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Court of Appeals Published Opinions - March 2010

Note: Beginning in June 2012, opinions will be posted as Adobe PDFs. You can download a free copy of Adobe Reader here.

The summary following each opinion is prepared to offer lawyers and the public a general overview of what a particular opinion decides. The summary is not necessarily a full description of the issues discussed in an opinion.

3-4-2010 - Opinions

4652 - State v. Brayboy

John Brayboy appeals his murder conviction and forty year sentence, arguing the trial court erred in failing to charge the jury on involuntary manslaughter. We reverse and remand.

3-10-2010 - Opinions

4653 - Toni Ward v. Toni Evans

Toni Cooke Evans and David A. Nexsen (collectively, Appellants) appeal from the special referee's order awarding an easement to Toni M. Ward and J.W. Ward (collectively, Respondents), arguing the special referee erred in finding (1) Respondents have a thirty-foot easement by express grant across Evans' land; (2) Respondents have an easement by necessity across the lands owned by Appellants; (3) the paved portion of Nathan Road running adjacent to Evans' tract of land is a public road; and (4) the initial easement did not extinguish through the doctrine of merger. Appellants also argue the special referee considered improper factors in his final order.

4654 - Sierra Club v. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

The Sierra Club appeals the Administrative Law Court's (ALC) determination that it failed to present sufficient evidence to warrant a revocation of Chem-Nuclear's license renewal. This case involves whether Chem-Nuclear was in compliance with certain Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) regulations. Specifically, the Sierra Club argues Chem-Nuclear's current disposal practices fail to comply with section 7.11, concerning engineered barriers, of Regulation 61-63 (Supp. 2009). Additionally, the Sierra Club maintains Chem-Nuclear's current disposal practices fail to comply with section 7.23.6, concerning separating water from waste, of Regulation 61-63 (1992). Finally, the Sierra Club maintains Chem-Nuclear failed to comply with all requirements set forth in section 7.10 of Regulation 61-63 (Supp. 2009). The ALC did not rule on whether Chem-Nuclear was in compliance with section 7.11, 7.23.6, and all requirements of 7.10; accordingly, we cannot review whether the ALC erred. The ALC found the Sierra Club failed to present sufficient evidence that established Chem-Nuclear was not in compliance with sections 7.10.1, 7.10.2, 7.10.3, and 7.10.4 and found the Sierra Club failed to present evidence demonstrating Chem-Nuclear violated section 7.18 and the ALARA test. We find there is sufficient evidence in the record to support these findings and affirm. However, we remand this case to the ALC for a ruling on whether Chem-Nuclear's current waste disposal practices are in compliance with sections 7.11, 7.23.6, and 7.10.5-7.10.10 of regulation 61-63.

4655 - The State v. Titus Bantan

Bantan was convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping, and possession of a weapon. He argues the trial court erred in denying his motions for mistrial when (1) a witness referenced drugs and a gun unrelated to the crime during his testimony; (2) a witness alluded to a videotape showing Bantan when the tape was later held to be inadmissible; and (3) a juror overhead a conversation about Bantan and his co-defendant being involved in another robbery and mentioned the conversation to fellow jurors. We affirm.

3-11-2010 - Opinions

4656 - Tracy Burnett v. Family Kingdom, Inc.

Tracy Burnett appeals the trial court's decision granting Family Kingdom, Inc.'s motion for a directed verdict in her negligence action. We reverse.

3-15-2010 - Opinions

4657 - Hairston v. McMillan

Appellant contends the special referee erred in concluding her uncle, the decedent, had testamentary capacity to change his will the day before his death and in failing to conclude the changes were not the result of undue influence. We affirm.

3-17-2010 - Opinions

4658 - State v. Ravenell

Tyrone Ravenell appeals his convictions and sentences for armed robbery and burglary in the first degree, arguing the trial judge erred in (1) proceeding to trial in his absence and (2) failing to quash the jury where it consisted of only one person of a minority race and only two people of a minority race were included in the jury pool pulled for the trial. We affirm.

4659 - Nationwide Mutual Insurance v. Rhoden

In this declaratory judgment action, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company appeals the trial court's determination that the respondents, Kelly Rhoden and her daughters, Ashley Arrieta and Emerlynn Dickey, are entitled to underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage under a policy issued to Kelly insuring two "at-home" vehicles.

4660 - State v. Parris

In this criminal case, Ricky Lynn Parris appeals his conviction of reckless homicide. Parris argues the trial court erred by (1) failing to exclude a police officer's testimony about Parris's right to remain silent; (2) allowing testimony regarding prior crimes and prior bad acts; and (3) failing to exclude a police officer's testimony that Parris lacked remorse for the accident. We affirm.

3-24-2010 - Opinions

4661 - SCDOR v. Blue Moon of Newberry

The South Carolina Department of Revenue (Department) sought to revoke the alcoholic beverage license and permit of Blue Moon of Newberry, Inc. (Blue Moon). The Department appeals the Administrative Law Court's (ALC's) order denying the revocation, arguing the ALC incorrectly interpreted a regulation governing Blue Moon's operation and failed to find facts consistent with the evidence presented at trial. We reverse.

4662 - State v. Smith

In this criminal case, Marquita Smith argues the trial court improperly denied her motions for a continuance and severance.

3-29-2010 - Opinions

4663 - Mull v. Ridgeland Realty, LLC

In this case, we must determine whether the Special Referee erred in (1) refusing to set aside a default judgment due to insufficient service of process; (2) finding Ridgeland Realty, LLC (Ridgeland Realty) made a voluntary appearance under Rule 4(d), SCRCP, thereby waiving any defects in service of process; (3) failing to set aside the default judgment because the award was grossly out of proportion with the evidence of actual damages; and (4) granting relief that amounted to splitting attorneys' fees with a layman. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

4664 - Tranquil Properties, Inc. v. Dorchester County

The master-in-equity concluded Dorchester County could assess sewer service charges directly against Tranquil Properties, Inc. for its 40-unit townhome community, which is serviced by a common sewer connection. Tranquil Properties appeals this ruling arguing the master erred because county ordinances do not give authority to the county to assess an owner for a tenant's debts. Tranquil Properties further contends the master misconstrued the title history of the property and the master's ruling does not provide an adequate remedy. We reverse.

3-31-2010 - Opinions

4665 - Lapp v. SCDMV

This appeal arises from the suspension of Amy Lynn Lapp's driver's license by the Department of Motor Vehicles for refusing to submit to a breath test as required under section 56-5-2950 of the South Carolina Code (2006). The Division of Motor Vehicle Hearings (DMVH) sustained the suspension and the Administrative Law Court (ALC) affirmed. On appeal, Lapp argues that the ALC erred in upholding the DMVH's determination that probable cause existed to arrest her for driving under the influence. She also contends that her arrest was unlawful under section 56-5-6170 of the South Carolina Code (2006). We affirm.

4666 - Southeast Toyota Distributors v. Jim Hudson Superstore

Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC (SET) brought this declaratory judgment action to determine whether the relocation of the "Toyota Center" dealership in Lexington County is exempt from protest by competing dealers pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. ยง 56-15-46(C). Jim Hudson Superstore, Inc. (Hudson) and Dick Dyer, Inc. filed counterclaims asserting their protests to the proposed relocation. SET and Hudson filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the exemption issue, and the circuit court granted Hudson's summary judgment motion. On appeal, SET challenges the circuit court's ruling that the proposed relocation is not exempt from protest. We reverse.

4667 - State v. Wiley

Kareem T. Wiley (Wiley) appeals his conviction for trafficking cocaine. On appeal, Wiley contends the trial court erred in refusing to grant a mistrial when the State commented on Wiley's unrelated outstanding warrant during opening statements. Wiley further contends the trial court erred in not instructing the jury that the State had the burden of proof when the State commented that Wiley did not contest the legality of the stop or search on cross-examination. We affirm.