South Carolina Does Not Recognize the Putative Spouse Doctrine

In Hill v. Bell, the supreme court held that South Carolina does not recognize the putative spouse doctrine.

In 1979, Thomas Sullivan, a former NFL player, married Lavona Hill.  A few years later, the couple separated but never got divorced.  In 1986, he married Barbara Sullivan in South Carolina, and they obtained a marriage license.  Barbara did not know of the previous marriage. Thereafter, Thomas submitted pension forms to the NFL that indicated Barbara was his spouse. Continue reading

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She Could Not Collect On a Secondary Insurance Policy Because the Primary Insurance Policy Was Not Exhausted

In Bardsley v. Government Employees Insurance Co., the supreme court held that Bardsley could not recover under a secondary insurance policy when she had not exhausted the primary insurance policy.

While driving 85 to 96 miles in a 35 mile-per-hour speed zone, John Ludwig drove his employer’s Maserati off the road and into the Bardsley’s home.  The vehicle crashed into the rear of the house and the airborne vehicle struck Frederic Bardsley, killing him instantly.  The vehicle continued through the house and came to rest in the front yard. Continue reading

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A Partnership Is Not a “Taxpayer” for Purposes of Infrastructure Tax Credits

In Centex International, Inc. v. South Carolina Department of Revenue, the supreme court held that a corporation could not claim infrastructure tax credits because the corporation’s partnership incurred the expense, not the corporation itself.

Centex International’s three corporate affiliates owned a general partnership, Centex Homes.  Centex Homes incurred $68,000,000 of infrastructure project expenses.  Centex International claimed tax credits of $5,113,040 for the expenses incurred for the infrastructure projects. Continue reading

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No Public Policy Exception Exists for the Full Faith and Credit Clause

In Widenhouse v. Colson, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that a judgment from North Carolina that violates the public policy of South Carolina is still enforceable under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.

Sue Widenhouse sued Tammy Colson in North Carolina for alienation of affections and criminal conversion.  Widenhouse prevailed and a jury awarded her $266,000 in damages.  Widenhouse filed notice of the judgment in a Greenville County court.  Continue reading

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Baby Veronica Update: Birth Father Turned Himself in to Police

According to CNN, Baby Veronica’s (or Baby Girl’s) Birth Father has turned himself in to authorities in Oklahoma.  On Friday, a Charleston, South Carolina Family Court ordered the immediate return of Baby Veronica to her adoptive parents and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for Brown for interfering with custody.  CNN reports that Brown turned himself in and posted bond.

For those unfamiliar with the case, you can refer to previous articles entitled: “SCOTUS Reverses South Carolina Supreme Court in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl” and “The Supreme Court Orders the Family Court to Finalize The Adoption of Baby Girl

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Police Can Open Car Doors When They Fear For Safety

 In McHam v. State, the supreme court addressed whether a police officer’s decision to open a passenger door because the officer feared for his safety was an impermissible search under the Fourth Amendment. The case arose in the context of a PCR appeal.

 Police conducted a checkpoint on Powell Mill Road in Spartanburg County.  Three police officers in marked cars were present.  McHam was stopped at the checkpoint at 10:50 p.m. McHam had a passenger in his vehicle, and neither of them were wearing their seatbelts.  An officer asked McHam for his license, registration, and proof of insurance.  McHam provided his driver’s license, and McHam and the passenger searched for their rest of the information.  The officer stated that “they were making a lot of movements in the car that he didn’t feel was consistent with looking for a registration card or a proof of insurance.”  The officer walked to the passenger side of the vehicle to make sure they were not accessing a weapon; once there, the officer could not see their hands and so “for his own safety he opened up the door to watch what they were doing while they were going through the car.” Continue reading

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A Decedent Cannot Believe a Child is Dead if the Decedent Does Not Know the Child Exists

In Turner v. Daniels, the supreme court held that S.C. Code Ann. § 62-2-302(b) (1997) only applies when a decedent omits a child solely because the decedent believes the child is dead.

Section 62-2-302(b) states:

“If, at the time of execution of the will the testator fails to provide in his will for a living child solely because he believes that child to be dead, the child . . . receives a share in the estate equal in value to that which he would have received if the testator had died intestate.” Continue reading

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A Temporarily Disabled Employee who Receives Work Does Not Have an Absolute Right to Disobey Employer Rules

In Pollack v. Southern Wine & Spirits of America, the supreme court affirmed a Workers’ Compensation Commission’s denial of temporary total disability (TTD) benefits where the employee was accommodated to a light duty position and was fired for failing to comply with work rules.

Pollack was a drivers’ supervisor for Southern Wine & Spirits of America (“Southern Wine”).  While lifting a case of alcohol, Pollack injured his back.  He saw a physician and returned to work five days later with work restrictions.  Southern Wine accommodated his injury, assigning him to light duty in the same position as before at the same salary.

Two months after his injury, he responded to an accident involving a vehicle assigned to another employee.  Pollack completed his investigation of the accident, and as he was leaving, his company vehicle hit the side of the other employee’s company vehicle.  Pollack said the vehicles were not damaged and decided not to report the accident.  The other employee reported the accident.  Continue reading

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The Court Held that Property Damage Was Not Covered by a Commercial General Liability Policy

In Bennett & Bennett Construction, Inc. v. Auto Owners Insurance Company, the supreme court reversed a circuit court’s determination that exclusions in an insurance contract did not apply.

Homeowner hired Bennett & Bennett Construction, Inc. (Bennett & Bennett) as general contractor to remove synthetic stucco cladding from her home and replace it with a decorative brick face.  Bennett & Bennett hired M&M Construction of the Carolinas, LLC (M&M) to install the brick.  M&M completed the work and informed Bennett & Bennett.  Upon inspection, Bennett & Bennett noticed some problems that M&M needed to fix and directed M&M to do so. Continue reading

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Supreme Court Orders the Family Court to Finalize the Adoption of Baby Girl

As previously discussed in a post entitled “SCOTUS Reverses South Carolina Supreme Court in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl,” the United States Supreme Court reversed the South Carolina Supreme Court’s decision that the Indian Child Welfare Act prevented the termination of Birth Father’s parental rights.

The South Carolina Supreme Court has ordered the family court to finalize the adoption of Baby Girl.  The court stated that the case needs an expeditious resolution because “[t]here is absolutely no need to compound any suffering that Baby Girl may experience through continued litigation.” Continue reading

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