Wiggins v. Todd, 1239

Decision Date19 September 1988
Docket NumberNo. 1239,1239
Citation373 S.E.2d 704,296 S.C. 432
PartiesW. Carl WIGGINS, Jr., Respondent, v. Burnett William TODD and Todd's Ice Cream, Inc., Appellants. . Heard
CourtSouth Carolina Court of Appeals

Harold W. Jacobs and Russell T. Burke, Nexsen, Pruet, Jacobs & Pollard, Columbia, for appellants.

Thomas Dewey Wise and W. Andrew Gowder, Jr., Wise & Cole, P.A., Charleston, for respondent.

CURETON, Judge:

Carl Wiggins sued Burnett Todd and Todd's Ice Cream, Inc. (collectively referred to as Todd) for breach of an employment contract. No answer was served. Default was entered and the case was referred to the Master-In-Equity for a damages hearing. The Master recommended a judgment of $33,188 in actual damages. The circuit court affirmed the Master's report and denied Todd's motion to vacate the report. Todd appeals.

Todd's motion is not in the record. The Statement of the Case indicates the grounds of the motion were (1) failure to receive prior notice of the damages hearing under S.C.R.Civ.P. 5(a) and (2) violation of S.C.R.Civ.P. 54(c) concerning the amount of the default judgment.

As to notice, Wiggins' counsel mailed a certified letter, return receipt requested, to Todd on February 25, 1987. The letter notified Todd of a damages hearing scheduled for March 2nd in Charleston. The record indicates the Post Office delivered Todd a first notice of the certified letter on February 26. A second notice from the Post Office was delivered on March 2. This letter was picked up the next day. No action was taken by Todd until March 27 when the motion was filed.

Todd argues the mailing of the letter did not comply with S.C.R.Civ.P. 5(a) because it was not received until after the date of the hearing. Rule 5(a) provides, in part, that "every written notice ... shall be served upon each of the parties; ... and notice of any trial or hearing on unliquidated damages shall also be given to parties in default." Thus, Rule 5(a) requires service of written notice of an unliquidated damages hearing in a default case. Rule 5(b) provides "[s]ervice by mail is complete upon mailing of all pleadings and papers subsequent to service of the original summons and complaint."

In 1981, the South Carolina Supreme Court established a notice requirement for unliquidated damages default hearings. The Court set a practice of claimant's counsel giving the defendant four days notice of the time and place of hearing pursuant to former Code Section 15-9-960. Lewis v. Congress of Racial Equality, 275 S.C. 556, 274 S.E.2d 287 (1981); Renney v. Dobbs House Inc., 275 S.C. 562, 274 S.E.2d 290 (1981). Corresponding code sections provided the notice was to be in writing and served. Service by mail was allowed and was complete upon mailing. Sections 15-9-930 and 940, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, repealed, Act No. 100, 1985 S.C. Acts 277. See Walters v. Laurens Cotton Mills, 53 S.C. 155, 31 S.E. 1 (1898) (service by mail complete when deposited in mail, properly addressed and postage paid).

Service of the hearing notice was complete on mailing under the current rules and prior statutes and caselaw. There is no requirement for use of certified mail in Rule 5. In this case, the record demonstrates first notice of the certified letter was given to Todd by the Post Office before the hearing. The record also indicates Todd did nothing after receiving the letter for approximately three weeks. The circumstances indicate a lack of diligence by Todd in protecting his rights.

Todd's second exception states the judgment violated S.C.R.Civ.P. 54(c). The rule provides, in part, that a judgment by default shall not exceed the amount prayed for in the demand for judgment. The demand for judgment in the complaint does not specify a certain sum but seeks actual damages. 1 The court's order does not mention Rule 54(c). The order states the damages were not so out of proportion and excessive as to warrant vacating the judgment out of general equity principles. The judgment does not technically violate Rule 54(c) because the demand sought actual damages in some amount and actual damages were awarded. Todd argues the amount of the damages is grossly excessive in view of the specific allegations of the complaint which refer to a loss of income at $500 per week for a five week period. The complaint refers to an original and an amended contract of...

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9 cases
  • Limehouse v. Hulsey
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • March 10, 2011
    ...the entry of default is tantamount to admission of the allegations of the complaint, but nothing more. See Wiggins v. Todd, 296 S.C. 432, 435, 373 S.E.2d 704, 705-06 (Ct. App. 1988) (stating that when a defendant is in default, the plaintiff's right to recover is circumscribed by the compla......
  • Limehouse v. Hulsey
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • August 12, 2011
    ...the entry of default is tantamount to admission of the allegations of the complaint, but nothing more. See Wiggins v. Todd, 296 S.C. 432, 435, 373 S.E.2d 704, 705–06 (Ct.App.1988) (stating that when a defendant is in default, the plaintiff's right to recover is circumscribed by the complain......
  • Meindl v. Genesys Pacific Technologies
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • September 22, 1999
    ...Md. 1976); Mahmoud v. International Islamic Trading, Ltd., 572 So. 2d 979, 982 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1990); Wiggins v. Todd, 296 S.C. 432, 373 S.E.2d 704, 705-06 (S.C. Ct. App. 1988); Rauscher v. Albert, 145 Ill. App. 3d 40, 495 N.E.2d 149, 151, 99 Ill. Dec. 84 (Ill. App. Ct. 1986); Darnell ......
  • Bishop Logging Co. v. John Deere Indus. Equipment Co.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • December 7, 1994
    ...actual damage award is reduced to the maximum total of economic damages claimed by Bishop Logging, $723,323. See Wiggins v. Todd, 296 S.C. 432, 373 S.E.2d 704 (Ct.App.1988) (We may modify a judgment to reduce an award of damages where certain damages improperly allowed can be As relates to ......
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11 books & journal articles
  • A. Employment Contracts
    • United States
    • South Carolina Damages (SCBar) Chapter 41 Wrongful Discharge & Employment Contracts
    • Invalid date
    ...Id. at 455, 165 S.E. at 206.[81] 300 S.C. 37, 386 S.E.2d 287 (Ct. App. 1989).[82] Id. at 41, 386 S.E.2d at 290.[83] 2 9 6 S.C. 432, 373 S.E.2d 704 (Ct. App. 1988).[84] See id. at 435, 373 S.E.2d at 705-06.[85] 2 81 S.C. 423, 315 S.E.2d 119 (1984).[86] Id. at 427, 315 S.E.2d at 121.[87] Shiv......
  • Chapter 54 Judgment
    • United States
    • South Carolina Civil Procedure (SCBar)
    • Invalid date
    ...defaulting parties).[30] River Road Co. v. Energy Master Prods., Inc., 300 S.C. 316, 387 S.E.2d 694 (Ct. App. 1989).[31] Wiggins v. Todd, 296 S.C. 432, 373 S.E.2d 704 (Ct. App. 1988).[32] 10 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller et al, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2663 (4th ed. 2014).[33......
  • Chapter 55 Default
    • United States
    • South Carolina Civil Procedure (SCBar)
    • Invalid date
    ...345 S.C. 304, 547 S.E.2d 894 (Ct. App. 2001) (letter apologizing but not denying liability deemed not an answer).[23] Wiggins v. Todd, 296 S.C. 432, 373 S.E.2d 704 (Ct. App. 1988).[24] NCNB South Carolina v. Floyd, 303 S.C. 261, 399 S.E.2d 794 (Ct. App. 1990).[25] McCall v. IKON, 363 S.C. 6......
  • Chapter 5 Service and Filing of Pleadings and Other Papers
    • United States
    • South Carolina Civil Procedure (SCBar)
    • Invalid date
    ...435 S.E.2d 864, 868 (1993).[30] NCNBS.C. v. Floyd, 303 S.C. 261, 264, 399 S.E.2d 794, 796 (Ct. App. 1990).[31] Id.[32] Wiggins v. Todd, 296 S.C. 432, 434, 373 S.E.2d 704, 705 (1988).[33] Hopkins v. Harrell, 352 S.C. 517, 521-23, 547 S.E.2d 747, 749-50 (Ct. App. 2002) (notice upheld although......
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