Georgia Court of Appeals deals with issues of discovery, taxable ownership and sovereign immunity in Coffee County

The Georgia Court of Appeals heads to Coffee County this Wednesday for its first external hearing of the year. While hearings that take place in court are usually live streamed on the court’s website, this is not the case due to technical limitations.

Presiding Justice Christopher McFadden and Justices Trent Brown and Todd Markle will hear three hearings at the Coffee High School Performing Arts Center in Douglas.

The disputes include disclosure issues in a breach of promises lawsuit, a dispute over whether a hospital board owes property taxes on leased land, and a dispute over sovereign immunity in a wrongful death lawsuit v Georgia Department of Transportation in a matter relating to a collision at an intersection where the roads meet at a 60 degree angle.

questions of discovery

The first case for which the court will hear arguments is Humble vs. Moore. The appeal in this case raises questions about the extent to which a court can deny a requested disclosure in a tort case.

Plaintiff Diana Humble broke off her engagement to Malcolm Sidney Moore Jr. after discovering what she believed was evidence he had cheated. Humble said she made important financial decisions, including quitting her job and selling her mother’s home, based on Moore’s promise to marry her, and hopes to win special damages at a jury trial. Moore states that the couple agreed not to marry without a prenup but had not decided on one at the time of their split.

After they initiated their split, Humble sued Moore for breach of promise, fraud, trover and punitive damages. Humble is represented by Kice Stone of Stone Family Law. Moore is represented by Carmel Sanders of Sanders Law and Susan Raymond of Hogue & Hogue LLP.

Humble serviced Moore’s written discoveries and several third-party production requests. Moore objected, claiming there was nothing apparent in the motions, and filed a motion for a protective order. The trial court granted the protection order and denied Humble’s motion for foreclosure, barring any third-party disclosure. Although the court allowed affidavits, Moore only provided answers to some of the questions because of the disclosure order.

After an oral hearing, the trial court denied Moore’s request for partial summary judgment, which is the subject of the principal appeals appeal hearing Thursday. Modest alleges that the trial court erred in denying their requests for enforcement of disclosure and, should the appeals court find that the trial court did not have sufficient evidence to deny summary judgment, that it made a mistake in deciding on her application to reopen the discovery.

In response, Moore filed a cross-appeal, arguing that the trial court was correct in finding that Humble’s disclosure requests were irrelevant to Humble’s claims of breach of marriage vows, cheating, and cheating and were unlikely to result in admissible discovery evidence. Moore further contends that since the Court of Appeals denied Humble’s previous attempt to appeal the disclosure matters, her current appeal on the same discovery matters constitutes an assessment of merit and she should be barred from appealing the matter again.

property taxes

The Court of Appeal will also consider this CColumbus, Georgia Board of Tax Assessors v Medical Center Hospital Authority. With this, the court wants to answer the question of when a property is considered public and therefore tax-free.

The appellants in this case are the Columbus Board of Tax Assessors, represented by Charles Palmer of Troutman Pepper and Robert Lomax of Lomax. Appellants are represented by Andrew Rothschild of Rothschild & Rothschild and Michael Terry, Robert Ashe and Matthew Sellers of Bondurant Mixson & Elmore.

Beginning in 1999, the Columbus Regional Healthcare System purchased land for approximately $2 million to build a senior citizen community called Spring Harbor. At groundbreaking in 2004, Columbus Regional entered into a lease agreement with the Medical Center Hospital Authority for control and ownership of the Spring Harbor improvements.

The conflict began when the hospital board issued $75 million in 30-year tax-exempt tax bonds to fund the construction of Spring Harbor.

The Hospital Board states that it holds “the lease interest” in a residential community for continuing care for the elderly called Spring Harbor “for public purposes in furtherance of the legitimate functions of the Hospital Board and not for private gain or revenue.” The Columbus Board of Tax Assessors disagrees. The board describes Spring Harbor as a senior citizen community with “luxurious housing and numerous exceptional amenities” that charges “six-figure entrance fees and four-figure monthly fees” — and that’s just one of the reasons it should be taxed as private property.

According to the board, the hospital board’s ownership structure differs from that in any other case decided by a Georgia appeals court — once the tax-exempt bonds financing the property have been paid, Spring Harbor’s ownership interest reverts in full to Columbus Regional. a private facility.

Earlier, both parties appealed a 2015 summary judgment by the Muscogee Superior Court that found the property on which the Medical Center Hospital Authority made improvements was public property.

On appeal, the court ruled on the grounds that the property was tax-free as “public property” and as a “retirement home.” The Court of Appeal found this, concluding that the property promotes a legitimate function of the hospital board and the improvements to it are therefore tax-exempt public property.

The court also added a footnote stating that the court had not ruled on whether Georgian law allowed facilities for the wealthy to be public projects. However, since the court upheld the summary judgment on a public property exemption, it did not consider whether the retirement home improvements were tax-exempt.

In 2017, the Supreme Court granted permission to review the Court of Appeals’ decision, unanimously ruling that the improvements were established by the Court of Appeals’ decision that the bond validations were conclusively classified as tax-exempt public property. When the Supreme Court reexamined the case, it changed its mind and sent the case back to the Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether the hospital board leases Spring Harbor “only for the benefit of the state and the public” or whether there was “private gain” income ‘ for Columbus Regional.

sovereign immunity

In Munro v Georgia Department of Transportationthe Court of Appeals will decide whether the state enjoys civil immunity when inadequate protection of public property results in a traffic fatality.

Applicants Cynthia and John Munro are the parents of Ashleigh Munro, a 24-year-old woman who was in a vehicle that was hit by a Georgia Department of Transportation semi-truck. Traffic on Ashleigh Munro’s street had to be stopped because of oncoming traffic on the other street. However, the person driving the vehicle did not come to a complete stop and was unable to see the oncoming vehicle due to overgrowth and the slope of the road and crossed the road resulting in being hit and subsequently dying.

The Georgia Department of Transportation owned, inspected and maintained the intersection at the time of the accident and therefore, the plaintiffs argue, should not have sovereign immunity as it would otherwise have under the Georgia Tort Claims Act.

The family, represented by Pen Law’s Darren Penn, John Hadden, James Seifter and Kevin Kenter, is seeking to hold the Georgia Department of Transportation liable for their daughter’s death seek damages equal to the full value of Ashleigh Munro’s life, pain and suffering before her death, medical treatment, funeral and funeral expenses. Representing the appellants are Christopher Carr, Loretta Pinkston-Pope, Ronald Boyter Jr., Kristine Hayter and Ellen Cusimano of the Attorney General’s Office.

The Georgia Tort Claims Act waives sovereign immunity only for state officials and employees when acting in the performance of their official duties and some exceptions, including liability for losses arising from the construction and improvement of highways, roads, roads, bridges and other public works result, known as the “Plan or Design Exception”. To avoid this, the family must prove that the Department of Transportation failed to meet these standards when maintaining the crossing.

The Georgia Department of Transportation sought dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, seeking exemption from the Munros’ negligent design and maintenance claims under the design standard exceptions, but not under their negligent inspection claim.

The Munros appealed the motion to dismiss. A trial court granted the motion and ordered the dismissal of the entire suit, although the Department of Transportation initially acknowledged that the entire suit could not be dismissed. The family appealed.