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2012-UP-044 - Veronie v. 303 Associates

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

J.N. Veronie and Laura K. Veronie, Appellants,

v.

303 Associates, LLC and Lowcountry Real Estate, Respondents.


Appeal from Beaufort County
Carmen T. Mullen, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2012-UP-044
Heard December 5, 2011 – Filed January 25, 2012   


REVERSED AND REMANDED


James H. Moss, Moss, Kuhn & Fleming, P.A., of Beaufort, for Appellants.

David W. Overstreet and Douglas W. Mackelcan, both of Charleston, and Ralph E. Tupper of Beaufort, for Respondents.

PER CURIAM:  J.N. and Laura K. Veronie (the Veronies) brought this action against 303 Associates, LLC (303) for breach of contract and Lowcountry Real Estate (Lowcountry) for breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and negligence.  On appeal, the Veronies argue the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment to 303 before the completion of discovery.  Additionally, the Veronies contend the circuit court erred in granting Lowcountry's Rule 12(b)(6), SCRCP, motion to dismiss.  We reverse and remand.

1. We hold the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment before the Veronies had a full and fair opportunity to complete discovery.   Here, the deposition of Susan Markham, who represented to the Veronies that the contract in question had been signed by 303, was scheduled to occur two weeks following the summary judgment hearing.  Additionally, at the time of the hearing, Lowcountry had not responded to the Veronies' discovery request to produce the contract.  Therefore, the circuit court's grant of summary judgment two and one-half months after the Veronies filed their complaint was premature.  See Doe v. Batson, 345 S.C. 316, 321, 548 S.E.2d 854, 857 (2001) (internal citation omitted) ("Summary judgment is a drastic remedy, which should be cautiously invoked so that no person will be improperly deprived of a trial of the disputed factual issues."); Baughman v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 306 S.C. 101, 112, 410 S.E.2d 537, 543 (1991) ("[S]ummary judgment must not be granted until the opposing party has had a full and fair opportunity to complete discovery.").

2. We hold the circuit court erred in dismissing the Veronies' complaint on the ground that it failed to allege the existence of a valid contract.  Viewing the factual allegations in the complaint, and inferences from them, in the light most favorable to the Veronies, we find they pled sufficient facts which could entitle them to relief. See Overcash v. S.C. Elec. & Gas Co.,  364 S.C. 569, 572, 614 S.E.2d 619, 620 (2005) ("[P]leadings in a case should be construed liberally and the Court must presume all well pled facts to be true so that substantial justice is done between the parties."); Stiles v. Onorato, 318 S.C. 297, 300, 457 S.E.2d 601, 602-03 (1995) ("A Rule 12(b)(6) motion may not sustained if facts alleged and inferences reasonably deducible therefrom would entitle the plaintiff to any relief on any theory of the case."); HHHunt Corp. v. Town of Lexington, 389 S.C. 623, 632, 699 S.E.2d 699, 703 (Ct. App. 2010) (internal citations omitted) ("[A] judgment on the pleadings is considered to be a drastic procedure by our courts.  The complaint should not be dismissed merely because the court doubts the plaintiff will prevail in the action.").

REVERSED.

SHORT, WILLIAMS, AND GEATHERS, JJ., concur.