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Kinghorn v. Sakakini

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

March 6, 2019

Mildred Ann Kinghorn, as Trustee for the Mildred Ann Kinghorn Trust, dated 28 April 2004, Respondent,
v.
George Sakakini, Appellant.

          Heard November 6, 2018

          Appeal From Beaufort County Carmen T. Mullen, Circuit Court Judge

          Melvin Richardson Hyman, Jr., of Law Firm of M. Richardson Hyman, Jr., of Charleston, for Appellant.

          C. Scott Graber, of Graber Law Firm, of Beaufort, for Respondent.

          LOCKEMY, C.J.

         George Sakakini appeals the circuit court's order granting Mildred Kinghorn's motion to enforce the parties' settlement agreement. We affirm.

         FACTS/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Sakakini and Kinghorn are neighbors in the Pickett Fences subdivision in Beaufort County. Following a dispute over the boundary between their properties, the parties entered into mediation and reached a settlement agreement on February 5, 2016. The settlement agreement provided (1) Kinghorn would convey a one-foot-wide strip of land to Sakakini and build a fence along the new property line, and (2) Sakakini would extinguish his rights to any easements over Kinghorn's property. The agreement further provided it was "contingent and subject to approval by the governing boards of the Picket Fences POA or Board of Review or any other appropriate authority" that may be required to approve the terms of the settlement.

         On February 17, 2016, Sakakini emailed the POA and stated he did not want the POA to approve the settlement agreement. Sakakini noted he had consulted with an attorney who told Sakakini he did not have the legal authority to enter into any agreement that waives or modifies the POA rules without the express consent of the POA. In addition, Sakakini stated he was told he did not have the legal authority to waive or modify any easements without the express consent of the lien holder, Bank of America. Sakakini again emailed the POA on February 23, 2016, asking the POA's lawyers to opine on the legality of the settlement agreement.

         On February 22, 2016, Kinghorn filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement. In his memorandum in opposition to Kinghorn's motion and at the motion hearing, Sakakini argued (1) there was no meeting of the minds on February 5, 2016, (2) Bank of America was a necessary party to the action, and (3) the matter was not ripe for adjudication due to various unresolved contingencies.

         On March 18, 2016, the circuit court granted Kinghorn's motion in a Form 4 order. Sakakini subsequently filed a Rule 59(e), SCRCP, motion to reconsider, which the circuit court denied. This appeal followed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "In South Carolina jurisprudence, settlement agreements are viewed as contracts." Pee Dee Stores, Inc. v. Doyle, 381 S.C. 234, 241, 672 S.E.2d 799, 802 (Ct. App. 2009). "An action to construe a contract is an action at law." Byrd v. Livingston, 398 S.C. 237, 241, 727 S.E.2d 620, 622 (Ct. App. 2012). "In an action at law, on appeal of a case tried without a jury, the judge's findings will not be disturbed unless they are without evidentiary support." Id. "However, this court is free to decide questions of law with no particular deference to the trial court." Id.

         LA ...


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