Skywaves I Corp. v. Branch Banking & Trust Co., Appellate Case No. 2015-001809

CourtCourt of Appeals of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtKONDUROS, J.
Citation814 S.E.2d 643
Docket NumberAppellate Case No. 2015-001809,Opinion No. 5557
Decision Date02 May 2018
Parties SKYWAVES I CORPORATION, Appellant/Respondent, v. BRANCH BANKING AND TRUST COMPANY, Successor in merger to Branch Banking and Trust Company of SC, a/k/a BB&T, and James Edahl, Defendants, Of which Branch Banking and Trust Company, Successor in merger to Branch Banking and Trust Company of SC, a/k/a BB&T is the Respondent/Appellant, and Of Whom James Edahl is the Respondent.

423 S.C. 432
814 S.E.2d 643

SKYWAVES I CORPORATION, Appellant/Respondent,
v.
BRANCH BANKING AND TRUST COMPANY, Successor in merger to Branch Banking and Trust Company of SC, a/k/a BB&T, and James Edahl, Defendants,

Of which Branch Banking and Trust Company, Successor in merger to Branch Banking and Trust Company of SC, a/k/a BB&T is the Respondent/Appellant,
and
Of Whom James Edahl is the Respondent.

Appellate Case No. 2015-001809
Opinion No. 5557

Court of Appeals of South Carolina.

Heard March 5, 2018
Filed May 2, 2018
Rehearing Denied June 21, 2018


M. Dawes Cooke Jr. and John William Fletcher, both of Barnwell, Whaley, Patterson & Helms, LLC; John P. Linton Sr. and Brian C. Duffy, both of Duffy & Young, LLC; Andrew K. Epting Jr., of Andrew K. Epting Jr., LLC; and George J. Kefalos, of George J. Kefalos, PA, all of Charleston, for Appellant/Respondent.

Kirsten Elena Small, of Nexson Pruet, LLC, of Greenville; Julio E. Mendoza Jr., of Nexsen Pruet, LLC, of Columbia; and Molly Hughes Cherry, of Nexsen Pruet, LLC, of Charleston, all for Respondent/Appellant.

J.W. Nelson Chandler, of Chandler & Dudgeon LLC, of Charleston, for Respondent.

KONDUROS, J.:

814 S.E.2d 647

This cross-appeal arises out of a suit brought by Skywaves I Corporation (Skywaves) against Branch Banking and Trust Company (BB&T) and James Edahl. Skywaves brought suit against BB&T for breach of contract and breach of contract accompanied by fraudulent acts and against both BB&T and Edahl for negligent misrepresentation, negligence, and violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act (SCUTPA).1 Skywaves appeals the circuit court's orders (1) granting BB&T's and Edahl's motions to strike its demand for a jury trial, (2) granting summary judgment to BB&T and Edahl as to its claims for negligence and negligent misrepresentation, (3) dismissing its SCUTPA claim, and (4) denying its motion to strike BB&T's and Edahl's answers. BB&T appeals the circuit court's order denying it summary judgment as to Skywaves' claims for breach of contract and breach of contract accompanied by fraudulent acts. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and dismiss in part.

FACTS/PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Skywaves is a South Carolina corporation that develops technology for the wireless telecommunications industry; specifically, Skywaves manufactures structures for sheltering equipment at the base of cell phone towers. Ronald Konersmann, a businessman who has been involved with manufacturing infrastructure for the telecommunications industry since 1982, is Skywaves' founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and John Voytko, a licensed certified professional accountant, is Skywaves' Chief Financial Officer (CFO). BB&T is a banking institution with branches in several states including North and South Carolina. Edahl is a resident of South Carolina and was an officer at BB&T at the time of the events leading to the action.

On March 22, 2005, Skywaves entered into a factoring agreement (the Agreement) with BB&T.2 Under the Agreement, BB&T agreed to purchase Skywaves' accounts receivable for eighty percent of the face value of the invoice up to a maximum of $1.5 million. Once Skywaves sold a receivable to BB&T, BB&T became vested with all of Skywaves' rights in the account, including the right to payment. Every factored invoice was required to "state plainly on the face thereof that the [a]ccount ... has been assigned and sold to, [and] is owned by and is payable to BB&T only." If a customer sent payment on a factored invoice to Skywaves, BB&T required Skywaves to hold the payment "as the property of BB&T, without commingling [the payment] with any funds or property of [Skywaves]," and immediately turn the payment over to BB&T. BB&T also required Skywaves to make several covenants and warranties regarding its financial status, including its ability to pay its debts as they matured in the ordinary course of business.

The Agreement was for a one-year term subject to renewal if not terminated by BB&T or Skywaves. BB&T could terminate the Agreement at any time with sixty days' written notice and could terminate the Agreement without notice "after the occurrence of any [e]vent of [d]efault." Events of default included violation of the financial covenants, such as Skywaves' inability to pay its debts as they accrued in the ordinary course of business; Skywaves' failure to comply with any portion of the Agreement or any other agreement it had with BB&T; and "for any other reason [BB&T] deem[ed] itself insecure." The Agreement also provided, "All acts, transactions, rights, and liabilities under this Agreement shall be governed in all respects by, and construed in accordance with, the internal laws of the State of North Carolina." The Agreement stated in bold writing, immediately prior to the signature page,

814 S.E.2d 648

Skywaves waived its right to "trial by jury and the right to trial by jury on any issue in any way pertaining to this Agreement or any transactions or occurrences arising hereunder or governed hereby." Finally, the Agreement set forth "the entire understanding between the parties ... supersed[ing] all prior and contemporaneous agreements and understandings, inducements and conditions, whether express or implied, oral or written, " and provided it "supersede[d] any course of performance and/or usage of the trade inconsistent with any of the terms hereof." (emphasis added).

From the outset, Skywaves contended some of its customers were unable or unwilling to make payments on factored invoices directly to BB&T, and it informed BB&T of this issue. Skywaves alleged it and BB&T orally agreed payments on factored invoices could flow through Skywaves and Skywaves could delay remittance of such payments to BB&T for up to sixty days. No writing reflects the alleged modifications to the Agreement, and on several occasions, BB&T told Skywaves to put the required notification on factored invoices and expressed concern regarding overdue payments on factored invoices. For example, on June 5, 2006, BB&T informed Skywaves "over $150,000 [of payments on factored invoices from Cingular and Nextel were thirty plus] days past due." On August 31, 2007, BB&T contacted Skywaves and asked why it had been holding payments from Verizon on factored invoices for six weeks and reminded Skywaves holding payments "could be viewed as a violation of the [Agreement]." A December 14, 2007 email from BB&T to Skywaves indicated $43,125 worth of accounts were over sixty days past due. Additionally, Skywaves' CFO Voytko admitted Skywaves intermingled the payments it received on the factored invoices, which belonged to BB&T, with Skywaves' funds and used the payments for operating purposes and cash flow.

From 2005 to 2006, Skywaves and BB&T occasionally amended the Agreement via written modifications in order for BB&T to fund Skywaves' working capital needs as those needs developed and expanded. Initially, on June 1, 2005, BB&T reduced the minimum monthly commission required under the Agreement because Skywaves did not begin factoring invoices until late 2005. Next, on May 11, 2006, BB&T and Skywaves executed a written amendment to the factoring agreement, increasing Skywaves' line of credit from $1.5 million to $1.75 million and reducing the minimum monthly commission. Additionally, early in 2006, BB&T began advancing money to Skywaves based on purchase orders it received from Nextel.

In early 2007, Skywaves won several lucrative government contracts, and as a result, its Board of Directors determined the company required more capital to meet the increased demand for its products than BB&T had provided at that time. Skywaves therefore solicited funding proposals from various entities, including Wachovia and Hunt Capital (Hunt). In particular, Hunt sent Skywaves a preliminary, nonbinding term sheet, which was dated March 22, 2007, offering to purchase thirty percent of Skywaves' stock for $4 million.

Edahl, BB&T's relationship manager for Skywaves, assured Skywaves BB&T was familiar with Skywaves' financial needs and could provide for those needs without Skywaves diluting its stock by working with Hunt. Thus, Skywaves decided to obtain the needed funding from BB&T, and BB&T created a unique financing arrangement for Skywaves. On March 2,

2007, BB&T sent a letter to Skywaves, stating the Agreement had been renewed and it had increased Skywaves' line of credit to $3.5 million with a $2 million sublimit for purchase order financing. Under the renewal, BB&T would advance eighty-five percent of the value of an invoice to Skywaves and sixty percent of the value of a purchase order. On March 14, 2007, BB&T sent another letter to Skywaves, clarifying the purchase order advance rate was actually sixty-five percent. BB&T and Skywaves executed a written amendment, making the changes contemplated in the March 2 and March 14 letters. Under the amendment, BB&T would advance funds on the purchase order of any customer.

In the spring of 2007 and again in July 2007, Skywaves asked Edahl if BB&T would advance funds to it on the basis of site

814 S.E.2d 649

plans—potential sites where it anticipated placing shelters if ordered by customers. Konersmann stated Edahl agreed to factor site plans, and Edahl admitted he agreed to factor specific site plans—namely those related...

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12 practice notes
  • Beneficial Fin. I, Inc. v. Windham, Appellate Case No. 2017-001954
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 5 Agosto 2020
    ...to a trade or a commercial transaction is beyond the act's embrace.’ " Skywaves I Corp. v. Branch Banking & Tr. Co. , 423 S.C. 432, 453, 814 S.E.2d 643, 655 (Ct. App. 2018) (quoting Noack Enters., Inc. v. Country Corner Interiors, Inc. , 290 S.C. 475, 479, 351 S.E.2d 347, 349-50 (Ct. App. 1......
  • Feldman v. Coggin, Appellate Case No. 2017-000242
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 17 Julio 2019
    ...rely on merely his pleadings to defeat a summary judgment motion. See Skywaves I Corp. v. Branch Banking & Tr. Co., 423 S.C. 432, 453, 814 S.E.2d 643, 654 (Ct. App. 2018) ("Once a party moving for summary judgment carries the initial burden of showing an absence of evidentiary support for t......
  • Feldman v. Coggin, 2019-UP-261
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 17 Julio 2019
    ...rely on merely his pleadings to defeat a summary judgment motion. See Skywaves I Corp. v. Branch Banking & Tr. Co., 423 S.C. 432, 453, 814 S.E.2d 643, 654 (Ct. App. 2018) ("Once a party moving for summary judgment carries the initial burden of showing an absence of evidentiary support for t......
  • Ruegner v. Sun Pet, Ltd., C/A No. 2:20-CV-03549-RMG-MGB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 10 Marzo 2021
    ...a potential for repetition of the unfair and deceptive acts.Page 5 Skywaves I Corp. v. Branch Banking & Tr. Co., 423 S.C. 432, 453-54, 814 S.E.2d 643, 655 (Ct. App. 2018 (quoting Singleton v. Stokes Motors, Inc., 358 S.C. 369, 379, 595 S.E.2d 461, 466 (2004))). In its Motion, Defendant asse......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 cases
  • Beneficial Fin. I, Inc. v. Windham, Appellate Case No. 2017-001954
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 5 Agosto 2020
    ...to a trade or a commercial transaction is beyond the act's embrace.’ " Skywaves I Corp. v. Branch Banking & Tr. Co. , 423 S.C. 432, 453, 814 S.E.2d 643, 655 (Ct. App. 2018) (quoting Noack Enters., Inc. v. Country Corner Interiors, Inc. , 290 S.C. 475, 479, 351 S.E.2d 347, 349-50 (Ct. App. 1......
  • Feldman v. Coggin, Appellate Case No. 2017-000242
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 17 Julio 2019
    ...rely on merely his pleadings to defeat a summary judgment motion. See Skywaves I Corp. v. Branch Banking & Tr. Co., 423 S.C. 432, 453, 814 S.E.2d 643, 654 (Ct. App. 2018) ("Once a party moving for summary judgment carries the initial burden of showing an absence of evidentiary support for t......
  • Feldman v. Coggin, 2019-UP-261
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 17 Julio 2019
    ...rely on merely his pleadings to defeat a summary judgment motion. See Skywaves I Corp. v. Branch Banking & Tr. Co., 423 S.C. 432, 453, 814 S.E.2d 643, 654 (Ct. App. 2018) ("Once a party moving for summary judgment carries the initial burden of showing an absence of evidentiary support for t......
  • Ruegner v. Sun Pet, Ltd., C/A No. 2:20-CV-03549-RMG-MGB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 10 Marzo 2021
    ...a potential for repetition of the unfair and deceptive acts.Page 5 Skywaves I Corp. v. Branch Banking & Tr. Co., 423 S.C. 432, 453-54, 814 S.E.2d 643, 655 (Ct. App. 2018 (quoting Singleton v. Stokes Motors, Inc., 358 S.C. 369, 379, 595 S.E.2d 461, 466 (2004))). In its Motion, Defendant asse......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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