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Forthcoming Opinions in Civil Cases – September 28, 2009

September 25, 2009

On Monday morning, the Supreme Court of Georgia will release opinions in 33 different cases, seven of which are civil cases.  A brief summary of each civil case is below, and we will post links to the opinions below each description when the opinions are released on Monday.

S08G2078, S08G2082. BENEKE v. PARKER et al.; and vice versa

These two civil cases focus on the proper application of the statute of limitations to a situation involving a car wreck.  The question involves whether the statute of limitations for a crime victim to sue for damages begins to run from the date of the accident or until the “prosecution” becomes final.  The Court of Appeals left the issue to the jury as to whether the charge of “following too closely” constituted a crime that moved the statute forward to the end of the prosecution.  Oral argument on this granted petition for certiorari took place on April 13, 2009.

S09G0480. OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY. v.SMITH MECHANICAL CONTRACTORS, INC.

This case involves the dispute over the proper interpretation of an insurance contract.  A customer’s peanut cleaning machine was damaged when it was dropped, then crushed by a crane, and the crane company made a claim against its commercial general liability policy.  The insurance company paid for the damage to the crane, but claimed that there was an exclusion barring payment for the peanut cleaner because it was “personal property.”  The trial court granted summary judgment to the crane company, and the insurer appealed.  The Court of Appeals affirmed, and the insurer sought a writ of certiorari, which the Supreme Court granted.  Oral argument took place on June 22, 2009.

S09A0636. DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY of DeKALB COUNTY et al. v. STATE of GEORGIA

This case relates to the proper validation of revenue bonds for the Development Authority of DeKalb County to construct a performing arts center.  At issue is whether the Authority must seek approval by a referendum prior to issuing the bonds.  The trial court found a referendum was required.  The case was docketed in April 2009.

S09A0842. BODKIN v. BOLIA et al.

This case is on direct appeal to the Court as an election contest originating from Clayton County.  The case was docketed on the Court’s May 2009 calendar.

S09A1081. WILLIS et al. v. CITY of ATLANTA et al.

This case involves a civil constitutional question related to the rights of those under 21 to act as dancers at a strip club in Atlanta.  Five women were prohibited from working at the club because they were either 19 or 20 years old, and a city ordinance prohibited them from entering an establishment licensed to sell alcohol unless they were 21 years old.  The suit alleges violation of freedom of expression, due process, and equal protection, but the City won at the trial court level.  The case on appeal was argued before the Court on June 22, 2009.

S09A1295. SULLIVAN v. SULLIVAN

This case stems from a divorce, but involves a question of the enforceability of prenuptial agreements.  The ex-wife alleges that the prenuptial agreement was unenforceable because of a lack of full disclosure and a lack of two witnesses on the document.  The ex-husband claims the ex-wife was aware of the assets in question and that more than two people were present when the agreement was signed.  The trial court found the agreement enforceable.  The case was argued on July 14, 2009.

S09A1367. FAVORITO et al. v. HANDEL et al.

The final civil case set for release on Monday involves a group of citizens challenging Georgia’s use of electronic touch-screen voting machines for elections.  The plaintiffs claim the machines violate the requirements under Georgia law that voting take place on a “ballot,” because no ballot exists for electronic machines.  The state defended on the grounds that the machines are far less vulnerable to fraud, create an internal paper trail that can be audited, and any voter may choose to vote by a paper mail-in ballot.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the State and plaintiffs appealed.  The case was argued on July 13, 2009.

We will post links to each opinion when they are released on Monday morning.

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