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2010-UP-515 - McMillan v. St. Eugene Medical Center

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

Frenchie T. McMillan and Robert McMillan, Appellants,

v.

St. Eugene Medical Center, McLeod Regional Medical Center of Pee Dee, Keh-Fang Chen, M.D., Matthew Cerney, M.D. of Whom St. Eugene Medical Center and McLeod Regional Medical Center of Pee Dee, Respondents.


Appeal From Dillon County
 James E. Lockemy, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2010-UP-515
Submitted November 1, 2010 – Filed November 23, 2010   


AFFIRMED


Scott A. Graustein, of Conway, for Appellant Frenchie T. McMillan. 

A. LaFon LeGette, Jr., of Latta, for Appellant Robert McMillan. 

Saunders M. Bridges, Jr., of Florence, for Respondents.

PER CURIAM: Following a surgical error that left her unable to bear children, Frenchie McMillan and her husband, Robert, sought damages from multiple defendants, including the hospital where she received treatment and the doctor who operated on her.  After the McMillans settled with the doctor and executed an agreement that released the doctor, his insurers, and "any and all other people or corporations[] who might be claimed to be liable at some point," the circuit court entered summary judgment as to all defendants.  The McMillans appeal, arguing they intended the release to cover only the doctor and his insurers.  We affirm[1] pursuant to Rule 220(b), SCACR, and the following authorities:  Rule 56(c), SCRCP (providing summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law"); In re Campbell, 379 S.C. 593, 599, 666 S.E.2d 908, 911 (2008) ("An appellate court may decide questions of law with no particular deference to the [circuit] court."); Englert, Inc. v. Netherlands Ins. Co., 315 S.C. 300, 302, 433 S.E.2d 871, 873 (Ct. App. 1993) (requiring a reviewing court to apply the same standard that governs the circuit court under Rule 56(c), SCRCP, viewing all facts and reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the appellant); Bartholomew v. McCartha, 255 S.C. 489, 492, 179 S.E.2d 912, 914 (1971) (holding that a release of one tortfeasor does not constitute a release of others who contributed to the plaintiff's injuries unless the parties intended such a release or the plaintiff received full satisfaction); Ecclesiastes Prod. Ministries v. Outparcel Assocs., LLC, 374 S.C. 483, 497-98, 500, 649 S.E.2d 494, 501, 503 (Ct. App. 2007) ("A release is a contract[,] and contract principles of law should be used to determine what the parties intended"; "The parties' intention must, in the first instance, be derived from the language of the contract.  To discover the intention of a contract, the court must first look to its language – if the language is perfectly plain and capable of legal construction, it alone determines the document's force and effect.  'Parties are governed by their outward expressions and the court is not at liberty to consider their secret intentions'"; and "The court must enforce an unambiguous contract according to its terms, regardless of the contract's wisdom or folly, or the parties' failure to guard their rights carefully"); and Silver v. Aabstract Pools & Spas, Inc., 376 S.C. 585, 591, 658 S.E.2d 539, 542 (Ct. App. 2008) (determining that whether the language of a contract is ambiguous is a question of law to be answered by the court from the terms encompassed by the four corners of the contract, requiring the court to examine the entire contract and not merely certain phrases taken in isolation, stating when a contract "is clear and unequivocal, its meaning must be determined by its contents alone," and preventing the court from reading into a contract words "which import an intent wholly unexpressed when the contract was executed"). 

AFFIRMED.

FEW, C.J., SHORT, J., and CURETON, A.J., concur.


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