Man sues lawyers over island purchase

A man who has been unable to build a family compound on a marsh island near Hilton Head Island has sued the lawyers who represented him when he bought the island.

In a complaint filed Oct. 6, Jeffrey A. Myers claims the lawyers did not tell him about two details that have prevented him from building on the island: an S.C. attorney general's opinion that marsh islands belong to the state unless it can be proven there is a clear chain of title dating back to king's grants; and the island's zoning designation of "conservation," which strictly curtails its development.

Myers' complaint states he retained Eugene Laurich and Laurich & Deeb of Hilton Head in 2004, around the same time as the attorney general issued the opinion, to represent him in the purchase of two parcels in the Spanish Wells area -- a marsh island known as Sunset Island and a lot about 400 feet away on Hilton Head.

He told the lawyers, who have years of experience in real estate closings, he was concerned about the attorney general's opinion, but they recommended he proceed, according to the complaint.

There is no evidence of a king's grant, so "Myers does not hold good and marketable title to Sunset Island," according to the complaint.

The state has claimed it holds title to the island, and Myers has been unable to obtain a permit to build a footbridge to it.

He learned of the zoning designation this year, according to the complaint.

Among other allegations, the complaint cites the defendants for failing to make or order a title search and failing to recognize and disclose the impact of the zoning designation before Myers closed the sale.

Myers, who bought the parcels for $500,000 in 2005, seeks an unspecified amount more than that in damages.

Laurich could not be reached for comment Friday.

Myers referred quesions about the suit to his lawyer, Thomas Taylor of Hilton Head, who could not be reached.