Angel Y. Gary as Personal Representative of the Estate of Blondell M. Gary, Respondent,
Lowcountry Medical Transport, Inc., American Medical Response, Inc., d/b/a Access2Care, and Eugene A. Kirkland, In re: Charles Gary, Purported Surviving Spouse, Defendants, Of whom Charles Gary, Purported Surviving Spouse, is the Appellant. Appellate Case No. 2016-000222
September 19, 2017
From Hampton County Perry M. Buckner, III, Circuit Court
Dawson, III, of North Charleston, for Appellant.
Richard Alexander Murdaugh, Bert Glenn Utsey, III, and Austin
Howell Crosby, all of Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth &
Detrick, PA, of Hampton, for Respondent.
action Charles Gary asserts the circuit court erred by
determining he was not Blondell Gary's husband at the
time of her death and not an heir to her estate. Charles
asserts the estate should be estopped from taking a position
contradictory to its pleadings in previous cases. We affirm.
the record is not clear as to dates, it is clear Charles and
Blondell were married and that marriage produced two
children. Subsequently, Charles married Doretha Chisolm on
July 31, 1982. Charles and Doretha finalized their divorce on
January 21, 2001. Prior to finalizing their divorce, Charles
remarried Blondell on November 30, 1999, and they lived
together as husband and wife until Blondell's death.
February 16, 2012, Blondell and Charles were traveling in an
ambulance operated by Lowcountry Medical Transport when the
driver "recklessly and negligently lost control of the
vehicle, left the roadway, and collided with a tree."
Blondell died as a result of her injuries.
Angel Gary, the natural daughter of Charles and Blondell,
filed a petition to be appointed the personal representative
of her mother's estate. The application requested the
"[n]ames and addresses of intestate heirs who are not
devisees." Angel indicated Charles Gary was
Blondell's spouse and that Blondell had two daughters and
two sons. The probate court appointed Angel as the personal
representative of her mother's estate.
November 8, 2012, Angel filed suit on her mother's behalf
against Lowcountry Medical Transport. Angel alleged a single
cause of action for negligence and requested actual and
punitive damages. In her complaint, Angel alleged,
"Blondell Gary (hereinafter Blondell), on behalf of her
husband, Charles Gary, contracted with [Lowcountry Medical
Transport] to provide non-emergency medical transport on the
day in question."
parties entered into a settlement agreement on September 14,
2015, wherein Angel agreed to dismiss the estate's
lawsuit against Lowcountry Medical in exchange for $2, 250,
December 14, 2015, Angel Gary filed a petition to determine
heirship of her mother's estate. Angel asserted,
"Since the time of her initial appointment as Personal
Representative, [she] has become aware of certain facts that
call into question whether Charles Gary was married to
[Blondell]." Specifically, Angel asserted, "(1)
Charles Gary was married to another woman when he unlawfully
attempted to marry Blondell Gary, (2) Blondell Gary did not
possess the requisite intent to marry Charles Gary, (3) no
marriage ceremony ever took place, and (4) that any alleged
marriage is void." Angel asserted Charles married
Doretha Chisholm on July 31, 1982, and the couple divorced
between December 13, 2000, and January 22, 2001. Charles and
Blondell's marriage certificate stated the couple was
married on November 30, 1999. Accordingly, Angel alleged any
marriage was void and Charles was therefore not an heir to
denied he was already married when he married Blondell.
also alleged "[t]he Estate is judicially bound by the
admissions in its pleadings that Mr. Gary is the surviving
spouse and a beneficiary of the Estate of Blondell M.
Gary." Charles also asserted "[t]he Estate's
challenge to Mr. Gary['s] status as a beneficiary is
barred because Judge Buckner's November 13, 2015,
Consent Order of Dismissal with Prejudice [of the wrongful
death suit] acts as an adjudication on ...