Submitted May 1, 2018
From Richland County Joseph M. Strickland, Master-in-Equity
Kathleen Chewning Barnes, of Barnes Law Firm, LLC, of
Hampton; Phillip Anthony Curiale, of Auburn, WA; and Brian L.
Boger, of Columbia; all for Appellant.
L. Widener and Andrew Gordon Melling, both of McNair Law
Firm, PA, of Columbia, for Respondents.
an appeal from a damages award arising from the failed sale
of a residential lot. The Master awarded the Seller,
Respondents Michael T. Strebler and Lisa W. Strebler
(collectively "Seller"), $40, 388 in damages for
breach of contract. The Buyer, Appellant Norwest Properties,
LLC, appeals claiming the award (except $350 in costs)
constitutes special damages that Seller failed to plead. We
agree, and reverse.
listed the lot for sale in 2005. They soon accepted
Buyer's offer for the $175, 000 asking price. The parties
signed a contract and set a closing date. Buyer commissioned
a survey of the lot, which revealed numerous encroachments on
the property by an adjoining landowner, Paul J. Mitchell. It
transpired Seller had previously granted Mitchell permission
for the encroachments, which were never recorded or otherwise
reviewing the survey, Buyer requested Seller remove the
encroachments before closing. The closing date passed without
November 18, 2005, Buyer sued Seller for specific performance
and breach of contract. Seller appeared pro se,
filing an Answer denying Buyer's allegations and
asserting Buyer breached the contract. The only reference to
any claim for damages appears in Seller's prayer for
relief, which asks for "costs and damages."
Master held a bench trial on November 9, 2009. The only
testimony at this hearing related to Seller's breach of
contract damages occurs amidst the following brief exchange
while Mr. Strebler is on the stand:
Mr. Strebler: [I]s it appropriate in my testimony to ask for
damages, as I sit here?
THE COURT: Well - - in your Pleadings did you ask for