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Forthcoming Opinions

October 15, 2010

The Supreme Court of Georgia will be releasing 10 opinions on Monday, three of which are civil.  A brief summary of each opinion set for release is below.  Due to a previously-scheduled hearing, we will be unable to update the opinion release list in the morning.  After 8:30 on Monday, the opinions will be available from the Supreme Court and we will update with summaries later in the day.


This case involves the dispute over conditions in a contract.  At a real estate closing, Fidelity National Title Insurance was supposed to issue a policy that would have covered the fraud perpetuated by the individual selling a piece of property at issue.  He was not who he claimed to be, and when the lenders attempted to recover, Fidelity National refused to issue the title policy.

The trial court found that the forgery meant the conditions of the title commitment were not met, and found Fidelity National was not required to issue the policy.  The Court of Appeals (Blackburn, Miller, and Adams) unanimously reversed the trial court, finding that the contract for insurance was partially to insure against forgery in the chain of title, fulfilling the title commitment condition in the contract.

The Supreme Court unanimously granted certiorari on January 11, 2010 to review the following issue:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals err in finding the title commitment’s condition was fulfilled? SeeGlass v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co., 181 Ga. App. 804 (354 SE2d 187) (1987).

Appellants argue that the conditions of the title insurance commitment were not fulfilled, because the specific conditions precedent had to be satisfied prior to the duty to issue the title insurance policy.  Appellees respond by distinguishing Glass, and argued that adopting Fidelity’s interpretation will create conflict with numerous existing Georgia cases.

The Court hear oral argument on this case on April 12, 2010.

S10G0084. ROBINSON et al. v. BOYD

This case began from an automobile accident, but now involves key questions on the ability of a plaintiff to revive an action after the statute of limitations has run, particularly after failing to serve the opposing party in a timely manner.  Boyd filed a pro se action against Robinson and another defendant on the day the statute of limitations ran after the accident, February 22, 2002.  But Boyd did not even attempt to serve the defendants until more than four years later, on December 28, 2006.  After service was perfected in February 2007, Boyd dismissed the case from Cobb County Superior Court and re-filed it in Fulton County Superior Court as a renewal action.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants, finding the action was barred by the equitable doctrine of laches because Boyd’s delay had prejudiced the ability of the defendants to defend themselves.

The Court of Appeals (Johnson, Ellington, and Mikell) unanimously reversed the trial court’s determination, in a somewhat-grudging opinion noting the “unjust result” in the case.  The Court of Appeals concluded it was compelled to follow Supreme Court precedent, indicating that as long as service was perfected before the case was dismissed and refiled, the only question for review was the service on the renewal action.  The Court of Appeals also found the doctrine of laches could not apply to legal actions.

The Supreme Court unanimously granted certiorari on February 8, 2010 to review the following question:

  1. Whether the Court of Appeals correctly applied Hobbs v. Arthur, 264 Ga. 359 (1994)?

Appellants argued that the Court of Appeals improperly applied Hobbs, and as a result, deprived the Appellants of their due process rights to mount a viable defense, in addition to the requirement that equitable estoppel should apply to this case.  Appellee responded that the Court of Appelas had corrected applied Hobbs, and limiting Hobbs would in essence be rewriting the renewal statute.

The Court heard oral argument on this case on May 10, 2010.

S10A0937. PARKER v. CITY of GLENNVILLE et al.

This is another case relating to an ordinance requiring that grass be cut.  Parker owns several vacant pieces of property in the City of Glennville, and wishes to grow fledging trees there and does not wish to cut the lots.  Claiming the city enforces the ordinance in a non-uniform way, Parker sued.  The trial court found the ordinance constitutional and Parker appealed.

Appellant (Parker) argued that the ordinance violates his substantive due process rights because because it was unconstitutionally vague.  Appellee (City) responded that the ordinance serves a public purpose and the ordinance is neither arbitrary nor capricious.

The Court is deciding this case without oral argument.


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