Articles Posted in South Carolina Supreme Court

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This appeal involved the South Carolina Home Builders Self Insurers Fund (Fund), which was created by the Home Builders Association of South Carolina, Inc. "for the purpose of meeting and fulfilling an employer's obligations and liabilities under the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Act." The dispute arose after the Fund's Board of Trustees announced plans to wind down the Fund and use the Fund's remaining assets to finance a new mutual insurance company. Petitioners, who were members of the Fund, disagreed with that decision and challenged the Board's authority to use the Fund's assets in such a way. The trial court twice dismissed Petitioners' suit, first on the basis that it involved the internal affairs of a trust and therefore should have been filed in probate court, then in a subsequent proceeding, on the basis that the lawsuit was a shareholder derivative action and that the complaint failed to comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 23(b)(1), SCRCP. On appeal, the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of Petitioners' complaint, finding the trial court properly concluded (1) the Fund was not a trust; (2) Petitioners' claims were derivative in nature; and (3) that Petitioners' complaint was properly dismissed as it did not properly allege a pre-suit demand as required by Rule 23(b)(1). The South Carolina Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding Petitioners satisfied the pleading requirements of Rule 23(b)(1), irrespective of whether the Fund was properly characterized as a trust. View "Patterson v. Witter" 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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This case stemmed from a class action lawsuit brought by Appellants John Doe #53, John Doe #66, John Doe #66A, John Doe #67, Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and Rachel Roe. The plaintiffs in the underlying class action consisted of two classes: one for victims of childhood sexual abuse by agents of the Diocese and one for the spouses and parents of victims. A settlement in the class action was approved by the trial judge over Appellants' objections. Appellants moved to alter or amend the order approving the settlement. While Appellants' motion to alter or amend was pending, they reached a separate settlement agreement with the Diocese and class counsel. This agreement provided that the Diocese would pay Appellants $1.375 million to their settle claims, in exchange for Appellants' agreement to opt out of the class action, execute releases, and withdraw all pending motions and objections with prejudice. Appellants presented several issues for the Supreme Court's review, including some relating to the trial court's approval of the settlement agreements. Upon consideration of the arguments presented by the class, the Supreme Court found that due to the executed settlement agreement, there were no issues for further consideration. The Court dismissed the appeal as moot.