Helms Realty, Inc. v. Gibson-Wall Co., No. 25947.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtPleicones
Citation363 S.C. 334,611 S.E.2d 485
Docket NumberNo. 25947.
Decision Date22 February 2005
PartiesHELMS REALTY, INC., Appellant, v. GIBSON-WALL COMPANY, a South Carolina Partnership, and Canal Industries, Inc., Defendants, Of Which Gibson-Wall Company, a South Carolina Partnership, is Respondent.

Page 485

611 S.E.2d 485
363 S.C. 334
HELMS REALTY, INC., Appellant,
v.
GIBSON-WALL COMPANY, a South Carolina Partnership, and Canal Industries, Inc., Defendants,
Of Which Gibson-Wall Company, a South Carolina Partnership, is Respondent.
No. 25947.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard February 1, 2005.
Decided February 22, 2005.

Page 486

J. Matthew Dove, of Dove Law Firm, of Murrells Inlet, for Appellant.

William Jerad Rissler and J. Christopher Clark, both of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, of Myrtle Beach, for Respondent.

Justice PLEICONES:


This is a breach-of-contract case. Appellant Helms Realty, Inc. (Appellant) appeals from a jury verdict in favor of Respondent Gibson-Wall Company (Respondent). We certified the case pursuant to Rule 204(b), SCACR. We affirm.

FACTS

Appellant and Respondent orally executed a listing agreement (the Listing Agreement) pursuant to which Appellant was to find a buyer of certain property owned by Respondent. Respondent claims that an express term of the Listing Agreement was that closing of a sale was a condition precedent to Respondent's obligation to pay a commission to Appellant. Appellant claims that the agreement contained no express term concerning what triggered the right to a commission.

Eventually, Appellant found a potential buyer (the Buyer). Respondent and the Buyer fully negotiated and executed a written contract for the sale and purchase of the property (the Sales Contract). The Sales Contract contained a condition precedent to the Buyer's obligation to close on the property. The Sales Contract also contained a term that the contract would expire if the condition remained unsatisfied on a certain date.

At trial, Respondent argued that through no fault of its own, the condition was never satisfied and that the Sales Contract had expired. According to Respondent, Appellant earned no commission because the Sales Contract never closed.

Appellant countered that it earned its commission when Respondent and the Buyer executed the Sales Contract, regardless whether they closed.

The jury found for Respondent.

ISSUES

I. Whether the circuit court erred by denying Appellant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV).

II. Whether the circuit court erred in charging the jury.

III. Whether the circuit court erred by granting Respondent's motion for summary judgment on Appellant's third-party-beneficiary claim.

ANALYSIS
I. APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR JNOV

Appellant argues that the circuit court erred by denying Appellant's motion for JNOV. We disagree.

Page 487

A trial court should grant JNOV when the evidence is insufficient to support the verdict. Jinks v. Richland County, 355 S.C. 341, 345, 585 S.E.2d 281, 283 (2003). "In ruling on motions for directed verdict and JNOV, the trial court is required to view the evidence and the inferences that reasonably can be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motions and to deny the motions where either the evidence yields more than one inference or its inference is in doubt." Id. (quoting Strange v. S.C. Dept. of Hwys. and Pub. Transp., 314 S.C. 427, 429-30, 445 S.E.2d 439, 440 (1994)).

Appellant argues that it earned its commission as a matter of law when Respondent and the Buyer executed the Sales Contract, even though the Buyer's performance was conditional. Appellant's interpretation of the law is incorrect.

In executing a listing agreement, a seller and a real-estate broker may agree to any condition precedent to the seller's obligation to pay a commission. Thomas-McCain, Inc. v. Siter, 268 S.C. 193, 196-97, 232 S.E.2d 728, 729 (1977); Hamrick v. Cooper River Lumber Co., 223 S.C. 119, 124, 74 S.E.2d 575, 577 (1953). If the listing agreement is silent as to what triggers the broker's right to a commission, then the common law fills the gap. The default term is that the broker is entitled to a commission when it procures a sales contract that is both valid and enforceable by the seller, regardless whether the contract actually closes. Dantzler Real Estate, Inc. v. Boland, 276 S.C. 275, 277-78, 277 S.E.2d 705, 706 (1981); Cass Co. v. Nannarello, 274 S.C. 326, 328, 262 S.E.2d 924, 926 (1980); Thomas-McCain, Inc., 268 S.C. at 196, 232 S.E.2d at 729; Hamrick, 223 S.C. at...

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114 practice notes
  • Miller v. Blumenthal Mills, Inc., No. 4013.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 5, 2005
    ...fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(c), SCRCP; Helms Realty, Inc. v. Gibson-Wall Co., 363 S.C. 334, 611 S.E.2d 485 (2005); BPS, Inc. v. Worthy, 362 S.C. 319, 608 S.E.2d 155 (Ct.App.2005). On appeal from an order granting summary judgment, the a......
  • Hooper v. Ebenezer Senior Services, No. 4350.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 10, 2008
    ...reasonable inferences therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Helms Realty, Inc. v. Gibson-Wall Co., 363 S.C. 334, 611 S.E.2d 485 (2005); Medical Univ. of S.C. v. Arnaud, 360 S.C. 615, 602 S.E.2d 747 (2004); Hackworth v. Greenville County, 371 S.C. 99, ......
  • Moore v. Weinberg, No. 4209.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 20, 2007
    ...fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(c), SCRCP; Helms Realty, Inc. v. Gibson-Wall Co., 363 S.C. 334, 611 S.E.2d 485 (2005); BPS, Inc. v. Worthy, 362 S.C. 319, 608 S.E.2d 155 (Ct. App.2005). On appeal from an order granting 644 S.E.2d 744 summary......
  • Singleton v. Sherer, No. 4346.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 25, 2008
    ...56(c), SCRCP; Hansson v. Scalise Builders of South Carolina, 374 S.C. 352, 650 S.E.2d 68 (2007); Helms Realty, Inc. v. Gibson-Wall Co., 363 S.C. 334, 611 S.E.2d 485 (2005); BPS, Inc. v. Worthy, 362 S.C. 319, 608 S.E.2d 155 (Ct.App.2005). On appeal from an order granting summary judgment, th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
115 cases
  • Miller v. Blumenthal Mills, Inc., No. 4013.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 5, 2005
    ...fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(c), SCRCP; Helms Realty, Inc. v. Gibson-Wall Co., 363 S.C. 334, 611 S.E.2d 485 (2005); BPS, Inc. v. Worthy, 362 S.C. 319, 608 S.E.2d 155 (Ct.App.2005). On appeal from an order granting summary judgment, the a......
  • Hooper v. Ebenezer Senior Services, No. 4350.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • March 10, 2008
    ...reasonable inferences therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Helms Realty, Inc. v. Gibson-Wall Co., 363 S.C. 334, 611 S.E.2d 485 (2005); Medical Univ. of S.C. v. Arnaud, 360 S.C. 615, 602 S.E.2d 747 (2004); Hackworth v. Greenville County, 371 S.C. 99, ......
  • Moore v. Weinberg, No. 4209.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 20, 2007
    ...fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(c), SCRCP; Helms Realty, Inc. v. Gibson-Wall Co., 363 S.C. 334, 611 S.E.2d 485 (2005); BPS, Inc. v. Worthy, 362 S.C. 319, 608 S.E.2d 155 (Ct. App.2005). On appeal from an order granting 644 S.E.2d 744 summary......
  • Singleton v. Sherer, No. 4346.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 25, 2008
    ...56(c), SCRCP; Hansson v. Scalise Builders of South Carolina, 374 S.C. 352, 650 S.E.2d 68 (2007); Helms Realty, Inc. v. Gibson-Wall Co., 363 S.C. 334, 611 S.E.2d 485 (2005); BPS, Inc. v. Worthy, 362 S.C. 319, 608 S.E.2d 155 (Ct.App.2005). On appeal from an order granting summary judgment, th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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