Weston v. Carolina Research and Development Foundation, No. 23341

CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHARWELL; CHANDLER, J., and BRUCE LITTLEJOHN, JAMES E. MOORE and WILLIAM J. McLEOD
Citation303 S.C. 398,401 S.E.2d 161
Decision Date27 November 1990
Docket NumberNo. 23341
Parties, 65 Ed. Law Rep. 944, 18 Media L. Rep. 1821 Chris WESTON and Multimedia, Inc., d/b/a The Greenville News-Piedmont Company, Respondents, v. CAROLINA RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, Christopher Vlahoplus, Arthur M. Williams, Jr., John L.M. Tobias, Richard E. Day, Gayle O. Averyt, William R. Bruce, Robert E. Roberson, Guy F. Lipscomb, Jr., and William Weston, Jr., Appellants. and John C. SHURR and The Associated Press, Respondents, v. CAROLINA RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, Christopher Vlahoplus, Arthur M. Williams, Jr., John L.M. Tobias, Richard E. Day, Gayle O. Averyt, William R. Bruce, Robert E. Roberson, Guy F. Lipscomb, Jr., and William Weston, Jr., Appellants. . Heard

Page 161

401 S.E.2d 161
303 S.C. 398, 65 Ed. Law Rep. 944, 18
Media L. Rep. 1821
Chris WESTON and Multimedia, Inc., d/b/a The Greenville
News-Piedmont Company, Respondents,
v.
CAROLINA RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, Christopher
Vlahoplus, Arthur M. Williams, Jr., John L.M. Tobias,
Richard E. Day, Gayle O. Averyt, William R. Bruce, Robert E.
Roberson, Guy F. Lipscomb, Jr., and William Weston, Jr., Appellants.
and
John C. SHURR and The Associated Press, Respondents,
v.
CAROLINA RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, Christopher
Vlahoplus, Arthur M. Williams, Jr., John L.M. Tobias,
Richard E. Day, Gayle O. Averyt, William R. Bruce, Robert E.
Roberson, Guy F. Lipscomb, Jr., and William Weston, Jr., Appellants.
No. 23341.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard Nov. 27, 1990.
Decided Feb. 11, 1991.

Page 162

[303 S.C. 399] Thomas E. McCutchen and Hoover C. Blanton, both of Whaley, McCutchen, Blanton and Rhodes, Columbia, for appellants.

Carl F. Muller and Wallace K. Lightsey, both of Wyche, Burgess, Freeman and Parham, P.A., Greenville, for respondents.

Jay Bender, of Belser, Baker, Barwick, Ravenel and Bender, Columbia, amici curiae.

[303 S.C. 400] HARWELL, Acting Chief Justice.

This case involves the applicability of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act 1 (FOIA) to the Carolina Research and Development Foundation (Foundation). The dispositive issue in this case is whether the activities of the Foundation bring it within the definition of a "public body" contained in the FOIA.

I. FACTS

The Foundation is a South Carolina eleemosynary corporation incorporated under the non-profit corporation provisions of S.C.Code Ann. § 33-31-10 to § 33-31-450 (1990). The Foundation operates exclusively for the benefit of the University of South Carolina. Respondents instituted these actions alleging that the Foundation is a "public body" under the South Carolina FOIA and as such, is subject to the provisions of the FOIA. 2 Respondents sought

Page 163

an injunction compelling the Foundation to disclose certain records which it had previously requested under the FOIA. Early in the litigation, the Foundation obtained a protective order which substantially restricted the discovery that respondents could pursue. The trial judge heard cross-motions for summary judgment on the issue of whether the Foundation was a "public body". The parties agreed that the cross-motions were dispositive of the cases and that a trial was unnecessary. The trial judge granted respondents' motion for summary judgment finding that the Foundation was a "public body" within the meaning of the FOIA. This appeal followed.

II. DISCUSSION

In order to be subject to the FOIA, the Foundation must fall within the FOIA's definition of a "public body". The FOIA defines a "public body" as:

any department of the State, any state board, commission, agency, and authority, any public or governmental [303 S.C. 401] body or political subdivision of the State, including counties, municipalities, townships, school districts, and special purpose districts, or any organization, corporation, or agency supported in whole or in part by public funds or expending public funds....

S.C.Code Ann. § 30-4-20(a) (Supp.1989) (emphasis added). The trial judge held that the Foundation is a "public body" under the FOIA because it is supported in whole or in part by public funds and has expended public funds. We agree; an analysis of specific activities of the Foundation supports the conclusion reached below that it is a "public body."

Respondents claim that four transactions involving the Foundation demonstrate that the Foundation is supported by public funds and has expended public funds. The first transaction involved the sale of the Wade Hampton Hotel. The Wade Hampton Hotel was a student residence hall owned by the University of South Carolina (University). When the University sold the Wade Hampton Hotel, the Foundation received $2,000,000 of the total consideration of $5,001,801. The Foundation argues that the money it received did not come from public coffers because the money was given to it by a private purchaser as a gift. However, these funds were transferred to the Foundation in consideration for the sale of public real estate. By accepting a portion of the purchase price paid for publicly owned real estate, the Foundation accepted the support of public funds.

The second transaction involves the development of the Swearingen Engineering...

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19 practice notes
  • State v. Beaver Dam Area Development Corp., No. 2006AP662.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 11 Julio 2008
    ...wages paid by university funds, and performed a public function. Id. at 1162-63. See also Weston v. Carolina Research & Dev. Found., 303 S.C. 398, 401 S.E.2d 161 (1991)(foundation operated for benefit of public university which receives and expends public funds subject to open records law);......
  • Jones v. State, No. S00P1316.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • 20 Noviembre 2000
    ...at 733, 438 S.E.2d 626. 10. Id. at 732-733, 438 S.E.2d 626; Jones v. State, 263 Ga. 904, 440 S.E.2d 161; Jones v. State, 260 Ga. 794, 401 S.E.2d 161. 11. See Boseman, supra at 733-734, 438 S.E.2d 12. Life without parole was not a sentencing option because the murder occurred in 1979 and Jon......
  • Disabato v. S.C. Ass'n of Sch. Adm'rs, No. 27286.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 17 Julio 2013
    ...public funds or expending public funds....” S.C.Code Ann. § 30–4–20(a). We held in Weston v. Carolina Research & Development Foundation, 303 S.C. 398, 401 S.E.2d 161 (1991), that the statute's unambiguous language brings even a private corporation supported by public funds within the defini......
  • Burton v. York County Sheriff's Dept., No. 3771.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 5 Abril 2004
    ...to find the organization is a "public body" under FOIA, regardless of any other factors. See Weston v. Carolina Research & Dev. Found., 303 S.C. 398, 401 S.E.2d 161 (1991). The Weston Court explained its reading of the 358 S.C. 350 The [Defendant's] argument that the FOIA only applies to go......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • State v. Beaver Dam Area Development Corp., No. 2006AP662.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • 11 Julio 2008
    ...wages paid by university funds, and performed a public function. Id. at 1162-63. See also Weston v. Carolina Research & Dev. Found., 303 S.C. 398, 401 S.E.2d 161 (1991)(foundation operated for benefit of public university which receives and expends public funds subject to open records law);......
  • Jones v. State, No. S00P1316.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • 20 Noviembre 2000
    ...at 733, 438 S.E.2d 626. 10. Id. at 732-733, 438 S.E.2d 626; Jones v. State, 263 Ga. 904, 440 S.E.2d 161; Jones v. State, 260 Ga. 794, 401 S.E.2d 161. 11. See Boseman, supra at 733-734, 438 S.E.2d 12. Life without parole was not a sentencing option because the murder occurred in 1979 and Jon......
  • Disabato v. S.C. Ass'n of Sch. Adm'rs, No. 27286.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • 17 Julio 2013
    ...public funds or expending public funds....” S.C.Code Ann. § 30–4–20(a). We held in Weston v. Carolina Research & Development Foundation, 303 S.C. 398, 401 S.E.2d 161 (1991), that the statute's unambiguous language brings even a private corporation supported by public funds within the defini......
  • Burton v. York County Sheriff's Dept., No. 3771.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 5 Abril 2004
    ...to find the organization is a "public body" under FOIA, regardless of any other factors. See Weston v. Carolina Research & Dev. Found., 303 S.C. 398, 401 S.E.2d 161 (1991). The Weston Court explained its reading of the 358 S.C. 350 The [Defendant's] argument that the FOIA only applies to go......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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