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2011-UP-467 - SCDSS v. Frederick V.

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

South Carolina Department of Social Services, Respondent,

v.

Frederick V., Jennifer V. and Teresa "Teri" D., Defendants,

Of whom, Frederick V. and Jennifer V. are the, Appellants,

In the interest of three minors under the age of 18.


Appeal From Darlington County
Jamie Lee Murdock, Jr., Family Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No.  2011-UP-467 
Submitted October 1, 2011 – Filed October 21, 2011

#2010167966


AFFIRMED IN PART, DISMISSED IN PART, AND REVERSED IN PART


Aimee Jendrzejewski Zmroczek, of Lexington, Martin S. Driggers, Jr., of Hartsville, and S. Porter Stewart, II, of Florence, for Appellants.

Elizabeth Biggerstaff York, of Hartsville, for Respondent.

Beatrice B. Curtis, of Darlington, and Robbie Forrester Gardner, III, of Hartsville, for Guardians Ad Litem.

PER CURIAM:  In this action from the family court, Frederick V. (Father) and Jennifer V. (Mother) appeal the family court's order of removal of their three minor children (collectively Children), arguing the family court erred in: (1) finding the children were abused and neglected; (2) approving Mother and Father's treatment plan; and (3) placing Mother and Father on the Department of Social Services (DSS) Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect (Registry).

1. As to whether the family court erred in finding the children were abused and neglected, after reviewing the record de novo, we hold there is convincing evidence to affirm the family court's findings.  See S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-20(4)(a) (2010) (stating "child abuse or neglect" or "harm" occurs when the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's welfare inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or mental injury or engages in acts or omissions which present a substantial risk of physical or mental injury to the child, including injuries sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment, but excluding corporal punishment or physical discipline which:  (1) is administered by a parent or person in loco parentis; (2) is perpetrated for the sole purpose of restraining or correcting the child; (3) is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree; (4) has not brought about permanent or lasting damage to the child; and (5) is not reckless or grossly negligent behavior by the parents); Simmons v. Simmons, 392 S.C. 412, 414-15, 709 S.E.2d 666, 667 (2011) (holding that "[i]n appeals from the family court, this [c]ourt reviews factual and legal issues de novo"); Lewis v. Lewis, 392 S.C. 381, 392, 709 S.E.2d 650, 655 (2011) (stating this court has the authority to find facts in accordance with its own view of the preponderance of the evidence).

2. As to whether the family court erred in approving Mother and Father's treatment plan, we find this issue is moot; thus, it is dismissed.  See Seabrook v. Knox, 369 S.C. 191, 197, 631 S.E.2d 907, 910 (2006) (stating a moot case exists where a judgment rendered by the court will have "no practical legal effect upon an existing controversy because an intervening event renders any grant of effectual relief impossible for the reviewing court").

3. As to whether the family court erred in placing Mother and Father on the DSS Registry, we find there is no evidence in the record showing the family court's ruling complies with the relevant statutory law.  Accordingly, we reverse.  See S.C. Code Ann. § 63-7-1940 (2010)(stating if the only form of physical abuse found by the court is excessive corporal punishment, the court may order that person's name be entered in the DSS Registry if the court finds by a preponderance of evidence that the person abused or neglected the child in any manner, including the use of excessive corporal punishment, and the nature and circumstances of the abuse indicate that the person would present a significant risk of committing physical or sexual abuse or willful or reckless neglect if the person were in a position or setting outside of the person's home that involves care of or substantial contact with children); Simmons v. Simmons, 392 S.C. 412, 414-15, 709 S.E.2d 666, 667 (2011) (holding that "[i]n appeals from the family court, this [c]ourt reviews factual and legal issues de novo").

AFFIRMED IN PART, DISMISSED IN PART, AND REVERSED IN PART.

HUFF, PIEPER, and LOCKEMY, JJ., concur.