Across South Carolina

House OKs bill limiting damage award in suits


COLUMBIA --- South Carolina would limit the size of punitive damage awards in lawsuits under a bill that won key approval Wednesday in the state House.

With no debate, the House voted 100-7 to limit the maximum punitive damage award to $350,000 or three times the actual damages awarded, whichever is greater. After a routine final House vote today, the bill heads to the Senate.

A Senate version of the legislation is up for debate today in a subcommittee.

Alcoholic energy drink ban advances in House

COLUMBIA --- A ban on alcohol-laced energy drinks is a routine vote away from moving forward in the South Carolina Legislature.

The House on Wednesday voted 102-13 to outlaw drinks such as Joose and Four Loko, which has been nicknamed "blackout in a can." The measure needs a routine final vote before going to the Senate.

Republican state Rep. Thad Viers, of Myrtle Beach, said the beverages are dangerous because people are more likely get drunk but feel sober enough to drive while using them.

Meanwhile, a House Judiciary panel approved a bill that loosens open-container liquor penalties for drivers. It would end suspension of driver's licenses for people convicted of having open liquor containers or drinks in their cars.

Open container charges would still apply.

Inmate charged with threatening Sanford

BISHOPVILLE, S.C. --- A South Carolina prison inmate has been charged with threatening former Gov. Mark Sanford.

The State Law Enforcement Division says 49-year-old Gerald M. Evans, of Bishopville, threatening the life of a public official.

State police say Evans sent a handwritten letter to the then-governor in October threatening Sanford and his family. Authorities did not release details of the letter.

Evans began serving a 30-year term for armed robbery in 1994. He is not eligible for parole.