Parker v. Shecut

Decision Date22 May 2000
Docket NumberNo. 3167.,3167.
Citation531 S.E.2d 546,340 S.C. 460
PartiesAnne S. PARKER, Appellant, v. Winfield W. SHECUT and Marion A. Shecut, III, Respondents.
CourtSouth Carolina Court of Appeals

William O. Pressley, Jr., of Perrin, Perrin, Mann & Patterson, of Spartanburg, for appellant.

A.F. Carter, III, of Carter Law Firm, of Orangeburg; and Robert A. McKenzie and Gary H. Johnson, II, both of Mc-Donald, McKenzie, Rubin, Miller & Lybrand, of Columbia, for respondents.


Anne Shecut Parker sued her brothers, Winfield W. Shecut (Win) and Marion A. Shecut, III (Bo), to partition their mother's estate in accordance with her will rather than a private agreement (Agreement) executed by the siblings after her death. Anne also sought an accounting of estate income. Bo and Win counterclaimed for breach of the Agreement and sought its specific performance along with damages associated with the breach. In bifurcated proceedings, the Master-In-Equity found the Agreement valid and ordered its specific performance as well as awarding damages to Bo and Win. The master also partitioned most of the property which the Agreement conveyed to Anne and Bo jointly. Anne appeals. We affirm in part, reverse in part and remand in part.


Mary Shecut (Mrs. Shecut) died testate on October 30, 1992, leaving a taxable estate of $1,272,280 in equal shares to Win, Bo, and Anne. The bulk of the estate consisted of agricultural and commercial property in Orangeburg County and a beach house on Edisto Island. Mrs. Shecut's will nominated Win and Bo to serve as co-executors of her estate.

Several days after their mother's death, Win and Bo collected her personal property from several lock-boxes which she maintained at different banks. The three siblings divided the contents of the lock-boxes and other personal property among themselves. Anne maintains the siblings planned to have their respective portions appraised to ensure equal distribution. Any difference in value would be evened out with the contents of additional lock-boxes. Win and Bo claim the division was final and denied the existence of additional lock-boxes. Anne's portion included a coin collection which she sold for $11,677, as well as jewelry and sterling silver flatware which she sold for an estimated $7,000 to $9,000. Win did not have his portion appraised, but estimated it was worth between $2,000 and $4,000. The record does not contain a valuation of Bo's portion.

Anne also received other personal property from the estate including a Cadillac which she sold for $1,400 and furniture from her mother's house which Win stored for safekeeping until Anne could take the furniture to her home in Atlanta. The furniture remained in storage for more than three years until Win transferred the furniture to a barn on his farm.

Several months after their mother's death, the parties began arguing over the distribution of the estate. The first point of contention concerned a house and two acres of land known as Bo's residence. In 1978, Mrs. Shecut transferred the two acre lot to Bo and he built the house on it. Bo later reconveyed the house and lot to his mother because he was having drug and marital problems. Bo continued living in the house and treating it as his own after the reconveyance. Win thought the house should be included in the estate, but Anne and Bo thought it should be excluded.

The other major point of contention between the parties involved the distribution of specific estate assets. Win, a farmer, sought certain farmland and agricultural equipment from the estate which he had used in his farming operations prior to his mother's death. He also wanted his share of the estate severed from that of Anne's and Bo's to distance himself from the various disputes raging between the parties. Anne and Bo were both interested in the estate's commercial property and the beach house. The three siblings agreed that Win would receive the property he sought while Anne and Bo would jointly receive the remainder of the estate. To manage their joint properties and the income they produced, Anne and Bo formed a parol partnership called Shecut Investments.1 The parties instructed the estate's attorney, Carole H. Gunter, to prepare an Agreement which effectuated their desires. The parties executed the Agreement on April 6, 1993. Win received a house in Orangeburg, several tracts of farmland, and a portion of a tract of farmland known as the Cope property. Win's portion of the Cope property was delineated by an orange line drawn on an aerial photograph. The photograph was attached to the Agreement. Anne and Bo jointly received the remaining farmland, commercial property, a lot in Live Oak subdivision, a mortgage on 11.87 acres owned by Calhoun Construction Company, and the beach house. Bo also received sole ownership of his residence and its appurtenant two acres, but he was required to reimburse his siblings for any estate taxes generated by his residence. Any estate assets not covered by the Agreement were to be distributed equally among the parties after the estate's expenses and taxes were paid. Additionally, Win and Bo were to receive $7,500 each for serving as personal representatives.

After the Agreement was executed, each party treated his or her allotted property and any associated income as their own and continued to do so until Anne filed this action in August, 1995. Win farmed and operated property he received to the exclusion of Anne and Bo. Likewise, Anne and Bo managed their properties through Shecut Investments to Win's exclusion. Trouble arose shortly after the Agreement was executed when Win realized three pieces of farming equipment, which he believed the parties had agreed to allot to him, were omitted from the Agreement. Win raised the omission with his siblings and became angry at their failure to quickly remedy it. Anne claimed Win threatened to repudiate the Agreement unless he was given the equipment and an additional $20,000. Win denied the allegation.

In a letter to Win dated June 20, 1993, Anne acknowledged she and Bo had agreed to allot the omitted farm equipment to him and indicated they would both sign an addendum to the Agreement correcting this omission. The estate's attorney prepared an Addendum which was signed by all parties.2 The Addendum allotted the farm equipment to Win, gave Bo a share of stock in the Orangeburg Country Club and stated that "[t]he parties hereto reaffirm the Private Agreement which they signed on April 6, 1993. They agree to carry out all provisions of that agreement."

To effectuate the Agreement and the Addendum, the parties asked their cousin, attorney Charles Williams, to prepare the necessary deeds. Attorney Edgar W. Dickson, who practices law with Williams, attempted to transfer the estate's property pursuant to the Agreement by preparing two sets of deeds. The first set contained Deeds of Distribution which transferred the estate's property to the parties in equal shares pursuant to Mrs. Shecut's will. The second set partitioned the parties' interests in the property according to the Agreement. Dickson testified he believed such a two-step process was necessary to establish a chain-of-title from the estate to the parties. On December 29, 1994, Win and Bo executed the Deeds of Distribution in their capacity as personal representatives of their mother's estate and recorded them in the RMC office for Orangeburg County. At the same time, Bo and Win signed the appropriate partitioning deeds in their individual capacities to fulfill their obligations under the Agreement. Dickson mailed Anne the partitioning deeds and scheduled a closing for March 16, 1995, to complete the second step of the process. At the closing, Bo planned to reimburse his siblings for the estate tax related to his residence by obtaining a loan from Edisto Farm Credit. The partitioning deeds would be finalized at the closing. In a series of letters dated between December 31, 1994 and March 27, 1995, Anne refused to sign the partitioning deeds unless she received an accounting for income produced by estate assets. She particularly objected to Bo's management of their joint properties and his failure to account for the activities of Shecut Investments.

Anne brought this action on August 4, 1995. On the same day, she filed a lis pendens on all of the estate properties, including Bo's house and the property Win received under the Agreement. Anne also filed an accounting action in the Orangeburg probate court. Win counterclaimed for breach of contract.

The Master-in-Equity determined the success or failure of Anne's partition action turned upon the validity of the Agreement. After a four day hearing in May of 1997, the master found the Agreement valid and ordered its specific performance. The master also granted Win's counterclaim for breach of contract, finding Anne breached the Agreement by filing the lis pendens which prevented Win from receiving the full benefit of properties allotted him by the Agreement. Specifically, the master found Win had suffered "consequential actual damages" in the amount of $30,377 because the lis pendens prevented him from receiving a crop subsidy on his farm and also prevented him from selling timber from that land at an above-market price. Additionally, Win incurred the expense of storing Anne's furniture. The master also ordered Anne to pay Win's attorney fees but declined to sanction her under the South Carolina Frivolous Civil Proceedings Sanctions Act. Anne immediately appealed this order, but this Court held the appeal in abeyance until the master could rule on the remaining issues.

The master conducted a second hearing on November 12, 1997 to partition the joint properties of Anne and Bo and to consider an accounting for income generated from the joint properties. By order dated February 17, 1998, the master allotted the commercial property in...

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18 cases
  • Moore v. Weinberg
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • February 20, 2007
    ...(Ct.App.2005). An addendum that modifies a pre-existing agreement, but does not extinguish it, is not a novation. Parker v. Shecut, 340 S.C. 460, 531 S.E.2d 546 (Ct.App.2000), rev'd on other grounds 349 S.C. 226, 562 S.E.2d 620 In order to effectuate a novation by the substitution of a new ......
  • Garrison v. Target Corp.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • January 15, 2020
    ...only correct relief for the due process violation was either a new trial absolute or a new trial nisi. See Parker v. Shecut , 340 S.C. 460, 480, 531 S.E.2d 546, 557 (Ct. App. 2000), rev'd on other grounds , 349 S.C. 226, 562 S.E.2d 620 (2002) ("When an order is internally inconsistent, that......
  • State v. Cheatham, 3453.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • February 25, 2002
    ...of impartiality or impropriety are raised. This Court recently addressed the disqualification of judges in Parker v. Shecut, 340 S.C. 460, 531 S.E.2d 546 (Ct.App.2000), cert. The Code of Judicial Conduct requires a judge to "disqualify himself in a proceeding in which his impartiality might......
  • Arnal v. Arnal
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    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • February 7, 2005
    ...evidence of bias. Furthermore, the alleged bias must be personal, as distinguished from judicial, in nature. Parker v. Shecut, 340 S.C. 460, 497, 531 S.E.2d 546, 566 (Ct.App.2000), rev'd on other grounds by 349 S.C. 226, 562 S.E.2d 620 Husband has failed to present any evidence of bias by t......
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