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South Carolina Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association v. Brock

Supreme Court of South Carolina

October 29, 2014

South Carolina Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association, Appellant/Respondent,
v.
Roger Brock, Ryan Stevens, Malachi Sanders and Health Advantage/BCBS of Arkansas, Defendants, of whom Roger Brock is the Respondent/Appellant

Heard: April 2, 2014.

Appeal from Charleston County, R. Markley Dennis, Jr., Circuit Court Judge. Appellate Case No. 2013-000402.

Howard A. VanDine, III, A. Mattison Bogan, Erik T. Norton and Tara C. Sullivan, all of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, of Columbia, for Appellant/ Respondent.

Andrew D. Gowdown and Timothy J.W. Muller, of Rosen, Rosen & Hagood, LLC, of Charleston, for Respondent/Appellant.

JUSTICE PLEICONES. TOAL, C.J., BEATTY, KITTREDGE and HEARN, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 921

[410 S.C. 363] PLEICONES, JUSTICE.

This appeal concerns the construction and application of the South Carolina Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association Act (the Act), S.C. Code Ann. § § 38-31-10 to -170 (2002 and Supp. 2013), and specifically the exhaustion/non-duplication provision in section 38-31-100(1). Roger Brock (Brock) was a passenger in a car involved in a wreck and sustained severe injuries. Brock settled his claim, but before payment was made, the insurance carrier responsible for the claim was declared insolvent and the claim was assumed by the South Carolina Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association (Guaranty). Guaranty and Brock moved for summary judgment on the issue whether Guaranty may offset [410 S.C. 364] payments from solvent insurance carriers against Brock's settlement under section 38-31-100. The circuit court found section 38-31-100 was ambiguous and granted partial summary judgment to both parties, holding that Guaranty may offset some but not all of the benefits received by Brock from solvent insurance carriers. We disagree that section 38-31-100 is ambiguous and hold that the unambiguous language of section 38-31-100 provides that Guaranty may offset all payments from all solvent insurers made to Brock as a result of this wreck.

FACTS

Brock was passenger in a vehicle driven by Brian Mason (Mason), which was involved in an accident with a logging truck, driven by Ryan Stevens (Stevens).[1] At the time of the accident, Stevens was insured through the owner of the logging truck, Malachi Sanders's (Sanders), policy issued by Aequicap Insurance Company (Aequicap).

Brock sustained severe injuries as a result of the wreck and filed suit. Soon after the litigation began, Brock settled his claim against Stevens and Sanders with Aequicap for $185,000 for the release of all claims.

Shortly after the settlement was reached but before Brock received any payment, Aequicap was declared insolvent. Because Aequicap was an insurer licensed to do business in the State of South Carolina and the insured was a resident of South Carolina, the claim was referred to Guaranty. As a result, Brock made demand on Guaranty for payment of the full settlement amount of $185,000.[2]

As a result of the wreck, Brock received the following amounts directly from or paid on his ...


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