South Carolina Court Affirms Dismissal of Negligence Claim for Failure to State a Claim

In a South Carolina personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant owed him or her some type of legal duty and that the defendant either acted in a manner that breached this duty or failed to take an action that a reasonably prudent person would have taken under the circumstances, thus causing harm to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff must also show that there was a link of proximate causation between the defendant’s breach of duty and the damages about which the plaintiff complains. Unless the plaintiff can present credible, legally admissible evidence of his or her allegations, his or her case will be dismissed by the court.

Facts of the Case

In a recent unreported case arising in the Anderson County Circuit Court, the plaintiff was a man who filed suit against the defendants, asserting that they were negligence and seeking monetary compensation for his resulting damages. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case pursuant to South Carolina Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Court’s Ruling on Appeal

The court of appeals affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s case. Although the plaintiff argued on appeal that he had sufficiently alleged the elements of negligence in his case against the defendants and that he had been deprived of his right to pursue discovery in the litigation of his claim, the court of appeals found no error in the lower court’s rulings on the the issues.

Under South Carolina Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a), the plaintiff had an obligation to set forth, in his pleading to the court, a “short and plain statement showing that [he was] entitled to relief.” According to the appellate court, this required the plaintiff to plead the ultimate facts which he believed would be proven at trial. In situations in which a plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to constitute his cause of action, dismissal was an appropriate court of action.

In so holding, the court noted that the existence of a legal duty (one of the elements of the tort of negligence) was a legal issue for the court to decide and that under South Carolina law there was no general duty to control the conduct of another person, nor was there a general duty to warn a third person of the possibility of danger. Only in cases in which a special relationship existed might such a duty to warn arise.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a South Carolina Injury Attorney

If you believe that someone else’s negligence has caused you or a loved one physical harm, you should talk to an attorney about filing a claim seeking monetary compensation for your damages. The Patrick E. Knie Law Offices in Spartanburg and Greenville handle many types of negligence lawsuits, including motor vehicle accidents, work injuries, dangerous and defective product cases, and medical malpractice claims. For a free consultation, call us at 864-582-5118.

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