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Supreme Court Published Opinions - November 2012

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.

11-2-2012 - Opinions

27182 - Savannah Riverkeeper v. SCDHEC

In this opinion, a majority of the Court concurs in Part I of Justice Pleicones's opinion and answers the question posed by Petitioners in the Court's original jurisdiction as follows: DHEC contravened the express terms of section 54-6-10 of the South Carolina Code in issuing the 401 Water Quality Certification requested for the proposed Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. Moreover, a majority of the Court concurs in Chief Justice Toal's opinion finding DHEC "acted" within the meaning of 33 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1). However, the majority further finds that because the ALC owes no deference the DHEC Board's decision incorporating the statutorily prohibited agreement entered into by the DHEC Board and The United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Ports Authority, the staff denial of the Certification is now the final agency decision for purposes of contested case review, and the 401 Water Quality Certification is denied. Therefore, the contested case hearing pending in the ALC is moot. Any future negotiations concerning any 401 Water Quality Certification now must be properly directed to the Savannah River Maritime Commission.

11-7-2012 - Opinions

27183 - In the Matter of Greenwood County Magistrate Walter Rutledge Martin

This is an opinion in which the Court publicly reprimands a magistrate.

27184 - State v. Cooper

We granted a writ of certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals in State v. Cooper, 386 S.C. 210, 687 S.E.2d 62 (Ct. App. 2009). We now dismiss the writ as improvidently granted.

27185 - Rutland v. SCDOT

The Court affirmed as modified the court of appeals' opinion finding no evidence of conscious pain and suffering to support a claim for damages in a survival action and affirming the equitable reallocation of the settlement with another defendant.

27186 - Carson v. CSX Transportation

In this appeal from a wrongful death and survival action, the Court affirms the circuit court with respect to the evidentiary determinations and jury instruction, but reverses the denial of the Appellant's motion for a new trial nisi additur in the survival action, and remands the survival action for a new trial absolute.

27187 - Oskin v. Johnson

Creditor contest the Master-in-Equity's ruling that the assignment of a note and mortgage on a property did not violate the Statute of Elizabeth, and that a payment made to a bank did not result in a pay-off of the amount due under the note and mortgage. The Court, C.J. Toal, held: 1) the statute of Elizabeth was not applicable and even if applicable there was no intent to defraud; 2) the evidence does not support a determination that an LLC is the alter-ego of the respondentt; 3) that assuming arguendo that the respondent is the alter-ego of an LLC, a future advance clause still precludes finding that the $3.5 million payment to a bank constitutes a pay-off of the note and satisfaction of the mortgage.

27188 - Savannah Bank v. Stalliard

The Court, C.J. Toal, affirmed the master-in-equity's grant of summary judgment. In this case, the Savannah Bank, Respondent, sought to foreclose on a property owned by Alphonse Stalliard, Appellant. Stalliard alleged that Bank was negligence in processing his loan application, and the master erred in denying his motion to enlarge time for discovery. In affirming the master, the Court held: (1) Stalliard's negligence claim fails because given the factual circumstances of the case, the Bank does not owe Stalliard a duty of care; and (2) the denial of the motion to enlarge time for discovery was proper because the Record indicated that Appellant had ample time during discovery to uncover evidence and speak with any potential witnesses from Bank.

11-21-2012 - Opinions

27189 - Harleysville Mutual v. State

The Court, C.J. Toal, accepted the petition of Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company (Petitioner) in its Original Jurisdiction to assess constitutional challenges to Act No. 26 of the South Carolina Acts and Joint Resolutions, which regulates coverage provided by commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies for construction-related work. The Court held that while most of the Act survives the constitutional challenge, the retroactivity clause of Act No. 26 violates the Contract Clauses of the state and federal Constitutions, and that the statute may only apply prospectively to CGL insurance contracts executed on or after its effective date of May 17, 2011.

27190 - State v. Phillips

In this opinion, the Court finds the Court of Appeals erred in interpreting the second-degree arson statute to be limited to structures designed for human occupancy. The Court noted that the impact of the erroneous interpretation is limited by the 2010 amendment to the second-degree arson statute.

27191 - Priester v. Cromer

On remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Court reaffirms its previous decision in Priester v. Cromer, 388 S.C. 425, 697 S.E.2d 567 (2010), vacated, 131 S.Ct. 1570 (2011).

27192 - Sulton v. HealthSouth

The Court reversed an award of damages against Appellants because the jury was improperly charged that heightened risk creates a heightened duty in a medical malpractice case. The Court also found the verdict form flawed and a reference to HealthSouth Corporation's net operating revenue improper.

27193 - In the Matter of Michael D. Shavo

This is a disciplinary opinion in which the Court definitiely suspends a lawyer.

27194 - In the Matter of Frank L. Valenta, Jr.

This is a disciplinary opinion in which the Court publicly reprimands a lawyer.

27195 - State v. Langford

The Court held the Section 1-7-330 of the South Carolina Code (2005), which vests control of the criminal docket in the circuit solicitor, violates the separation of powers principles of the South Carolina Constitution. [For additional information about the administrative orders issued in conjunction with this opinion, please see the Court News items Administrative Orders Issued in Conjunction with State v. Langford and Order Regarding Reconciliation of General Sessions Cases Statewide.]

27196 - Terry v. Terry

The Court clarified the effect of filing a notice of appeal from a temporary, pentente lite family court order.

27197 - Town of Mount Pleasant v. Chimento

The Court held that under certain circumstances persons playing poker in a residence could be convicted of unlawful gaming.

11-21-2012 - Orders

ORDER - In the Matter of William Jones Rivers, III

11-28-2012 - Orders

ORDER - ABC Trial Rosters in the Family Court
IT IS ORDERED that an ABC Trial Roster shall be set for each term of family court.