Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday. Monday! MONDAY!

Advance Sheets 2010-02. BTW, did you know that legal interest on judgments entered this year shall be 7.25%? Well, now you do. Because that came out in today's advance sheets.

Anywho, let us proceed. The Supreme Court issued a couple of opinions today. I do not think any are of the earth-shaking variety . . . but maybe you do.

Dickert v. Dickert is an appeal by both parties from the Family Court granting a divorce and dividing of the marital estate. The Court considered four issues, two of which need more study than the others. First, the Family Court included Professional Goodwill in the value of Husband's dental practice to add to the marital property for division. Goodwill is an intangible asset created by accountants and I'm not sure how the law can divide it. The Supreme Court agrees and reversed the inclusion of Goodwill. Second, did the Family Court err in equitably dividing the marital estate. After reversing the inclusion of Goodwill, obviously the trial court must reevaluate the equitable division. Notably, the Supreme Court instructed the Family Court not to take more evidence for resolving this issue. Third, Husband challenged the Family Court's award of alimony on the basis that it exceeded the average life style over the course of the 20+ year marriage and reflected only the most recent prosperous years. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed the alimony award. I think it is notable, gentlemen, that if you become prosperous in your profession, immediately get a mistress and divorce the woman who stuck by you in the lean years so as to minimize her alimony. Because that seems to be the impact of this part of the opinion. Fourth, Husband challenged the Family Court's award of attorney fees to Wife. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed the attorney fees as within the sound discretion of the trial court.

Edwards v. Lexington County is appeal from the Circuit Court granting summary judgment to Lexington County. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. Plaintiff was the victim of a domestic violence incident in which her ex-boyfriend was ordered to stay away from her. He failed to so on several occasions and Lexington County arranged a hearing before the magistrate to find the ex-boyfriend in violation of the protective order. Although the Plaintiff was frightened of the ex-boyfriend and reluctant to attend the hearing at which he would be present, Lexington County persuaded her to attend but provided no security for the event. Sure enough, ex-boyfriend attacked and injured the Plaintiff and Plaintiff sued Lexington County for negligence. Lexington County claimed it owed Plaintiff no legal duty and the Circuit Court agreed, granting Lexington County summary judgment on that limited ground. The Supreme Court reversed finding that Lexington County created a legal duty under special circumstances by getting the hearing and persuading Plaintiff to appear despite her unease, i.e., a common law duty.

Richardson v. Stewart is a case involving a litigious prisoner whom the Supreme Court found to be abusing the justice system. You can skip this one and save yourself a couple of minutes of your life. And it won't be on the bar either if you are studying for that later this summer.

The Court of Appeals also issued a couple of published opinions. They are:

Johnson v. Hunter is appeal from the Circuit Court finding that a motor vehicle accident constituted a single event for the purposes of UIM coverage. Johnson was traveling on a highway with Hunter following behind him in the same direction. A third party, traveling in the opposite direction crossed the center line and, despite Johnson's efforts to avoid collision, struck Johnson. As Johnson was attempting to exit his damaged vehicle, Hunter struck his vehicle as well. Johnson claimed the events were separate and distinct events and that the trial court erred in ruling them one event under the "causation theory" though Johnson did not challenge the use of the "causation theory" and therefore it is the law of the case. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, finding that the two collisions were both linked to the negligence of the third party driver. A must read for UIM coverage cases as it appears to be a case of first impression and further development is likely.

Blackbaud v. SCDOR is DOR's appeal from the Administrative Law Court decision permitting Blackbaud to take job development tax credits after the date for such credits had passed. Be careful what you ask for, the appellate court just might give it to you. Blackbaud moved here from New York and promised to create 300 jobs by October 2002 in return for tax credits. Under this development law, they could create up to 50% more jobs than promised and still get the tax credit for the excess jobs. Blackbaud created 398 by October 2002 and claimed tax credits for them. Blackbaud continued to create jobs, up to the maximum of 450 after the cut off and claimed tax credits for those jobs for the next five years. DOR claimed Blackbaud was limited to the tax credits for the 398 jobs and Blackbaud sought relief for the Admin Law Court which agreed with them. DOR appealed to the Court of Appeals claiming Blackbaud also could not claim tax credits for five years. The Court of Appeals affirmed the ALC with one modification: not only could Blackbaud claim the tax credits, but they could claim for as long as their job development contract remained in effect and not just for 5 years stating that language of the statute and Blackbaud's contract said nothing about restricting excess jobs to the cutoff - they just had to qualify by the cutoff and that nothing limited the tax credits to any set period of time. Sorry, DOR.

And that was this week. See you next Monday.

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