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Court of Appeals Published Opinions - April 2011

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.

4-6-2011 - Opinions

4815 - SunTrust Bank v. Bryant

In this appeal, SunTrust Bank s/b/m National Bank of Commerce, including its division, Central Carolina Bank (SunTrust) argues the master-in-equity erred in finding Phyllis Davis's judgment lien was entitled to priority over its purchase money mortgage in the distribution of the overage from a tax sale of the real property subject to the purchase money mortgage.

4816 - State v. Murphy

Denise Murphy appeals her conviction for driving under the influence (DUI). We affirm.

4817 - SCDOR v. Club Rio

The Department of Revenue (Department) moved the Administrative Law Court (ALC) to revoke the liquor by the drink license and beer and wine permit (collectively, the License) of Club Rio, d/b/a Club Level (the Club). After the Club surrendered the License, the ALC dismissed the action, finding it lacked subject matter jurisdiction and the revocation issue was moot. We reverse and remand for consideration of the Department's motion for revocation.

4-13-2011 - Opinions

4818 - State v. Frazier

Randolph Frazier was convicted of first-degree burglary and sentenced to life in prison. On appeal, Frazier argues the trial court erred in (1) denying his motion to suppress, (2) allowing the victim and two neighbors to identify him in court, and (3) denying his motion for a mistrial based upon Rule 5, SCRCrimP, and Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). We affirm.

4819 - Providence Hospital v. Medical Malpractice Liability JUA and Taillon

Lockemy, J.: In this action for equitable indemnification, Columbia/CSA-HA Greater Columbia Healthcare System d/b/a Providence Hospital (Providence Hospital) appeals, arguing the trial court erred in granting the South Carolina Medical Malpractice Liability Joint Underwriting Association (the JUA) and Dr. Michael P. Taillon's motion for summary judgment based upon the six-year medical malpractice statute of repose. We affirm.

4-20-2011 - Opinions

4820 - Hutchinson v. Liberty Life Insurance Co.

On appeal, Liberty Life argues the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment to Hutchinson when (1) the circuit court adopted a specialized medical definition of the term "narcotic" in the context of an insurance policy written for laypersons, as opposed to the plain and ordinary meaning of "narcotic" as understood by laypersons, and (2) the operative language of the Liberty Life policy exclusion providing that benefits will not be payable when the insured is "under the influence of any narcotic" was taken verbatim from the South Carolina Insurance Code. We reverse the grant of summary judgment and remand for further proceedings.

4821 - Brown v. SCHHS

Peter Brown appeals the termination of his Medicaid waiver services. We find the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services hearing officer had jurisdiction to hear the appeal because Brown alleged the terminated services were covered by Medicaid. We reverse and vacate the decisions below to the contrary.

4822 - State v. Jones

Tyquan Jared Amir Jones was charged as a juvenile with murder, armed robbery, and unlawful possession of a pistol. The family court waived jurisdiction and ordered he be treated as an adult. Jones then pled guilty in the circuit court to a lesser charge pursuant to a plea agreement. On appeal, he argues the family court erred in waiving jurisdiction because it did not properly apply the Kent factors. He also contends the family court erred in admitting a statement he gave to police because his mother was not present during the interrogation or when he signed the waiver of rights form. He further maintains the statement was based on an unfulfilled promise by an officer. We affirm.

4823 - State v. Burgess

In this appeal from a conviction for possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute, we find the arresting officer had jurisdiction to arrest the defendant based on a valid multijurisdictional narcotics enforcement agreement. We also affirm the exclusion of the arresting officer's employment records because they did not have a legitimate tendency to show bias, and affirm the trial judge's refusal to charge mere presence when the State alleged only actual possession.

4824 - Lawson v. Hanson Brick America, Inc.

In this workers' compensation case, Hanson Brick America, Inc. and Zurich North America (collectively the Appellants) appeal the circuit court's order reversing the Appellate Panel of the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission's (Appellate Panel) finding that Stevie Lawson's knee problems were not causally related to his back injury and awarding Lawson temporary total disability benefits. The Appellants argue (1) the circuit court engaged in improper fact finding, (2) substantial evidence supported the Appellate Panel's decision, (3) the Appellate Panel made sufficiently detailed findings of fact, and (4) the circuit court improperly relied on late-filed medical evidence.

4-27-2011 - Opinions

4825 - Grumbos v. Grumbos

In this appeal, the Court of Appeals affirms the family court's decision to impute additional income to the husband for purposes of wife's temporary and permanent alimony awards, to award permanent alimony to wife, and to exclude certain pre-separation debts from the marital estate. Because of the Court of Appeal's finding regarding temporary alimony, it reversed the portion of the family court's order that found husband's overpayment of temporary alimony negated his requirement to pay his wife's attorney's fees and costs.

4826 - C-Sculptures v. Brown

The Browns appeal the circuit court's confirmation of an arbitration award to C-Sculptures arguing the arbitrator manifestly disregarded the law on contractor licensing and the right to enforce a contract. The Browns further appeal the award of attorney's fees to C-Sculptures arguing C-Sculptures improperly manipulated its pleadings and prayer for relief to position itself as the prevailing party. We affirm.

4827 - C-Sculptures v. Brown

C-Sculptures appeals the master's decision to stay foreclosure proeceedings against the Browns' property based on the Browns' appeal of the underlying arbitration order. We affirm.

4828 - Burke v. AnMed Health

Elise Burke arrived at AnMed to have an abdominal hysterectomy on March 22, 2005. During a routine preoperative procedure, a nurse inadvertently left a cleansing sponge inside Ms. Burke's body. The hysterectomy was performed later the same morning but the sponge was not discovered. After the surgery, Ms. Burke experienced increasing discomfort, discolored vaginal discharge, and an offensive odor she was unable to prevent those around her from noticing. Over the following two months, Ms. Burke contacted her doctor on six separate occasions seeking medical assistance to address these concerns. On May 23, 2005, Ms. Burke's doctor performed a vaginal exam and discovered fragments of the sponge that had been left in her body. AnMed Health admitted liability to Elise Burke arising out of the preoperative procedure, and the jury returned a $250,000.00 verdict for Ms. Burke. AnMed contends the trial court erred in refusing to excuse for cause potential jurors who were allegedly indebted to AnMed, in admitting costs of Ms. Burke's initial operation as evidence of damages, and in refusing to grant AnMed's motion for a new trial. We affirm.

4829 - Steinmetz v. American Media Services

American Media Services, LLC, and several limited liability companies (collectively AMS) it created to upgrade radio stations appeal an arbitration award in favor of Mark S. Steinmetz. We dismiss AMS's appeal.

4830 - State v. Miller

James C. Miller appeals an order of the circuit court tolling his probation while he is civilly committed as a sexually violent predator (SVP). Miller argues the trial court erred because tolling is not authorized by statute and renders his civil commitment punitive. We affirm.

4831 - Matsell v. Crowfield Plantation

Crowfield Plantation Community Services Association (the Association) appeals the trial court's finding the Hamlets of Crowfield Covenants and Restrictions do not allow the Association to approve fence construction applications for lots that abut the lake, lagoons, or golf course in the Hamlets, except for stated limited circumstances and the Association violated such determination by approving the projects. We affirm.