Brady Development Co., Inc. v. Town of Hilton Head Island, No. 1

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtLITTLEJOHN
Decision Date16 November 1993
PartiesBRADY DEVELOPMENT CO., INC., Respondent, v. The TOWN OF HILTON HEAD ISLAND and Hilton HeadPublic Service District, of which only the Town of Hilton Head Island is the Appellant. . Heard
Docket NumberNo. 23974,No. 1

Page 266

439 S.E.2d 266
312 S.C. 73
BRADY DEVELOPMENT CO., INC., Respondent,
v.
The TOWN OF HILTON HEAD ISLAND and Hilton Head No. 1 Public
Service District,
of which only the Town of Hilton Head Island is the Appellant.
No. 23974.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard Nov. 16, 1993.
Decided Dec. 20, 1993.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 19, 1994.

Page 267

[312 S.C. 74] Charles E. Carpenter, Jr. and Deborah L. Harrison both of Richardson, Plowden, Grier and Howser, Columbia, and James S. Gibson, Jr. of Howell, Gibson and Hughes, Beaufort, for appellant.

Drew A. Laughlin and John R.C. Bowen both of Laughlin, Bowen & Smoot, Hilton Head Island, and Edward M. Woodward of Woodward, Leventis, Unger, Daves, Herndon & Cothran, Columbia, for respondent.

LITTLEJOHN, Acting Associate Justice:

The Town of Hilton Head (the Town) contends that the trial judge erred in ruling that the Town owed Brady Development Co., Inc. (Brady) a special duty in the administration of its Development Standards Ordinance. The jury found for Brady in the amount of $215,000 actual damages. The Town argues that the trial judge erred in denying its motions for a directed verdict. We agree and reverse.

I. Facts

On December 10, 1984, the Hilton Head Company (Company), developers of a 244 lot single-family subdivision known as Indigo Run Plantation Phase III, applied for approval of its final development plan in accordance with Hilton Head Development Standards Ordinance §§ 16-7-10 to -1212 (Development Standards Ordinance). The Company submitted a letter of commitment from the Public Service District to document that water and sewer services would be available. Based on this representation, the Town issued a "construction only" development permit to the Company on February 14, 1985.

To obtain a permit to sell lots before the completion of the required subdivision improvements, the Company was required to post a letter of credit for $2,713,563 to guarantee the [312 S.C. 75] completion of the development as required by the Development Standards Ordinance. The Company posted the letter and received approval to sell lots in May, 1985. Between June and December of 1985, the Town allowed the Company to draw down on the letter of credit as the improvements were completed. Both DHEC and the Town Engineer approved the completed water and sewer infrastructure. However, the Public Service District refused to approve the systems for operation because the Company went bankrupt without paying the construction fee.

In June of 1985, Brady contracted to purchase a lot and hired Thomas Sobczak (Sobczak) to build a house on the property. Before he began construction, Sobczak tried to arrange for temporary utility hook-ups, but the Public Service District informed him that water and sewer services were not available and no date could be given for their availability. After discussing this problem, Brady told Sobczak to proceed with the construction. Without permission from the Public Service District, Sobczak connected lines to the Public Service District water and began construction.

Several times during construction, Sobczak went to the Public Service District to inquire about the water system and was told that the services were not available. In May of 1986, the utility company refused to provide permanent power because the water system was not available. Although the house was substantially completed, Sobczak was forced to stop work. The vacant house was vandalized and eventually burned.

On May 23, 1990, Brady filed this action alleging, among other things, that the Town had negligently administered the Development Standards Ordinance. At trial, the Town moved for a directed verdict on the ground that the Development Standards Ordinance did not create special duty owed to Brady individually. 1 The trial judge denied the Town's motion, finding that the Town as a matter of law owed a special duty to Brady under this ordinance. The trial judge also denied the Town's motion for a directed verdict based on assumption of [312 S.C. 76] the risk. The jury returned a verdict for Brady. The Town appeals.

Page 268

II. Discussion

The Town contends that the trial judge erred in ruling as a matter of law that it owed Brady a special duty of care in issuing a development permit under the Development Standards Ordinance. We agree.

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21 practice notes
  • Creighton v. Coligny Plaza Ltd., No. 2909.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • November 30, 1998
    ...this court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Brady Dev. Co. v. Town of Hilton Head Island, 312 S.C. 73, 439 S.E.2d 266 (1993). A directed verdict or judgment notwithstanding the verdict should not be granted unless only one reasonable inference ......
  • Williams v. Riedman, No. 3127.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 28, 2000
    ...verdict, we must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Brady Dev. Co. v. Town of Hilton Head Island, 312 S.C. 73, 439 S.E.2d 266 (1993). A directed verdict or judgment notwithstanding the verdict should not be granted unless only one reasonable inference......
  • Platt v. Csx Transportation, Inc., No. 4394.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 20, 2008
    ...special duties statutorily imposed." Tanner, 336 S.C. at 562, 521 S.E.2d at 158. See, e.g., Brady Dev. Co. v. Town of Hilton Head Island, 312 S.C. 73, 439 S.E.2d 266 (1993) (holding city owed lot purchaser no special duty of care in issuing development permit under municipal development sta......
  • Davenport v. Cotton Hope Plantation, No. 24850.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 9, 1998
    ...be granted. Adams v. G.J. Creel and Sons, Inc., 320 S.C. 274, 465 S.E.2d 84 (1995); Brady Dev. Co., Inc. v. Town of Hilton Head Island, 312 S.C. 73, 439 S.E.2d 266 Cotton Hope argues that it did not breach any duty owed to Davenport Specifically, Cotton Hope contends that it only had a duty......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • Creighton v. Coligny Plaza Ltd., No. 2909.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • November 30, 1998
    ...this court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Brady Dev. Co. v. Town of Hilton Head Island, 312 S.C. 73, 439 S.E.2d 266 (1993). A directed verdict or judgment notwithstanding the verdict should not be granted unless only one reasonable inference ......
  • Williams v. Riedman, No. 3127.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 28, 2000
    ...verdict, we must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Brady Dev. Co. v. Town of Hilton Head Island, 312 S.C. 73, 439 S.E.2d 266 (1993). A directed verdict or judgment notwithstanding the verdict should not be granted unless only one reasonable inference......
  • Platt v. Csx Transportation, Inc., No. 4394.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 20, 2008
    ...special duties statutorily imposed." Tanner, 336 S.C. at 562, 521 S.E.2d at 158. See, e.g., Brady Dev. Co. v. Town of Hilton Head Island, 312 S.C. 73, 439 S.E.2d 266 (1993) (holding city owed lot purchaser no special duty of care in issuing development permit under municipal development sta......
  • Davenport v. Cotton Hope Plantation, No. 24850.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • November 9, 1998
    ...be granted. Adams v. G.J. Creel and Sons, Inc., 320 S.C. 274, 465 S.E.2d 84 (1995); Brady Dev. Co., Inc. v. Town of Hilton Head Island, 312 S.C. 73, 439 S.E.2d 266 Cotton Hope argues that it did not breach any duty owed to Davenport Specifically, Cotton Hope contends that it only had a duty......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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