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Granted Petition for Certiorari in a Civil Case

May 19, 2010

The Georgia Supreme Court has granted one new petition for certiorari in a civil case in the last week.  A brief summary of the case and decision by the Court of Appeals is below.


After Johnathan Battle died while in the City of East Point’s jail facility, and his estate sued the City, which did not respond to the complaint and subsequently had a default judgment of $16 million entered against it.  The city moved to set aside the judgment, claiming improper service, and the trial court denied the motion.  On appeal, the city claimed it had not been properly served with the complaint, which had been served personally on the chief of police and the city attorney.  The city claimed the city attorney lacked the authority to accept service for the city.

The Court of Appeals (Johnson, Ellington, and Mikell) unanimously affirmed the trial court’s decision, finding that the facts and law indicated that the city attorney was the proper individual to receive service on behalf of the city, both due to the language of the city charter and because the statute requiring service on the mayor or city manager allows service to be made on an agent designated by a city.

On May 17, 2010, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in a 5-2 vote (Carley and Melton dissenting) to address the following issue:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals err by affirming the trial court’s finding of valid service of process on the City of East Point? See OCGA § 9-11-4 (e) (5); City of Atlanta v. Black, 265 Ga. 425 (457 SE2d 551) (1995).

The case is assigned to the September 10, 2010 oral argument calendar.


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