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Myat v. Tuomey Regional Medical Center

Court of Appeals of South Carolina

April 3, 2019

Win Myat, Appellant,
v.
Tuomey Regional Medical Center, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2016-000774

          Heard February 12, 2019

          Appeal From Sumter County R. Ferrell Cothran, Jr., Circuit Court Judge

          William R. Padget and Francis M. Hinson, IV, of Finkel Law Firm, LLC, of Columbia, for Appellant.

          David Cornwell Holler, of Lee, Erter, Wilson, Holler & Smith, LLC, of Sumter, for Respondent.

          SHORT, J.

         In this premises liability action resulting from injuries suffered by Dr. Win Myat while working at Tuomey Regional Medical Center (Hospital), Myat appeals, arguing the trial court erred in (1) permitting Hospital to amend its answer to assert a new affirmative defense; (2) allowing Hospital to reopen its case and offer new evidence in support of its charitable affirmative defense; and (3) concluding Hospital was qualified to receive the protections of the South Carolina Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act (the Act)[1]. We affirm.

         FACTS

         On July 6, 2011, Myat fell while walking through Hospital as a result of liquid on the floor. Myat suffered a broken patella and torn tendon. Myat was employed by Hospital as the Medical Director of Infectious Disease and also worked at Hospital as a physician for his private medical practice. Myat claimed his injuries left him with severe pain, which rendered him unable to continue his medical practice.

         Myat filed a personal injury action against Hospital on October 15, 2012. Myat amended his complaint on November 5, 2012. Hospital filed its answer on January 16, 2013. On August 21, 2015, Hospital moved to amend its answer to assert the protections of the Act. Myat's initial and amended complaints asserted, and Hospital's answer conceded, that Hospital was an eleemosynary corporation.[2] On August 24, 2015, the trial court granted Hospital's motion to amend its answer to assert the Act as a defense.

         The case was tried before a jury August 31 to September 2, 2015. At the close of Hospital's case, Myat moved for a directed verdict on Hospital's failure to offer evidence of its Section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code[3] tax status and the application of the Act's limitation on liability.[4] Hospital moved to reopen its case and requested the court take judicial notice of its 501(c)(3) tax status and the Act's charitable cap. Hospital also offered to present evidence of its tax status. The court took the issue under advisement and continued with the presentation of evidence and testimony to the jury. The parties agreed Hospital's tax status and the application of the Act were not questions of fact for the jury.

         Prior to receiving the jury's verdict, the trial court granted Hospital's motion to Act. The court also allowed Myat to conduct discovery prior to a hearing on Hospital's tax status and the Act. The jury returned a verdict for $2.5 million in actual damages for Myat.

         On March 8, 2016, the trial court held a hearing on Hospital's tax status and the application of the Act. On April 7, 2016, the court filed its order reducing the verdict to $300, 000 pursuant to the Act's liability cap, entering judgment, and denying Myat's outstanding motions. This appeal follows.

         LAW/ANALYSIS

         I. Motion to Amend

         Myat argues the trial court erred in permitting Hospital to amend its answer to assert a new affirmative ...


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