Specifically Request a Ruling to Appeal

Today, the Court of Appeals strictly applied a familiar principle of South Carolina error-preservation law:  a party must get a trial-court ruling on the issue that he or she seeks to appeal or make a Rule 59(e) motion to ask for a ruling.

In Sprott v. Brookdale Senior Living, Inc., Op.No. 2012-UP-679 (S.C. Ct.App. filed Dec. 28, 2012), Sprott brought suit against a nursing home. The nursing home moved to compel arbitration and either dismiss or stay the action. The circuit court enforced the arbitration clause and dismissed the action. Sprott appealed, arguing that trial court should have instead issued a stay.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the issue was not preserved. It found the trial court never ruled on whether the action was properly stayed rather than dismissed, and that Sprott failed to specifically ask the trial court for a stay in a Rule 59(e) motion.

One could think that a trial court, confronted with a motion asking for either a dismissal or a stay, denied the stay by granting a dismissal. Lesson – when in doubt, make the Rule 59(e) motion.

Has anyone else faced a similar situation? Please leave a reply or reach me at www.attorneyroberthill.com.

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