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South Carolina
Judicial Department
Court of Appeals Published Opinions - July 2019

Note: Beginning in June 2012, opinions will be posted as Adobe PDFs. You can download a free copy of Adobe Reader here.

The summary following each opinion is prepared to offer lawyers and the public a general overview of what a particular opinion decides. The summary is not necessarily a full description of the issues discussed in an opinion.


7-3-2019 - Opinions

5639 - IN RE: Deborah Dereede Living Trust v. Karp

After a bench trial, the trial court ruled that Courtney Feely Karp breached her fiduciary duty as Trustee of a trust created by her late mother by not timely distributing certain trust proceeds to Hugh Dereede (Hugh), Karp's stepfather, and to Tyre Dealer Network Consultants, Inc. (Tyre), Hugh's company. The trial court also awarded Hugh attorney's fees and held Karp personally liable for the verdict. Karp appeals these rulings, which we now affirm.

5662 - Byrd v. McLeod Physician Associates II

Christy Byrd, as next friend of Julia B., a minor, appeals a trial court order denying her motion for a new trial and/or judgment notwithstanding the verdict, arguing the trial court erred in not finding the obstetric emergency statute inapplicable to this case as a matter of law. We affirm.

7-10-2019 - Opinions

5663 - State v. Owens

In criminal law, the defense of accident is a recluse: it is seldom seen and often misunderstood. This appeal requires us to examine in full light the defense and the language trial courts use when explaining it to juries, focusing on when a defendant who is engaged in unlawful conduct may still be entitled to the defense. While we conclude the charge given here was sufficient, we propose a recommended charge for future cases. We also hold the trial court erred by admitting a family photograph of Jarrod Howard (Victim) in violation of Rule 403 of the South Carolina Rules of Evidence (SCRE), but find the error harmless. We therefore affirm appellant Ahshaad Mykiel Owens' convictions.

7-17-2019 - Opinions

5664 - Hagood v. Hagood

In this appeal from a divorce action, Melissa Hagood (Wife) argues the family court erred in (1) characterizing the majority of the estate as the nonmarital property of James Hagood (Husband), (2) equitably apportioning the majority of the marital property to Husband, and (3) refusing to award her alimony. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

5665 - State v. Finley

In this criminal appeal, Michael Jay Finley appeals the circuit court's denial of his pro se motion to reconsider his sentence pursuant to Aiken v. Byars, 410 S.C. 534, 765 S.E.2d 572 (2014). Finley argues his mandatory sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole upon the service of thirty years' imprisonment is functionally equivalent to a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (LWOP), which violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments. We affirm.

5666 - Ex parte: The Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company

This appeal follows the trial of a wrongful death and survival action. Sixteen-year-old John Corey Stringfellow (Corey) died from injuries sustained as a passenger in a family car being driven by his older brother, Cameron. The jury found Corey 51% negligent, barring his Estate from any recovery. Immediately after the verdict was published--and while the jury was still in the jury box--the trial court asked for any post-trial motions. The Estate moved for, among other things, a new trial under the thirteenth juror doctrine. After a hearing several weeks later on the Estate's motion, the trial court invoked the thirteenth juror doctrine and granted the motion for a new trial on the wrongful death portion of the Estate's claim. Travelers appeals, arguing the Estate's motion for a new trial was untimely under Rule 59(b), SCRE, and that the trial court erred in invoking the thirteenth juror doctrine. We affirm.