Articles Posted in South Carolina Supreme Court

by
Petitioner Ervin C. Gamble challenged his conviction for heroin trafficking. The Supreme Court found that record in this case did not demonstrate that probable cause supported Petitioner's arrest. The officer's testimony describes Petitioner's arrival at a certain location, and Petitioner's subsequent arrest, but did not explain why these events triggered the search. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed Petitioner's conviction. View "South Carolina v. Gamble" on Justia Law

by
A twelve-year-old Child was sexually assaulted and murdered. The Child's father, Billy Wayne Cope was convicted of murder, two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC), criminal conspiracy, and unlawful conduct towards a child. The court of appeals affirmed Cope's convictions. Cope raised four issues on appeal to the Supreme Court: (1) whether the court of appeals erred in upholding the trial court's refusal to admit certain evidence; (2) whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the trial court's excluding certain evidence; (3) whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the trial court's refusal to allow Cope's false-confessions expert to specifically discuss factually similar cases; and (4) whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the trial court's denial of Cope's motion for a directed verdict on the charge of criminal conspiracy. Finding no reversible error by the trial court, the Supreme Court affirmed Cope's convictions. View "South Carolina v. Cope" on Justia Law

by
Kenneth Poch and Kevin Key were temporary workers contracted through Personnel Resources of Georgia, Inc. and Carolina Staffing, Inc. d/b/a Job Place of Conway, to work for Bayshore Concrete Products/South Carolina, Inc. to clean up a concrete casting worksite and dismantle equipment used to produce concrete forms. As a result of a tragic, work-related accident, Poch was killed and Key was injured. Poch's estate and Key received workers' compensation benefits through Job Place. Subsequently, Key and his wife and the estate of Poch filed suit against Bayshore SC and its parent company, Bayshore Concrete Products Corporation. The circuit court granted the company's motion to dismiss the actions on the ground that workers' compensation was Petitioners' exclusive remedy and, therefore, the company was immune from liability in a tort action. The Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court's order. Though the Supreme Court agreed with the result reached by the Court of Appeals, it found the court incorrectly analyzed Petitioners' arguments. Accordingly, the Court affirmed as modified. View "Poch v. Bayshore Concrete" on Justia Law

by
Appellant Justin B. challenged the active electronic monitoring requirements of section 23-3-540 of the South Carolina Code. Appellant argued that because he was a juvenile, the imposition of lifetime monitoring under the statute constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the federal and state constitutions. The Supreme Court found that electronic monitoring was not a punishment, and rejected Appellant's claim. However, the Court concluded Appellant must be granted periodic judicial review to determine the necessity of continued monitoring. View "In the Interest of Justin B." on Justia Law

by
This action involved competing claims to the retirement benefits of the late Thomas Sullivan, a former National Football League (NFL) running back for the Philadelphia Eagles. Thomas married Lavona Hill in Maryland in 1979. They separated in 1983, but never divorced. In 1986, Thomas purported to marry Barbara Sullivan in South Carolina. Sullivan was unaware of Thomas' prior marriage to Hill. In 1991, Thomas submitted pension forms to the NFL indicating Sullivan was his current spouse. Thomas died in 2002. Thereafter, Sullivan filed a claim with the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan (the Plan), which provided benefits to a player's surviving spouse, defining the term as "a [p]layer's lawful spouse, as recognized under applicable state law." In November 2002, the Plan began paying Sullivan monthly benefits. Four years later, Hill contacted the Plan to request benefits. Following an investigation, the Plan suspended payments to Sullivan pending a court order identifying Thomas's surviving spouse. After Hill failed to obtain that order, the Plan resumed payments to Sullivan. In 2009, Hill filed this action against the Plan in Pennsylvania state court, claiming entitlement to Thomas's retirement benefits. The Plan promptly removed the case to federal district court and filed an interpleader counterclaim, joining Sullivan as a party. The United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question to the South Carolina Supreme Court over whether South Carolina law recognized the "putative spouse" or "putative marriage" doctrine. The Supreme Court answered the certified question "no." View "Hill v. Bell" on Justia Law

by
Carl Aten, Jr. appealed the circuit court's order finding him personally liable for torts he committed as a member of a limited liability company (LLC). Although this case presented a novel question of whether the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (LLC Act) shields an LLC member from personal liability from his own torts, the Supreme Court declined to opine on that issue, and found that Aten committed no actionable tort. Therefore the Court reversed the portion of the circuit court's order which imposed personal liability upon Aten. View "16 Jade Street v. R. Design Construction" on Justia Law

by
Appellant Greg Issac appealed a trial court ruling that denied his request for a hearing to determine whether he was immune from prosecution under the Protection of Persons and Property Act. Appellant was indicted for murder, first degree burglary, attempted armed robbery and criminal conspiracy. Appellant contended that he was not afforded a hearing on his immunity issue. The trial court determined the Act did not apply to this case as a matter of law, specifically, that the intent of the Act was not to protect intruders and afford immunity to them or those who might enter the dwelling of another to commit a criminal act. Appellant argued on appeal to the Supreme Court that the trial court's order was immediately appealable. The Supreme Court disagreed and dismissed Appellant's appeal. View "South Carolina v. Isaac" on Justia Law

by
The contract between the general contractor and subcontractor provided for arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act. When a complaint was filed, the general contractor Appellant Sean Barnes and property owner Appellant Wando E. sought to enforce the construction contract's arbitration clause. The trial court refused to compel arbitration on the basis that the contract did not sufficiently impact interstate commerce. Upon review, the Supreme Court found the trial court erred in finding the parties' transaction had an insufficient nexus to interstate commerce and reversed. View "Cape Romain v. Wando E., LLC" on Justia Law

by
Five questions of South Carolina law were certified to the State Supreme Court by the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina: (1) when a plaintiff seeks recovery for a temporary trespass or nuisance, are the damages limited to the lost rental value of the property?; (2) does South Carolina law recognize a cause of action for trespass solely from invisible odors rather than a physical invasion such as dust or water?; (3) is the maximum amount of compensatory damages a plaintiff can receive in any trespass or nuisance action (temporary or permanent) the full market value of the plaintiffs' property where no claim for restoration or cleanup costs has been alleged?; (4) when a plaintiff contends that offensive odors have migrated from a neighbor's property onto the plaintiff's property, may the plaintiff maintain an independent cause of action for negligence or is the plaintiff limited to remedies under trespass and nuisance?; and (5) if an independent cause of action for negligence exists under South Carolina law when a plaintiff contends that offensive odors have migrated from a neighbor's property onto the plaintiff's property, does the standard of care for a landfill operator and breach thereof need to be established through expert testimony? The South Carolina Supreme Court answered: (1) damages recoverable for a temporary trespass or nuisance claim are limited to the lost rental value of the property; (2) a trespass exists only when an intrusion is made by a physical, tangible thing; (3) the damages recoverable for a permanent trespass or nuisance claim are limited to the full market value of the property; (4) a negligence claim based on offensive odors is possible, but that such a claim would have to satisfy all the elements of negligence like any other negligence claim; and (5) the Court was unable to make a definitive determination as to whether establishing the standard of care of a landfill operator in regards to offensive odors required expert testimony, but offered guidelines for making such a determination. View "Babb v. Lee County Landfill" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted certiorari to review a Court of Appeals opinion that affirmed the convictions and sentence of Karriem Provet for trafficking cocaine and resisting arrest. Petitioner argued the Court of Appeals erred when it affirmed the trial court's determination that reasonable suspicion existed to justify extension of a traffic stop and that petitioner voluntarily consented to the search of his vehicle. Finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "South Carolina v. Provet" on Justia Law