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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.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Width of a Street Created by Plat May Depend on the Needed Width

The width of an easement shown on a subdivision plat may be limited to the width needed for the actual use.  In Goodson v. Ford, the Georgia Supreme Court issued an opinion authored by Justice Nahmias on March 5, 2012 in which it reviewed facts presented by a special master report in a quiet title action.  Goodson v. Ford, Case No. S11A1740 (Ga., March 5, 2012).  

In Goodson, supra, the plaintiffs, the Fords, bought 39 acres of property in Lee County, Georgia with a grass strip through it that led to the Goodsons' driveway, which terminated in the strip.  The Goodson operated a daylily business.  Both the Goodsons and their neighbors the Ellers used the strip for access.  The Goodsons apparently enjoyed a main easement access to the business from another location as the facts in the case indicated the grass strip was used to service dumpsters and for occasional use by customers.  The access was originally shown as "Carol Street" on an old subdivision plat in the chain of title for the Goodsons.  The subdivision plat showed the width of the access at 60 feet.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Slander of Title Requires Proof of Falsity, Malice and Special Damages

 In Giles v. Swimmer, Case No. S11A1371, (Ga., March 5, 2012), the Georgia Supreme Court issued an opinion in a quiet title and slander of title case listing the elements of a slander of title claim.  The facts of the case would require a flow chart to describe, but the legal holding was simple.  The claimants in the case failed to show the elements of a claim for slander of title by BB&T Bank.

The court held that slander of title requires a malicious act, which BB&T had not committed.  The elements of a slander of title claim require a plaintiff to present evidence that a defendant recorded a document in the public deed records, or made a statement, that was false and malicious causing special damages to the plaintiff's estate in land.  Giles v. Swimmer, supra. The last element requires proof that the plaintiff indeed owns an estate in the land.   Evidence of special damages must be specific; a plaintiff cannot rest on a general claim that he has suffered special damages.  Id.

The case appears to show the difficulty in establishing slander of title against a bank or corporate entity acting without a motive to harm a plaintiff when the actor is simply taking action to protect its collateral under a chain of deed instruments and notes.