November 24, 2015
by Ronald C. Scott and Reginald P. Corley
Scott & Corley, P.A. – USFN Member (South Carolina)
In an appeal arising out of a foreclosure action, the South Carolina Court of Appeals found that an e-mail from the Master in Equity Court, with an attachment containing the order denying the petition for appraisal following a foreclosure sale, constituted written notice of entry of the order, in compliance with South Carolina Appellate Court Rule 203(b)(1). That rule provides that, a party wishing to appeal an order from the Court of Common Pleas must serve a notice of appeal on the other party within 30 days after receipt of written notice of entry of the order. [Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Fallon Properties South Carolina, LLC, No. 2015-000157 (S.C. Ct. App. Aug. 26, 2015)].
After the foreclosure sale, appellants filed a petition for an order of appraisal pursuant to Section 29-3-680 of the South Carolina Code (2007). On December 15, 2014 the master in equity filed an order denying the petition, and sent attorneys (for both sides) an e-mail stating, “Please see attached copy of signed and clocked Form 4 and Order. I have also mailed a copy to all listed on the Form 4.” The “signed and clocked” copies of the Form 4 and Order were attached to the e-mail. The Master in Equity sent the parties a printed copy of the order through the U.S. Postal Service, which appellants received on December 18, 2014. On January 15, 2015 appellants served the respondent with the notice of appeal from the December 15th order. The notice was served 31 days after appellants received the e-mail, but only 28 days after they received the printed copy of the order. The respondent moved to dismiss the appeal as untimely for failure to file the notice of appeal within 30 days after receipt of written notice of entry of the order.
Pursuant to the above-referenced Rule 203(b)(1), a party wishing to appeal an order from the Court of Common Pleas must serve the notice of appeal on the respondents “within thirty ... days after receipt of written notice of entry of the order.” The only limitation ever expressed on how notice must be received is that it must be “written notice.” The court found that the e-mail constituted “written notice” under the rule.
In its reasoning the court discussed Canal Insurance Company v. Caldwell, where a fax was held to constitute “written notice.” 338 S.C. 1, 5–6, 524 S.E.2d 416, 418 (Ct. App. 1999). The court found that there was an even stronger argument for the e-mail in this case to constitute written notice: the e-mail “was sent from the Court itself, rather than an opposing party;” “the e-mail included a copy of the signed and clocked order;” and the “e-mail has actually been contemplated by the rules,” citing Rule 410(e), SCACR.
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