Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
2011-UP-061 - Mountain View Baptist Church v. Burdine

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

Mountain View Baptist Church, Appellant,

v.

Bobby Lee Burdine, Respondent.


Appeal From Greenville County
John C. Few, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-061
Submitted January 4, 2011 – Filed February 16, 2011   


REVERSED


 

Candy M. Kern-Fuller, of Easley, for Appellant.

Kirby Mitchell, of Greenville, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Mountain View Baptist Church (the Church) appeals a circuit court's holding a magistrate's writ of ejectment against Bobby Lee Burdine was void.  We reverse and reinstate the writ.[1]

In 1958, Burdine's parents bought an unimproved lot of real property, but they mistakenly built and lived in a house on a lot owned by another person.  In 1998, the Church bought the lot on which the Burdines built their house.  Burdine's parents died in 2000, and Burdine subsequently moved into the house, living in it until this action.  In 2008, the Church filed an application to eject Burdine from the lot.  Burdine filed an answer, asserting he owned the lot and the magistrate lacked subject matter jurisdiction because title was in question. The answer also included a promise Burdine would accept service of a summons and complaint for an ejectment action in circuit court if the Church deposited those documents with the magistrate within twenty days of Burdine's answer. 

The Church argues the circuit court erred in holding the magistrate lacked subject matter jurisdiction to issue the writ.  We agree and reverse for the reasons set forth below. 

"[I]ssues relating to subject matter jurisdiction . . . should be taken notice of by this court on our own motion."  Bunkum v. Manor Props., 321 S.C. 95, 99-100, 467 S.E.2d 758, 761 (Ct. App. 1996).  Pursuant to article V, section 1 of the South Carolina Constitution, the South Carolina legislature has established the subject matter jurisdiction of magistrates in ejectment proceedings through a series of statutes.  Section 22-3-20 of the South Carolina Code (2007) provides, "No magistrate shall have cognizance of a civil action . . . [w]hen the title to real property shall come in question, except as provided in Article 11 of this chapter." 

Article 11 provides, "When the title to real property shall come in question in an action brought in a court of a magistrate the defendant may . . . set forth in his answer any matter showing that such title will come in question."  S.C. Code. Ann. § 22-3-1110 (2007).  "At the time of answering the defendant shall deliver to the magistrate a written undertaking, executed by at least one sufficient surety and approved by the magistrate, to the effect" the defendant would accept service of a summons and complaint for an ejectment action in circuit court if the plaintiff deposited those documents with the magistrate within twenty days of the defendant's answer.  S.C. Code Ann. § 22-3-1120 (2007).  "If such an undertaking be not delivered to the magistrate he shall have jurisdiction of the cause . . . and the defendant shall be precluded, in his defense, from drawing the title in question."  S.C. Code Ann. § 22-3-1140 (2007). 

Here, the magistrate had subject matter jurisdiction to hear the action.  Burdine did not comply with the statutory provisions relating to the magistrate's subject matter jurisdiction because Burdine's undertaking was not executed by a surety.  Therefore, the circuit court erred in holding the magistrate's writ of ejectment was void.

REVERSED.

HUFF and LOCKEMY, JJ., and GOOLSBY, A.J., concur.


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