Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, National Association f/k/a the Bank of New York Trust Company, N.A. as successor to JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A. s/b/m Bank One National Association as Trustee for RAMP 2002RS5, Plaintiff,
Chartrease Grier, Palmetto Health Alliance, and Palmetto Richland Memorial, Defendants. Chartrease Grier, Appellant,
Nationwide Property & Casualty Insurance Company and Tonya D. Parks, Respondents
November 4, 2015.
From Richland County. Alison Renee Lee, Circuit Court Judge.
Appellate Case No. 2013-002403.
Allison Moon and Sarah E. Brown, of Moon Law Firm, and Scott
J. Bradley, of The Joel Bieber Firm, of Greenville; and
Michael G. Wimer, pro hac vice, all for Appellant.
J. Anzelmo, Alana Odom Williams, and Jay T. Thompson, all of
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, of Columbia, for
J. HUFF, A.C.J., and THOMAS, J., concur.
Grier appeals the circuit court's grant of summary
judgment in favor of Nationwide Property & Casualty
Insurance Company (Nationwide), arguing the court erred in
(1) finding section 38-75-740 of the South Carolina Code
(2015) was inapplicable to homeowners insurance policies, (2)
ruling her breach of contract claim failed as a matter of
law, (3) concluding Nationwide's refusal to pay was not
in bad faith, and (4) denying Grier's motion to amend her
third-party complaint. We affirm.
2006, Grier purchased a homeowner's insurance policy from
Nationwide through her insurance agent, Tanya Parks. The
policy covered her home and its contents in Columbia, South
Carolina. The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company (the
Bank) held a mortgage on Grier's property, and GMAC
Mortgage, LLC (GMAC) serviced the mortgage on behalf of the
Bank. Pursuant to the mortgage, Grier was required to pay the
homeowners insurance premium as a part of her monthly
mortgage payment into an escrow account managed by GMAC.
March or April of each year, GMAC issued a check to
Nationwide for the amount of the insurance premium it
withdrew from the escrow account, and Nationwide renewed the
policy. Nationwide renewed Grier's homeowner's policy
annually from 2007 to 2010. In January 2011, however,
Nationwide decided not to renew Grier's policy--which was
set to expire on March 24, 2011--because she failed to remedy
various hazards and risks on her property. Nationwide claims
it mailed proper notice of nonrenewal to Grier on January 14,
2011, at her home address listed on the policy.
March 11, 2011--before the policy expired--a GMAC
representative contacted Nationwide about paying the premium
for Grier's policy for the upcoming renewal period. Grier
contends Nationwide welcomed the payment in this conversation
and stated it would renew the policy if it received the
GMAC mailed a check to Nationwide on March 15, 2011, for the
same amount it submitted the prior year for the renewal.
Nevertheless, because no active policy was listed for Grier
in its records, Nationwide returned the premium to Grier by a
check dated April 1, 2011.
April 6, 2011, a fire destroyed Grier's home, leaving it
uninhabitable. Grier filed a claim for insurance coverage,
but Nationwide denied her claim, explaining that Grier had no
policy in place. Grier soon defaulted on her mortgage, and on
September 13, 2011, the Bank filed a foreclosure action
against her. Grier answered and filed a third-party
complaint against Nationwide and Parks, asserting causes of
action for breach of contract, bad faith failure to pay her
insurance claim, and indemnity and contribution.
the parties participated in discovery, Grier filed a motion
on June 8, 2012--with leave of court pursuant to Rule 15(a),
SCRCP--to amend her complaint and add a cause of action for
negligent misrepresentation against Nationwide. Grier
asserted Nationwide breached its duty of care by falsely
" representing to GMAC that [Grier's] policy would
be renewed upon payment of the policy premium."
November 5, 2012, Grier filed a motion for summary judgment,
arguing Nationwide violated section 38-75-740 of the South
Carolina Code by failing to deliver written notice to Parks,
the insurance agent of record, that Grier's policy was
not being renewed. According to Grier, Nationwide could not
deny coverage because its attempt to nonrenew the policy was
invalid. Nationwide filed its own ...