Jackson v. South Carolina Dept. of Corrections, 1431

Decision Date15 November 1989
Docket NumberNo. 1431,1431
Citation301 S.C. 125,390 S.E.2d 467
PartiesStroman W. JACKSON, Jr., as Administrator of the Estate of Stroman W. Jackson, Sr., deceased, Appellant, v. The SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent. . Heard
CourtSouth Carolina Court of Appeals

Thomas K. Fowler, Jr., Columbia, for appellant.

Charles E. Carpenter, Jr., and George C. Beighley, Columbia, for respondent.


This is an action for wrongful death and survival under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act. 1 The administrator of the estate of Stroman W. Jackson brought suit against the South Carolina Department of Corrections after Jackson, an inmate, was killed by another inmate while incarcerated at Kirkland Correctional Institution. The jury found for Jackson on both causes of action. The Department moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, which the trial court granted. Jackson appeals. We reverse and remand.

Jackson, an 88 year old inmate, was stabbed and killed by Wilson Atkinson, also an inmate, while the two were incarcerated at Kirkland. Atkinson, who has been diagnosed as schizophrenic and sociopathic, has a long history of violent behavior. This history includes attacks on inmates and correctional officers and the killing of another inmate. Prior to Atkinson's transfer to the general population at Kirkland in October, 1984, he had been incarcerated in the maximum security facility at the Central Correctional Institution (C.C.I.). On November 5, 1984, Atkinson killed Jackson.

Section 15-78-60(25) of the Tort Claims Act states:

The governmental entity is not liable for a loss resulting from responsibility or duty including but not limited to supervision, protection, control, confinement, or custody of any ..., inmate, ..., except when the responsibility or duty is exercised in a grossly negligent manner.

Therefore if the Department was grossly negligent in its duty to control, confine, or maintain custody of Atkinson and this negligence proximately caused Jackson's death, its immunity from liability under the Act is waived.

A defendant is guilty of gross negligence if he is so indifferent to the consequences of his conduct as not to give slight care to what he is doing. Anderson v. Ballenger, 166 S.C. 44, 164 S.E. 313 (1932). Gross negligence involves a conscious failure to exercise due care. Id.

In deciding a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the evidence and all reasonable inferences which are to be drawn from it must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Melton v. Williams, 281 S.C. 182, 314 S.E.2d 612 (Ct.App.1984). If there is any evidence which could support the jury's finding of gross negligence against the Department, then the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict should have been denied.

The following evidence regarding Atkinson was presented to the jury. In October of 1978, Atkinson was described by a Department psychological evaluation as having strong psychopathic patterns, being unpredictable, and being prone to violent outbursts. The evaluation recommended against placement at Kirkland. In February of 1979, Departmental records indicated...

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19 cases
  • Staubes v. City of Folly Beach
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • April 27, 1998
    ...as not to give slight care to what he is doing, he is guilty of gross negligence. Grooms, supra; Jackson v. South Carolina Dep't of Corrections, 301 S.C. 125, 390 S.E.2d 467 (Ct.App.1989), aff'd 302 S.C. 519, 397 S.E.2d 377 (1990). Gross negligence involves a conscious failure to exercise d......
  • Proctor v. Dept. of Health
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • March 20, 2006
    ...against DHEC, then the motions for directed verdict, JNOV, and new trial were properly denied. Cf. Jackson v. S.C. Dept. of Corrections, 301 S.C. 125, 127, 390 S.E.2d 467, 468 (Ct.App. 1989), aff'd, 302 S.C. 519, 397 S.E.2d 377 2. DHEC's Gross Negligence At trial, Proctor proceeded on the t......
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • September 7, 1999
    ...on other grounds, April 8, 1999. The principles expressed in Duncan and Etheredge are drawn from Jackson v. South Carolina Dep't of Corrections, 301 S.C. 125, 390 S.E.2d 467 (Ct.App. 1989),aff'd,302 S.C. 519, 397 S.E.2d 377 (1990). While provisions establishing limitations upon and exemptio......
  • Doe ex rel. Johnson v. South Carolina, Soc. Serv.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • March 5, 2010
    ...in a grossly negligent manner, the exception to the normal rule of immunity applies." Jackson v. South Carolina Dep't of Corr., 301 S.C. 125, 390 S.E.2d 467, 469 (Ct.App. 1989) (per curiam). It is unclear whether the Johnsons made this precise argument below, and the district court order do......
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