Peggy D. Conits, Respondent,
Spiro E. Conits, Petitioner. Appellate Case No. 2016-001961
Submitted October 24, 2017
OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
from Greenville County David G. Guyton, Family Court Judge
Kenneth C. Porter, Porter & Rosenfeld, and David Alan
Wilson, of The Law Offices of David A. Wilson, LLC, both of
Greenville, for Petitioner.
Timothy E. Madden, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough,
LLP, of Greenville, for Respondent.
E. Conits filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to review
the decision of the court of appeals in Conits v.
Conits, 417 S.C. 127, 789 S.E.2d 51 (Ct. App. 2016). We
grant the petition, dispense with further briefing, reverse
the decision, and remand to the court of appeals.
D. Conits and her husband Spiro litigated many issues in
their divorce action in family court, but we address only
one-the size and value of a farm Spiro owns in Greece. Spiro
appealed the family court's ruling on this issue, but the
court of appeals found the issue was not preserved for
appellate review. The court of appeals understood Spiro to
argue on appeal the farm "does not exist, " but
that at trial he "made no arguments as to the existence
of the . . . farm." 417 S.C. at 137, 789 S.E.2d at 56.
We find Spiro made the same argument on appeal he made at
trial. The issue is preserved.
facts of this case are set forth in detail in the court of
appeals' opinion. 417 S.C. at 133-36, 789 S.E.2d at
54-56. At trial, the parties presented conflicting evidence
about the size and value of the farm in Greece. Spiro
admitted he owns a one-half interest in a three-acre farm
with a fair market value of $43, 750. Peggy claimed the farm
is thirty acres with a fair market value of $1, 420, 200. As
the court of appeals observed, "the parties argued about
its value and whether the property was three or thirty
acres." 417 S.C. at 137, 789 S.E.2d at 56
family court found the farm is thirty acres and assigned it a
value of $1, 420, 000. Spiro filed a motion to alter or amend
the judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the South Carolina
Rules of Civil Procedure. He argued-among other things-Peggy
"completely misrepresented or misunderstood
[Spiro's] ownership interests in real estate in Greece
and the court erred in adopting such misrepresentation as
fact without evidentiary support." Spiro specifically
argued he "does not own a thirty-acre farm in
Greece" and "[his] interest in [the three-acre . .
. farm] is worth between $20, 000 and $21, 875." The
family court denied the motion.
appeal to the court of appeals, Spiro admitted he owns a
three-acre farm in Greece and claimed he does not own a
thirty-acre farm. Appellant's Br. 12. Spiro argued in his
brief to the court of appeals,
At trial, [Spiro] clarified and corrected his ownership in
the various properties in Greece and confirmed his ownership
in a three-acre . . . farm as opposed to a thirty-acre farm.
He testified at trial that he only owns three acres in
Greece. [Spiro] simply does not own a thirty-acre farm in
Id. Spiro then argued in his brief there is "no
support for [Peggy's] 'opinion' as to the value
of the farm" and the family court's ruling
"should be removed in its entirety and replaced with
findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the
three-acre . . . farm." Appellant's Br. 15.
words Spiro used to make his argument concerning the size and
value of the farm in Greece changed from the family court to
his Rule 59(e) motion to his brief at the court of appeals.
In fact, Spiro confused the true issue when he described it
in his brief to the court of appeals as, "Should the
Family Court Include in the Marital Estate an Asset That Does
Not Even Exist, " and repeatedly and emphatically argued
that "no such asset even exists." Considering
Spiro's arguments practically, however, we clearly see
that his argument was the same at each stage of these
proceedings-he does not own a thirty-acre farm in Greece; he
owns a three-acre farm; and it is not worth anything near
what Peggy claims or the family court found. See Herron
v. Century BMW, 395 S.C. 461, 470, 719 S.E.2d 640, 644
(2011) ("We are mindful of the need to approach issue
preservation rules with a practical eye and not in a rigid,
hyper-technical manner."). When Spiro argued in his Rule
59(e) motion and wrote ...