412 S.E.2d 407 (S.C. 1991), 23531, Dawkins v. State

Docket Nº:23531.
Citation:412 S.E.2d 407, 306 S.C. 391
Opinion Judge:CHANDLER, Justice:
Party Name:Janet Norman DAWKINS, as guardian ad litem for Eugene Scott Drew, a minor under the age of fourteen (14) years, Appellant, v. STATE of South Carolina and the Department of Corrections, an agency or division thereof; and John Doe 1, John Doe 2, John Doe 3, John Doe 4, John Doe 5, Black & White Company, Respondents.
Attorney:Stanley G. Jackson, Augusta, Ga., and O. Lee Sturkey, McCormick, for appellant. J.E. McDonald and William B. Watkins, both of Burns, McDonald, Bradford, Patrick & Dean, Greenwood, for respondents.
Case Date:December 16, 1991
Court:Supreme Court of South Carolina
 
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Page 407

412 S.E.2d 407 (S.C. 1991)

306 S.C. 391

Janet Norman DAWKINS, as guardian ad litem for Eugene Scott

Drew, a minor under the age of fourteen (14)

years, Appellant,

v.

STATE of South Carolina and the Department of Corrections,

an agency or division thereof; and John Doe 1,

John Doe 2, John Doe 3, John Doe 4, John

Doe 5, Black & White Company,

Respondents.

No. 23531.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

December 16, 1991

Heard Nov. 1, 1991.

Stanley G. Jackson, Augusta, Ga., and O. Lee Sturkey, McCormick, for appellant.

J.E. McDonald and William B. Watkins, both of Burns, McDonald, Bradford, Patrick & Dean, Greenwood, for respondents.

[306 S.C. 392] CHANDLER, Justice.

Appellant Eugene Scott Drew (Drew), by his guardian, appeals an Order granting Respondents' motion for summary judgment on his cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress. We affirm.

FACTS

Drew suffered psychological impairment after he witnessed the brutal murder of his

Page 408

step-father and attack upon his sister at their home in Lincolnton, Georgia. Johnny Jones, who committed these crimes, had escaped from nearby McCormick Correctional Institute earlier in the day.

Drew brought suit in South Carolina, alleging that Respondents' negligent acts resulted in emotional trauma which was inflicted in Georgia. The trial judge granted summary judgment, holding that substantive law of Georgia controlled. All parties agree that Georgia recognizes the "impact rule" in emotional distress cases in which "there must have been actual bodily contact with plaintiff as a result of defendant's conduct...." 1 The parties agree, further, that since Drew never came in direct contact with Johnny Jones, he cannot sustain this action under Georgia law.

ISSUE

Does the substantive law of Georgia apply to this action?

DISCUSSION

Drew argues that South Carolina law should apply, notwithstanding the general rule of lex loci delicti, contending that application of Georgia law would violate the public policy of our State. We disagree.

It is well established in South Carolina that in tort cases "the law of the place where the injury was occasioned or inflicted, governs in respect of the right of action, and the law of the forum in respect to matters pertaining to the remedy [306 S.C. 393] only." 2 In Rauton, the Court noted...

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