Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in South Carolina Supreme Court
Aiken v. So. Carolina Dept. of Rev.
Respondents, individually and as members of a putative class, brought a declaratory judgment action against the South Carolina Department of Revenue seeking refunds of amounts garnished from their wages by the Department to satisfy delinquent debts they allegedly owed to other governmental entities. The sole issue on appeal centered on the circuit court's grant of Respondents' motion to strike one defense from the Department's answer to Respondents' second amended complaint: that South Carolina Revenue Procedures Act (RPA) subsection 12-60-80(C) prohibited this action from proceeding as a class action against the Department. The Department appealed the circuit court's order to the court of appeals, and the Supreme Court certified the Department's appeal pursuant to Rule 204(b) of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules. After review, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court and held this case could not proceed as a class action against the Department. View "Aiken v. So. Carolina Dept. of Rev." on Justia Law
Hensley v. SCDSS
Kenneth and Angela Hensley filed suit against the South Carolina Department of Social Services on behalf of their adopted minor child BLH and a class of approximately 4000 similarly situated adopted children. The central allegation of the lawsuit was that DSS breached an Adoption Subsidy Agreement with the parents of each member of the class by reducing each parent's adoption subsidy by $20 a month, beginning in 2002. The circuit court issued an order finding the Hensleys satisfied the requirements of Rule 23(a) of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, and certifying the proposed class. The court of appeals reversed. The South Carolina Supreme Court found the circuit court's order was not immediately appealable, and vacated the court of appeals' opinion and dismissed the appeal. View "Hensley v. SCDSS" on Justia Law
Patterson v. Witter
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
Freeman v. J.L.H. Investments
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
Doe v. Bishop of Charleston
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.