S.C. Supreme Court Denies Maurice Bessingers request for Certiorari
For Immediate Release: March 28, 2007
By order of Chief Justice Jean H. Toal the Supreme Court of South Carolina just
announced that it has denied Maurice Bessingers request for Certiorari in his
case against Bi-Lo and other grocery chains who removed his sauce from their stores.
In a case of first impression, Mr. Bessinger sued the grocery chains under
the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act for unfairly removing his products
from their stores based solely on the content of his personal political opinions.
Mr. Bessinger sought a trial of his case by a jury which the state Unfair Trade
Practices Act allows. The grocery chains tried to prevent the case from coming
before a jury by filing motions to dismiss the case based on the claim that
Mr. Bessingers situation does not constitute a valid cause of action under the
Unfair Trade Practices Act. The first South Carolina circuit court judge to
consider that question, Judge Kenneth Goode, ruled in favor of Mr. Bessinger
and stated that Mr. Bessinger did have a valid case under the Act and that the
case should be heard by a jury.
Subsequent decisions by another circuit court judge and the South Carolina
Court of Appeals reversed Judge Goodes decision and refused to allow Mr. Bessingers
case to go to a jury. Mr. Bessinger asked the Supreme Court to grant Certiorari
to review the decision of the lower courts and to allow his case to go to trial
and be heard by a jury. By refusing to grant Certiorari, the Supreme Court has
now finally denied Mr. Bessinger the opportunity to have his case heard by a
jury of his peers in a court of law.
Mr. Bessinger is extremely disappointed that a state law which was passed for
the sole purpose of protecting victims of unfair acts in trade or commerce was
not allowed to be used to protect him against the patently unfair acts of the
grocery stores in his case. The Supreme Courts decision to deny Certiorari review
of this case lets stand the Court of Appeals decision which held that the grocery
chains could remove Mr. Bessingers products from their stores, even though they
had continuously done business with him for over forty years in some cases,
for any reason they wanted to, regardless of whether the reason was based on
color of skin, religious preference, gender, expression of speech, or anything
else. By refusing to recognize freedom of speech as something which the Unfair
Trade Practices Act can protect, the Court has effectively emasculated the Unfair
Trade Practices Act and left future victims of oppressive and unfair acts committed
against them by corporations and big business without the protection under the
law which the legislature of South Carolina granted them over thirty years ago.
Mr. Bessinger said "his ancestors arrived in this country beginning in
1646 seeking freedom from the tyranny of Europe and fought in all of our wars
since and before the country was founded for freedom, including two brothers
that fought in the 1944 invasion of Normandy, France and Maurice himself having
volunteered for the Korean War within two weeks after South Korea was invaded
by the North Korean Communists, serving a year at the front with the famous
24th Infantry Division. And now it seems that we are back to square-one after
losing all our freedoms that our forefathers won with their blood".