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Summaries of Opinions Released – Civil Cases – October 5, 2009

October 5, 2009

Below is a brief summary of each case decided this morning, along with a summary of the Court’s opinion and link to the opinion.


During the sale of a townhouse, the buyer claims she did not receive a mold report showing extensive water damage and mold contamination throughout the house.  The buyer sued the selling real estate agent, among others, claiming she had never received the report, but did not sue her own real estate agent.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the selling agent and property owner, finding that there was no fraud.  The Court of Appeals (Mikell, Smith, and Adams) unanimously affirmed the grant of summary judgment, reversing on one issue related to negligent repairs.

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed the Court of Appeals, finding that the defense of caveat emptor applies to all real property transactions, except for claims of negligent construction related to latent defects against the builder-seller of the house.  Because Cendant was not the builder of the house, the defense of caveat emptor applied to bar the buyer’s claim.

S09A0638S09A0639S09A0640. BISHOP v. JOHNSON et al.

Although this is a civil constitutional case, we were unable to locate any details regarding the facts of this proceeding.  The case is on appeal from the Fulton County Superior Court.

The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the lower court’s ruling under Rule 59, which allows the Court to affirm without an opinion when the evidence supports the verdict, there is no harmful error of law, and the judgment of the court below adequately explains the ruling.  Rule 59 cases have no precedential value.


The City of Columbus, Georgia sued a series of travel websites for charging customers one rate, then paying hotel taxes to the city based on the lower wholesale rate.  The city claims it should be receiving the taxes based on the higher rate that customers are actually paying.  In June, the Supreme Court ruled on a related case against Expedia, finding in a 4-3 vote that the city was due more tax revenue from the online services.  While the cases are pending, hotels in Columbus have been delisted from most of the online travel services’ websites.

The Supreme Court on a 6-1 vote affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the city was owed the additional taxes, consistent with its opinion in the Expedia case, but requiring a similar amendment to the injunction.  Justice Melton dissented for the same reasons he dissented in the Expedia case, finding that the city had an adequate remedy at law and therefore was not entitled to equitable relief.


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