Nettles v. Macmillan Petroleum Corp., No. 15929.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtFISHBURNE, Justice
Citation42 S.E.2d 57
PartiesNETTLES. v. MacMILLAN PETROLEUM CORPORATION.
Docket NumberNo. 15929.
Decision Date28 March 1947

42 S.E.2d 57

NETTLES.
v.
MacMILLAN PETROLEUM CORPORATION.

No. 15929.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

March 28, 1947.


[42 S.E.2d 57]

Appeal from Common Pleas Circuit Court of Richland County; Legare Bates, Judge.

Action for slander by L. D. Nettles against MacMillan Petroleum Corporation. From a judgment of nonsuit plaintiff appeals.

Reversed for a new trial.

See also 208 S.C. 81, 37 S.E.2d 134.

Nelson, Mullins & Grier, of Columbia, for appellant.

William P. Donelan and Fred D. Townsend, both of Columbia, for respondent.

FISHBURNE, Justice.

The action is for slander. Upon trial, at the close of the testimony offered by the plaintiff, the defendant moved for judgment of non-suit on the ground that the words proved to have been spoken were not actionable per se, and that inasmuch as the plaintiff offered no evidence to show the meaning of such words as interpreted by any person present who may have heard them, there was not sufficient evidence to go to the jury on the question of slander. This motion was granted, and from this ruling the plaintiff appeals.

The substance of the allegations of the complaint and the proof offered to support them is that the defendant falsely and maliciously accused the plaintiff of having committed an embezzlement of the property and funds of his employer, a Mr. George, amounting to larceny.

Appellant, who was the only witness in his behalf, testified that a representative of the respondent, MacMillan Petroleum Corporation, came to Columbia and arranged with Mr. George to sell its products in Richland County as a distributor. That plaintiff, as an employee of George, was given complete charge of the sale of these products, and would travel from point to point in furthering their sale. He had full control of credits and collections, and with

[42 S.E.2d 58]

reference to such matters was authorized to exercise his own judgment. That in the discharge of his duties he borrowed and used from time to time some of the money collected by him, with the knowledge and consent of George, and that "every Monday morning they would check up and he would tell Mr. George just exactly what to charge to him and what not to, and what accounts were all right to let them alone, not to bother them because he wanted to make a success of this thing."

Sometime in July, 1939, the respondent sent its representative, Mr. Eichelberger, to Columbia to fully explain the use of its products and to promote the sales thereof; and to this end, travel around with appellant to interview prospective customers and check up on the business done. Later, a second visit was made by Mr. Eichelberger, accompanied by Mr. Deitrich, another representative of respondent, which furnished the setting for this action.

The words alleged to have been slanderous were uttered in the place of business of Mr. George after Mr. Deitrich had inspected appellant's accounts showing various sales of respondent's products and the collections made thereon. In looking over a sales account Mr. Deitrich said:

"'What about this account here?' I said, 'It is all right. It is charged up to me. That is good.' And he went through a bunch of them and he never said anything about any credits or anything. It went to about a little over $125 and he said, 'Do you owe this money?' I said, 'I don't know that this is any of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 practice notes
  • Holtzscheiter v. Thomson Newspapers, Inc., No. 24842.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 22, 1998
    ...her education" was defamatory per quod or defamatory per se is unclear. Citing Nettles v. MacMillan Petroleum Corp., 210 S.C. 200, 42 S.E.2d 57 (1947), the majority held that because the words used were ambiguous, respondent could introduce evidence of how the phrase was understood. Th......
  • Holtzscheiter v. Thomson Newspapers, Inc., No. 23536
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • January 23, 1990
    ...was irrelevant and inadmissible" does not accord with this Court's holding in Nettles v. MacMillan Petroleum Corp., 210 S.C. 200, 42 S.E.2d 57 [306 S.C. 303] The general rule is that the testimony of readers or hearers in actions for libel or slander, as to what they understood the all......
  • Sandifer v. Electrolux Corporation, No. 5820.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • February 11, 1949
    ...commission of a crime — it is for the jury to decide in what sense it was used. Nettles v. MacMillan Petroleum Corporation, 210 S.C. 200, 42 S.E.2d 57; Tucker v. Pure Oil Co. of the Carolinas, 191 S.C. 60, 3 S.E.2d 547; Campbell v. Life & Casualty Ins. Co., 155 S.C. 63, 152 S.E. 18; Dav......
  • Flowers v. ZAYRE CORPORATION, Civ. A. No. 66-426.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • May 9, 1968
    ...slanderous words used must be given their ordinary popular meaning" (Nettles v. MacMillan Petroleum Corp. (1947), 210 S.C. 200, 205, 42 S.E.2d 57, 59; Sandifer v. Electrolux Corporation (C.A.4, 1949) 172 F.2d 548, 550). Applying such principles, the language charged was, in my opinion,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Holtzscheiter v. Thomson Newspapers, Inc., No. 24842.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 22, 1998
    ...her education" was defamatory per quod or defamatory per se is unclear. Citing Nettles v. MacMillan Petroleum Corp., 210 S.C. 200, 42 S.E.2d 57 (1947), the majority held that because the words used were ambiguous, respondent could introduce evidence of how the phrase was understood. Th......
  • Holtzscheiter v. Thomson Newspapers, Inc., No. 23536
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • January 23, 1990
    ...was irrelevant and inadmissible" does not accord with this Court's holding in Nettles v. MacMillan Petroleum Corp., 210 S.C. 200, 42 S.E.2d 57 [306 S.C. 303] The general rule is that the testimony of readers or hearers in actions for libel or slander, as to what they understood the all......
  • Sandifer v. Electrolux Corporation, No. 5820.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • February 11, 1949
    ...commission of a crime — it is for the jury to decide in what sense it was used. Nettles v. MacMillan Petroleum Corporation, 210 S.C. 200, 42 S.E.2d 57; Tucker v. Pure Oil Co. of the Carolinas, 191 S.C. 60, 3 S.E.2d 547; Campbell v. Life & Casualty Ins. Co., 155 S.C. 63, 152 S.E. 18; Dav......
  • Flowers v. ZAYRE CORPORATION, Civ. A. No. 66-426.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • May 9, 1968
    ...slanderous words used must be given their ordinary popular meaning" (Nettles v. MacMillan Petroleum Corp. (1947), 210 S.C. 200, 205, 42 S.E.2d 57, 59; Sandifer v. Electrolux Corporation (C.A.4, 1949) 172 F.2d 548, 550). Applying such principles, the language charged was, in my opinion,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT