Monday, April 23, 2018

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

SCDMV vs. Walter O. Manning

South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles

South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles

Walter O. Manning




The Department appeals from the Department of Motor Vehicle Hearings (DMVH) hearing officer’s order which rescinded the Department’s suspension of Walter O. Manning’s driving privileges based on his arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). The hearing officer’s order stated: “There being no evidence corroborating what Implied Consent Warning was read to the Respondent, I conclude as a matter of law that the Petitioner has failed to meet its burden of proof.” See order at 6. In the Department’s Statement of the Issues on Appeal in its brief, the third issue is set out as “Did the AHO err when he determined that the officer’s uncontroverted testimony had to be independently corroborated by other evidence?” However, the Department completely failed to address this issue in its brief, nor did it cite any legal authority in support of its argument. Respondent in his brief argues that this issue must be considered abandoned. I agree.

In DMVH matters, this court sits in an appellate capacity. S.C. Code Ann. §§ 1-23-380 & -660 (Supp. 2006). Assuming without deciding that the DMVH was wrong in all other particulars as the Department argues, failure to appeal that basis for the DMVH order is fatal to the Department’s appeal. South Carolina law is well settled that issues for which no legal authority is cited are abandoned. See, e.g., Colleton County Taxpayers Ass'n v. School Dist. of Colleton County, 371 S.C. 224, 242, 638 S.E.2d 685, 694 (2006); First Sav. Bank v. McLean, 314 S.C. 361, 363, 444 S.E.2d 513, 514 (1994); R & G Constr., Inc. v. Lowcountry Reg'l Transp. Auth., 343 S.C. 424, 437, 540 S.E.2d 113, 120 (Ct. App. 2000). Indeed, as the Court of Appeals recently held and our courts have long reiterated: “An issue raised on appeal but not argued in the brief is deemed abandoned and will not be considered by the appellate court.” Wright v. Craft, 372 S.C. 1, 20, 640 S.E.2d 486, 496-97 (Ct. App. 2006); Fields v. Melrose Ltd. P'ship, 312 S.C. 102, 106, 439 S.E.2d 283, 284 (Ct. App. 1993); Bell v. Bennett, 307 S.C. 286, 294, 414 S.E.2d 786, 791 (Ct. App. 1992). South Carolina law is also well settled that a trial court’s or hearing officer’s unappealed ruling, right or wrong, is the law of the case. See, e.g., Charleston Lumber Co. v. Miller Housing Corp., 338 S.C. 171, 175, 525 S.E.2d 869, 871 (2000) (finding that an unappealed ruling, right or wrong, is the law of the case and requires affirmance); Mid-South Mgmt. Co. v. Sherwood Devel. Corp., 374 S.C. 588, 596 n.3, 649 S.E.2d 135, 139 n.3 (Ct. App. 2007); Fickling v. City of Charleston, 372 S.C. 597, 599, 643 S.E.2d 110, 112 n.1 (Ct. App. 2007).

Based on these two principles of law, the hearing officer’s above quoted conclusion is the law of the case, having been abandoned by the Department on appeal. As such, IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that that the Final Order and Decision of the DMVH is AFFIRMED.



November 15, 2007 JOHN D. GEATHERS

Columbia, South Carolina Administrative Law Judge