Carson v. Adgar, No. 24620

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtBURNETT; TOAL, Acting C.J., MOORE and WALLER, JJ., and GEORGE T. GREGORY, Jr.
Citation486 S.E.2d 3,326 S.C. 212
PartiesWilford CARSON, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Kevin Patrick Carson, deceased, Appellant, v. Sylvester ADGAR, Respondent. . Heard
Docket NumberNo. 24620
Decision Date01 April 1997

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486 S.E.2d 3
326 S.C. 212
Wilford CARSON, as Personal Representative of the Estate of
Kevin Patrick Carson, deceased, Appellant,
Sylvester ADGAR, Respondent.
No. 24620.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard April 1, 1997
Decided May 27, 1997.

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[326 S.C. 214] J. Edward Bell, III, of Bell & Moore, Sumter, for appellant.

David C. Holler of Lee, Wilson & Erter, Sumter, for respondent.

BURNETT, Justice:

This is a wrongful death action. Appellant's decedent (Kevin) was killed when he walked across Highway 301 and was struck by a truck. Appellant alleged respondent was legally responsible for Kevin's death because he had "taken charge of" Kevin. who was intoxicated, yet left him on the shoulder of the highway. The trial judge granted respondent's motion for a directed verdict. We affirm.


Respondent testified Kevin worked in his landscaping business for approximately one year prior to the accident. Respondent knew Kevin, who was thirty-three years old, lived [326 S.C. 215] with his parents and did not have a driver's license. 1 Respondent denied knowing Kevin was slow or retarded and testified he did not remember Kevin's father requesting he not let Kevin drink. Respondent testified he and Kevin were good friends and often socialized together.

On the day of the accident, respondent explained Kevin arrived at work between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. The men finished work early, around 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Respondent asked Kevin if he would like to go fishing. Respondent drove. The two men bought beer and fished for two to three hours.

Later, Kevin and respondent picked up a friend, Willie Brock. The three men went to a marina, watched the boats, played pool, and drank beer. Afterwards, Brock and respondent purchased liquor and Kevin purchased more beer.

The three men drove to a pool hall in Manning. Brock and respondent went inside; Kevin remained in the car drinking beer. After a while, Kevin blew the car horn and said he wanted more beer. Respondent bought Kevin two beers from the club even though he realized Kevin was "drinking pretty good." Respondent and Brock continued to shoot pool.

Respondent testified the three men left the pool hall, proceeded to Brock's house, and Kevin stated he wanted more beer; Kevin became angry when respondent told Kevin he should not have any more beer. At Brock's house, Brock and respondent tried to get Kevin to move into the front seat of the car, but he refused because he was angry about not having any more beer. Brock remained at home.

When respondent drove onto Highway 301, Kevin decided he wanted to sit in the front seat; respondent told him to wait. Kevin was cursing and tried to climb into the front seat of respondent's GrandAm automobile, knocking the gear-shift into neutral. Kevin stated he wanted a beer and wanted to get out of the car. Respondent testified he could not control Kevin, and pulled over onto the shoulder of the road; Kevin moved the front seat forward, exited the car, and lit a cigarette. Respondent stated he thought Kevin would get in the front seat, but Kevin refused to get back into the car. Respondent[326 S.C. 216] decided to briefly drive away to allow Kevin to "cool off."

Respondent drove 1 to 1 1/2 miles away and then returned. In the meantime, Kevin attempted to cross the highway and was struck by a truck.

Respondent testified he did not know Kevin had too much to drink, but acknowledged

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he knew Kevin had "over his limit." He stated he made most of the decisions about where he and Kevin would go and when it was time to go home on the day of the accident. Respondent denied forcing Kevin out of the car, but admitted he told the police he had "discharged" or "put Kevin out" of his vehicle.

It is undisputed the accident occurred shortly before midnight; it was dark, misting rain and there were no lights on the highway; Kevin was wearing dark clothing. The investigating police officer testified the shoulder of the highway was "extremely wide" and agreed there was ample room for a pedestrian to walk on the shoulder or the highway.

Appellant argues the trial judge erred by directing a verdict for respondent on the issue of duty. Appellant contends he presented evidence respondent had "taken charge of" Kevin and, thereby, had assumed a duty to leave Kevin in no worse a position than when he took charge of him. Appellant argues respondent "took charge of" Kevin when the two men left work to go fishing. More particularly, he claims respondent "took charge of" Kevin when he did not leave Kevin at Brock's home.


Did the trial judge err by finding respondent owed no duty of care to Kevin because he did not "take charge of" him?


On review of a ruling granting a directed verdict, the evidence and all reasonable inferences...

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27 cases
  • McHenry v. Asylum Entm't Del., LLC
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 12, 2020
    ...exercise reasonable care for his welfare and safety."]; Ocotillo , supra , 173 Ariz. at p. 489, 844 P.2d 653 ; Carson v. Adgar (S.C. 1997) 326 S.C. 212, 218, 486 S.E.2d 3 ( Carson ).)Plaintiff has not raised a triable issue of fact as to either element of liability.(i) Taking charge Plainti......
  • Olson v. Faculty House of Carolina, Inc.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 22, 2001
    ...of an immediately appealable issue in the order did not make the denial of summary judgment reviewable in that instance. Id. at 211, 486 S.E.2d at 3; cf. Holloman v. McAllister, 289 S.C. 183, 345 S.E.2d 728 (1986) (declining to address denial of summary judgment after trial while addressing......
  • Downs v. Bush, No. M2005-01498-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. App. 8/31/2007), M2005-01498-COA-R3-CV.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • August 31, 2007
    ...eerily similar factual scenario was the subject of a duty analysis by the South Carolina Supreme Court in the matter of Carson v. Adgar, 326 S.C. 212, 486 S.E.2d 3 (1997). In Carson, the plaintiff and defendant, who were good friends, worked together in a landscaping business, and they ofte......
  • Hendricks v. Clemson University, 25606.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • March 17, 2003
    ...47 (1996)). Whether the law recognizes a particular duty is an issue of law to be decided by the Court. Id. (citing Carson v. Adgar, 326 S.C. 212, 486 S.E.2d 3 (1997)). An affirmative legal duty exists only if created by statute, contract, relationship, status, property interest, or some ot......
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