Skip to comments.No "sex offender" here; SC man awarded $890,000
Posted on 12/13/2013 5:33:06 AM PST by Gamecock
MANNING — Be sure you’re correct when you call someone a registered sex offender.
Like, really sure.
A Clarendon County jury awarded $890,000 in damages to a man who his fellow condominium owners – all on the condominium’s governing board – repeatedly and wrongly identified as a registered sex offender listed on the S.C. Sex Offender Registry.
The jury finding — $550,000 in actual damages and $340,000 in punitive damages — was one of the highest in years in Clarendon County, said county clerk of court Beulah Roberts, who sat through the four-day trial last week.
“There have been some higher awards, but not many,” said Roberts, clerk of court since 1995.
The damages will go to James E. King, who owned two condominium units in the Santee Resort complex, in the Santee community near Lake Marion and the Orangeburg County line.
Board association members had circulated a flyer from the S.C. Sex Offender Registry website about a registered offender named William James King. The flyer, printed from the website, had an old photograph of William James King Jr., along with the information that he had been convicted of committing a lewd act upon a child.
As they circulated the flyer, some board members wrongly told people that the King in the flyer was the same King who owned property in the condominium complex, according to evidence in the trial.
One Santee Resort board member even called King’s bank in Orangeburg — where he had taken out a mortgage — and told the loan officer that King was a sex offender, according to trial evidence.
“It was totally the wrong man — not only is James King not a sex offender, he doesn’t even have a criminal record,” said attorney Shaun Kent of Manning, who represented James King along with Jason Daigle of the Maybank law firm in Charleston.
The board members were dissatisfied with James King’s failure to pay monthly dues on time and to make voluntary contributions to the upkeep of the complex, according to legal papers.
Kent said there were passing similarities between the two Kings — both were white, and on the short side in height, for example.
But the sex offender had a full head of hair and a moustache, and the non-criminal King did not.
Most important, Kent said, everyone shown the flyer who knew King told the condominium board members that wasn’t the plaintiff.
“But they kept showing it anyway,” Kent said.
One other difference — his client is married and has two children, Kent said.
Both plaintiff King and his wife testified at trial, along with some six other plaintiff’s witnesses.
Kent said the trial verdict holds a lesson for everyone.
“There are certain names you just can’t call people, unless you truly check your facts,” Kent said. “It’s beyond reprehensible that someone would call someone else a sex offender without really knowing that they are.”
Freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution does allow someone to call someone else a sex offender, but only if the assertion is correct.
“Truth is the ultimate defense,” Kent said. “If it’s true, it’s true.”
Since the two condominium owners named as defendants in the lawsuit were members of the board, it is the board — and not the individuals — that is responsible for paying off the jury award, Kent said he told the jury during trial.
Two lawyers who represented the condominium board — Jake Kennedy of Florence and William Johnson of Manning — declined comment Thursday. The two represent the association and board members Leah Londeree and James Kinser.
“No comment at this time,” Kennedy said.
Defense lawyers have until Monday to file any post-trial motions, including a notice of appeal.
Board association members had circulated this flyer from the S.C. Sex Offender Registry website about a registered offender named William James King. The flyer, printed from the website, had an old photograph of William James King Jr., along with the information that he had been convicted of committing a lewd act upon a child. As they circulated the flyer, some board members wrongly told people that the King in the flyer was the same King who owned property in the condominium complex, according to evidence in the trial
Glad to see these petty tyrants getting slapped down.
Really...usually people like these housing associate dictators are busy-body losers. I bid on a condo and the price was unusually cheap for the building quality and location. 3 days before the settlement I was given the 1 1/2” thick copy of association rules. 3 people decided that if over a certain percentage of the condos were rented out, then no one else could rent theirs. I was sure this was illegal, but I backed out of the deal immediately. Commies are pervasive! (and perverted)
Unfortunately, all of the condo owners will suffer financially. The board members will suffer no more than the owners. If more owners would attend the association meetings then they will make some educated choices when voting. Sound familiar? LoFo voters at the condo level.
Don’t get me started on HOAs. Our HOA officers REALLY wanted to get a Management Firm to come in, to the point that the Management Firm even advised them on how to game the bylaws so that they could pass the required raise in HOA fees.
Wednesday night, they were voted out, AND a vote was taken on whether a Management Firm should even be considered. Vote was over 2:1 AGAINST. Former officers were NOT happy. . . Management company rep just snuck out as soon as they lost the vote. . .
Of course, I’d like to think I helped that decision. . .at the LAST HOA meeting, I hit them with: “So, what you’re telling us, is that if we LIKE our HOA dues, we can KEEP our HOA dues ??” The former Secretary, who lives two houses down, has refused to speak to me ever since. Of course, she was ALSO the only house on the block with an Obama sign last year. . .
A rule like that is not illegal...as long as it’s adopted according to the rules, and everyone, including yourself, is given notice. Actually, that type of rule can help to stabilize a condo community...it’s often a good thing...
Post of the day.......
Truth is the ultimate defense, Kent said. If its true, its true.
Unless, of course, the feral government is involved. In that case, all bets are off.
You took the rule personally and inferred that the condo board were dictators and commies. You may have been correct but it was not for the reasons you thought. They were just looking out for the neighborhood’s properly values and viability.
The percentage of condos that are rented in a closed neighborhood association is limited by the mortgage lenders, not by the board itself. It doesn’t mean that the entire complex can’t be rentals. They could be. But the mortgage lenders wouldn’t lend money for the purchases. The buyers would have to pay cash.
What it does mean is that over a certain percentage, the mortgage lenders will no longer lend money to buyers because the risk of default goes way up when too many units are investment or rental properties versus owner-occupied buyers in a complex. The quality and pride of ownership factors go way down when there are too many rented units in a closed neighborhood. The rule helps maintain property values for all the owners as well.
The association board was just repeating the same guidelines for the complex as those of the mortgage lending industry so that people could still get financing to buy in the neighborhood. It was not about you individually It was about the neighborhood as a whole. It is not illegal either. It is good management.
Too bad the individuals who did this aren’t going to have to pay
I guess he can afford to pay his dues and HOA now.
some jail time is on order for the accusers too stupid to figure out the difference.
I understand what you’re saying...I also understand that once you let someone else tell you what you can or cannot do with your private property, you’re endentured to that person or group. That is not freedom IMO! It is willingly ceding your rights.
Well, guess what? When you want to buy or live in a closed neighborhood with Covenants, Conditons and Restrictions (CC&Rs), you are having to live by the guidelines set down by the neighborhood, not just your own rules.
Look at the other side of the coin for a second and maybe you’ll see the problem more clearly. What if you lived in such a complex and wanted to SELL your property and you couldn’t attract a buyer because they couldn’t finance the purchase because there were 80% rental units in the complex and no mortgage lender wanted to lend money in the complex? You’d want the rule to limit rentals then, I suspect.
To avoid this situation altogether, go buy yourself a single family detached home in a neighborhood not covered by CC&Rs. Then you can do what you want with your private property (within limits, depending on the rules and taxes assessed for rentals by cities and counties). Many people want to live in neighborhoods with some restrictions on the number of rentals to avoid tenants and landlords who do not care for their property or cause a nuisance to their neighbors. I suspect the condo you wanted to buy was so cheap because the owner couldn’t get rid of it any other way. In real estate, cheap means there is a problem.
When my adult children complain that this or that or life is not fair, I always tell them what my dad told me when I left home to start out on a life of my own after school almost 60 years ago. “Life will not be fair. And don’t expect it to be.” They’ve changed their tunes after being out in the real world for many years and realized that real life out there is not what they thought it would be or what their teachers told them in school. Reality and the facts of life are a shock to most young folks until they realize that they will have to adjust either what they want or to how they go about getting it.