Tuesday, September 26, 2006

South Carolina Supreme Court holds that 5-27-120 does not create a private right of action

In Vaughn v. Town of Lyman, the Supreme Court held that S.C. Code Ann. 5-27-120, which requires towns to keep sidewalks in good repair, does not create a private cause of action. The basis for this holding is the public duty rule. This rule holds that public officials are generally not liable to individuals for their negligence in discharging public duties as the duty is owed to the public at large rather than anyone individually. However, the Court did hold that there was a common law duty to keep sidewalks in good repair and that Vaughn could bring a common law cause of action. The Tort Claims Act did not protect the town because there was an issue of fact whether the town had notice of the defect and acted within a reasonable amount of time.

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