United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
Beeson Development, LLC, and J and E Holdings LLC, South Carolina Limited Liability Companies, and Joseph A. C. Beeson, individually, Plaintiffs,
Anderson County, a Political Subdivision of the State of South Carolina, Defendant.
OPINION & ORDER
M. Herlong, Jr. Senior United States District Judge.
matter is before the court on Beeson Development, LLC, J and
E Holdings LLC, and Joseph A.C. Beeson's
“Plaintiffs”) motion to alter or amend judgment
pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. On August 7, 2019, Anderson County filed a motion
for summary judgment. (Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 136.) The court
granted Anderson County's motion for summary judgment for
Plaintiffs' remaining claims asserting a due process
violation and inverse condemnation against Anderson
County.(Sept. 23, 2019 Order, ECF No. 152; Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 195-202, 231-237, ECF No. 98.) Plaintiffs
filed a motion to alter or amend judgment on October 21,
2019. (Mot. to Alter, ECF No. 154.) On November 4, 2019,
Anderson County filed a response. (Resp., ECF No. 155.) After
receiving one extension of time, Plaintiffs filed a reply on
December 16, 2019. (Reply, ECF No. 168.) This matter is now
ripe for review.
Discussion of the Law
Standard of Review
are three circumstances in which the district court can grant
a Rule 59(e) motion: (1) to accommodate an intervening change
in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not
available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or
prevent manifest injustice.” United States ex rel.
Becker v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., 305 F.3d 284,
290 (4th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). Under Rule 59(e), a district court may
“correct its own errors, sparing the parties and the
appellate courts the burden of unnecessary appellate
proceedings.” Pacific Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l
Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). However,
Rule 59(e) motions “may not be used . . . to raise
arguments which could have been raised prior to the issuance
of judgment, nor may they be used to argue a case under a
novel legal theory that the party had the ability to address
in the first instance.” Id. (citations
omitted). This “extraordinary remedy . . . should be
used sparingly.” Id. (internal quotation marks
and citation omitted).
Due Process Violation
have raised a number of arguments for the first time in their
Rule 59(e) motion. Thus, these new arguments are improper.
Moreover, the arguments are meritless. However, in the
interest of clarity, the court will address these arguments.
argue that S.C. Code Ann. § 6-29-1150(A) affords them a
property right to support their due process claim. (Reply 8,
ECF No. 154.) Under section 6-29-1150(A), planning
commissions must take action on submitted “sketch
plans, preliminary plans, and final plans” within sixty
days of receipt. Failure to act within sixty days is
“considered to constitute approval.” S.C. Code
Ann. § 6-29-1150(A). While Plaintiffs have previously
relied on section 6-29-1150(A) for their inverse condemnation
claim, Plaintiffs now rely on this statute, for the first
time in their Rule 59(e) motion, to support their due process
claim. (See Reply 8, ECF No. 154; Resp. Opp'n
Mot. Summ. J. 10, ECF No. 144.) Therefore, this new argument
is improper at this stage.
Plaintiffs' argument is meritless. Plaintiffs' due
process claim is based on three grounds: that Anderson County
violated their due process rights by (1) granting an
encroachment permit to a neighboring developer; (2) denying
Plaintiffs' statutory and constitutional right to appeal
from Anderson County's decision to grant the encroachment
permit; and (3) violating the Anderson County Code
(“ACC”). (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 195-202, ECF
No. 98; Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. 14-16, ECF No. 144.) In
contrast, section 6-29-1150(A) deals with planning
commissions' decisions regarding “sketch plans,
preliminary plans, and final plans[.]” Thus, any
potential property right that section 6-29-1150(A) may afford
Plaintiffs relates solely to the approval of Plaintiffs'
development plans, which, according to the amended complaint
and summary judgment pleadings, is not at issue under this
due process claim. Consequently, section 6-29-1150(A) fails
to provide Plaintiffs with any property right in an
encroachment permit granted to a neighboring developer, a
hearing for an appeal, or violations of the ACC.
even if Plaintiffs' development plans were at issue under
their due process claim, this claim would still be
unsuccessful because Plaintiffs failed to appeal the Anderson
County Planning Commission's (“Planning
Commission”) decision within thirty days. Rockville
Cars, LLC v. City of Rockville, Md., 891 F.3d 141, 149
(4th Cir. 2018) (“[N]o § 1983 procedural due
process violation exists when a party fails to exhaust both
administrative and state court remedies .”); S.C.
Code Ann. § 6-29-1150(D) (providing for appeals from
planning commissions “to the circuit court within
thirty days after actual notice of the decision.”).
in the instant motion, Plaintiffs contend that their
neighboring developer should have been required to obtain a
variance under the ACC. (Mem. Supp. Mot. to Alter 3, ECF No.
154-1.) Thus, Plaintiffs argue that the failure to require a
variance violated their due process rights. (Id. at
4, ECF No. 154-1.) In support of this argument, Plaintiffs
cite to S.C. Code Ann. § 6-29-800(A)(2)(d), which
delineates that boards of appeals must consider, among
several factors, adjacent property when deciding whether to
grant a variance. (Id., ECF No. 154-1.) Again,
Plaintiffs did not raise this statute in their amended
complaint or opposition to summary judgment. Therefore, this
argument is improper at this stage. Moreover, Plaintiffs have
failed to cite any authority showing that this creates a
cognizable property right sufficient for relief under the
Fourteenth Amendment. To survive a motion for summary
judgment, Plaintiffs have the burden of making a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of the essential
elements of their claim. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Failure to do so
necessitates a finding that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact. Id. Plaintiffs have failed to
meet this burden.
the court committed a scrivener's error in its previous
order. The court indicated that the Planning Commission
granted an encroachment permit to a neighboring developer for
trash collection vehicles, Plaintiffs appealed the Planning
Commission's decision, and, in its analysis, the
Accardi doctrine did not apply to state or local
planning commissions. (Sept. 23, 2019 Order 4, 6-7, ECF No.
152.) By way of clarification, the court should have
indicated that the Anderson County Roads and Bridges
Department, not the Planning Commission, decided to grant
this encroachment permit for emergency access, Plaintiffs
appealed the Roads and Bridges Department's decision, and
the Accardi doctrine did not apply to state or local
Roads and Bridges Departments. However, this change has no
impact on the outcome because Plaintiffs failed to show that
they had a cognizable property right.
detailed in the previous order, courts generally analyze
three factors for inverse condemnation claims: (1)
“[t]he economic impact of the regulation on the
claimant, ” (2) “the extent to which the
regulation has interfered with distinct investment-backed
expectations[, ]” and (3) “the character of the