Plaintiffs in South Carolina Nursing Home Negligence Suit Entitled to Review of Trial Court’s Bifurcation of Corporate Defendants Prior to Trial – Morrow v. Fundamental Long-Term Care Holdings, LLC

In injury litigation, sometimes there is but a single defendant – the driver of a car or the owner of a small business, perhaps. Other times, however, there are multiple defendants and multiple claims. A seemingly simple case can quickly get complex.

Defendants often resist being brought into a lawsuit and will avail themselves of every available opportunity to ask for a dismissal of the case against them. While a thorough accident attorney can spend countless hours researching a case so as not to omit a possible wrongdoer, it is ultimately up to the court to decide who stays and who goes.

In the recent case of Morrow v. Fundamental Long-Term Care Holdings, LLC, the South Carolina Supreme Court was asked to determine whether the court of appeals had correctly dismissed as “interlocutory” an appeal of a trial court’s order that severed several defendants from a nursing home negligence suit under the ostensible label of “bifurcation.”

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were a couple that sought redress for injuries the male plaintiff allegedly sustained while being assisted in the shower while a resident at a South Carolina nursing home. They further alleged that the male plaintiff’s pressure wounds were not properly cared for, nor was his diabetes properly monitored by the nursing home. Accordingly, the couple filed suit against the nursing home where the alleged negligence occurred.

The couple also named several corporate defendants in the suit, alleging that these defendants were vicariously liable for the negligence of the nursing home and were directly responsible for the male plaintiff’s injuries by way of their conscious disregard for his health in underfunding the nursing home, which the plaintiffs alleged led to issues with staffing, training, and nutrition.

The corporate defendants filed a motion to bifurcate the trial between the nursing home negligence claims and the corporate negligence claims. The trial court granted the motion. The couple appealed, but the court of appeals found that the trial court’s order granting bifurcation was not immediately appealable. The couple then petitioned the state supreme court for a writ of certiorari, which it granted.

The Ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court

The state’s highest court reversed the court of appeals order dismissing the couple’s appeal. According to the court, the trial court’s order regarding bifurcation was immediately appealable pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 14-3-330(2)(a). The court therefore remanded the case to the court of appeals for a determination on the merits of the appeal.

To Get Legal Advice from an Experienced South Carolina Trial Lawyer

If you or a family member is suffering because of injuries inflicted by a negligent person or business, we are here to help. At the law firm of Patrick E. Knie, we are in the business of litigating personal injury claims, and we strive to give each case the full attention that it deserves as we work towards a successful settlement or judgment. To set up an appointment to discuss your case, call us at 864-582-5118. We welcome clients throughout South Carolina, including Spartanburg, Greenville, and other areas.

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