Galloway v. Cox, No. 13784.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtBONHAM, Justice
Citation172 S.E. 761
PartiesGALLOWAY. v. COX.
Docket NumberNo. 13784.
Decision Date16 February 1934

172 S.E. 761

GALLOWAY.
v.
COX.

No. 13784.

Supreme Court of South Carolina,

Feb. 16, 1934.


[172 S.E. 761]

Appeal from Common Pleas Circuit Court of Florence County; R. W. Sharkey, County Judge.

Action by T. A. Galloway against G. O Cox. From an adverse order, defendant appeals. Order reversed, and complaint dismissed.

Wm. H. Smith, of Florence, for appellant.

W. Stokes Houck and W. Marshall Bridges, both of Florence, for respondent.

BONHAM, Justice.

The plaintiff brings this action to recover damages of the defendant for the use by the latter of alleged slanderous language to and of the plaintiff. The allegations of the complaint, stated briefly, are: That plaintiff rented of the defendant certain premises in which he established a woodyard; that in the wood business he took as a partner one Russell Green; that on a date named defendant demanded of plaintiff the sum of $2.50, the amount of the rent for two weeks, which was not then due, and plaintiff did not have the money with which to pay it, and so informed defendant, who in a rude and insolent manner said to plaintiff, in the presence of Green and two white boys: "Galloway, I have found you dishonest. I have found you out and that is enough for me."

Defendant demurred to the complaint for that it did not state a cause of action, since: (a) "The words alleged to have been used by defendant do not impute to plaintiff the commission of any criminal offense, and (b) the language alleged to have been used contains no allegation of any special damages suffered by plaintiff on account of said language."

The judge of the civil court of Florence county, in which court the action was brought, in an order dated July 27, 1933, held: "It is my judgment that the complaint does state a cause of action, and that the words alleged to have been spoken by defendant concerning the plaintiff are actionable per se. I do not think, however, that the words alleged to have been spoken by the defendant concerning the plaintiff, impute to the plaintiff the commission of any criminal offense."

Notice was given of intention to appeal from this order. Before the expiration of the time for perfecting the appeal, the attorneys of record, representing the defendant, withdrew from the case, and the attorney now of record was substituted.

Upon proper notice to plaintiff's attorneys, defendant's attorney moved before the judge of the civil court for an order vacating and modifying the order of July 27. His honor, in an order overruling the motion, said: "I held that the alleged defamatory words, set forth

[172 S.E. 762]

in the complaint, did not impute to the plaintiff the commission of any criminal offense, and that they were therefore not, for that reason, actionable, per se. The demurrer, however, was overruled for the reason that, in my opinion, the words alleged to have been spoken by the defendant, concerning plaintiff, were actionable per se for the reason that they tended to injure him in his business. The question, therefore, of whether the alleged words were actionable per se on the last mentioned ground is the only question which arises under the present motion. It is true that the question involved is a very close one, but it seems to me that the words set forth in the complaint, alleged to have been spoken by the defendant of the plaintiff, relate to the plaintiff's business and impute to him a charge of delinquency in the conduct of said business. It would necessarily follow that such charge would have the effect of injuring plaintiff in the carrying on of his business and that they are therefore actionable per se."

From this order this appeal comes, based on four exceptions, all of which will be considered and embraced in the judgment of the court, but they will not be considered separately.

The law relating to libel and slander is well known and established, but there has ever seemed to be a difficulty in its application; therefore, the many cases with which the books are filled, appear to have been decided each upon its special facts; it is difficult, therefore, to measure the facts of this case by those of decided cases. Each case must stand on its own bottom.

"in determining on the actionable nature of words courts are very likely, unless controlled by precedent, to decide in accordance with the general and fixed opinion of the particular locality as to the damaging effect of the charge contained in the words. Hence, the decisions are apt to vary with the moral and social conditions and views of different communities." 17 R. C. L. 264, 265.

in Black's Law Dictionary (3d Ed.) p. 1104, is given an especially...

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12 practice notes
  • Holtzscheiter v. Thomson Newspapers, Inc., No. 24842.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 22 d2 Setembro d2 1998
    ...disease; (3) adultery; (4) unchastity; or (5) unfitness in one's business or profession. Lesesne, supra; Galloway v. Cox, 172 S.C. 101, 172 S.E. 761 (1934). While some states limit actionable per se libel to the same categories of slander which are actionable per se, this is not the law in ......
  • Lesesne v. Willingham, Civ. A. No. 2047.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • 25 d1 Abril d1 1949
    ...Ward & Co., 165 S.C. 253, 163 S.E. 796; Lily v. Belk's Department Store, 178 S.C. 278, 182 S.E. 889; Galloway v. Cox, 172 S.C. 101, 172 S.E. 761, 762; Sandifer v. Electrolux Corporation, 4 Cir., 172 F.2d 548, 550. In the last cited case it was said by the Circuit Court of Appeals of the......
  • Sandifer v. Electrolux Corporation, No. 5820.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 11 d5 Fevereiro d5 1949
    ...contagious disease, adultery or a want of chastity, or unfitness in the way of a profession or trade. See Galloway v. Cox, 172 S. C. 101, 172 S. E. 761, 762, quoting from Black's Law Dictionary, 3d ed., 1104. From the natural and immediate tendency of such words to produce injury the law pr......
  • Matthews v. US RUBBER COMPANY, Civ. A. No. 1034.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 23 d2 Julho d2 1963
    ...Circuit in Hartzog v. United Press Ass'ns, 202 F.2d 81 (1953). The Supreme Court of South Carolina, in Galloway v. Cox, 172 S.C. 101, 172 S.E. 761 (1934), held that when words are perfectly clear and unambiguous, their character as defamatory is a 219 F. Supp. 835 question of law for the ju......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Holtzscheiter v. Thomson Newspapers, Inc., No. 24842.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 22 d2 Setembro d2 1998
    ...disease; (3) adultery; (4) unchastity; or (5) unfitness in one's business or profession. Lesesne, supra; Galloway v. Cox, 172 S.C. 101, 172 S.E. 761 (1934). While some states limit actionable per se libel to the same categories of slander which are actionable per se, this is not the law in ......
  • Lesesne v. Willingham, Civ. A. No. 2047.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Carolina
    • 25 d1 Abril d1 1949
    ...Ward & Co., 165 S.C. 253, 163 S.E. 796; Lily v. Belk's Department Store, 178 S.C. 278, 182 S.E. 889; Galloway v. Cox, 172 S.C. 101, 172 S.E. 761, 762; Sandifer v. Electrolux Corporation, 4 Cir., 172 F.2d 548, 550. In the last cited case it was said by the Circuit Court of Appeals of the......
  • Sandifer v. Electrolux Corporation, No. 5820.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • 11 d5 Fevereiro d5 1949
    ...contagious disease, adultery or a want of chastity, or unfitness in the way of a profession or trade. See Galloway v. Cox, 172 S. C. 101, 172 S. E. 761, 762, quoting from Black's Law Dictionary, 3d ed., 1104. From the natural and immediate tendency of such words to produce injury the law pr......
  • Matthews v. US RUBBER COMPANY, Civ. A. No. 1034.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 23 d2 Julho d2 1963
    ...Circuit in Hartzog v. United Press Ass'ns, 202 F.2d 81 (1953). The Supreme Court of South Carolina, in Galloway v. Cox, 172 S.C. 101, 172 S.E. 761 (1934), held that when words are perfectly clear and unambiguous, their character as defamatory is a 219 F. Supp. 835 question of law for the ju......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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