Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia

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In the early stages of the underlying lawsuit, the trial court struck fifteen paragraphs from plaintiff's complaint pursuant to OCGA 9-11-12 (f), but the Court of Appeals reversed most of that order. The Georgia Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari to address how a trial court should evaluate a party’s section 9-11-12 (f) motion to strike matter from a pleading on the ground that it is “scandalous.” Because the trial court in this case did not properly evaluate the defendants’ motion to strike, and because that court should have the opportunity to properly exercise its discretion regarding the motion, the Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals' judgment in part and remanded with direction to vacate the trial court order and remand the case to the trial court for further analysis. View "Chappius v. Ortho Sport & Spine Physicians Savannah, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Anthem Companies, Inc. and Richard Andrews appeal the grant of spoliation sanctions issued against them, arguing that the trial court erred in finding spoliation in the first instance and in sanctioning them with an adverse jury instruction. The underlying suit arose when an Anthem employee allegedly found a bug in her lunch bought from a cafeteria vendor. The employee took pictures, sending copies via email to a building superintendent, and having the images printed at a local drug store. The vendor had been removed as a company cafeteria vendor. This news was posted by someone to Facebook, and the story grew virally. The manager for the vendor, Cheryl Willis, considered the statements in the emails from the superintendent to the company were libelous, asking her attorney to demand the company retract its statements. Wills claimed that, as a result of the wide distribution of the email, the business closed, she and her then-husband filed for bankruptcy, and they lost their home, cars, and savings. Between the time of the original email and the time of trial in 2017, the printed versions of the images were lost. Wills asserted she did not know that the lost drug store prints existed until depositions were scheduled in early 2017. The Georgia Supreme Court determined that under the circumstances of this case, the trial court abused its discretion in awarding spoliation sanctions, and reversed the spoliation sanction. View "The Anthem Companies, Inc. v. Willis" on Justia Law

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted writs of certiorari in two cases involving the liquidation of an insurance company to review the Court of Appeals’ decision in State of Georgia v. International Indemnity Company, 809 SE2d 64 (2017). The dispositive issue presented was whether the official immunity provision in OCGA 33-37-8.1 applied to claims for a “surcharge” and attorney fees against the State Insurance Commissioner and two other state employees, all in their official capacities as the liquidator and his deputies, and against a private company involved in the liquidation. The Court determined the Court of Appeals incorrectly concluded that section 33-37-8.1 would be applicable to these parties, and reversed that part of the Court of Appeals’ judgment allowing the claims to proceed against the state officer and employees in their official capacities. The Court affirmed in all other respects, meaning the case could proceed against the private company. View "Georgia v. International Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant Maxim Cabaret, Inc. d/b/a Maxim Cabaret was a strip club in Sandy Springs, Georgia, and appellant Theo Lambros was the club’s operator, sole shareholder, and president (collectively “Maxim”). Maxim appealed the superior court's order granting summary judgment to the City of Sandy Springs on Maxim’s legal challenges to city ordinances. The Georgia Supreme Court held that Maxim’s challenges to prior versions of the City’s ordinances that have since been replaced or amended were moot; current adult business ordinances prohibiting the sale of alcohol at businesses that offer live nude entertainment constitutionally regulate negative secondary effects of strip clubs without unduly inhibiting free speech or expression; and because the City may constitutionally prohibit Maxim from obtaining a license to sell liquor on its premises under the City’s adult business licensing ordinances, Maxim lacked standing to challenge the City’s alcohol licensing regulations. View "Maxim Cabaret v. City of Sandy Springs" on Justia Law

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Appellant Maxim Cabaret, Inc. d/b/a Maxim Cabaret was a strip club in Sandy Springs, Georgia, and appellant Theo Lambros was the club’s operator, sole shareholder, and president (collectively “Maxim”). Maxim appealed the superior court's order granting summary judgment to the City of Sandy Springs on Maxim’s legal challenges to city ordinances. The Georgia Supreme Court held that Maxim’s challenges to prior versions of the City’s ordinances that have since been replaced or amended were moot; current adult business ordinances prohibiting the sale of alcohol at businesses that offer live nude entertainment constitutionally regulate negative secondary effects of strip clubs without unduly inhibiting free speech or expression; and because the City may constitutionally prohibit Maxim from obtaining a license to sell liquor on its premises under the City’s adult business licensing ordinances, Maxim lacked standing to challenge the City’s alcohol licensing regulations. View "Maxim Cabaret v. City of Sandy Springs" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Georgia Supreme COurt's review centered on whether the contract involved in this case between the City of Atlanta and a private business for the lease of retail concession space at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport created a taxable interest subject to ad valorem taxation by Clayton County. The City of Atlanta owned the Airport, which was partially in Clayton County outside the City’s boundaries. Appellee Aldeasa Atlanta Joint Venture entered into the written agreement with the City to lease space on two different concourses at the Airport for the non-exclusive rights to operate two duty free retail stores. Appellant Clayton County Board of Tax Assessors (“County”) issued real property tax assessments to Aldeasa for the 2011 and 2012 tax years on Aldeasa’s purported leasehold improvements on the two parcels involved in the Concessions Agreement and also on Aldeasa’s purported possessory interest in the two parcels. Aldeasa appealed the assessments and paid the tax pending the outcome of the appeal. The trial court found the Concessions Agreement created a usufruct interest in the property, and not an estate in real property; it rejected the County’s assertion that it was legally authorized to impose a property tax on usufructs located at the Airport; and it also rejected the County’s assertion that the Concessions Agreement created a taxable franchise. Accordingly, the trial court granted Aldeasa’s motion for summary judgement and denied the motion filed by the County. The County appealed, asserting four different taxable interests were created by the Concessions Agreement. The Supreme Court disagreed with the State's assertions and affirmed the trial court. View "Clayton County Bd. of Assessors v. Aldeasa Atlanta Joint Venture" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Georgia Supreme COurt's review centered on whether the contract involved in this case between the City of Atlanta and a private business for the lease of retail concession space at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport created a taxable interest subject to ad valorem taxation by Clayton County. The City of Atlanta owned the Airport, which was partially in Clayton County outside the City’s boundaries. Appellee Aldeasa Atlanta Joint Venture entered into the written agreement with the City to lease space on two different concourses at the Airport for the non-exclusive rights to operate two duty free retail stores. Appellant Clayton County Board of Tax Assessors (“County”) issued real property tax assessments to Aldeasa for the 2011 and 2012 tax years on Aldeasa’s purported leasehold improvements on the two parcels involved in the Concessions Agreement and also on Aldeasa’s purported possessory interest in the two parcels. Aldeasa appealed the assessments and paid the tax pending the outcome of the appeal. The trial court found the Concessions Agreement created a usufruct interest in the property, and not an estate in real property; it rejected the County’s assertion that it was legally authorized to impose a property tax on usufructs located at the Airport; and it also rejected the County’s assertion that the Concessions Agreement created a taxable franchise. Accordingly, the trial court granted Aldeasa’s motion for summary judgement and denied the motion filed by the County. The County appealed, asserting four different taxable interests were created by the Concessions Agreement. The Supreme Court disagreed with the State's assertions and affirmed the trial court. View "Clayton County Bd. of Assessors v. Aldeasa Atlanta Joint Venture" on Justia Law

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Following the Court of Appeals’ decision in RL BB ACQ I-GA CVL, LLC v. Workman, 798 SE2d 677 (2017), the Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider two questions: (1) whether attorney fees and costs are available under OCGA 9-15-14 for conduct that occurs during the course of post-judgment discovery; and (2) whether an entity is barred from seeking sanctions under OCGA 9-11-37 by failing to request sanctions at the time it sought and obtained a protective order under OCGA 9-11-26. The Court of Appeals reversed that portion of the order awarding fees pursuant to OCGA 9-15-14, concluding that the statute spoke only to conduct occurring during the course of a “lawsuit,” which concludes at judgment, and, thus, did not apply to post-judgment discovery proceedings. The appellate court also noted, without discussion, that OCGA 9-15-14 did not apply to non-parties. With respect to the fee award made pursuant to OCGA 9-11-37(a)(4)(A), the Court of Appeals questioned whether Appellants’ “failure to request their expenses at the time they sought the protective order barred them from seeking those expenses by way of a separate motion, filed more than 40 days after the protective order was entered,” and remanded the case to the trial court to consider the waiver issue. The Supreme Court answered the first question in the affirmative, the second in the negative, and, in so doing, affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the Court of Appeals. View "Workman et al. v. RL BB ACQ I-GA CVL, LLC et al." on Justia Law

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After RAC Acceptance East, LLC swore out a warrant for Mira Brown’s arrest for theft by conversion of furniture that she had rented from RAC, Brown filed a lawsuit against RAC alleging malicious prosecution and other torts. The trial court entered an order granting RAC’s motion to compel Brown to arbitrate her claims pursuant to the arbitration agreement incorporated into the parties’ rental agreement. The Court of Appeals affirmed that order, concluding that whether RAC had waived its right to demand arbitration by its conduct in initiating the related criminal proceeding against Brown was a matter for the court to decide and that the trial court had correctly ruled that RAC did not waive arbitration. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari, and affirmed the Court of Appeals’ judgment on the ground that the delegation provision in the parties’ arbitration agreement clearly gave the arbitrator, not the courts, the authority to determine that RAC did not waive by prior litigation conduct its right to seek arbitration, and the arbitrator’s decision on the waiver question could not be properly challenged as legally erroneous. View "Brown v. RAC Acceptance East, LLC" on Justia Law

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After RAC Acceptance East, LLC swore out a warrant for Mira Brown’s arrest for theft by conversion of furniture that she had rented from RAC, Brown filed a lawsuit against RAC alleging malicious prosecution and other torts. The trial court entered an order granting RAC’s motion to compel Brown to arbitrate her claims pursuant to the arbitration agreement incorporated into the parties’ rental agreement. The Court of Appeals affirmed that order, concluding that whether RAC had waived its right to demand arbitration by its conduct in initiating the related criminal proceeding against Brown was a matter for the court to decide and that the trial court had correctly ruled that RAC did not waive arbitration. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari, and affirmed the Court of Appeals’ judgment on the ground that the delegation provision in the parties’ arbitration agreement clearly gave the arbitrator, not the courts, the authority to determine that RAC did not waive by prior litigation conduct its right to seek arbitration, and the arbitrator’s decision on the waiver question could not be properly challenged as legally erroneous. View "Brown v. RAC Acceptance East, LLC" on Justia Law