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2011-UP-391 - Greene v. Cherokee County School District

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 

Joel Greene, Appellant,

v.

Cherokee County School District, Respondent.


Appeal From Cherokee County
J. Derham Cole, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-391
Submitted August 1, 2011 – Filed August 16, 2011


AFFIRMED


Lovic A. Brooks, III, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Andrea Eaton White and Kiosha A. Hammond, both of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Joel Greene appeals the trial court's order granting Cherokee County School District's (the School District) motions for summary judgment on his claims for breach of contract and breach of implied contract.  On appeal, Greene argues the trial court erred in finding no genuine issues of material fact existed regarding whether: (1) a prior settlement agreement was ambiguous concerning whether the parties agreed to not consider Greene's prior disciplinary record in future disciplinary proceedings, and (2) a personnel memorandum issued by the School District in 1997 created an implied employment contract.  We affirm[1] pursuant to Rule 220(b)(1), SCACR, and the following authorities:

1.  As to whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on Greene's breach of contract claim: Rule 56(c), SCRCP (providing that summary judgment is appropriate and "the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law" 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"); Pee Dee Stores, Inc. v. Doyle, 381 S.C. 234, 241-42, 672 S.E.2d 799, 803 (Ct. App. 2009) ("General contract principles are applied in the construction of a settlement agreement because . . . a settlement agreement is a contract.  Summary judgment is not appropriate if a contract is ambiguous.  Thus, the initial determination for a court seeking to ascertain whether a grant of summary judgment based on a settlement agreement's interpretation is proper is whether the agreement is ambiguous."); Id. at 242, 672 S.E.2d at 803 (noting an ambiguity arises when the terms of the contract are reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation); Columbia East Assocs. v. Bi-Lo, Inc., 299 S.C. 515, 520-21, 386 S.E.2d 259, 262 (Ct. App. 1989) (noting when an agreement is silent on an issue, courts may turn to extrinsic evidence to discern the parties' intentions).

2.  As to whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on Greene's breach of implied contract claim: Rule 56(c), SCRCP (providing that summary judgment is appropriate and "the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law" 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"); Grant v. Mount Vernon Mills, Inc., 370 S.C. 138, 145-46, 634 S.E.2d 15, 19 (Ct. App. 2006) ("South Carolina has long recognized the doctrine of employment at-will.  This doctrine allows either party to terminate the employment for any reason or no reason without being subject to a claim for breach of contract . . . .") (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); Nelson v. Charleston Cnty. Parks & Recreaction Comm'n, 362 S.C. 1, 6-7, 605 S.E.2d 744, 746-47 (Ct. App. 2004) (noting one exception to the at-will employment doctrine occurs when an employer creates an implied contract with the employee by contractually altering the at-will relationship); Prescott v. Farmers Telephone Coop., 335 S.C. 330, 336, 516 S.E.2d 923, 926 (1999) (providing the elements of a contract are as follows: "1) a specific offer, 2) communication of the offer to the employee, and 3) performance of job duties in reliance on the offer"); Id. at 336-37, 516 S.E.2d at 926 ("To be binding, an offer must be definite.").

AFFIRMED.

SHORT, WILLIAMS, and GEATHERS, JJ., concur.


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