Johnson v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., No. 2288

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; HOWELL, C.J., CONNOR, J., and HOWARD
Citation317 S.C. 415,453 S.E.2d 908
PartiesDuke K. JOHNSON and Joan M. Johnson, Richard H. and Dana Benson Brant, Joel M. and Deborah B. Brockman, Ray Collins, George F. and Connie S. Crane, Thomas J. and Kathryn D. Cunningham, Margaret S. Davenport, Tracy Woodrow, Jr. and Loyce V. Dees, William J. and Sara T. Dunn, Edgar N. and Frances Patricia Elliott, Vivian Gamble, Louis F. and Patricia F. Gantt, Lawrence L. and Princess A. Gentry, Danny B. and Marilyn M. Grey, Thomas G. and Shirley B. Hickman, Jacob P. and Shelby H. Jumper, Randy E. and Jackie B. Lollis, Vickie Lynn Lucas (Benson), David B. and Margaret E. McCanless, Doris O. McClain, William T. McDowell, Jr., Barry M. and Wynndy McKinney, Lloyd A. Merritt, Mildred R. Mitchell (Gossett), Arthur M. and Penelope K. Pace, Lee Samuel Pate, III, Richard J. and Alice E. Ponce, William L. Powell, Robert L. and Terrye E. Raines, Steve and Hilda C. Richard, Carlton R. and Barbara B. Riddle, William C. Robertson, William D. and Mary Ethel L. Singleton, James G. and June W. Thompson, Robert J. and Aloha W. Vance, Danny H. and Pamela J. Waters, and James E. and Janice L. Wright, Respondents, OF WHOM Clyde J. Atwood and Bernice J. Atwood, L.J. Solesbee and Betty S. Solesbee, Larry L. Stewart and Linda B. Stewart are Appellants, v. HOECHST CELANESE CORPORATION, and Daniel International Corporation, d/b/a Daniel Construction Company, OF WHOM Hoechst Celanese Corporation is Respondent. . Heard
Docket NumberNo. 2288
Decision Date07 December 1994

Page 908

453 S.E.2d 908
317 S.C. 415
Duke K. JOHNSON and Joan M. Johnson, Richard H. and Dana
Benson Brant, Joel M. and Deborah B. Brockman, Ray Collins,
George F. and Connie S. Crane, Thomas J. and Kathryn D.
Cunningham, Margaret S. Davenport, Tracy Woodrow, Jr. and
Loyce V. Dees, William J. and Sara T. Dunn, Edgar N. and
Frances Patricia Elliott, Vivian Gamble, Louis F. and
Patricia F. Gantt, Lawrence L. and Princess A. Gentry, Danny
B. and Marilyn M. Grey, Thomas G. and Shirley B. Hickman,
Jacob P. and Shelby H. Jumper, Randy E. and Jackie B.
Lollis, Vickie Lynn Lucas (Benson), David B. and Margaret E.
McCanless, Doris O. McClain, William T. McDowell, Jr., Barry
M. and Wynndy McKinney, Lloyd A. Merritt, Mildred R.
Mitchell (Gossett), Arthur M. and Penelope K. Pace, Lee
Samuel Pate, III, Richard J. and Alice E. Ponce, William L.
Powell, Robert L. and Terrye E. Raines, Steve and Hilda C.
Richard, Carlton R. and Barbara B. Riddle, William C.
Robertson, William D. and Mary Ethel L. Singleton, James G.
and June W. Thompson, Robert J. and Aloha W. Vance, Danny H.
and Pamela J. Waters, and James E. and Janice L. Wright, Respondents,
OF WHOM Clyde J. Atwood and Bernice J. Atwood, L.J. Solesbee
and Betty S. Solesbee, Larry L. Stewart and Linda
B. Stewart are Appellants,
v.
HOECHST CELANESE CORPORATION, and Daniel International
Corporation, d/b/a Daniel Construction Company,
OF WHOM Hoechst Celanese Corporation is Respondent.
No. 2288.
Court of Appeals of South Carolina.
Heard Dec. 7, 1994.
Decided Jan. 9, 1995.

Page 910

[317 S.C. 417] William A. Jordan and Cecil H. Nelson, Jr., of Nelson & Jordan; J. Kendall Few and John C. Few, of Few & Few, Greenville, for appellants.

[317 S.C. 418] L. Gray Geddie, Jr., and Ronald E. Cardwell, of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, Greenville, for respondent.

PER CURIAM:

The plaintiffs in this tort action asserted claims of nuisance, trespass, negligence, and strict liability for the alleged contamination of their properties located in the Pineforest Subdivision of Greenville County. The plaintiffs alleged Hoechst Celanese Corporation dumped chemicals on land located on Hoechst Celanese property, and the chemicals migrated off the property through the air, ground, and surface water, contaminating their land.

I.

Eighty-eight cases were consolidated for trial with the liability and damage issues bifurcated. A central issue in the case involved the geographical location of the property of each plaintiff in relation to contaminated water or land, and/or their inclusion in or exclusion from "plumes" of alleged ground water contamination. These "plumes," detailed on diagrams prepared by experts who testified in the case, purported to show the migration of toxicity over time.

Very able counsel tried this complex litigation for three weeks. Numerous experts testified, using diagrams and subdivision plats or drawings for illustration. The plaintiffs' exhibits, alone, numbered in excess of 92. Though the cases were consolidated, there was no agreement among the parties that each plaintiff fit into a particular liability or damage category, so as to require extrapolation of verdict to individual plaintiffs based upon a representative plaintiff in that category.

The categories were five in number. One category included those properties which the defendant claimed would be the only ones within a "plume." Another category consists of those properties that would not be affected. Plaintiffs' experts grouped the third and fourth categories as those properties that would be affected by the years 1995 and 2020, respectively. Finally, during the trial, plaintiffs' counsel argued a fifth category consisting of two plaintiffs, the Brockmans and [317 S.C. 419] Cunninghams, because they live on or in close proximity to a creek which traverses the subdivision. These plaintiffs would have been within the 2020 plume of ground water contamination, but they claimed their properties were presently affected by the creek. For example, the record contains Mrs. Brockman's testimony that the creek flooded onto her property, the property behind her, and across the street during heavy rains (the Cunninghams live diagonally across the stream behind the Brockman property).

As the liability portion of the trial neared conclusion, the trial judge advised counsel he intended to give the jury a color coded map as a court exhibit which depicted the location of each plaintiff using the classifications argued by the parties. The court instructed the parties to prepare such an exhibit and corresponding verdict form. The exhibit as used by the court consisted of a blown up copy of a tax map of the subdivision, with a

Page 911

clear plastic overlay. Different colored dots were then stuck onto the overlay to delineate the five categories of property. The court's exhibit and verdict form were reviewed by the parties...

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14 practice notes
  • Vinson v. Hartley, No. 2572
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 14, 1996
    ...and reflects the jury's confusion. Johnson v. Parker, 279 S.C. 132, 303 S.E.2d 95 (1983). See also Johnson v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., 317 S.C. 415, 453 S.E.2d 908 (Ct.App.1995) (under "thirteenth Page 723 juror doctrine," trial court may grant new trial if judge believes verdict is unsuppor......
  • Henson v. International Paper Co., No. 3745.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 17, 2004
    ...jury instruction in regard to contributory negligence, the issue was not preserved for appeal). 3. See Johnson v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., 317 S.C. 415, 421, 453 S.E.2d 908, 912 (Ct.App.1995) (holding that by failing to object to a verdict form until after a liability verdict had been reache......
  • Howard v. Roberson, No. 4326.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 20, 2007
    ...and reflects the jury's confusion. Johnson v. Parker, 279 S.C. 132, 303 S.E.2d 95 (1983). See also Johnson v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., 317 S.C. 415, 453 S.E.2d 908 (Ct.App.1995) (under "thirteenth juror doctrine," trial court may grant new trial if judge believes verdict is unsupported by ev......
  • Youmans v. Dept. of Transp., No. 4437.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 24, 2008
    ...and reflects the jury's confusion. Johnson v. Parker, 279 S.C. 132, 303 S.E.2d 95 (1983). See also Johnson v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., 317 S.C. 415, 453 S.E.2d 908 (Ct.App.1995) (under "thirteenth juror doctrine," trial court may grant new trial if judge believes verdict is unsupported by ev......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • Vinson v. Hartley, No. 2572
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • October 14, 1996
    ...and reflects the jury's confusion. Johnson v. Parker, 279 S.C. 132, 303 S.E.2d 95 (1983). See also Johnson v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., 317 S.C. 415, 453 S.E.2d 908 (Ct.App.1995) (under "thirteenth Page 723 juror doctrine," trial court may grant new trial if judge believes verdict is unsuppor......
  • Henson v. International Paper Co., No. 3745.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 17, 2004
    ...jury instruction in regard to contributory negligence, the issue was not preserved for appeal). 3. See Johnson v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., 317 S.C. 415, 421, 453 S.E.2d 908, 912 (Ct.App.1995) (holding that by failing to object to a verdict form until after a liability verdict had been reache......
  • Howard v. Roberson, No. 4326.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 20, 2007
    ...and reflects the jury's confusion. Johnson v. Parker, 279 S.C. 132, 303 S.E.2d 95 (1983). See also Johnson v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., 317 S.C. 415, 453 S.E.2d 908 (Ct.App.1995) (under "thirteenth juror doctrine," trial court may grant new trial if judge believes verdict is unsupported by ev......
  • Youmans v. Dept. of Transp., No. 4437.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 24, 2008
    ...and reflects the jury's confusion. Johnson v. Parker, 279 S.C. 132, 303 S.E.2d 95 (1983). See also Johnson v. Hoechst Celanese Corp., 317 S.C. 415, 453 S.E.2d 908 (Ct.App.1995) (under "thirteenth juror doctrine," trial court may grant new trial if judge believes verdict is unsupported by ev......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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