent part:

If a minor or incompetent person does not have a duly appointed representative he may sue by his next friend or by guardian ad litem. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for a minor or incompetent person not otherwise represented in an action or shall make such order as it deems proper for the protection of the minor or incompetent person.

(emphasis added). 

Here, the circuit court had issued an order appointing Mother to serve as guardian ad litem for Daughter well before Respondents sought partial summary judgment.  Therefore, Daughter may pursue this action against Respondents except to the extent that she claims medical expenses incurred during minority.     

In view of our disposition of the foregoing issues, we need not address Mother's remaining arguments.  See Webb v. Sowell, 387 S.C. 328, 332 n.6, 692 S.E.2d 543, 545 n.6 (2010) (citing Futch v. McAllister Towing of Georgetown, Inc., 335 S.C. 598, 613, 518 S.E.2d 591, 598 (1999)) (holding that an appellate court need not discuss the remaining issues of an appeal when its resolution of a prior issue is dispositive). 

AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART.[2]

THOMAS, PIEPER, and GEATHERS, JJ., concur.


[1] See Hughey v. Ausborn, 249 S.C. 470, 475, 154 S.E.2d 839, 841 (1967) (holding that in a minor's personal injury action, the amount the parent paid for the minor's medical care is not an element of damage); Bridges v. Joanna Cotton Mill, 214 S.C. 319, 324, 52 S.E.2d 406, 408 (1949) (holding that a personal injury claim for a minor's medical expenses is vested in the parent and not the guardian ad litem); Tucker v. Buffalo Cotton Mills, 76 S.C. 539, 542, 57 S.E. 626, 627 (1907) (holding that a parent suing merely as guardian ad litem for injuries to a minor may not recover for expenses incurred for which the parent is personally liable); Trident Reg'l Med. Ctr. v. Evans, 317 S.C. 346, 352, 454 S.E.2d 343, 346 (Ct. App. 1995) (holding that parents are responsible for the support of their minor children).

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