November 5, 2018
From Orangeburg County Maite Murphy, Circuit Court Judge.
Morris Burroughs, of Lanier & Burroughs, LLC, of
Orangeburg; Kathleen Chewning Barnes, of Barnes Law Firm,
LLC, of Hampton; and Justin Tyler Bamberg, of Bamberg Legal,
LLC, of Bamberg, for Appellants.
Troy Thames, of Willson Jones Carter & Baxley, P.A., of
Mt. Pleasant; and Ryan R. Corkery, of Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, for Respondent.
James Eggleston appeals the trial court's dismissal of
his action against United Parcel Service (UPS) for personal
injuries he suffered after UPS failed to timely deliver
thyroid medication. His wife, Rebecca McCutcheon, appeals the
trial court's dismissal of her loss of consortium action.
Eggleston and McCutcheon (collectively, Appellants) assert
the trial court erred in holding their claims were preempted
by federal law. We affirm.
veteran, Eggleston received treatment for his thyroid
condition from the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in
Charleston. On numerous occasions in the past, UPS delivered
shipments of medications from the VA hospital to Eggleston at
his rural Eutawville address. On April 11, 2013, Eggleston
was expecting a delivery of thyroid medication from the VA
Hospital by UPS, but the medication failed to arrive. The VA
Hospital communicated with UPS between April 11, 2013, and
April 15, 2013, in an attempt to rectify the situation. After
confirming Eggleston's address, a pharmacist with the VA
accessed UPS's records and discovered the package was
being held because a correct street name was needed. The
pharmacist called UPS and spoke with a representative who
contacted the local driver, Rick Fogle, and instructed him to
contact Eggleston and make the delivery that date. The
pharmacist also sent a partial refill of the medication by
overnight delivery as Appellants had declined to acquire a
partial supply from a local pharmacy due to transportation
and financial issues.
also contacted UPS, which informed them Eggleston's
address did not exist or could not be located, despite
UPS's previous delivery of medications to the address.
Eggleston's condition worsened into a thyroid storm,
causing seizures, congestive heart failure, extremely
elevated blood pressure, hospitalization, and surgical
intervention. UPS finally delivered the medication thirteen
days after it had been shipped.
brought an action against UPS and Fogle for negligence and
negligent entrustment. McCutcheon brought a similar action
for loss of consortium. UPS moved to dismiss both actions
asserting the state law claims were preempted by the the
Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994
(FAAAA), 49 U.S.C.A. § 14501(c)(1) (West 2016). The
trial court granted the motions to dismiss in separate
orders. Appellants filed motions to alter or amend, which the
trial court denied. This appeal, which consolidated
Appellants' actions, followed.
issue of whether a federal statute preempts state law is a
question of law. Weston v. Kim's Dollar Store,
385 S.C. 520, 526, 684 S.E.2d 769, 772 (Ct. App. 2009). The
appellate court "may make its own ruling on a question
of law without deferring to the circuit court."
Henderson v. Summerville Ford-Mercury Inc., 405 S.C.
440, 446, 748 S.E.2d 221, 224 (2013); see also Mims
Amusement Co. v. S.C. Law Enf't Div., 366 S.C. 141,
145, 621 S.E.2d 344, 346 (2005) (stating the appellate court
may decide a novel question of law "based on its
assessment of which answer and reasoning best comport with
the law and public policies of this state and the
[c]ourt's sense of law, justice, and right.").
Application of the FAAAA
argue the trial court erred in finding their claims were
preempted by the FAAAA. We disagree.
preemption doctrine is rooted in the Supremacy Clause of the
United States Constitution and provides that any state law
that conflicts with federal law is 'without
effect.'" Priester v. Cromer, 401 S.C. 38,
43, 736 S.E.2d 249, 252 (2012) (quoting Cipollone v.
Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U.S. 504, 516 (1992)).
"'[T]he purpose of Congress is the ultimate
touchstone' of pre-emption analysis." Id.
(quoting Cipollone, 505 U.S. at 516). "To
discern Congress'[s] intent we examine the explicit
statutory language and the structure and purpose of the
statute." Id. (quoting Ingersoll-Rand Co.
v. McClendon, 498 U.S. 133, 138 (1990)).
attempt to improve the airline industry through "maximum
reliance on competitive market forces," Congress enacted
the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA), which included a
preemption provision to "ensure that the States would
not undo federal deregulation with regulation of their
own." Rowe v. N.H. Motor Transp.
Ass'n, 552 U.S. 364, 36-38 (2008) (quoting
Morales v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 504 U.S. 374,
similar deregulation of the trucking industry, Congress
sought to preempt state trucking regulation with the FAAAA,
which prohibits states from "enact[ing] or enforce[ing]
a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and
effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any
motor carrier . . . with respect to the transportation of
property." 49 U.S.C.A. § 14501(c)(1). As the
preemption provision of the FAAAA tracks that of the ADA, the