Evidence of Prior Construction Defects is Admissible for purposes of a Punitive Award in South Carolina

With all the hype surrounding the Crossman decisions, it can be easy to miss other important opinions published by the courts in South Carolina. Recently, the South Carolina Court of Appeals upheld a punitive damage award challenged on the basis that evidence of similar defects at other projects developed, constructed, and sold by defendant Heritage Communities were similar to the construction defects alleged before the circuit court. “Based on the foregoing, the construction defects at the other HCI developments were substantially similar to those experienced by Magnolia North. Further, the evidence is admissible to prove many of the elements required for a punitive damages award. See Mitchell v. Fortis Ins. Co., 385 S.C. 570, 584-89, 686 S.E.2d 176, 183-86 (2009) (listing guideposts to consider in conducting a review of a punitive damages award)[7]; Gamble v. Stevenson, 305 S.C. 104, 111-12, 406 S.E.2d 350, 354 (1991) (listing factors to consider in conducting a review of punitive damages).”

The court also ruled it was of no consequence that HCI is now out of business and, thus, a punitive award would not serve as a deterant to future bad acts.

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