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Court of Appeals Published Opinions - January 2013

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.

1-2-2013 - Opinions

5069 - State v. Frazier

Devone F. Frazier appeals his convictions for murder and possession of a knife or firearm during the commission of a violent crime. He argues the trial court committed reversible error in declining to give a self-defense charge, voluntary manslaughter charge, and castle doctrine charge. He further contends the court committed reversible error in charging the jury that malice may be inferred from the use of a deadly weapon.

5070 - Lincoln General v. Progressive Northern

After a car accident, Lincoln General Insurance Company, individually and as subrogee of Jose Salgado, Blanca M. Acosta, Miguel S., Ofelia S. and Cathy Alafaro (Respondents) sued Progressive Northern Insurance Company, Avery Paul Strickland, and Jennifer Dawn Strickland. Lincoln General sought a declaratory judgment that Jennifer Strickland's policy with Progressive covered the accident, pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act, for at least the minimum policy limits, even though the driver of the car seeking coverage was an excluded person under Jennifer Strickland's policy. The trial court granted Lincoln General summary judgment. Progressive appeals.

1-9-2013 - Opinions

5071 - State v. Broadnax

In this appeal from his criminal conviction, Christopher Broadnax contends the trial court erred in: (1) admitting his three prior armed robbery convictions for impeachment purposes; (2) denying his motion to withdraw the life without parole (LWOP) notice based on the arbitrary use of the prosecution's discretion in the plea bargaining process; (3) denying his motion to withdraw the LWOP notice based on the lack of any standards to guide solicitors regarding when they should seek a sentence of LWOP; and (4) denying his motion that the jury be informed he was facing the mandatory sentence of LWOP. We reverse and remand to the trial court.

1-16-2013 - Opinions

5073 - Fortner v. Thomas M. Evans Construction

This action arose from injuries Benjamin Fortner, III, sustained while pressure washing a residential home on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina (Serenbetz property) on April 19, 2010. In this appeal from the Workers' Compensation Commission (Appellate Panel), SUA Insurance Company (SUA) contends the Appellate Panel erred in finding Fortner was a statutory employee of Thomas M. Evans Construction & Development, LLC (Evans Construction) at the time of his injuries. We affirm.

5074 - Baugh v. Columbia Heart Clinic

Columbia Heart Clinic, P.A., appeals the trial court's final order from a non-jury trial. The trial court held (1) the restrictions on competition in agreements between Columbia Heart and the respondents are unenforceable and (2) the South Carolina Wage Payment Act entitled the respondents to unpaid compensation. We reverse.

1-23-2013 - Opinions

5016 - SCPIF v. Greenville County

Respondents, South Carolina Public Interest Foundation and Edward D. Sloan, Jr. (collectively, SCPIF), brought this declaratory judgment action against Appellants, Greenville County and the individual members of Greenville County Council (collectively, the County), challenging the County's establishment of the "County Council Reserves" account as an unlawful delegation of legislative authority. The County seeks review of the trial court's order granting summary judgment to SCPIF, arguing that the account in question is lawful and SCPIF's current action is barred by res judicata. The County also seeks review of a second order granting SCPIF's request for attorney's fees and costs. We reverse.

5076 - Shenandoah Life v. Smallwood

In this insurance coverage case, Lakeisha Smallwood appeals the circuit court's order granting Shenandoah Life insurance Company's motion for a directed verdict on the issue of whether Shenandoah proved that the insured's false statements about his illegal drug use on a life insurance application were made with the intent to deceive and defraud the company.

5077 - Bishop v. City of Columbia

On appeal, Basilides F. Cruz, Joseph A. Floyd, Sr., Arthur C. Gilliam, III, Alma C. Hill, Barry N. Martin, Charles F. Morris, and Joseph A. Smith (collectively, Retirees) are a group of retired firefighters and police officers who each worked at least twenty years for the City of Columbia. Retirees claim the circuit court erred in granting the City of Columbia's (the City) motion for summary judgment on Retirees' claims for continuing free health insurance under claims for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and equitable estoppel.

1-30-2013 - Opinions

5075 - Plantation Federal Bank v. Gray

Peggy Gray appeals the master-in-equity's ruling ordering separate trials on Plantation Federal Bank's foreclosure action and her compulsory legal counterclaims. Gray argues the master erred in allowing Bank to proceed with its foreclosure action before her compulsory legal counterclaims were adjudicated.

5078 - Estate of Livingston v. Livingston

In this cross-appeal, the parties dispute the master's findings concerning farmland in North, South Carolina devised in a will. Clyde Livingston argues the master erred in concluding (1) the United States Department of Agriculture (the USDA) benefits were estate property and (2) the statute of limitations barred Emma Livingston Martin's claim to collect repayment of those benefits. Emma both personally and on behalf of the estate contends the master erred by (1) failing to apply the probate code, (2) applying section 15-61-25 of the South Carolina Code (2005), governing partition, (3) allowing Clyde to retain one-half of the USDA subsidies, and (4) concluding judgments of an heir-at-law affects the ability of a personal representative (PR) of an open estate to convey good title to real estate. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

5079 - Barnes v. Johnson

In this property matter, heard in equity, James E. Johnson appeals the award of $75,616.17 to Clyde and Kathy Barnes. We reverse.