Articles Posted in South Carolina Supreme Court

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This appeal arose out of a $17 million verdict rendered in favor of Francis Maybank for claims sounding in contract, tort, and the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA). Maybank brought this action alleging he received faulty investment advice from Branch Banking and Trust (BB&T - the Bank) through BB&T Wealth Management (Wealth Management) and BB&T Asset Management (Asset Management), all operating under the corporate umbrella of BB&T Corporation (collectively, Appellants). Appellants appealed on numerous grounds, and Maybank appealed the trial court's denial of prejudgment interest. After review, the Supreme Court reversed as to an award of punitive damages based on a limitation of liability clause. The Court affirmed on all other grounds. View "Maybank v. BB&T" on Justia Law

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Julie Freeman, individually and on behalf of over five-thousand similarly situated car buyers, filed a lawsuit against J.L.H. Investments, LP, a/k/a Hendrick Honda of Easley ("Hendrick"), seeking damages under the South Carolina Dealers Act on the ground that Hendrick "unfairly" and "arbitrarily" charged all of its customers "closing fees" that were not calculated to reimburse Hendrick for actual closing costs. A jury returned a verdict in favor of Freeman in the amount of $1,445,786.00 actual damages. In post-trial rulings, the trial judge: (1) denied Hendrick's motions to overturn or reduce the jury's verdict; (2) granted Freeman's motions to double the actual damages award and to award attorneys' fees and costs; and (3) denied Freeman's motion for prejudgment interest. The South Carolina Supreme Court certified this case from the Court of Appeals, and finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Freeman v. J.L.H. Investments" on Justia Law

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Appellants Thomas and Vera Gladden appealed the trial court's order granting summary judgment to Respondent Palmetto Home Inspection Services, alleging the limit of liability provision in a home inspection contract was unenforceable as violative of public policy and as unconscionable under the facts of this case. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that contractual limitation of a home inspector's liability did not violate South Carolina public policy as expressed by the General Assembly and, as a matter of law, was not so oppressive that no reasonable person would make it and no fair and honest person would accept it. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court's order granting summary judgment to the inspector. View "Gladden v. Palmetto Home Inspections" on Justia Law

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The Savannah Bank, N.A., (Bank) sought to foreclose on a property owned by Appellant Alphonse Stalliard. Appellant argued that he should not be held liable for a loan closed by a person acting on his behalf under a power of attorney. Appellant alleged, inter alia, that Bank did not conduct reasonable due diligence and did not verify Appellant's ability to pay. He filed a motion seeking additional time for discovery. The master-in-equity denied the motion and ruled in Bank's favor. Appellant appealed that decision, arguing that summary judgment was improper and that the master should have permitted additional time for discovery. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the master properly denied Appellant's motion. View "Savannah Bank v. Stalliard" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Neeltec Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a/ Fireworks Supermarket, appealed an order requiring it to substitute two corporations as defendants in its SCUPTA suit in lieu of the individual Willard Long against whom it had brought suit. Petitioner operated a fireworks store near I-95. Defendant Long was alleged to have operated a competing fireworks store "Fireworks Superstore" near I-95. Petitioner alleged that Long first changed his store's name to closely resemble Petitioner's. Petitioner then redecorated the outside of his building facing I-95 traffic with an advertising display. Long allegedly retaliated by moving a 45- foot long, 9-foot tall storage container onto his property, effectively blocking travelers' views of Petitioner's wall advertisement. Petitioner alleged that, by his actions, Long had violated the SCUTPA. Long answered, and subsequently filed a "Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the Alternative, for Substitution of Parties." Long asserted he never owned the Fireworks Superstore, but that it had been owned by Hobo Joes, Inc., when the suit was commenced and was now owned by Foxy's Fireworks Superstore, Inc., both South Carolina corporations.  He sought either summary judgment because Petitioner had sued the wrong party or an order that Long be dropped as a party and that Hobo Joe's and Foxy's Fireworks be added as defendants. The special referee granted Long's motion in part, finding he was not "the proper defendant. Petitioner appealed and the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the order requiring Petitioner to discontinue its SCUPTA suit against Long affected its substantial right to name its defendant, making it immediately appealable. The decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing the appeal was reversed, and the matter was remanded for consideration of the merits of Petitioner's appeal. View "Neeltec Enterprises v. Long" on Justia Law

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Appellant Matthew Kundinger received a default judgment against Louis and Linda Frazer (the Frazers) before the Frazers closed a refinance mortgage with Matrix Financial Services Corporation (Matrix).  In Matrix's foreclosure action, the master-in-equity granted Matrix equitable subrogation, giving the refinance mortgage priority over Appellant's judgment lien. Appellant counterclaimed, alleging his judgment had priority over Matrix's mortgage because it had been recorded first.  Matrix, attempting to gain the primary priority position, then sought to have the refinance mortgage equitably subrogated to the rights of its January 2001 mortgage.  The master-in-equity granted Matrix's request, and Appellant appealed that order. Upon review of the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court found that a lender that refinances its own debt is not entitled to equitable subrogation.  The Court reversed the lower court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.