Articles Posted in Georgia Supreme Court

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The named plaintiffs in this class action owned real property in Mallard Pointe, a residential neighborhood in Effingham County. Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, LP has operated the Savannah River Mill nearby since 1986. Plaintiffs argued that their real property was contaminated by hydrogen sulfide gas released from the decomposition of solid waste sludge released by the mill. As a result, they have been exposed to noxious odors, their use and enjoyment of their property has been impaired, and the value of their property has diminished. Plaintiffs sued Georgia-Pacific for nuisance, trespass, and negligence. The plaintiffs sought not only to recover monetary damages for themselves, but they proposed to seek relief for a class of other nearby property owners. Georgia-Pacific appealed the certification of the class, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Upon the petition of Georgia-Pacific, the Supreme Court issued a writ of certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals, and concluded after that review that the trial court abused its discretion when it certified the class. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals View "Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, LP v. Ratner" on Justia Law

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n November 2005, Appellant Richard Mitchell obtained title to property located in Alpharetta and executed a security deed in favor of MERS, who subsequently assigned the security deed to Wells Fargo as trustee. The property was foreclosed upon after Appellants Richard (and his wife Deborah) became delinquent on their mortgage payments. Wells Fargo purchased the property at a foreclosure sale. Since that time, Appellants admitted that they made numerous "dilatory filings," proceeding pro se, in state, federal, and bankruptcy courts. In May 2010, Mitchell filed a complaint against Wells Fargo; Wells Fargo moved to dismiss the complaint and moved for a bill of peace pursuant to OCGA 23-3-110 against Mitchell as a measure to end Mitchell's "meritless filings" in state court. The trial court issued an order granting Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction because Mitchell had not properly served Wells Fargo. The court also granted Wells Fargo's motion for a bill of peace, finding that the records of Fulton County courts reflected "nothing less than repeated and contemptuous behavior in the courts of this State" and that the lengthy history of filings in federal court showed a pattern of behavior by Mitchell consistent with his state filings. The court permanently enjoined Mitchell from filing any pleading or complaint related to the foreclosure and eviction from the property at issue for a period of five years unless Mitchell first received written approval from the court. Mitchell moved to set aside the order granting the bill of peace, which the court denied. The Mitchells appealed the dismissal of their lawsuit against Wells Fargo. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Mitchell v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented to the Supreme Court centered on whether a condemnor may voluntarily dismiss a condemnation action, without the consent of the court or the condemnee, after a special master has entered his award valuing the property at issue but before the condemnor has paid the amount of the award into the court registry or to the condemnee. The Supreme Court concluded after review that a condemnor is not entitled to voluntarily dismiss a condemnation action unilaterally once the special master rendered his award. The Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment to the contrary. View "Dillard Land Investments, LLC v. Fulton County" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs James Hansen and 30 other DeKalb County residents sought to obtain certain information from the DeKalb County Board of Tax Assessors in connection with their 2012 property tax assessments. The trial court denied Plaintiffs’ request for a mandamus nisi, and they appealed. Plaintiffs filed their requests for information each seeking information regarding the appraisal and assessment of his or her property for the 2012 tax year. The trial court found that plaintiffs' claims were not cognizable under the Georgia Open Records Act or in mandamus. The Supreme Court found no error in that decision, and affirmed. View "Hansen v. Dekalb Cty. Bd. of Tax Assessors" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented to the Georgia Supreme Court centered on a dispute over the legal ownership of mineral rights to land located in Bartow County. On cross motions for summary judgment, the trial court determined that appellee James Dellinger, Jr. held a legally enforceable interest in the mineral rights and granted summary judgment in his favor on claims filed by appellant Cartersville Ranch, LLC. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision in the main appeal and dismissed the cross-appeal as moot. View "Cartersville Ranch, LLC v. Dellinger" on Justia Law

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This case centered on two actions filed by Keith DeCay concerning the ownership of four tracts of land located at 629 Boulevard in Atlanta: (1) a quiet title action and (2) a breach of contract action against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from which he purchased part of 629 Boulevard at a foreclosure auction. In the quiet title action, DeCay argued (among other things) that the trial court erred by adopting a Special Master report tainted by a conflict of interest. In the breach of contract action, DeCay argued that the trial court erred by finding that the FDIC was not required to convey all four tracts of 629 Boulevard to him. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court with respect to both actions. View "DeCay v. Houston" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the City of Sandy Springs and two individual homeowners, John E. Balsam and Jerry Burnstein, filed suit against Fulton County, its Board of Commissioners, and its Director of Public Works. Sandy Springs sought a declaratory judgment, mandamus, and injunctive relief on whether Fulton County retained ownership of and responsibility for two drainage retention ponds and a dam located within Sandy Springs. Following a bench trial, the trial court found in favor of Sandy Springs, and Fulton County appealed, contending that it was prohibited from maintaining the detention ponds pursuant to the Georgia constitution. Under the circumstances of this case, the Supreme Court found that Fulton County retained current ownership of and responsibility for the easements it held over the dam and retention ponds located in Sandy Springs. However, any concomitant responsibility continued only until the easements at issue were legally transferred, terminated, or prospectively abandoned. As a result, to the extent that the trial court's order could be read to indicate that Fulton County had to maintain the easements in perpetuity, the Court reversed. View "Fulton County v. City of Sandy Springs" on Justia Law

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Premier Petroleum, Inc. appealed the confirmation of the sale of a gas station held in receivership, entered after the superior court determined that a restrictive covenant Premier signed with a third party to encumber the property was unenforceable. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "CML-GA Smyrna, LLC v. Atlanta Real Estate Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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Monroe and Bibb Counties have fought over the true boundary line separating the two. At some time during the fight, the Superior Court attempted to resolve the dispute by ordering the Secretary of State to accept a line identified by a State-appointed land surveyor as the true boundary. The Supreme Court granted applications for discretionary appeal (filed separately by Bibb County and the Secretary of State) to address the Superior Court's order. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded that the Superior Court lacked the authority to require the Secretary of State to accept a particular line as the true boundary. "Specifically, while mandamus is authorized to compel the Secretary to consider the relevant law and evidence, to determine the true boundary line between the counties, and to record the survey and plat reflecting that boundary line, mandamus is not authorized to dictate where the boundary line is to be located. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for further proceedings." View "Bibb County v. Monroe County" on Justia Law

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Gwinnett County appealed an interlocutory injunction against the County and in favor of Gerard and Jewell McManus. The injunction prohibited the County from using "artificial means" to increase the water and sediment that runs off a parcel of real property owned by the County and onto an adjacent parcel owned by the McManuses. The County contended that the trial court abused its discretion when it entered the injunction. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Gwinnett County v. McManus" on Justia Law