By Paul Gable
By a 4-1 decision, the S. C. Supreme Court overturned decisions at the District Court and Appeals Court levels giving SkyDive Myrtle Beach the opportunity to prove its case in court.
The details of the case have never been heard as Horry County was successful at using some legal hocus pocus at the lower court levels to keep from allowing the case to go forward.
That is not the result now as the case, SkyDive Myrtle Beach v. Horry County et al, has now been remanded back to the District Court and will go on the trial roster with discovery pending immediately.
This means the case, once described by Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti as “rightfully dismissed by all who have discerned the true set of affairs,” was not treated in that fashion by the Supreme Court.
Referring to SkyDive Myrtle Beach owner Aaron Holly, myself and others, Carotti wrote the following to a council member inquiring about the case:
“On Aug 15, 2017, at 11:24 AM, Carotti, Arrigo <CarottiA@HorryCounty.org> wrote:
The misrepresentation of facts and the law has been ongoing on the part of Mr. Holly, misguided bloggers, and Holly surrogates for several years now, involving universally unsuccessful litigation by Holly, and pending litigation against the FAA, the State of South Carolina, Horry County, officials and employees. There have been no new admissions, the FAA’s and County’s sound positions in the matter remaining the same. Defamatory commentary on the part of Holly and his surrogates also has been ongoing and is expected to continue, but has been rightfully dismissed by all who have discerned the true set of affairs, borne out in voluminous court documents and public records.
Arrigo P. Carotti / County Attorney”
The original case was filed on February 28, 2014 against Horry County under the general court classification “Unfair Trade Practices.” It alleged a pattern of harassment by the County and its Department of Airports (HCDA) with the ultimate goal of removing SDMB from Grand Strand Airport (GSA) as the original complaint states:
“The current actions by the County and HCDA are part of a continuous ongoing pattern of harassment utilizing governmental mechanizations and actions that create the appearance of legitimate state action but amount to an illegal attempt to remove SDMB from GSA without cause…”
The County was ultimately successful in closing down SDMB in 2015 with the help of a Director’s Determination issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The determination was issued primarily based on 112 safety violations the HCDA reported to the FAA that SkyDive Myrtle Beach had committed without any investigation at all of the allegations.
In response to a FOIA request to Horry County for documentation of the 112 alleged safety violations, a cover letter by Carotti stated, “These records are provided in an abundance of caution, in that each may or may not demonstrate violation by Skydive Myrtle Beach of Horry County Department of Airports Minimum Standards, as that assessment has not been undertaken.”
A response from Thomas A. Winston, Flight Standards Division, Southern Region of the FAA to a FOIA requesting documentation of the 112 safety allegations read, “You requested information regarding 112 allegations of safety violations used to make the table in the Directors Report dated October 7, 2016 by Randall Fiertz. We searched our files maintained in the South Carolina Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). We could not find any documents responsive to your request.”
Neither Horry County nor the FAA possesses any documentation demonstrating safety violations by SDMB, but the business was run out of town anyway.
The alleged 112 safety violations by SkyDive Myrtle Beach are just as fictitious as the allegations of wrongdoing by council Chairman Johnny Gardner that Carotti produced in a five-page memo but a SLED investigation concluded never happened.
One can also read the county’s counterclaim filed in the Horry County Treasurer Angie Jones lawsuit against the county to see further fictitious allegations lodged by the county.
There seems to be a pattern here. However, that pattern has been unsuccessful to date and will, no doubt, be unsuccessful when the facts of the SkyDive Myrtle Beach case are heard in court.