Hagood v. Sommerville, No. 25918.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Citation607 S.E.2d 707,362 S.C. 191
Decision Date04 January 2005
Docket NumberNo. 25918.
PartiesErnest HAGOOD, Petitioner, v. Brenda S. SOMMERVILLE, Respondent.

362 S.C. 191
607 S.E.2d 707

Ernest HAGOOD, Petitioner,
v.
Brenda S. SOMMERVILLE, Respondent

No. 25918.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

Heard October 20, 2004.

Decided January 4, 2005.


362 S.C. 193
James H. Moss and H. Fred Kuhn, Jr., of Moss, Kuhn & Fleming, P.A., of Beaufort, for Petitioner

A. Parker Barnes, Jr., of Beaufort, for Respondent.

JUSTICE BURNETT:

We granted a writ of certiorari to review the Court of Appeals' opinion in Hagood v. Sommerville, S.C. Ct. App. Order dated May 22, 2003 (unpublished order). We reverse.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Ernest Hagood (Petitioner) sued Brenda S. Sommerville (Respondent) after Petitioner allegedly was injured in 1997

362 S.C. 194
when he was struck by Respondent's vehicle while riding a bicycle. Petitioner was represented by James H. Moss (Petitioner's Attorney). Respondent moved to disqualify Barton J. Adams (Adams) from testifying as an expert witness for Petitioner because Adams is employed full-time by Petitioner's Attorney as a professional investigator and accident reconstruction expert.1

The trial court gave Petitioner two options: (1) do not use Adams as a witness, but find another expert witness and proceed to trial with Petitioner's Attorney; or (2) Petitioner's Attorney may withdraw due to the disqualification, Petitioner may retain new counsel, and use Adams as an expert witness at trial. Petitioner's Attorney withdrew.

Following the Court of Appeals' dismissal of Petitioner's case, we granted the petition for a writ of certiorari to consider an issue of first impression in South Carolina: Is an order which grants a motion to disqualify a party's attorney immediately appealable?

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In a case raising a novel question of law, the appellate court is free to decide the question with no particular deference to the lower court. I'On, L.L.C. v. Town of Mt. Pleasant, 338 S.C. 406, 411, 526 S.E.2d 716, 719 (2000) (citing S.C. Const. art. V, §§ 5 and 9, S.C.Code Ann. § 14-3-320 and -330 (1976 & Supp. 2003), and S.C.Code Ann § 14-8-200 (Supp. 2003)); Osprey, Inc. v. Cabana Ltd. Partnership, 340 S.C. 367, 372, 532 S.E.2d 269, 272 (2000) (same); Clark v. Cantrell, 339 S.C. 369, 378, 529 S.E.2d 528, 533 (2000) (same).

LAW AND ANALYSIS

The right of appeal arises from and is controlled by statutory law. North Carolina Federal Sav. and Loan Ass'n v. Twin States Dev. Corp., 289 S.C. 480, 347 S.E.2d 97 (1986). An appeal ordinarily may be pursued only after a party has obtained a final judgment. Mid-State Distributors, Inc. v.

362 S.C. 195
Century Importers, Inc., 310 S.C. 330, 335, 426 S.E.2d 777, 781 (1993); S.C.Code Ann. § 14-3-330(1) (1976); Rule 72, SCRCP; Rule 201(a), SCACR

The determination of whether a party may immediately appeal an order issued before or during trial is governed primarily by S.C.Code Ann. § 14-3-330 (1976 & Supp.2003). An order generally must fall into one of several categories set forth in that statute in order to be immediately appealable. Baldwin Constr. Co. v. Graham, 357 S.C. 227, 593 S.E.2d 146 (2004); Woodard v. Westvaco Corp., 319 S.C. 240, 242, 460 S.E.2d 392, 393 (1995), overruled on other grounds, Sabb v. S.C. State Univ., 350 S.C. 416, 567 S.E.2d 231 (2002); Mid-State Distributors, 310 S.C. at 333 n. 3, 426 S.E.2d at 780 n. 3.

Petitioner argues the order in his case is immediately appealable under S.C.Code Ann. § 14-3-330(2) (1976) because it affects a substantial right, namely, the right to proceed with a lawyer of his choosing. Petitioner relies on foreign authority to argue the right would likely be lost if not immediately appealed. If a new trial were ordered after an appeal in the distant future, the preferred attorney may not be available or a litigant may not be able to afford the attorney for a second trial. Further, a litigant would find it difficult or impossible to show prejudice resulting from the disqualification order in a later appeal.

Respondent argues the order does not affect a substantial right as the term is defined in Section 14-3-330(2). If the trial court erred in disqualifying Petitioner's attorney, Petitioner may protect his rights by challenging the errors in an appeal following a final judgment.

An order affects a substantial right and is immediately appealable when it "(a) in effect determines the action and prevents a judgment from which an appeal might be taken or discontinues the action, (b) grants or refuses a new trial or (c) strikes out an answer or any part thereof or any pleading in any action[.]" Section 14-3-330(2). An order which does not finally end a case or prevent a final judgment from which a party may seek appellate review usually is considered an interlocutory order from which no immediate appeal is allowed. Tatnall v. Gardner, 350 S.C. 135, 138, 564 S.E.2d 377, 379 (Ct.App.2002).

362 S.C. 196
The provisions of Section 14-3-330, including subsection (2), have been narrowly construed and immediate appeal of various orders issued before or during trial generally has not been allowed. Piecemeal appeals should be avoided and most errors can be corrected by the remedy of a new trial. See e.g. Breland v. Love Chevrolet Olds, Inc., 339 S.C. 89, 93, 529 S.E.2d 11, 13 (2000) (order denying motion for change of venue is not immediately appealable because any error in the order can be corrected by new trial); Senter v. Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., 341 S.C. 74, 77-78, 533 S.E.2d 575, 577 (2000) (order denying bifurcation of trial on issues of liability and damages in personal injury case is not immediately appealable as affecting a substantial right); Townsend v. Townsend, 323 S.C. 309, 312, 474 S.E.2d 424, 427 (1996) (denial of motions for disqualification of a judge and for a continuance are interlocutory orders not affecting the merits, and thus are reviewable only on appeal from a final order); Collins v. Sigmon, 299 S.C. 464, 466, 385 S.E.2d 835, 836 (1989) (order allowing amendment of a pleading generally is not immediately appealable); Ex parte Whetstone, 289 S.C. 580, 347 S.E.2d 881 (1986) (order directing a party or a non-party to submit to discovery is not immediately appealable; instead, the party or non-party must be held in contempt...

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67 practice notes
  • Ex Parte Capital U-Drive-It, Inc., No. 26147.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 8, 2006
    ...order must fall into one of several categories set forth in Section 14-3-330 in order to be immediately appealable. Hagood v. Sommerville, 362 S.C. 191, 195, 607 S.E.2d 707, 708 (2005); Baldwin Constr. Co. v. Graham, 357 S.C. 227, 593 S.E.2d 146 (2004); Woodard v. Westvaco Corp., 319 S.C. 2......
  • Wieters v. Bon-Secours-St. Francis, No. 4374.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 23, 2008
    ...to disqualify a party's attorney in a civil case affects a substantial right and may be immediately appealed. Hagood v. Sommerville, 362 S.C. 191, 607 S.E.2d 707 (2005). Such an order must be immediately appealed or any later objection in a subsequent appeal will be waived. Id. The order to......
  • Dove Data Products, Inc. v. DeVeaux, Opinion No. 2008-UP-202 (S.C. App. 3/24/2008), Opinion No. 2008-UP-202.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 24, 2008
    ...address whether the information provided to DeVeaux by Dove Data constitutes a "trade secret" under the Act. See Hagood v. Sommerville, 362 S.C. 191, 199, 607 S.E.2d 707, 711 (2005) (stating the appellate court need not address additional issues when resolution of prior issue is Dove Data a......
  • Dove Data Prods. v. DeVeaux, 2008-UP-202
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 24, 2008
    ...not address whether the information provided to DeVeaux by Dove Data constitutes a trade secret” under the Act. See Hagood v. Sommerville, 362 S.C. 191, 199, 607 S.E.2d 707, 711 (2005) (stating the appellate court need not address additional issues when resolution of prior issue is disposit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
67 cases
  • Ex Parte Capital U-Drive-It, Inc., No. 26147.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 8, 2006
    ...order must fall into one of several categories set forth in Section 14-3-330 in order to be immediately appealable. Hagood v. Sommerville, 362 S.C. 191, 195, 607 S.E.2d 707, 708 (2005); Baldwin Constr. Co. v. Graham, 357 S.C. 227, 593 S.E.2d 146 (2004); Woodard v. Westvaco Corp., 319 S.C. 2......
  • Wieters v. Bon-Secours-St. Francis, No. 4374.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 23, 2008
    ...to disqualify a party's attorney in a civil case affects a substantial right and may be immediately appealed. Hagood v. Sommerville, 362 S.C. 191, 607 S.E.2d 707 (2005). Such an order must be immediately appealed or any later objection in a subsequent appeal will be waived. Id. The order to......
  • Dove Data Products, Inc. v. DeVeaux, Opinion No. 2008-UP-202 (S.C. App. 3/24/2008), Opinion No. 2008-UP-202.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 24, 2008
    ...address whether the information provided to DeVeaux by Dove Data constitutes a "trade secret" under the Act. See Hagood v. Sommerville, 362 S.C. 191, 199, 607 S.E.2d 707, 711 (2005) (stating the appellate court need not address additional issues when resolution of prior issue is Dove Data a......
  • Dove Data Prods. v. DeVeaux, 2008-UP-202
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 24, 2008
    ...not address whether the information provided to DeVeaux by Dove Data constitutes a trade secret” under the Act. See Hagood v. Sommerville, 362 S.C. 191, 199, 607 S.E.2d 707, 711 (2005) (stating the appellate court need not address additional issues when resolution of prior issue is disposit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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