Homeowner’s Negligence Suit Against Inspector Should Not Have Been Dismissed on Summary Judgment on Timeliness Issue – McAlhany v. Carter

Negligence and personal injury lawsuits can arise in a variety of circumstances, including an accident in a home. Regardless of the location of the accident, the statute of limitations for injury cases must still be complied with.

In the case of McAlhany v. Carter, the plaintiff brought suit in the Bamberg County Circuit Court, asserting a claim of negligence against the defendants and seeking both property damages and compensation for personal injuries he sustained due to an alleged failure to inspect a home in a reasonably prudent manner in 2007.

Facts of the Case

According to the plaintiff, he purchased a home from the defendant “flipper,” who had contracted with the co-defendant inspector to perform a termite inspection on the subject property in 2007. In 2009, the plaintiff was allegedly injured while painting an interior wall in the home. According to the plaintiff, his paint roller penetrated the wall, thereby releasing mold spores, which he breathed. As a result of breathing the mold spores, the plaintiff said that he became ill, suffering from nosebleeds, burning eyes, sores, and sinus problems.

The plaintiff filed suit in 2011, asserting that the inspector had been negligent in not conducting a reasonable inspection of the home’s premises, in failing to act as a reasonably prudent company would have acted under the same or similar circumstances, and in failing to satisfy the applicable provisions of the South Carolina Pesticide Control Act. The plaintiff also asserted a claim for negligent misrepresentation against the “flipper.”

The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants on the grounds that the plaintiff had not filed his suit within the period allowed by the statute of limitations.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The South Carolina Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that South Carolina Code § 15-3-530(3) provides for a three-year statute of limitations for “actions for trespass upon or damage to real property” but is subject to a discovery rule, under which the statute does not begin to run until the underlying cause of action reasonably ought to have been discovered. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the court found that the trial court had erred in finding the statute of limitations barred his claim for property damage.

With regard to the plaintiff’s personal injury claim, the court likewise noted that the three-year limitation period set forth in South Carolina Code § 15-3-530(5) for injuries to the person required that suit be filed within three years of the time the plaintiff knew or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known that he had a cause of action. Noting that there could not be a cause of action until there was an injury, the court found that the plaintiff’s suit was timely, since it was filed within three years of the time his paint roller went through the wall and released the mold, thereby causing his injuries.

To Get Advice About an Negligence Lawsuit

If you have suffered an injury or lost a family member due to a wrongful death caused by the negligence of a person, business, or governmental entity, you need to talk to a lawyer about your case as soon as possible. Strict time limits apply to filing a negligence lawsuit, and the failure to timely file usually bars what might otherwise be a successful claim. To schedule an appointment to discuss your case with an experienced South Carolina personal injury attorney, call the Law Office of Patrick E. Knie at 864-582-5118. We will be glad to offer a free consultation about your case at either our Spartanburg or Greenville, South Carolina, offices.

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