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South Carolina
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Supreme Court Published Opinions - May 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.

5-8-2013 - Opinions

27222 - Wilburn v. Wilburn

This case arises from the divorce of the parties and the equitable apportionment of their marital estate. Among other issues, this case presents the novel question of whether trust distributions can be marital property, and we hold they can in certain limited circumstances. Additionally, while we affirm the majority of the family court's equitable division, we reverse the inclusion of one tract of timber as marital property and adjust the apportionment of the marital estate so as to give the husband credit for the increase in equity in the marital home he was responsible for during the parties' separation. We also reverse the reservation of alimony to the wife and reduce the amount of the wife's attorney's fees and costs that the husband must pay.

27227 - Wilson v. Dallas

The Court considers a challenge by Appellants to circuit court orders that approved a settlement agreement pursuant to § 62 3 1102 (2009) of pending litigation concerning the estate and removed Appellants from their fiduciary positions.

27233 - Sigmon v. State

The Court affirms the circuit court's dismissal of Brad Keith Sigmon's application for post-conviction relief, holding Sigmon's trial counsel was not ineffective in failing to object to the State's closing argument, obtain a charge on the statutory mitigating circumstance of age or mentality, or object to the trial court's instructions on non-statutory mitigating circumstances.

27244 - Hampton v. Haley

Enrollees in the State's health insurance plan brought suit in the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction challenging the Budget and Control Board's August 8, 2012 decision to raise enrollees' premiums. We find the Board's decision unconstitutional as a violation of the separation of powers.

27246 - C-Sculptures v. Brown

The Court granted certiorari to review the court of appeals decision affirming an arbitration award. This Court reverses, finding that the arbitrator exceeded his powers, as his decision constitutes a "manifest disregard of the law."

27247 - In the Matter of Bryngelson, Jr.

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

27248 - Bodman v. SCDOR

The Court finds that the State's sales and use tax exemption and cap scheme as a whole does not violate the State constitution's equal protection guarantee and prohibition against special legislation.

27249 - Tourism Expenditure Review Committee v. City of Myrtle Beach

In this direct appeal, the Court vacates the circuit court's order for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and dismisses the appeal.

27250 - State v. Herndon

Appellant contests the circuit court order requiring him to register as a sex offender for failing to complete sex offender counseling. On appeal, Appellant asserts that he did not complete sex offender counseling because he did not admit guilt, and at sentencing, the circuit court did not provide Appellant notice that the completion of sex offender counseling required an admission of guilt.

27251 - Broom v. Derrick

We affirm the termination of a mother's parental rights, holding the denial of counsel does not warrant reversal due to the lack of prejudice and two statutory grounds for termination were established by clear and convincing evidence.

5-15-2013 - Opinions

27252 - Town of Hollywood v. Floyd

The Town of Hollywood (the Town) filed this action against William Floyd, Troy Readen, and Edward McCracken (collectively, the developers) seeking a declaration that the developers may not subdivide their property without approval from the Town's Planning Commission and an injunction prohibiting subdivision of the property until such approval is obtained. The developers filed counterclaims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2006), alleging equal protection and due process violations as well as various state law claims. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the Town on its claims for equitable and declaratory relief, and also granted the Town's motion for a directed verdict on the developers' state law claims. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the Town on the developers' due process claim, but awarded the developers $450,000 in actual damages on their equal protection claim. Both parties appealed. We affirm the circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Town on its claims for declaratory and injunctive relief because the Town's ordinances clearly state the Planning Commission must approve subdivision plats if the property is subdivided into more than three lots. We reverse the circuit court's denial of the Town's motion for a directed verdict on the equal protection claim because the developers failed to show the Planning Commission treated them differently than other similarly situated developers in the subdivision application process. Consequently, we also reverse the circuit court's grant of the developers' motion for attorney's fees and costs.

27253 - Gibbs v. State

After being convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery, and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime, Petitioner sought, and was denied, post-conviction relief (PCR) on two grounds: (1) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to contemporaneously object to the introduction of a lineup, show-up, and in-court identifications; and (2) trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request a jury instruction on the law of the alibi as part of the defense strategy. The Court affirms the denial of Petitioner's PCR application.

5-22-2013 - Opinions

27229 - Sparks v. Palmetto Hardwood

The Court finds that "physical brain damage" within the meaning of S.C. Code Ann. § 42-9-10(C) is severe and permanent physical brain damage as a result of a compensable injury and that the finding by the Workers' Compensation Commission that Petitioner did not suffer such physical brain damage is supported by substantial evidence.

27254 - Menezes v. WL Ross & Company

Petitioner alleges that the court of appeals erred in holding that Petitioner's breach of fiduciary duty claim against Respondents accrued during the time period covered by a release of all claims agreed to by Petitioner. Affirmed as modified.

27255 - State v. Samuels

Appellant challenged his conviction and sentence for assault of a high and aggravated nature on the ground his indictment was duplicitous. While agreeing that his indictment was duplicitous, the Court holds he is not entitled to relief because he failed to show any prejudice.

5-29-2013 - Opinions

27256 - Shirley's Iron Works v. City of Union

This case concerns the interplay between the Subcontractors' and Suppliers' Payment Protection Act (SPPA), the Tort Claims Act, and this Court's opinion in Sloan Construction Co. v. Southco Grassing, Inc. (Sloan I), 377 S.C. 108, 659 S.E.2d 158 (2008). Respondents, subcontractors who failed to receive payment from the general contractor, filed suit against the City of Union, asserting the City failed to comply with the SPPA's statutory bonding requirements pertaining to contractors working with subcontractors on public projects. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the City and the court of appeals reversed and remanded. We now affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand. Further, we clarify Sloan I and hold that a governmental entity may be liable to a subcontractor only for breach of contract under the SPPA.

27257 - Amisub v. SCDHEC

In this appeal, the Court considers whether a hospital's challenge to the opening of an urgent care center was properly before the Administrative Law Court in a contested case hearing.

27258 - State v. Hercheck

The Court reverses the court of appeals' decision finding that section 56-5-2953(A)(2)(d) of the South Carolina Code requires a twenty-minute pre-breath test videotape recording upon an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) even when the arrestee refuses a breath test.

27259 - State v. Elwell

The Court affirms the court of appeals' decision finding that section 56-5-2953(A)(2)(d) of the South Carolina Code does not require a twenty-minute pre-breath test videotape recording upon an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) when the arrestee refuses a breath test.

27260 - Alexander v. Houston

This is a direct appeal from the circuit court's order dismissing a declaratory judgment action pursuant to a Rule 12(b)(6), SCRCP, motion. The Court now reverses and remands, finding Appellants' assertion that the Barnwell County Council members' service on the County Hospital Board of Trustees violates the South Carolina Constitution's dual office holding prohibition presents a bona fide lega challenge which is proper for judicial resolution. Moreover, the Court holds that membership on the Board is a separate constitutional office and simultaneous service on the Council and Board constitutes improper dual office holding in violation of the Constitution.