Welcome to the South Carolina Bar\'s E-Blast!
E-Blast highlights upcoming activities, legal information and links to the Bar\'s website at www.scbar.org.
The South Carolina Bar is dedicated to advancing justice, professionalism and understanding of the law.
Lawyers Desk Book delivery update
All active Bar members will receive their complimentary copy of the 2010-11 Lawyers Desk Book within 1-2 weeks. In an effort to reduce printing costs and present the most accurate information to Bar members, the following changes have been made:
-- The Lawyer-to-Lawyer Directory is no longer featured in the Desk Book; it can be accessed from the Bar\'s website at www.scbar.org/L2L.
-- State court judicial biographies have been consolidated. Complete biographical information can be found at www.sccourts.org.
-- The County Offices section has been eliminated. However, masters-in-equity, magistrate judges, probate judges, solicitors and public defenders continue to be listed in the Desk Book. The most up-to-date information regarding other county offices can be found on individual county websites, which are listed at www.scbar.org/member_resources/links/county_websites/.
-- The State Government Offices section has been consolidated. Each office website is listed for access to complete, up-to-date information.
Visit www.scbar.org/deskbook for ordering information.
Court acts on Bar proposals
The Court adopted a proposal from the Bar to require lawyers and judges to complete every three years an hour of continuing legal education instruction on substance abuse or mental health issues and the legal profession. The requirement does not increase the number of hours to be taken in a reporting year and may be part of the two hour requirement for lawyers on legal ethics/professional responsibility. The rule becomes effective March 1, 2011, the start of the next annual reporting period.
The Court declined to adopt the Bar\'s proposal to include a rule in the Rules of Professional Conduct which would permit, but not require, a lawyer to designate a lawyer or lawyers to assume responsibility for her cases in the event of death, disability, suspension or disbarment.
Seminar location canceled
The Florence satellite location for Practice Essentials in South Carolina: A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Paralegals and Attorneys on August 13 has been canceled.
Summer 2010 newsletter available
The Bar Foundation summer newsletter is now available online. Featured topics include grant awards for FY11 and the call for nominations for the DuRant Award. The edition also features the listing of tribute gifts made from April through July. Your Bar Foundation is the only statewide entity that funds the advancement of justice by improving access, education and accountability. Please join us.
Registration still open for SCALA Vendor Fair
The S.C. Association of Legal Administrators\' (SCALA) annual Vendor Fair is Thursday, August 19, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The event begins at 2:30 p.m. with "Where is the Tipping Point When Cutting Expenses to Increase Profits?" Following the presentation, up to 50 vendors will offer information about products and services of benefit to those working in the legal and finance industry from 4 to 7 p.m. Guests are encouraged to register for free in advance with this registration form or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advance Sheet update
August 4, 2010
McBride brought this action against the School District of Greenville County (the District) following her dismissal after her attempts to mentor a student who ultimately attempted to run away from home. McBride asserted causes of action for breach of contract, wrongful discharge, defamation of character, abuse of process, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligence per se and gross negligence. The circuit court granted a directed verdict for the District on her causes of action for defamation of character, abuse of process, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. The Court of Appeals affirmed the directed verdict for the District on malicious prosecution and false imprisonment charges, but reversed the directed verdict for defamation and abuse of process and remanded for a new trial on these charges.
McBride v. School Dist. of Greenville Cnty., No. 4718, is online.
In this divorce appeal, Raymond Pruitt (Husband) and Karen Leigh Pruitt, Husband\'s sister (Sister) appealed the family court\'s decree that Sister did not loan $40,000 to Husband and that the marital home was transmuted into marital property. Husband also challenged the finding that his adultery was the sole reason for the breakup of his marriage to Wife. The court affirmed the findings on the loan and the adultery. The court also affirmed the family court\'s ruling that Husband receive a credit for temporary alimony paid after December 2007. The court reversed the conclusion that the marital home was transmuted into marital property but remanded for a determination of any special equity Wife may have in the marital home\'s improvements and for reconsideration of the division of the marital estate and the attorney\'s fees awards. The court directed the family court to correct the list of marital assets to no longer count certain assets twice and to deduct certain of Husband\'s debts from the value assigned to the marital estate. Finally, the court directed the family court to order Wife to return to Husband all household items that were gifts from members of his family.
Pruitt v. Pruitt, No. 4719, is online.
Jackson borrowed McGee\'s uninsured truck and was involved in an accident. The S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (the Department) suspended McGee\'s driving and registration privileges pursuant to Section 56-10-530 of the S.C. Code (Supp. 2009) for failure to pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee for a registered and plated uninsured motor vehicle. The Administrative Law Court (the ALC) found McGee did not operate or permit Jackson to operate the truck. The ALC concluded the plain language of Section 56-10-510 does not apply to owners who do not operate their vehicle nor give permission to others to operate their vehicle. On appeal by the Department, the court reversed, finding that the ALC erred in failing to uphold McGee\'s suspension. The court found that McGee\'s argument would discourage similarly-situated individuals from obtaining liability insurance or paying the uninsured motor vehicle fee while simultaneously owning a registered and plated uninsured motor vehicle.
McGee v. S.C. Dep\'t of Motor Vehicles, No. 4720, is online.
Tiffanie Rutland (the Decedent) sustained fatal injuries after she was partially ejected from a vehicle\'s side window in accident. Her husband (Rutland) filed a wrongful death action against the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT). In the trial against SCDOT, the jury awarded Rutland a $300,000 verdict in actual damages for the decedent\'s wrongful death. SCDOT subsequently filed a motion to set off the proceeds of previous settlements with other defendants. Rutland filed a motion for a new trial absolute, new trial on damages only or in the alternative for a new trial nisi additur. The trial court approved SCDOT\'s motion for set-off, reduced the verdict against SCDOT to zero and denied Rutland\'s new trial motions. On appeal, the court affirmed, finding there was not sufficient evidence to present a jury question that the Decedent suffered conscious pain and suffering to support a survival claim. The test of a survival action in S.C. is whether the decedent suffered conscious pain and suffering. The court then declined to extend a 1930 holding for the proposition that "pre-impact fear" is recoverable. The court held that SCDOT was not bound by the settlement trial court\'s sufficiency of evidence ruling.
Rutland v. S.C. Dep’t of Transp., No. 4721, is online.
In this child support appeal, Lori G. Rector (Mother) appealed from the family court\'s order awarding Jack David Bennett (Father) child support. Mother contended the family court erred in (1) determining the amount of child support under the Child Support Guidelines; (2) making the award retroactive; and (3) awarding Father attorney\'s fees. The court affirmed, finding that the family court did not abuse its discretion in determining the amount of child support or awarding Father attorney\'s fees. Additionally, Mother\'s argument that the family court erred in applying the child support award retroactively was unpreserved for the court\'s review.
Bennett v. Rector, No. 4722, is online.
August 9, 2010
Petitioner brought wrongful death and survival actions against CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSX) and the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) stemming from a collision between an automobile and a freight train. Petitioner settled the claims against CSX, and the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of SCDOT. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding: (1) the public duty rule bars Petitioner\'s claim; (2) Petitioner\'s state law claims are preempted by federal regulations; and (3) the gate arms were the proximate cause of the accident, not the traffic lights. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Petitioner argued the public duty rule was not dispositive because SCDOT has a common law duty to properly repair and maintain the state highway system, which she contended the Court of Appeals erroneously failed to consider when it affirmed the trial court\'s grant of summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part. Because Petitioner\'s common law argument was unpreserved and the Court of Appeals correctly affirmed the grant of summary judgment regarding SCDOT\'s statutory obligations, Petitioner was unable to establish SCDOT owed her a legal duty. Having found Petitioner was unable to establish a legal duty, the Court did not address Petitioner\'s remaining issues and, accordingly, affirmed the Court of Appeals as to the public duty rule and vacated the remainder of that opinion.
Platt v. CSX Transp., Inc., No. 26849, is online.
Blackwell (Appellant) was twice cited and convicted of driving while under suspension. In 2006, he was cited for driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC), but not convicted until 2008. In July 2008, Appellant received an official Notice of Declaration of Habitual Offender Status from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which included a five-year suspension of his driver\'s license. Appellant requested a hearing, at which the Division of Motor Vehicles Hearings (DMVH) rescinded his suspension. The DMVH found that DUAC is not a major offense under the habitual traffic offender statute because it does not include the material element of establishing the offender was under the influence of alcohol. Thus, DUAC does not equate to the enumerated offense in S.C. Code Section 56-5-1020 of operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The DMV appealed to the ALC, which reversed and reinstated Appellant’s suspension. Appellant appealed, and the Court certified the case. The Court found the offense of DUAC carries a permissible inference of being under the influence and affirmed the ALC\'s decision that a conviction for DUAC qualifies as a major violation under the habitual traffic offender statute.
S.C. Dep\'t of Motor Vehicles v. Blackwell, No. 26850, is online.
Justice Kittredge dissented in a separate opinion in which Justice Pleicones concurred.
Brown & Brown of South Carolina (Appellant) contended the trial court erred (1) in finding it breached its contract with Respondent Blair Mathis (Mathis); (2) in finding it violated the Payment of Wages Act; (3) in applying the Payment of Wages Act to prospective wages; (4) in failing to comply with Rule 52, SCRCP; and (5) in denying Appellant\'s motion for change of venue. The Court affirmed on all issues with the exception of the trial court\'s holding that the Payment of Wages Act applies to prospective wages. The Court remanded the matter to the circuit court for calculation of damages consistent with the opinion, which should not include damages for prospective wages under the Payment of Wages Act.
Mathis v. Brown & Brown of S.C., Inc., No. 26851, is online.
In this post-conviction relief (PCR) case, Vazquez petitioned the Court for a writ of certiorari to review the PCR judge\'s denial of his request for relief from his convictions and capital sentence. The Court granted the writ of certiorari to review whether trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to comments made by the solicitor in which he: (1) referred to Petitioner, a Muslim, as a "domestic terrorist" and drew a correlation between Petitioner\'s indicted conduct and the events of September 11, 2001; and (2) urged jurors to imagine the fear and terror of one of the murder victims. The Court found that Vazquez\'s trial counsel was deficient in failing to object to the solicitor\'s challenged remarks. The Court reversed and, given that the solicitor\'s improper remarks occurred primarily during the penalty phase of Petitioner\'s trial, remanded for a new sentencing hearing.
Vazquez v. State, No. 26852, is online.
Chief Justice Toal dissented in a separate opinion in which Justice Hearn concurred.
The Court granted Mattison\'s petition for a writ of certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals in State v. Mattison, 380 S.C. 326, 669 S.E.2d 635 (Ct. App. 2008), affirming Mattison\'s convictions for murder, assault and battery with intent to kill (ABWIK) and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. In so ruling, the Court of Appeals found the trial judge did not err in refusing Mattison\'s request to charge that "prior knowledge of the commission of a crime is insufficient to establish guilt" and that "mere association with a person who commits a crime is insufficient to establish guilt." The Court affirmed, finding the instruction to the jury when read as a whole adequately covered the law and covered the substance of Mattison\'s requests to charge. The Court modified the portion of the Court of Appeals\' decision regarding the use of the term "implicit." The Court urged trial judges to carefully consider charging a request to charge that is factually accurate and a correct statement of the law.
State v. Mattison, No. 26853, is online.
Brannon was charged with resisting arrest after fleeing from police. At trial, Brannon moved for a directed verdict, arguing the State failed to demonstrate that an arrest was being made when he fled. The circuit court denied Brannon\'s motion. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding Brannon was not "seized" under the Fourth Amendment and therefore not under arrest when he ran from police. Although the Court disagreed with the Court of Appeals\' rationale, the Court affirmed in result and held that Brannon was entitled to a directed verdict.
State v. Brannon, No. 26855, is online.
Justice Toal dissented in a separate opinion in which Acting Justice Moore concurred.
The underlying case involved the construction of a nuclear generating facility. The Public Service Commission (the Commission) found that SCE&G was entitled to recover contingency costs as a component of capital costs pursuant to Section 58-33-270(B)(2) of the S.C. Code (Supp. 2009). S.C. Energy Users Committee (Energy Users), an association of large industrial consumers of energy who receive electrical service from SCE&G, timely filed a petition to intervene in the proceedings before the Commission. Energy Users argued the Base Load Review Act (the Act) did not allow the Commission to include contingency costs as a component of capital costs. The Commission rejected this argument. In its final order, the Commission granted the capital costs and contingency costs requested by SCE&G. The Court reversed the decision of the Commission. The Court turned to the policy objectives behind the Act to discern whether the General Assembly intended for utilities to recover contingency costs as a component of capital costs and found the General Assembly did not intend for SCE&G to recover contingency costs. In light of this decision, the Court also found the Commission erred in adding inflation to the contingency costs.
S.C. Energy Users Comm. v. S.C. Pub. Serv. Comm., No. 26856, is online.
Justice Pleicones and Justice Kittredge dissented in separate opinions.
By order of August 3 the Court reinstated Mark Sterling Mixson.
By order of August 2 the Court placed Horry County Magistrate James Oren Hughes Jr. (not a Bar member) on interim suspension.
By order of August 3 the Court placed Williamsburg County Magistrate Carolyn Gardner Lemmon (not a Bar member) on interim suspension.
By order of August 9 the Court imposed a six month suspension on William Ashley Boyd for misconduct which included taking fee payments from two clients and depositing the funds into his personal account rather than the law firm account.
By order of August 9 the Court imposed a nine month suspension (retroactive to October 1, 2009) on Joseph W. Ginn III for misconduct which included neglect of a PCR appointment, failure to comply with the Rule 417 recordkeeping requirements and depositing personal funds in his trust account and use of client funds for personal benefit.
By order of August 9 the Court imposed a two year suspension on Jeffrey Scott Holcombe for misconduct which included acting in a manner as a contract attorney which led to a claim being time barred, failing to file a notice of appeal to protect a PCR client, failing to diligently work on cases from a prior firm and to keep those clients informed, representing clients without his law firm employer\'s knowledge or permission, and failing to deposit unearned fees in a trust account.
Aiken Bridges Elliott Tyler & Saleeby, PA announces that John G. "Jack" Hofler III has joined the firm as an associate with mailing address P.O. Drawer 1931, Florence 29503. (843) 669-8787.
Emily W. Ayers announces the opening of the Law Offices of Emily W. Ayers, LLC located at 145 King St., Ste. 105, Charleston 29401. (843) 628-2871.
The Law Offices of Arie D. Bax, PA announces that it has changed its name to The Bax Law Firm, PA located at 1720 Main St., Ste. 301, Columbia 29201. (803) 255-0087.
John P. Bowler, Attorney at Law announces his mailing address has changed to P.O. Box 61677, N. Charleston 29419-1677.
Kenneth Inman announces the opening of the Law Office of Kenneth S. Inman Jr. located at 1350 Chuck Dawley Blvd., Ste. B, Mt. Pleasant 29464. (843) 261-3659.
Jack W. Lawrence and Michael L. Rudasill announce that David M. Collins Jr. has joined the firm located at 111 S. Spring St., Spartanburg 29302. (864) 583-5057. The firm will now be known as Lawrence Rudasill & Collins, PA.
Riley Pope & Laney, LLC announces that Heidi B. Carey is now a partner of the firm located at 2838 Devine St., Columbia 29205. (803) 799-9993.
The Rosen Law Firm, LLC announces Chris Paton has joined the firm as an associate located at 18 Broad St., Ste. 201, Charleston 29401. (843) 377-1700.
Solomons and Lawton, PC announces that Winston A. "Trip" Lawton III has joined the firm as an associate and Winston A. Lawton Jr. will remain Of Counsel. The firm\'s mailing address is P.O. Box 969, Estill 29918. (803) 625-3232. In memoriam
David Michael Rogers, 55, of Greenville died on July 25. His obituary can be viewed at The Spartanburg Herald-Journal\'s website.
James Christopher Henderson, 61, of Columbia died on July 26. His obituary can be viewed at The State\'s website.
William Trapier Goldfinch, 73, of Florence died on July 29. His obituary can be viewed at The Florence Morning News\' website.
John O. Ehrenclou, 80, of Columbia died on August 6. His obituary can be viewed at The State\'s website.
Linwood S. Evans Jr., 67, of Sumter died on August 6. His obituary can be viewed at The Sumter Item\'s website.
James Stuart Chandler Jr., 60, of Pawleys Island died on August 7. His obituary can be viewed at The Post and Courier\'s website.