Amrik Singh & Sbps v. City of Greenville

Citation384 S.C. 365,681 S.E.2d 921
Decision Date29 July 2009
Docket NumberNo. 4601.,4601.
CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
PartiesAMRIK SINGH & SBPS, INC. d/b/a Travel Inn, Respondents, v. CITY OF GREENVILLE, Appellant.

Ronald W. McKinney, of Greenville, for Appellant.

James W. Fayssoux, Jr., and Ryan L. Beasley, both of Greenville, for Respondents.


The City of Greenville appeals an order from the circuit court granting Amrik Singh and SPBS, Inc., (collectively Singh), a second set of business license revocation hearings. We reverse and remand.


Singh is the president and sole shareholder of SBPS, Inc., which owns and operates the Travel Inn Motel located at 755 Wade Hampton Boulevard in Greenville, South Carolina. In 2006, Jonathan Simons, Interim Director of Office Management and Budget for the City, notified Singh that his business license to operate the Travel Inn Motel was to be revoked.1 Thereafter, Singh requested a hearing pursuant to section 8-44(b) of the City of Greenville Code of Ordinances.2

A revocation hearing was held, and the City presented evidence that Singh had held a business license for the Travel Inn from 2004 to 2006. The City also presented testimony from Lieutenant Randle Evett, of the City of Greenville Police Department, who stated there was an abnormally high amount of calls for service coming from the Travel Inn since the beginning of 2004. Specifically, Evett testified the police department received 918 calls for service from the Travel Inn between April of 2004 and June of 2006.3 Evett noted that in 2004 he had spoken to Singh's daughter, who was manager of the Travel Inn, about the number of calls, but that following the conversation, the number of calls for service actually increased.

According to Simons, of the 918 calls, 194 required an incident report, including forty-six drug-related violations; thirty-four trespass after notice and notice given violations; twelve assaults; two assault and batteries with intent to kill; two armed robberies; nine stolen vehicles; fifteen petty larcenies; four disorderly conducts; and two controlled purchases of crack-cocaine by Singh's daughter.

In response, Singh presented evidence that he owned the subject property for only three months prior to receiving the letter revoking his business license. Singh further stated that, while he managed the Travel Inn during the time frame in which the calls for service were accumulated, he did not have the authority to make the changes needed to address the issues. Singh maintained the letter from Simons was the first formal notice he had received informing him his business constituted a nuisance.

At the close of evidence, the hearing officer recommended Singh's business license revocation be upheld. Pursuant to section 8-44(c) of the Greenville Code of Ordinances,4 Singh appealed that decision to the city council. In the meantime, Singh also unsuccessfully sought a temporary injunction in an effort to continue his business operations during the pendency of his appeal.

On appeal to the city council, the city manager's decision to revoke Singh's business license was modified, allowing Singh to provisionally reopen his business for sixty days under a "Conditional Business License." The city council expressly allowed the city manager to establish the conditions5 with which Singh had to comply, and stated that any deviation from the conditions would result in the automatic revocation of Singh's conditional license. The council further stated that after the sixty-day period, the Travel Inn would be placed on a "six-month Probation Period," as long as the city manager certified the business had been in complete compliance with the conditions during the sixty days. The city council gave the city manager full discretion to determine whether the conditions were in fact violated, with the police department to report any violations directly to the city manager.

Upon expiration of the sixty-day period, the chief of the Greenville Police Department submitted an evaluation concerning the Travel Inn's compliance with the conditions set forth in the agreement. The evaluation stated the Department's vice and narcotics squads checked the Travel Inn and its premises on a daily basis, and ultimately found Singh had met the conditions outlined in the agreement.

Following the chief of police's report, the city manager extended the probationary period for one year under the existing terms and conditions. Approximately one month later, the city manager wrote to Singh informing him the Travel Inn's business license would be revoked based upon Singh's "inability or unwillingness to maintain a safe, drug-free, and crime-free environment." The letter referenced four incidents which the manager determined constituted a continued nuisance, thereby necessitating revocation. Thereafter, Singh requested an appeal to the city council pursuant to section 8-44(c). The City denied Singh's request for a hearing, believing Singh's previous hearing constituted his appeal for this matter under section 8-44(c). Singh again sought a temporary injunction to allow him to continue to operate his business. Upon denial of this request, Singh appealed the revocation of his business license to the circuit court pursuant to Rule 74, SCRCP.6

On appeal, Singh argued the revocation of his business license and the City's subsequent decision to deny a rehearing of his appeal, violated his right to procedural due process and thus was arbitrary. Singh further argued the City's abdication of its monitoring responsibilities, in ceding complete discretion to the city manager, created a means of evading meaningful appellate review.

The City again maintained that the entire process should not be viewed as anything other than one complete revocation process, and, therefore, Singh had already received a hearing before the city council in compliance with Rule 74 and attendant procedural due process. Additionally, the City argued the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal by virtue of an additional suit pending before it.

The circuit court found the city council was under no obligation to grant Singh a provisional license, but upon doing so, the provisional license acted as a new business license with its own set of unique conditions. Consequently, the circuit court reversed the city council's revocation of Singh's business license, finding that due process entitled Singh to a second hearing regarding the revocation of his conditional license. This appeal followed.


In reviewing the discretionary decision of a legislative body, our courts have been hesitant to substitute their judgment for...

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