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New Grants of Certiorari in Civil Cases – March 31, 2010

March 31, 2010

The Supreme Court of Georgia has granted one new petition for certiorari in a civil case in the last week.

S10G0459. COVINGTON SQUARE ASSOCIATES, LLC. v. INGLES MARKETS, INC.

This case stems from a check sent accidentally from one company to another.  Ingles leased space from Covington Square for a number of years, and Ingles paid the property taxes during that term.  When Covington Square sold the property, it sued Ingles, trying to collect portions of security guard costs it billed to Ingles.  While that litigation was pending, Ingles received a bill from its new landlord for the 2005 property taxes.  Ingles mistakenly paid Covington Square for the 2005 property taxes, then discovered its error and demanded repayment.  Covington Square refused to return the check, saying it would keep the funds as partial payment of the security guard costs.  Ingles filed this litigation to recover the funds, and the trial court granted summary judgment to Ingles on its claims for conversion, attorney fees, and punitive damages.  Covington Square appealed.

The Court of Appeals (Mikell, Johnson, and Ellington) unanimously affirmed in part and reversed in part, finding that Covington Square converted the check and that Ingles was entitled to attorneys fees even on summary judgment because of Covington Square’s behavior (with the amount to be determined by a jury), but that the trial court erred by granting punitive damages because those damages can only be resolved by a jury.

The Supreme Court unanimously granted certiorari on March 29, 2010 to review the second division of the Court of Appeals’ decision, specifically the following issue:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals err in affirming the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to Ingles on the issue of liability for attorney fees under OCGA § 3-6-11? See Tyler v. Lincoln, 272 Ga. 118, 121-122 (2) (527 SE2d 180)(2000); D&H. Constr. Co. v. City of Woodstock, 284 Ga. App. 314, 318-319 (2) (643 SE2d 826) (2007); Stargate Software Intl. v. Rumph, 224 Ga.App. 873, 878 (4)(482SE2d498)(1997).

The case is assigned to the September 2010 oral argument calendar.

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