Southern Plastics Co. v. Southern Commerce Bank, No. 23725

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtHARWELL
Citation310 S.C. 256,423 S.E.2d 128
Parties, 21 UCC Rep.Serv.2d 1085 SOUTHERN PLASTICS COMPANY, Respondent, v. SOUTHERN COMMERCE BANK, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 23725
Decision Date05 October 1992

Page 128

423 S.E.2d 128
310 S.C. 256, 21 UCC Rep.Serv.2d 1085
SOUTHERN PLASTICS COMPANY, Respondent,
v.
SOUTHERN COMMERCE BANK, Appellant.
No. 23725.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Submitted June 5, 1992.
Decided Oct. 5, 1992.

Page 129

[310 S.C. 258] H. Hugh Rogers, of Lexington, and Phillip J. Halley, Milwaukee, Wis., for appellant.

Henry W. Brown, of Nexsen, Pruet, Jacobs & Pollard, Columbia, for respondent.

HARWELL, Chief Justice:

Appellant Southern Commerce Bank (the Bank) appeals from the trial judge's denial of its motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in this suit initiated by respondent Southern Plastics Company (Southern) for failure to honor a letter of credit. We reverse. In addition, we take this opportunity to adopt the due process analysis articulated by the United States Supreme Court in regard to the exercise of personal jurisdiction. In so doing, we discard our prior four-part test in order to ensure that the

Page 130

courts of this State may exercise personal jurisdiction over foreign defendants to the limits of due process.

I. FACTS

The Bank is located in Tampa, Florida. Southern, a manufacturing facility, is located in South Carolina. Southern agreed to sell goods on credit to one of the Bank's customers, Media Cell of America, Inc. (Media Cell), a company located in Tampa, Florida. However, Southern refused to extend credit to Media Cell without additional security for payment. As a result, Media Cell obtained a letter of credit from the Bank in the amount of $11,539.00, naming Southern as the beneficiary. The letter of credit provided that it was available for draft by Southern drawn at sight on the Bank at its office in Tampa, Florida.

In its complaint, Southern alleges that the Bank wrongfully dishonored its demand for payment under the letter of credit. The Bank filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. After a hearing, the trial judge denied the Bank's motion to dismiss.

[310 S.C. 259] II. DISCUSSION

The party seeking to invoke personal jurisdiction against a foreign corporation by utilization of our long-arm statute has the burden of establishing jurisdiction. Aviation Associates & Consultants, Inc. v. Jet Time, Inc., 303 S.C. 502, 505, 402 S.E.2d 177, 179 (1991). The determination of whether a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident involves a two-step analysis. First, the trial judge must determine that the South Carolina long-arm statute applies. Second, the trial judge must determine that the nonresident's contacts in South Carolina are sufficient to satisfy due process requirements. Id. Here, the trial judge did not address whether either step of the analysis was satisfied. Instead, the trial judge found that this Court's decision in Atlantic Soft Drink Co. v. South Carolina National Bank, 287 S.C. 228, 336 S.E.2d 876 (1985), was controlling, and, as a result, determined that the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the Bank was proper. We disagree.

In Atlantic Soft Drink, the National Bank of North America (NBNA), a New York bank, issued a letter of credit to Atlantic Soft Drink (Atlantic), a South Carolina corporation. The letter of credit provided that drafts on the letter of credit were to be submitted through South Carolina National Bank ("SCN"). In order to effect the terms of the letter of credit, NBNA established a correspondent relationship with SCN. Atlantic received payment on the first draft by way of a cashier's check issued by SCN at NBNA's instruction. NBNA dishonored Atlantic's second and third drafts. Atlantic sued in South Carolina.

In the case at hand, the Bank did not have a similar relationship with a South Carolina bank. Moreover, the letter of credit did not provide for the presentation of drafts in South Carolina; rather, the letter of credit specifically provided for the presentation of drafts at the Bank's office in Tampa, Florida. Thus, we conclude that, contrary to the trial judge's ruling, Atlantic Soft Drink is not controlling in this case. Having determined that Atlantic Soft Drink is distinguishable, we turn to the question of whether South Carolina may exercise personal jurisdiction over the Bank under the facts of this case.

[310 S.C. 260] A. LONG ARM STATUTE

Our long-arm statute, S.C.Code Ann. § 36-2-803 (1976), has been construed to extend to the limits of due process. Hammond v. Cummins Engine Co., 287 S.C. 200, 336 S.E.2d 867 (1985). Section 36-2-803(1)(a) gives South Carolina broad powers to exercise personal jurisdiction over a person as to a cause of action arising from the person's transacting any business in this State. We find that section 36-2-803(1)(a) applies to the facts of this case. Thus, the question becomes whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the Bank comports with due process.

In order for a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident, due

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process requires that there exist minimum contacts between the defendant and the forum state such that maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair...

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70 practice notes
  • Moosally v. WW Norton & Co., Inc., No. 3769.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 5, 2004
    ...our long-arm statute bears the burden of proving the existence of personal jurisdiction. Southern Plastics Co. v. Southern Commerce Bank, 310 S.C. 256, 423 S.E.2d 128 (1992); Aviation Assocs. & Consultants, Inc. v. Jet Time, Inc., 303 S.C. 502, 402 S.E.2d 177 (1991); South Carolina Dep'......
  • Gourdine v. Karl Storz Endoscopy-Am., Inc., Civil Action No. 2:14–4839–RMG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • May 2, 2016
    ...has interpreted its long-arm statute to extend to the constitutional limits of due process. See S. Plastics Co. v. S. Commerce Bank , 310 S.C. 256, 423 S.E.2d 128, 130–31 (1992). Thus, the first step is collapsed into the second, and the only inquiry before the court is whether the due proc......
  • Hopper v. Barr, C/A No. 5:18-cv-01147-MGL-KDW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • July 31, 2019
    ...has been interpreted to reach the outer bounds permitted by the Due Process Clause. Id.; see S. Plastics Co. v. S. Commerce Bank, 423 S.E.2d 128, 130 (S.C. 1992). Accordingly, the court's inquiry is whether the activities of Inch, Connors, and Keller were such that the court's exercise of j......
  • United States v. Remain at Home Senior Care, LLC, Civil Action 1:17-cv-01493-JMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 27, 2021
    ...the Due Process Clause.” ESAB Grp., Inc. v. Centricut, Inc., 126 F.3d 617, 623 (4th Cir. 1997) (citing S. Plastics Co. v. S. Com. Bank, 423 S.E.2d 128, 130 (S.C. 1992)). If jurisdiction is permissible under the long-arm statute, the court then determines whether the exercise of jurisdiction......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
70 cases
  • Moosally v. WW Norton & Co., Inc., No. 3769.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 5, 2004
    ...our long-arm statute bears the burden of proving the existence of personal jurisdiction. Southern Plastics Co. v. Southern Commerce Bank, 310 S.C. 256, 423 S.E.2d 128 (1992); Aviation Assocs. & Consultants, Inc. v. Jet Time, Inc., 303 S.C. 502, 402 S.E.2d 177 (1991); South Carolina Dep'......
  • Gourdine v. Karl Storz Endoscopy-Am., Inc., Civil Action No. 2:14–4839–RMG
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • May 2, 2016
    ...has interpreted its long-arm statute to extend to the constitutional limits of due process. See S. Plastics Co. v. S. Commerce Bank , 310 S.C. 256, 423 S.E.2d 128, 130–31 (1992). Thus, the first step is collapsed into the second, and the only inquiry before the court is whether the due proc......
  • Hopper v. Barr, C/A No. 5:18-cv-01147-MGL-KDW
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • July 31, 2019
    ...has been interpreted to reach the outer bounds permitted by the Due Process Clause. Id.; see S. Plastics Co. v. S. Commerce Bank, 423 S.E.2d 128, 130 (S.C. 1992). Accordingly, the court's inquiry is whether the activities of Inch, Connors, and Keller were such that the court's exercise of j......
  • United States v. Remain at Home Senior Care, LLC, Civil Action 1:17-cv-01493-JMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 27, 2021
    ...the Due Process Clause.” ESAB Grp., Inc. v. Centricut, Inc., 126 F.3d 617, 623 (4th Cir. 1997) (citing S. Plastics Co. v. S. Com. Bank, 423 S.E.2d 128, 130 (S.C. 1992)). If jurisdiction is permissible under the long-arm statute, the court then determines whether the exercise of jurisdiction......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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