7 F.3d 415 (4th Cir. 1993), 92-1371, Nipper v. Snipes

Docket Nº:92-1371.
Citation:7 F.3d 415
Party Name:Paul W. NIPPER, Jr.; R. Bruce Ford, individually, and as a Beneficiary of the Profit Sharing Plan and Pension Plan of Psychiatric Associates, P.A.; Jeffrey R. Mellom; M. P. Norungolo, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. John T.
Case Date:October 21, 1993
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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Page 415

7 F.3d 415 (4th Cir. 1993)

Paul W. NIPPER, Jr.; R. Bruce Ford, individually, and as a

Beneficiary of the Profit Sharing Plan and Pension Plan of

Psychiatric Associates, P.A.; Jeffrey R. Mellom; M. P.

Norungolo, Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

John T. "Ted" SNIPES, Defendant-Appellant, and Diane K.

Snipes; Financial Services Advisory,

Incorporated, Defendants.

No. 92-1371.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

October 21, 1993

Argued Dec. 3, 1992.

Page 416

Larry Dean Estridge, Wyche, Burgess, Freeman & Parham, P.A., Greenville, SC, argued for defendants-appellants.

John Patrick Freeman, Columbia, SC, argued (James R. Gilreath, Greenville, SC, on brief), for plaintiffs-appellees.

Before ERVIN, Chief Judge, and WIDENER and NIEMEYER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

WIDENER, Circuit Judge:

This case presents the question of whether judicial findings of fact entered in state court in a different case involving some of the same parties were properly admitted into evidence by the district court. Because we are of opinion that the district court abused its discretion in admitting the evidence, we vacate the judgment of the district court and remand for a new trial.

I.

This controversy arises out of the civil jury trial of John T. "Ted" Snipes and Diane Snipes on causes of action related to the sale of limited partnership interests in real estate partnerships. The causes of action presented to the jury for its decision included breach of fiduciary duty, common law fraud, civil RICO violations, constructive fraud, and civil conspiracy. The jury found Mrs. Snipes innocent of any wrongdoing, but held her husband liable on the breach of fiduciary duty and common law fraud causes of action.

During the course of the trial, counsel for the plaintiffs 1 introduced into evidence, over defendants' objection, Plaintiff's Exhibit 20, an order entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Greenville County, South Carolina in a case concerning a different real estate partnership and in which Nipper was a plaintiff and Ted Snipes was a defendant. The order included South Carolina Circuit Judge Frank P. McGowan, Jr.'s findings of fact in the case. Portions of the findings of fact were read to the jury by plaintiffs' counsel during the direct examination of plaintiff Nipper. The portions of Judge McGowan's order that plaintiffs'...

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