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No procedural due process for administrators under Teacher Act (access required)

Overruling 15-year-old precedent, the state Supreme Court has held that school administrators do not have the right to a hearing to contest reductions in pay or reassignments under the Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act. The justices made the ruling in an answer to a certified question from the U.S. District Court in a lawsuit brought by a former Fairfield County deputy superintendent for human resources. Attorney Carol B. Ervin (pictured) said the plaintiff made both federal due-process and state-law claims against the district, but the federal and state claims were bound together. "The issue of whether or not the plaintiff had any due-process rights turned on whether or not she had a property interest in her position and entitlements."

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Mass. decision could wreak ‘havoc’ on mortgage industry (access required)

A recent decision from Massachusetts' highest court could impact courts across the country and lead to a flood of overturned foreclosures, exacerbating the mortgage mess. The Massachusetts court is the first state supreme court to rule that only the holder of a mortgage may foreclose on a property, upholding a Land Court judge's earlier decision in U.S. Bank v. Ibanez.

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Defects covered? No, says the Supreme Court in its latest CGL coverage decision (access required)

One word stopped Myrtle Beach condo developers from getting an insurance company to pay their commercial general liability claim for damages arising from a multi-million-dollar settlement in a construction-defects suit. It was the policy term "occurrence." But it was how the state Supreme Court's interpreted "occurrence" that really bothered David Miller, a lawyer for development company Crossmann/Beazer Homes.

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Day care settles claim over girl’s severed finger for $140K (access required)

The mother of a girl whose fingertip was severed when another child slammed a door on it has reached a $140,000 settlement in a lawsuit against a day care center where the injury occurred. Lawyers said the plaintiffs' daughter was 4 years old and attending a Charleston County day care operated by The Sunshine House, Inc., when she went into a girls' bathroom adjoining her classroom. A boy followed her and, when she told him to leave and pointed the way out, he slammed the door on her finger. The impact severed the tip of her left index finger. An attempt to reattach it failed when the fingertip fell off about two months after the March 2008 injury, lawyers said. "The tip of her finger turned black and fell off while she was in the bathtub. That was very traumatic for the child and for the parents," said Steven M. Abrams (pictured).

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Resurrected equity line comes back to haunt lender (access required)

Columbia attorney Kevin Hall said a BB&T's home-equity line of credit was like Jason from "Friday the 13th" in his hockey mask - "You think he's dead, but he comes back to life." Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., thought Sharon and James Umbarger's equity line had been extinguished when it was paid off in 2002 when the Umbargers refinanced their mortgage. But it wasn't. According to the S.C. Supreme Court's unpublished opinion in Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. v. Umbarger (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-007-0011, 4 pp.), the equity line required a written request in order to be closed, but no written request was tendered.

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Lawyer aids nuclear charge (access required)

A move to land South Carolina in the forefront of a predicted renaissance in nuclear energy is gaining headway with the help of a Columbia lawyer. Doug Rosinski (pictured) is guiding a Midlands consortium, which includes the University of South Carolina, through the technical mazes and regulatory tangles surrounding small modular reactors, or SMRs, which proponents see as a potential economic boon for the state.

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No administrative exhaustion required in suit against alarm companies (access required)

A Dorchester County couple did not have to exhaust administrative remedies before suing their security alarm company in a dispute over termination fees, the U.S. District Court has ruled. Security alarm company APX argued that the federal court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because Edwin and Christine Trevillyan "failed to exhaust their administrative remedies by failing to file a complaint with the S.C. Contractors Licensing Board, which administers the Alarm Systems Business Act, S.C. Code Ann. § 40-79-10."

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Disclosure form is one more hurdle for lawyer candidates (access required)

Disclosing economic interests on a form may be a turnoff for some lawyers contemplating a run for statewide office, but at least two who ran said the form was the least of their worries. Bigger deterrents to seeking office are the time and effort devoted to campaigning, the loss of earnings and the chance of political mudslinging, said a lawyer who ran for attorney general in 2010. "Running for office is really, really tough, and you're asking someone to take a professional sacrifice, a pay sacrifice, and it's tough to get people from big law firms to do it," said Leighton Lord (pictured).

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Pre-filed bills await lawmakers as they reconvene (access required)

As the General Assembly convenes next week, legislators will be facing a wide array of pre-filed bills. Hundreds of proposed new laws cover everything from government restructuring to texting to roadside foliage control. And while most may be of some interest to lawyers as voters and taxpayers, fewer are likely to have a direct bearing on the practice of law. Those that do include a number of bills that potentially affect state courts and their procedures, including the selection of judges and masters-in-equity, the retirement age of magistrates and approval of search warrants via electronic communications.

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2010 sees new buildings and precedents, as well as continued money problems (access required)

For South Carolina's legal community, 2010 arguably was a year of ups and downs. On the upside, the S.C. Bar opened its new conference center, capping an effort that had begun years before to provide the room and technology necessary to accommodate the needs of a membership 13,000 strong. On the downside, a continuing dearth of legislative funding for Rule 608 indigent appointments finally forced the state to stop paying lawyers for their work in civil cases.

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