The Omnibus


Welcome to the 'law blog' of Pratt-Thomas Walker. In addition to regular updates and news from our practice areas, partner, Andy Gowder, holds court on 'Grounded' - a special topic area dealing with land use rights and other matters.


Author Archives: Andy Gowder

The Missing Witness Rule

The following post is from guest blogger/ colleague and friend, John Linton, looking at the kind of strategic decision-making that is the fun part of handling trial work. Enjoy Trial preparation often involves “what if” scenarios and planning for dealing with each. One such scenario that often arises during trial preparation and trial is “what […]

First Annual Land Use, Planning and Development Forum Coming Up

There’s still time to register for one or more upcoming CLE programs sponsored by the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law: Hot Topics in Land Use Law (July 16, 2014, 2:00 – 3:30pm ET) Legal Pickles, Planning Tools, and Case Studies in Urban Agriculture (July 15, 2014, 2:00 – 3:30pm ET) Heirs Property, Legal Planning, […]

The Nuts and Bolts of Local Government

  Though the Lambries v Saluda County case on agendas and the Open Meetings Law grabbed the headlines (see my Grounded post from 6/23) the SCOSC decided a pair of cases this month that concern two core functions of local government:  raising revenue through business licenses and issuing franchises for utilities operating within the municipal […]

What’s On the Agenda?

South Carolina Supreme Court Clarifies the Rules on Amending an Agenda Under the Freedom of Information Act             The South Carolina Supreme Court this week decided a case that had been watched by local government lawyers in South Carolina with some interest. In Lambries v Saluda County Council, (S.C. Supreme Court Op. No. 27400, June […]

Trust, but Verify?

“Trust, but verify” was used by President Reagan in describing his dealings with the Soviet Union.  Interestingly, it was a Russian proverb, “doveryai, no proveryai” (Russian:  Доверяй, но проверяй) and had been frequently used by Lenin. It could also serve as a succinct statement of the law of reasonable reliance in fraud cases when a […]

A Quorum of One

An “Army of One” was a short-lived National Guard recruiting slogan from a few years back.  A recent SC Supreme Court decision might be entitled “A Quorum of One,” where it upheld a vote to override a veto by Governor Sanford when the vote in the Senate was 1-0. In Board of Trustees of the […]

ULI SC Program Tonight! Creating Value With Green Space

Tonight, I will be moderating a ULI South Carolina program entitled, “Creating Value with Green Space” to be held at the Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting Street. The featured speaker is Ed McMahon, ULI/Charles Fraser Chair for Sustainable Development. Conservation development technologies have been around for decades, but only in the past few years have developers, […]

County Council Members Can Be Sued for Civil Conspiracy

The South Carolina Court of Appeals ruled, in August, that a developer frustrated in its attempts to have a development plan approved in light of a County Council’s efforts to pass a height limitation ordinance, where there had been no limitation before, could maintain an action against Council members, in their unofficial, individual capacities for civil conspiracy, where the developer was able to allege the required elements of civil conspiracy in its complaint. On the other hand, where that complaint names the Council members only as individuals, and not as officials, no causes of action addressing their actions as Council members could be maintained.

Federal Preemption Defeats Case Based on South Carolina law

Preemption is a concept deeply rooted in the United States Constitution and in our system of federalism. When it presents itself in a state court room, however, the concept becomes more real, and hard-edged, particularly when it is used to defeat a wrongful death claim in favor of Ford Motor Company.

Local Motorcycle Helmet Ordinance Pre-empted by State law

The South Carolina Supreme Court recently decided in Aakjer v City of Myrtle Beach that the City of Myrtle Beach’s Helmet Ordinance, drafted in response to large motorcycle rallies in Myrtle Beach, was invalid because it was preempted by existing state statutes that already require motorcycle drivers to wear helmets and goggles or protective shields. […]