AMERICAN FEDERAL BANK, FSB v. Kateman, 2970.

Decision Date05 April 1999
Docket NumberNo. 2970.,2970.
Citation516 S.E.2d 1,335 S.C. 273
CourtSouth Carolina Court of Appeals
PartiesAMERICAN FEDERAL BANK, FSB, Respondent, v. Dawn L. KATEMAN, Defendant. In re First Union National Bank, Appellant.

H. Sam Mabry, III, and J.D. Quattlebaum, both of Haynsworth, Marion, McKay & Guerard, of Greenville, for appellant.

Jack D. Griffeth and V. Clark Price, both of Love, Thornton, Arnold & Thomason, of Greenville, for respondent.

HOWELL, Chief Judge:

First Union National Bank appeals the circuit court's order holding it in contempt of an order of attachment and awarding compensatory damages to American Federal Bank, FSB. We reverse.

I.

On January 13, 1997, American Federal brought an action against Dawn L. Kateman for the alleged breach of a promissory note. American Federal sought a judgment for $5,559.30, plus interest and attorney's fees. On February 4, 1997, American Federal sought to attach real property located at 207 Henderson Street, Greenville, South Carolina. In the supporting affidavit, M. Phyllis White, a recovery officer for American Federal, stated that Kateman had revealed her intention to hinder American Federal's recovery of the debt by disposing of or encumbering the property so that she would have little or no equity in the property.

By order filed February 6, 1997 (the Order), the circuit court attached the Henderson Street property. The Order stated that Kateman was attempting to dispose of or encumber the Henderson Street property and enjoined Kateman from "disposing, selling, transferring or encumbering" the property. The Order further provided that

to the degree that the property described above is now converted to or comprised of sale or financing proceeds, stocks, bonds, cash, savings, certificates of deposit or other assets liquid and negotiable in nature, whether in the possession of the defendant or a third party custodian, then and in that event, this Order is to be placed in the hands of the Sheriff of this county who shall immediately seize and take custody of such property to the extent of the debt described in the Complaint.

Charles David Riddle, a deputy sheriff with the Greenville County Sheriffs office, delivered the Order to First Union on February 13, 1997. Riddle spoke with Frank Wilson, a vice president with First Union. Wilson verified that Kateman had an account with the First Union and gave the account number to Riddle. Wilson informed Riddle that the balance of the account was $4,718.31. Wilson assured Riddle that he had placed a freeze on Kateman's account.

Wilson presented the Order to Terry Haney, First Union's area operations manager in Greenville, who faxed the Order to First Union's legal division in Charlotte. The legal division questioned whether the account should be frozen, given First Union's lack of knowledge of whether the funds in the account were derived from the attached property. Haney sought more information from Riddle, who sent her a letter from American Federal's attorney. The legal division ultimately concluded that it should not attach Kateman's account, because there was no indication that the funds in the account were derived from the Henderson Street property. First Union then lifted the freeze on Kateman's account. On February 19, 1997, First Union honored a $4,000 check drawn on Kateman's account and payable to her live-in boyfriend.

On February 26, 1997, Terry Haney left a message asking Deputy Riddle to call her. When Riddle returned her call the next day, she informed him that First Union had lifted the freeze on the account. She called again requesting more information on the attachment. Riddle referred her to American Federal's attorney.

On March 5, 1997, the circuit court issued an order (the Second Order) for the sheriff to liquidate Kateman's personal and real property to satisfy the judgment against her.1 The Second Order directed the sheriff to liquidate Kateman's First Union account and specifically directed First Union to assist and comply with the order.

On March 18, 1997, Riddle returned to First Union with the Second Order. After its legal division reviewed the Second Order, First Union restrained the account, which had a balance of only $484.97.

Thereafter, American Federal petitioned the circuit court for a rule to show cause why First Union should not be held in contempt for its conduct relating to Kateman's account. After a hearing, the circuit court held First Union in contempt, concluding that First Union and its employees willfully and intentionally disregarded and refused to comply with the Order. The court ordered First Union to pay American Federal the balance of Kateman's account as of February 13, 1997, plus attorney's fees and costs.

II.

On appeal, First Union argues that the circuit court erred by holding it in contempt...

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3 cases
  • Powell v. Hemelt
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • April 28, 2008
    ... ... (1990) (quoted in Am. Fed. Bank, FSB v ... Kateman, 335 S.C. 273, 277, 516 S.E.2d 1, ... ...
  • Tirado v. Tirado, 3150.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • April 10, 2000
    ...of a court order. See Henderson v. Henderson, 298 S.C. 190, 197, 379 S.E.2d 125, 129 (1989); American Fed. Bank, FSB v. Kateman, 335 S.C. 273, 276, 516 S.E.2d 1, 2 (Ct.App. 1999). A willful act is one "done voluntarily and intentionally with the specific intent ... to fail to do something t......
  • County of Greenville v. Mann, 25383.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • December 3, 2001
    ...him in definite terms what he must do." Welchel v. Boyter, 260 S.C. 418, 421, 196 S.E.2d 496, 498 (1973); American Fed. Bank v. Kateman, 335 S.C. 273, 516 S.E.2d 1 (Ct.App.1999). Therefore, because the Order is ambiguous and contradictory, Mann cannot be held in contempt for failing to comp......

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