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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.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Georgia Court of Appeals Holds Ownership of Streets Alone Does Not Create Municipal Liability for Drainage

In the recent opinion in City of Atlanta v. Demita, 2014 Ga. App. LEXIS 590, 8-9, 2014 WL 4086244 (Ga. Ct. App. Aug. 20, 2014), the Georgia Court of Appeals recently held that mere ownership of streets, without more, does not give rise to municipal liability for flooding caused by drainage flowing off the streets.    The City of Atlanta argued that there was no evidence that the City "ever installed any manhole or grate to allow water on Oakridge Avenue to drain into sewer piping, constructed any catch basin on the street, or took control and responsibility for maintaining any such sewer or drainage infrastructure components" on the street.

This case turned on the lack of any City participation in any part of the drainage system relating to the right of way, and would not prevent municipal liability for inverse condemnation in a case where a governing authority has channeled street water into a government-owned catch basin that concentrates street water into a particular location on private property.  It is significant to note that in City of Atlanta v. Demita, supra, the court of appeals found that the water simply ran to where it would pool by force of natural gravitation, and had not been concentrated by any infrastructure accepted by the city.   In addition, there was no argument for an implied acceptance of dedication of streets through any action or inaction by the city.   The court also noted that the flooding was due to construction along the street by a builder.

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