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A Blog about Real Estate, How it Can Be Damaged, and Disputes Over its Transfer

This blog is a personal blog written to discuss legal issues affecting Georgia property, and how it is damaged, transferred, and fought over. I write this partly to keep abreast of the law, and partly to offer a forum for my writing. In order to find content, I often analyze Georgia Supreme Court decisions. I try to update this blog as I can, but writing is a time consuming process.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Georgia Supreme Court Issues Recent Stormwater Case

On February 28, 2011, the Georgia Supreme Court issued an opinion relating to stormwater management issues.  This opinion involved general civil procedure affecting the addition of parties to a proceeding. However, the opinion in Nashville Restaurant Management LLC v. Gwinnett County, Appeal Case No. S10A 2072 (Ga. Supreme Ct., Feb. 28, 2011), (the "Sinkhole Case") also provides insight for remedies in stormwater cases.

The facts of the lawsuit underlying the opinion in the Sinkhole Case involved a sinkhole that appeared due to the collapse of a storm water structure in Gwinnett County, Georgia.  The lower court added the adjacent property owner as a party to the lawsuit without giving the party an opportunity to address its level of responsibility for the sinkhole.   On the same day that the trial court ordered the county to invest in repairing the cause of the sinkhole, the court also added the adjacent property owner to the suit and ordered the new party to pay a proportionate cost of the repair.  The fault of the trial court was in failing to provide the new party the necessary time to contest its involvement in the matter.  This error led the appellate court to reverse the relief order.

The Sinkhole Case stands for the proposition that new parties to equitable proceedings are generally entitled to notice and opportunity to be heard before relief is entered against them.   The case will return to the trial court for reconsideration of the remedy after hearing from the adjacent owner.

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