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Title 15 - Civil Remedies and Procedures
SOUTH CAROLINA FRIVOLOUS CIVIL PROCEEDINGS SANCTIONS ACT
Liability for attorney's fees and costs of frivolous suits.
Any person who takes part in the procurement, initiation, continuation, or defense of any civil proceeding is subject to being assessed for payment of all or a portion of the attorney's fees and court costs of the other party if:
(1) he does so primarily for a purpose other than that of securing the proper discovery, joinder of parties, or adjudication of the claim upon which the proceedings are based; and
(2) the proceedings have terminated in favor of the person seeking an assessment of the fees and costs.
As used in this chapter, "person" is defined to mean any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society, joint stock company, and any other entity, including any governmental entity or unincorporated association of persons.
Factors supporting finding of proper purpose for action.
Any person who takes part in the procurement, initiation, continuation, or defense of civil proceedings must be considered to have acted to secure a proper purpose as stated in item (1) of Section 15-36-10 if he reasonably believes in the existence of the facts upon which his claim is based and
(1) reasonably believes that under those facts his claim may be valid under the existing or developing law; or
(2) relies upon the advice of counsel, sought in good faith and given after full disclosure of all facts within his knowledge and information which may be relevant to the cause of action; or
(3) believes, as an attorney of record, in good faith that his procurement, initiation, continuation, or defense of a civil cause is not intended to merely harass or injure the other party.
Recovery of attorney's fees and court costs.
When the essential elements of this chapter have been established as provided in Section 15-36-10, a person is entitled to recover his attorney's fees and court costs reasonably incurred in litigating the proceedings. The entitlement of the aggrieved person must be determined by the trial judge at the conclusion of a trial upon motion of the aggrieved party stating the manner in which the other party is alleged to have acted in violation of this statute. The court shall base its decision upon a review of the proceedings and affidavits submitted by each person affected.
Burden of proof.
In a motion filed pursuant to this chapter the aggrieved person has the burden of proving:
(1) the other party has procured, initiated, continued, or defended the civil proceedings against him;
(2) the proceedings were terminated in his favor;
(3) the primary purpose for which the proceedings were procured, initiated, continued, or defended was not that of securing the proper discovery, joinder of parties, or adjudication of the civil proceedings;
(4) the aggrieved person has incurred attorney's fees and court costs; and
(5) the amount of the fees and costs set forth in item (4).
Court to determine fees and costs.
Upon a finding that a person has violated the provisions of this chapter, the court shall determine the appropriate fees and costs and enter judgment accordingly.