Home building industry professionals were awarded the Home Builders Association of South Carolina’s most prestigious awards last week in Asheville, NC. The thirteenth annual Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony was held to honor the recipients of the Pinnacle Awards.
About the Pinnacle Awards
The Pinnacle Awards were created to honor those in the home building industry who have achieved the highest standard of quality craftsmanship, innovative problem solving and customer satisfaction. This competition is a privilege of membership, as well as a means of challenging our members to greater levels of achievement. The Pinnacle Award recognizes the craftsmanship of the best home builders and remodelers in South Carolina, based on five categories:
- Green Building
- New Construction
- Sales and Marketing
- Best Subdivision/Community
The 2015 Pinnacle Award winners from Greenville are:
- Ron Tate, Esq., Gallivan, White & Boyd, P.A., Thomas Bagnal Associate Member of the Year
- Patrick Square, Jason Armstrong, Community of the Year
- Patrick Square, Jason Armtstrong, Best Color Ad
- Dillard-Jones Builders, Susan Vernon, New Home Construction $1,000,000-1,499,999
- Gabriel Builders, Gus Rubio, New Home Construction $1,500,000-2,000,000
- Bergeron Custom Homes, Jason Bergeron, New Home Construction, $2,000,000-4,999,999
- Gabriel Builders, Gus Rubio, New Home Construction, more than $5,000,000
Jason Armstrong, Ron Tate, and Gus Rubio (respectively) receiving their awards.
|Jason Armstrong, Ron Tate, and Gus Rubio hold their awards at the Celebration of Excellence ceremony|
Jason Bergeron and Susan Peace-Vernon pick up their awards at the HBA office.
The HBA of Greenville is proud to have five of our members recognized for their hard work and dedication to the excellence of the industry.
|Ron Tate, Esq.|
On Friday, October 23, at the annual Celebration of Excellence the Home Builders Association of South Carolina will award Ron Tate, Shareholder with Gallivan, White & Boyd, P.A., and Darryl Hall, President of D. Hall Construction, Inc., with the Thomas N. Bagnal Builder member of the Year and HBASC Associate of the Year awards, two of the most prestigious HBASC awards. Both awards are given to individuals who demonstrate the same qualities as the awards namesake, Thomas N. Bagnal. These qualities include: tireless service to their community, Home Builders Association (HBA) and to the home building industry.
Ron Tate was nominated by the Home Builders Association of Greenville. He received the Richard A. Ashmore, Sr., Associate Member of the Year Award for 2014.
Ron Tate has been an ardent supporter and defender of the home building industry and a member of the HBA of Greenville for more than 6 years. He serves on multiple committees and on the Boards of the HBA of Greenville and has served as their General Counsel since 2013. Ron has also been an active leader in his community. Ron’s fervent support of the home building industry and the HBA is evident in his actions and support.
According to Michael Dey, Executive Director of the HBA of Greenville, “I believe that Ron begins each day with the goal to work toward the benefit of our community, industry and association and he purposely strives toward that goal every day.” Ron has quietly, but consistently served our association, and has become a valuable member of our association’s leadership team.”
Darryl Hall will be honored for his tireless dedication to the home building industry and the HBA. Mr. Hall has been a member of the HBA of the Greater Pee Dee for more than 23 years and is recognized as one of its most active members. Darryl started D. Hall Construction, Inc. in 1990 and has continued to successfully apply his trade since. Darryl has served as President of his local and state associations and on the Boards of both the HBA of the Greater Pee Dee and the HBASC and is widely recognized as a community leader.
According to many of his peers, Darryl Hall is a highly regarded home builder and member of his community. Cheryl Floyd, Executive Director of the HBA of the Greater Pee Dee calls him, “an asset to the entire industry and his community. Darryl exemplifies the title “Thomas N. Bagnal Builder Member of the Year” for his efforts as a builder, member of our association, community volunteer and friend.”
The HBASC commends both men on their commitment to the home building industry and to their community.
The Thomas N. Bagnal Builder member of the Year and HBASC Associate of the Year awards will be presented at the Celebration of Excellence on Friday, October 23, 2015, at the Renaissance in Asheville, NC. Tickets for this event are on sale now at the Home Builders Association of South Carolina. For more information, call 803-771-7408 or visit www.hbaofsc.com.
The Board of Directors, members, and staff of the Home Builders Association of Greenville extend their condolences to the family of Carolyn B. Tate, 76, who died Monday, December 01, 2014. She was the mother of Ronald G. Tate, Jr., General Counsel of the Home Builders Association of Greenville and partner with Gallivan, White and Boyd, P.A., in Greenville.
In addition to Ron, surviving are Sherry, Ron’s wife, Bob Tate and his wife, Sherry, of Piedmont, and Eddie Tate and his wife, Laura, of Williamston. Also surviving are seven grandchildren and two brothers, B. J. Bell of Columbia and Charles Bell of Mauldin.
Services were held Wednesday, December 3, 2014, at Woodlawn Memorial Park. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.thomasmcafee.com.
By Ron G. Tate, Esq.
Gallivan, White & Boyd, P.A.
The owners of many building companies choose to organize their business as Limited Liability Companies LLC). Many home builders organize as an LLC to avoid potential personal liability in civil actions. They were taking advantage of what seemed on the surface to be a clearly worded statute that insulates individual LLC members from civil liability for wrongful acts, called torts, such as negligent construction.
Supreme Court Decision Changes the Protection of an LLC
The South Carolina Supreme Court’s April 4, 2012, opinion in 16 Jade Street, LLC v. R. Design Construction Co., LLC calls into question the “limited liability” nature of the LLC business entity. In that case, the court held that the Limited Liability Company Act (Act) does not shield an LLC member from liability for his own torts, but rather protects only those members who did not directly commit wrongful acts, from vicarious liability.
In this case, Carl Aten and his wife were the sole members of R. Design Construction Co., LLC (R. Design), a South Carolina LLC, acting as general contractor for a construction project in Beaufort, South Carolina. After defects were discovered and one subcontractor left the project over a payment dispute, the construction ground to a halt. R. Design abandoned the project, never replacing the subcontractor nor adequately addressing more than sixty defects. At trial, the court awarded the plaintiff $925,556 in damages, finding R. Design and the subcontractor liable, as well as finding Aten personally liable for negligence. On appeal, the South Carolina Supreme Court concluded that the Act does not shield a member of an LLC from liability for his own torts. Rather, the Act protects only non-tortfeasor members of an LLC from vicarious liability. For example, Aten’s wife is shielded from liability because she was not found to be personally negligent.
About the LLC Act
The statute, § 33-44-303 of the South Carolina Code, provides that the liabilities of the LLC are solely the liabilities of the company, and a member or manager is not personally liable for them solely by reason of being a member or manager. In examining the plain language of the statute, the court acknowledged that it suggests a member is shielded from individual liability from torts committed in furtherance of the LLC. After all, as the court acknowledged, § 33-44-303(a) provides that obligations arising in tort are “solely” those of the company. A footnote further strengthens the argument against the court’s ultimate conclusion in pointing out that because § 33-44-303(c) expressly provides how a member can become personally liable, “it therefore stands to reason that the general rule is he is not otherwise personally liable.” (Emphasis added)
What the Court Said
Nevertheless, the court reasoned that the “right to sue one’s tortfeasor” is a “long-standing right” in our legal system, which will only be abrogated by statute through clear legislative intent. While the court agreed that “the language of the LLC act appears to insulate a member from personal liability,” it ultimately held that “such a sweeping liability shield was not intended by the General Assembly.”
The court also drew a parallel between LLCs and corporations noting that a shareholder of a corporation is not personally liable for the acts of the corporation except that he may become personally liable by reason of his own acts or conduct. Therefore, the impact of the decision is that business owners may not insulate themselves from personal liability for their own torts by organizing as either a corporation or an LLC.
The court certainly recognized the impact of its decision would be particularly acute in the case of a single member LLC. Because “one cannot be vicariously liable for his own actions,” there simply is no one to protect in the case of a single member LLC. Moreover, where the LLC member is a license holder who is required to be in charge of the work, this case raises a question of whether he or she may ever escape personal liability.
The court’s suggestion that the legislature could clarify the intent of the Act has already been taken: Senator Larry Martin has introduced a Joint Resolution of the General Assembly that the “clear and unambiguous intent of the… limited liability act was… to shield a member of an LLC from personal liability for actions taken in the ordinary course of business of the LLC.”
What You Need to do to Protect Yourself and Your Assets
So what does all this mean for you? Perhaps the proposed Joint Resolution will persuade the court that individuals in future cases should not be personally liable where they conduct business under an LLC. Until this issue is resolved by the legislature and the courts, many uncertainties remain. The best practical advice is to look closely at your company’s liability insurance coverages. Talk with your insurance agent or broker about your business risks and make sure that you have appropriate insurance policies that cover you and your activities at adequate coverage limits. Careful analysis of your insurance program is especially important for builders, because liability insurance coverage for construction defects is frequently the subject of litigation. Finally, talk with your legal advisor about how you may protect your individual assets in light of this decision.