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South Carolina
Judicial Department
2011-UP-571 - Godley v. Dowling


In The Court of Appeals

Christopher T. Godley, Respondent,


Helene Dowling, Milton Kelley, Harvey Kelley, and All Pro Contractors, Inc. d/b/a Custom Cut Log Homes, Defendants, 

of whom Helene Dowling is the Appellant.

Appeal From Beaufort County
Judge Carmen T. Mullen, Circuit Court Judge

Unpublished Opinion No.  2011-UP-571
Heard December 7, 2011 – Filed December 20, 2011


James Moss, of Beaufort, for Appellant.

J. Thomas Mikell, of Beaufort, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  This appeal arises out of a jury verdict awarding Respondent Christopher T. Godley $10,000 in actual damages and $40,000 in punitive damages against Appellant Helene Dowling.  On appeal, Dowling argues the trial court erred in:  (1) directing a verdict for Godley regarding his cause of action for trespass; (2) allowing arborist testimony of the commercial value of the trees where the trees were noncommercial; (3) failing to direct a verdict for Dowling on the issue of actual damages; and (4) failing to direct a verdict for Dowling on the issue of punitive damages.  We affirm.

1.  As to Dowling's argument that the trial court erred in granting a directed verdict on Godley's cause of action for trespass, we find this argument unpreserved for appellate review.  See Johnson v. S.C. Dep't of Probation, Parole, & Pardon Servs., 372 S.C. 279, 283, 641 S.E.2d 895, 897 (2007) ("Because court rules require the appealing party to prepare the record on appeal, see Rule 210(a), SCACR, South Carolina courts have traditionally held the appealing party accountable for failing to present the court with an adequate record on appeal for review."); Wilder Corp. v. Wilke, 330 S.C. 71, 76, 497 S.E.2d 731, 733 (1998) ("[A]n issue cannot be raised for the first time on appeal, but must have been raised to and ruled upon by the trial judge to be preserved for appellate review.").

2.  As to Dowling's argument that the trial court erred in allowing testimony from an arborist, we find this argument abandoned on appeal.  See Ahrens v. State, 392 S.C. 340, 357, 709 S.E.2d 54, 63 (2011) (stating that issues raised on appeal but not argued in the brief are deemed abandoned and will not be considered by the appellate court).  Additionally, because Dowling did not object to the arborist's testimony, we find this issue unpreserved for appellate review.  See Burke v. AnMed Health, 393 S.C. 48, 54, 710 S.E.2d 84, 87 (Ct. App. 2011) ("A contemporaneous objection is typically required to preserve issues for appellate review."); S.C. Dep't of Transp. v. First Carolina Corp., 372 S.C. 295, 302, 641 S.E.2d 903, 907 (2007) (noting a party must make a meaningful objection with sufficient specificity to allow the trial court to rule on the issue).  Finally, even if Dowling's argument is preserved for review, we find Dowling did not show how she was prejudiced by the trial court's ruling.  See Carolina Chloride, Inc. v. Richland Cnty., 394 S.C. 154, 714 S.E.2d 869, 879 (2011) ("To warrant reversal based on the admission or exclusion of evidence, the appealing party must show both the error of the ruling and prejudice."). 

3.  As to Dowling's remaining arguments regarding damages, we note Dowling made post trial motions arguing there was no basis for the actual damages awarded by the jury and that Dowling did not have the ability to pay the excessive punitive damages award.  We decline to address the merits of the appeal regarding damages because Dowling's appellate brief fails to reveal a challenge to the denial of Dowling's post trial motions.[1]  See Jones v. Lott, 387 S.C. 339, 346, 692 S.E.2d 900, 903 (2010) ("Under the two issue rule, where a decision is based on more than one ground, the appellate court will affirm unless the appellant appeals all grounds because the unappealed ground will become the law of the case.").


HUFF, PIEPER, and LOCKEMY, JJ., concur. 

[1] To the extent Dowling argues the trial court erred in giving an instruction to the jury regarding intent as an element of trespass, Dowling did not object.  The only objection made to the trial court following the charge to the jury concerned Dowling's assertion that the trial court should not have charged punitive damages.  Therefore, we find Dowling's arguments in this regard unpreserved for review.  See Berberich v. Jack, 392 S.C. 278, 290, 709 S.E.2d 607, 613 (2011) (finding an issue unpreserved for review where the appellant failed to object to the jury charge).