GHMSW Partnership v. Logan, 1923

Decision Date02 December 1992
Docket NumberNo. 1923,1923
Citation426 S.E.2d 332,310 S.C. 555
PartiesGHMSW PARTNERSHIP, Respondent, v. Chris LOGAN, d/b/a Logan Beauty School, Appellant. . Heard
CourtSouth Carolina Court of Appeals

Richard C. Jones, of Jones & Seth, Sumter, for appellant.

Kenneth R. Young, Jr., of Young, Young & Reiter, Sumter, for respondent.

GOOLSBY, Judge.

GHMSW Partnership sued Chris Logan, doing business as Logan Beauty School, for waste. Following a reference, without finality, the special master prepared and filed with the clerk of court a report in which he set forth findings of fact and conclusions of law, together with a recommended judgment in GHMSW's favor. Logan thereafter served exceptions to the report. After a hearing, the circuit judge overruled Logan's exceptions and confirmed the report. Logan appeals. The dispositive issue is whether the circuit judge erred in overruling Logan's exceptions to the special master's findings of fact and confirming his report merely because some evidence supported these findings of fact. We vacate and remand.

During the hearing on Logan's exceptions, the circuit judge, despite Logan's disagreement, repeatedly viewed himself as constituting "an appellate court" or an "appeals court" and as not having "the right" to determine issues of credibility. In his order confirming the special master's report, he overruled Logan's exceptions to the special master's findings of fact stating "that each of these exceptions has no merit in that the evidence aptly supports each of the master's rulings as set forth in his order."

A circuit judge does not sit as an appellate judge when hearing an application made on exceptions to a report of a special master to whom an action has been transferred without finality. See S.C.Code Ann. § 14-11-85 (Supp.1991) (statute providing for appeals from final judgments entered by masters); cf. Karl Sitte Plumbing Co. v. Darby Dev. Co., 295 S.C. 70, 367 S.E.2d 162 (Ct.App.1988) (case involving a circuit judge entertaining an appeal from a master). Rather, the circuit judge sits in such a case as a trial judge with the power, after hearing, "[to] adopt the report or [to] modify it or [to] reject it in whole or in part or [to] receive further evidence or [to] recommit it with instructions." Rule 53(e)(2), SCRCP.

Where exceptions are taken to a master's report, Rule 53(e) anticipates that the judge who reviews the exceptions "[will] decide their validity by the exercise of his own mental faculties." Macon v. Murray, 231 N.C. 61, 55 S.E.2d 807, 808 (1949). The rule does not contemplate that the judge will simply approve the master's work product merely because the master's findings of fact have some support in the evidence, "irrespective of whether such supporting evidence be strong or weak, or credible or incredible." Id. In passing on a party's exceptions to the findings of fact of a master, the judge "must carefully consider and deliberately weigh the evidence adduced before the [master] and returned to the...

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  • Global Protection Corp. v. Halbersberg, 2856.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • 23 d2 Junho d2 1998
    ...appeal to either this court or the Supreme Court if the evidence reasonably supports the findings...." GHMSW Partnership v. Logan, 310 S.C. 555, 557, 426 S.E.2d 332, 334 (Ct.App.1992). Our standard of review is, therefore, whether there is evidence to support the trial court's I. TRADEMARK ......

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