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Bloody Point Property Owners Association, Inc. v. Ashton

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

August 20, 2014

Bloody Point Property Owners Association, Inc., David L. Fingerhut, and Patricia M. Santry, Respondents,
v.
William A. Ashton, Jr. and Michele C. Ashton, Appellants Appellate Case No. 2013-000222

Heard: May 7, 2014.

Appeal From Beaufort County. Marvin H. Dukes, III, Master-in-Equity.

James Frederick Berl, of Law Offices of James F. Berl, PC, of Hilton Head Island, and Dustin Lee, of Lee Law Firm, LLC, of Hilton Head Island, for Appellants.

Terry A. Finger, of Finger & Fraser, PA, of Hilton Head Island, for Respondent Bloody Point Property Owners Association, Inc.; and Matthew Tillman, of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP, of Charleston, for Respondents David L. Fingerhut and Patricia M. Santry.

LOCKEMY, J. WILLIAMS and KONDUROS, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 730

[410 S.C. 64] LOCKEMY, J.:

William A. Ashton, Jr. and Michele C. Ashton appeal the master-in-equity's denial of their motion to vacate/set aside a foreclosure sale, arguing the master erred in finding (1) they were properly served; (2) their due process rights were not violated; (3) the foreclosure sales price did not shock the conscience of the court; and (4) David L. Fingerhut

Page 731

and Patricia M. Santry were bona fide purchasers for value pursuant to section 15-39-870 of the South Carolina Code. We affirm.

FACTS/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This action arises from the foreclosure sale of Lot 55, Daufuskie Island Club, Phase l, Bloody Point, in Beaufort County (the Property). The Bloody Point Property Owners Association, Inc. (the Association) commenced the foreclosure action on May 17, 2011. The Association asserted claims for foreclosure of a lien against the Property's owners, William A. Ashton, Jr. and Michelle C. Ashton (Appellants),[1] for payment of Association dues and fees.

Appellants are residents of Chester County, Pennsylvania. The foreclosure summons and complaint were delivered to the Chester County Sheriff's Office (the Sheriff's Office) for service [410 S.C. 65] on Appellants at their last known address. According to the affidavits of service returned by the Sheriff's Office, a deputy unsuccessfully attempted to serve Appellants on four separate occasions. Thereafter, Julie Scarfino, counsel for the Association, filed an affidavit for service by publication. On July 20, 2011, the Beaufort County Clerk of Court filed an order of publication authorizing service of Appellants by publishing a copy of the summons and complaint in Beaufort County's The Island Packet newspaper once a week for three consecutive weeks and mailing a copy of the summons and complaint to Appellants at their last known address.

On September 27, 2011, the master-in-equity found Appellants in default. Subsequently, on December 2, 2011, the master entered a report and judgment of foreclosure and sale wherein he held Appellants owed the Association $2,971.70 in unpaid assessments and $5,738.97 in attorney's fees and costs. A foreclosure sale was held on January 3, 2012. David L. Fingerhut and Patricia Santry (the Fingerhuts) purchased the Property for $8,800 at the sale.

On February 2, 2012, Appellants filed a motion to vacate/set aside the foreclosure. In their motion, Appellants argued the foreclosure sale should be set aside because the sales price was so low as to " shock the conscience" of the court. Appellants further asserted the Association improperly served the summons and complaint by publication. Appellants did not dispute the validity of the debt or their failure to pay dues and fees to the Association.

On May 9, 2012, the Fingerhuts filed a memorandum in opposition to the motion to vacate, wherein they argued they were good faith purchasers for value under section 15-39-870 of the South Carolina Code. The Fingerhuts further asserted (1) $2,793.20 in taxes and fees unpaid by Appellants should be added to the sale price; (2) the foreclosure sales price did not shock the conscience of the court; and ...


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