Wachesaw Plantation East Community Services Association, Inc., Respondent,
Todd C. Alexander, Appellant. Appellate Case No. 2011-198986
Heard May 11, 2017
From Georgetown County Joe M. Crosby, Master-in-Equity
Charles T. Smith, of Georgetown, for Appellant.
Stephanie Carol Trotter, of McCabe, Trotter & Beverly,
P.C., of Columbia, for Respondent Wachesaw Plantation East
Community Services Association, Inc.
M. Scoville, Jr., of Jack M. Scoville, Jr., P.A., of
Georgetown, for Respondent William George.
lien foreclosure action filed by Respondent Wachesaw
Plantation East Community Services Association, Inc. (the
Association), Appellant Todd C. Alexander (Homeowner) seeks
review of an order of the Master-in-Equity denying his motion
to vacate the judicial sale of his property. Homeowner argues
(1) the master erred in denying the motion to vacate because
the sale price was inadequate and was accompanied by other
circumstances warranting the interference of the court,
namely, Homeowner's health problems and his lack of prior
knowledge of the judicial sale; (2) the sale constituted a
forfeiture of Homeowner's property because the sale was
involuntary and resulted in a price that was $135, 000 less
than the property's tax valuation; (3) the third-party
bidder, Respondent William George (Bidder), was unjustly
enriched because Homeowner was unable to attend the sale; and
(4) Homeowner had an equitable right to redeem his property
up to the time Bidder complied with the bid and received the
deed to the property. We affirm.
Circumstances Warranting Interference
first argues that the inadequacy of the sale price combined
with his health problems and his lack of prior knowledge of
the sale warranted setting it aside. We disagree.
determination of whether a judicial sale should be set aside
is a matter left to the sound discretion of the trial
court." Wells Fargo Bank, NA v. Turner, 378
S.C. 147, 150, 662 S.E.2d 424, 425 (Ct. App. 2008). "An
abuse of discretion occurs when the judgment is controlled by
some error of law or when the order, based upon factual, as
distinguished from legal conclusions, is without evidentiary
support." Regions Bank v. Owens, 402 S.C. 642,
647, 741 S.E.2d 51, 54 (Ct. App. 2013). This standard of
review "merely represents the appellate courts'
effort to incorporate the two sound principles underlying the
proper review of an equity case." Crossland v. Crossland, 408 S.C.
443, 452, 759 S.E.2d 419, 423-24 (2014) (quoting Lewis v.
Lewis, 392 S.C. 381, 391, 709 S.E.2d 650, 655 (2011)).
"[T]hose two principles are the superior position of the
trial [court] to determine credibility and the imposition of
a burden on an appellant to satisfy the appellate court that
the preponderance of the evidence is against the finding of
the trial court." Id. at 452, 759 S.E.2d at 424
(first alteration in original) (quoting Lewis, 392
S.C. at 391, 709 S.E.2d at 655).
courts zealously insure judicial sales be openly and freely
conducted and nothing be allowed to chill the bidding."
E. Sav. Bank, FSB v. Sanders, 373 S.C.349, 355, 644
S.E.2d 802, 805-06 (Ct. App. 2007). However, "[a]
judicial sale will be set aside when either: (1) the sale
price 'is so gross as to shock the conscience[;]' or
(2) the sale 'is accompanied by other circumstances
warranting the interference of the court.'"
Wells Fargo, 378 S.C. at 150, 662 S.E.2d at 425
(second alteration in original) (quoting Poole v.
Jefferson Standard Life Ins. Co., 174 S.C. 150, 157, 177
S.E. 24, 27 (1934)).
As has been said time and again in cases involving the
setting aside of judicial sales, it is the policy of the
[c]ourts to uphold such sales when regularly made, and when
it can be done without violating principle or doing
injustice; and that mere inadequacy of price, unaccompanied
by other circumstances [that] would invoke the exercise of
the [c]ourt's discretion is not sufficient, unless,
perhaps, it is so great as to raise a presumption of fraud or
to shock the conscience of the [c]ourt.
Henry v. Blakely, 216 S.C. 13, 18, 56 S.E.2d 581,
Homeowner does not argue that the sale price shocks the
conscience. Rather, he asserts (1) the price of $181, 000 is
inadequate because the fair market value of the property is
$316, 800 and (2) he did not know about the foreclosure
hearing, the foreclosure judgment, or the judicial sale until
the day after the sale. He maintains his lack of knowledge of
these events constitutes excusable neglect. See Wells
Fargo, 378 S.C. at 152 n.1, 662 S.E.2d at 426 n.1
(explaining a party seeking to set aside a judicial sale on
the ground that the price at which the property was sold was
merely inadequate, rather than shocking to the conscience,
must show excusable neglect). Homeowner ...