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Tag Archives: Tort/Negligence

Tort/Negligence – Defamation – Punitive Damages — ‘Fair Report Privilege’ – Fault – Clarification – Attorneys (access required)

West v. Morehead Where defendants’ characterizations of the plaintiff-attorney as a “two-bit lawyer” and a “corruptible attorney” were based a former client’s lawsuit alleging that the attorney had breached the former client’s confidences and failed to perform services for the former client in order to help a new client, the attorney has not proven by clear and convincing evidence that defendants believed their characterizations of the former client’s allegations were not accurate. Therefore, the attorney has failed to prove actual malice. We reverse the jury’s award of punitive damages. However, we affirm the jury’s award of actual damages.

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Trusts & Estates – Inter Vivos Transfers – Power of Attorney – No Gifting Provision – Tort/Negligence – Breach of Fiduciary Duty – Conversion (access required)

Gordon v. Busbee Where the wife’s power of attorney did not contain a gift-giving provision, and where the record contains no written evidence of her authorization for her husband/attorney-in-fact to make the transfers he did, the trial court erred in failing to direct a verdict for the wife’s heirs as to any transactions involving the husband’s taking funds that were undisputedly the wife’s and transferring them into a fund solely owned by him. We affirm in part and reverse in part the trial court’s denial of plaintiffs’ motions.

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Banks & Banking – Tort/Negligence – Conservator’s Account – Punitive Damages   (access required)

Cody P. v. Bank of America, N.A. Where the defendant-bank ignored its own safeguards in setting up and handling a conservatorship account for the minor special-needs plaintiff, thereby allowing his conservator to convert plaintiff’s funds to her own use, the bank’s conduct was reprehensible, and the jury’s punitive damages award is reasonable and proportionate to the harm plaintiff suffered. Finally, the bank has the ability to pay the award.

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Constitutional – Jury Trial – Waiver – Real Property – Foreclosure — Mortgages — Promissory Note – Counterclaims – Tort/Negligence (access required)

Wachovia Bank, N.A. v. Blackburn Although the prominent jury trial waiver in defendants’ promissory notes is valid and binding, it does not apply to defendants’ counterclaims, which are based on their allegations that the bank partnered with a developer and made misrepresentations about the properties being sold and the construction of amenities. We affirm the trial court’s ruling that defendants waived their right to a jury trial in matters related to the promissory notes and other loan documents. We reverse the trial court’s ruling that defendants’ counterclaims are encompassed by the waiver.

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Bankruptcy – Asset Purchase – Tort/Negligence – Settlement with Contractor – Contribution Claim – Successor to Manufacturer (access required)

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. v. Eagle Windows & Doors, Inc. Respondent purchased the assets of the debtor-window manufacturer in a bankruptcy case. Respondent may be liable to the appellant-contractor and its insurer after appellants settled the claims of homeowners arising from the installation of the debtor’s defective windows in their home. We reverse the trial court’s order dismissing appellants’ contribution claim.

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Tort/Negligence – Dog Attack – Landlord/Tenant – Common Area – Strict Liability -Common Law – Attractive Nuisance – First Impression (access required)

Clea v. Odom Where the respondent-landlord knew a tenant’s dog was chained to a tree in the common area over which the landlord had control, there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the landlord had the dog in his keeping - within the meaning of our “dog bite statute” — when it attacked a two-year-old. Moreover, the landlord may be liable under the Residential Landlord Tenant Act. We reverse summary judgment for the landlord on the issues of strict liability and common law negligence. We affirm summary judgment for the landlord on the claim of attractive nuisance.

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Tort/Negligence – Punitive Damages — Nuisance – Real Property – Environmental – Subdivision Development – Stormwater Runoff (access required)

Hollis v. Stonington Development, LLC Based on defendant’s bullying tactics and regulation-violating conduct that damaged plaintiffs’ land in the amount of $400,000, we reduce the jury’s punitive damages award from $3.5 million to $2 million. Otherwise, we affirm the judgment for plaintiffs.

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Tort/Negligence – Auto Accident – Loss of Use – Civil Practice – Appeals – Unpreserved Issue – Jury Instruction (access required)

Beverly S. v. Kayla R. Plaintiff contends the trial court erred when it denied her request for a jury instruction that the loss of use of a vehicle is an element of recoverable property damages even when the vehicle is a total loss. However, where plaintiff failed to include either her request to charge or the entire jury charge in the record on appeal, she failed to adequately present this issue for appellate review. Because plaintiff failed to provide an adequate record for appellate review, the jury verdict is affirmed.

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Tort/Negligence – Product Liability – Design Defect – Insufficient Evidence – Speed Control Deactivation Switch (access required)

5 Star, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co. Where plaintiff alleged that defendant negligently designed the speed control deactivation switch in plaintiff’s pickup truck, but where plaintiff presented no expert testimony as to the design of the switch or as to defendant’s conduct when it designed the switch, plaintiff failed to prove negligent design. We reverse the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion for a directed verdict.

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Labor & Employment – Tort/Negligence – Wrongful Termination Claim – Public Policy – Unpaid Wages – No DOL Claim (access required)

Barron v. Labor Finders of South Carolina Even though plaintiff was fired the day after she complained to her employer that she had not been paid all the commissions due her, since she never filed a complaint with the Department of Labor as required by Payment of Wages Act, nor did she ever indicate to the defendant-employer that she had filed or intended to file a complaint, plaintiff cannot show that she was fired in retaliation for availing herself of the protections of the Act. Although the Court of Appeals erred in its analysis, it properly affirmed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment for the employer. We affirm as modified.

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