September 16, 2019
From York County John C. Hayes, III, Circuit Court Judge.
F. Lindemann, of Lindemann, Davis & Hughes, PA, and
Robert David Garfield, of Crowe LaFave, LLC, both of
Columbia, for Appellant/Respondent.
Christopher Mills, of J. Christopher Mills, LLC, and
Alexandre Thomas Postic, of Law Offices of Alex Postic, both
of Columbia, for Respondent/Appellant.
the nolle pros dismissal of an assault and battery
of a high and aggravated nature (ABHAN) charge against him,
Russell Shane Carter sued former York County Sheriff Bruce
Bryant, in his official capacity as York County Sheriff, for
false arrest and malicious prosecution. The trial court
directed a verdict for Bryant on the false arrest claim but
let the malicious prosecution claim proceed. The jury awarded
Carter $150, 000 actual damages. Both sides now appeal.
Carter appeals the directed verdict against him on his false
arrest claim and the exclusion of his expert witness. We
affirm these rulings. Bryant raises several issues on appeal,
including the fundamental one that the trial court should
have granted him a judgment notwithstanding the verdict
(JNOV) on Carter's malicious prosecution claim because
the only reasonable inference from the evidence was that
there was probable cause to arrest Carter. We agree with
Bryant and, therefore, reverse the judgment against him.
and his family rented a home on property they shared with
three mobile homes. Carter served as caretaker of the
property, including assisting other renters with the
troublesome well that served as the water supply.
to Carter, one night in April 2012, he was awakened by
someone banging on his front door. The person refused to
identify himself, so Carter opened his front door and cracked
the screen door to talk with him. A man, later identified as
Michael Robinson Faile, stated he wanted water. Carter
repeatedly told Faile he was trespassing and asked him to
leave, but Faile refused. Carter sensed Faile smelled of
alcohol, decided Faile would not listen, and agreed to check
the water the next day. Faile demanded Carter check the water
immediately. Carter asked his wife to call the sheriff's
office. Carter stated Faile moved forward and put his hands
on the screen door, and in response, Carter's wife handed
her husband an aluminum baseball bat. Carter again asked
Faile to leave, but Faile refused. Carter tried to close the
screen door, but Faile placed one hand inside the door to
hold it open and struck Carter on the side of the head with
his other hand. As Carter tried to force Faile outside, Faile
continued to hit Carter. Carter then hit Faile in the head
with the bat and continued to hit him after Faile fell to the
ground. Carter stood over Faile until the police arrived. The
entire fracas occurred on Carter's front porch.
Deputy Kevin Gwinn of the York County Sheriff's Office
arrived at the scene, Carter was holding the bat and standing
over a motionless Faile. EMS arrived and took Faile to a
hospital, and Deputy Gwinn and the other responding officers
took statements from Carter and his wife. Carter told Gwinn
his version of the altercation and asked if he was protected
by the "Stand My Ground Law," referring to the
South Carolina Protection of Persons and Property Act (PPPA),
also popularly known as the law incorporating the common law
"Castle Doctrine." See S.C. Code Ann.
§§ 16-11-410 to -450 (2015). One of the officers
responded "that law might be down in Florida but that
ain't up here." The officers did not arrest Carter
at this time.
leaving Carter's home, Deputy Gwinn went to the hospital
to obtain Faile's statement. Faile told Deputy Gwinn he
went to speak with Carter about the water, in hopes of
assisting with any necessary repair of the well. He explained
he was walking off Carter's porch when Carter hit him in
the back of the head, and a struggle ensued. Deputy Gwinn
noted Faile's head was injured and even sunken in several
spots, and Faile had bruises all over his body. Deputy Gwinn
prepared an incident report, which detailed both Carter's
and Faile's versions of the incident and Faile's
following day, Deputy Gwinn met with York County magistrate
Leon Yard to discuss the case. After Deputy Gwinn presented
the case, Yard determined there was probable cause to issue
an arrest warrant for Carter on the charge of ABHAN. The
affidavit on the face of the warrant sworn by Deputy Gwinn
On April 25, 2012, in the county of York, one Russell Shane
Carter did willfully and unlawfully violate S.C. Laws by
striking Michael Robin Faile about the head and body with an
aluminum baseball bat causing visible injuries that required
medical attention. The victim was transported to Piedmont
Medical Center in Rock Hill by EMS. Probable cause based on a
police investigation. REPORT # 201200013457.
assistant solicitor later nolle prossed the charge
against Carter (who was never indicted), noting on the
dismissal form that Carter's "actions were within
the law" and later testifying Carter's actions were
likely protected by the PPPA, the Castle Doctrine, and the
defense of habitation.
False Arrest and the Facially Valid Warrant Doctrine
appeal centers on the trial court's directing a verdict
against him on his false arrest claim. We may reverse the
grant of a directed verdict only if there is no evidence
supporting it or it is controlled by an error of law.
Estate of Carr ex rel. Bolton v. Circle S Enters.,
Inc., 379 S.C. 31, 39, 664 S.E.2d 83, 86 (Ct. App.
2008). The trial court ruled that because Carter was arrested
on the ...