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Forthcoming Opinions

October 29, 2010

The Supreme Court will release opinions in 20 cases on Monday morning, five of which are civil.  A brief summary of each civil case is below and we will update on Monday morning with summaries of the opinions released.

S09G1912. ANTHONY et al. v. GATOR COCHRAN CONSTRUCTION, INC.

This case involves a Richmond County dispute between a construction company and a variety of investment companies.  After the jury returned a verdict against the “Anthony entities” personally, the Anthonys appealed, arguing they were entitled to a new trial because the evidence did not support the verdict against the Anthonys personally and because the verdict was inconsistent.  The trial court denied both motions.

The Court of Appeals (Doyle, Blackburn, and Adams) unanimously affirmed the trial court, finding that some evidence supported the verdict against the Anthonys in their individual capacities.  The Court of Appeals also found the challenge to the inconsistent verdict was not appropriate because the Anthonys had not objected to the form of the jury verdict, which allowed the jury to fill in blanks with each separate defendant found liable.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in a 4-3 vote (Hunstein, Carley, and Thompson dissenting) to review the following issue:

  1. Does a party waive his right to challenge an inconsistent verdict on appeal by failing to object to the verdict form provided to the jury.
The Court heard oral argument in the case on May 10, 2010.

S10G0644. POINTER v. ROBERTS

This case began with a car accident that went to trial on the issue of damages.  After the trial, a verdict of nearly $50,000 was awarded to the Pointers.  Prior to the trial, Roberts identified an expert witness he wished to call.  After the trial date was set, the expert witness became unavailable and Roberts moved for a continuance, because the expert would be testifying about the appropriateness of the medical treatment and amount at issue.  The trial court denied the motion for continuance as to the expert, but allowed an additional lay witness to testify who had not been identified in the pretrial order.

The Court of Appeals (Smith, Phipps, and Bernes) unanimously reversed, finding that the trial court abused its discretion by effectively excluding the expert witness in spite of being identified five weeks before trial.  The Court of Appeals found the appropriate remedy was postponement of the trial or a mistrial.

The Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari on May 3, 2010 in a 4-3 vote (Hunstein, Benham, and Thompson dissenting) to consider the following question:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals err in its finding that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Roberts’ motion for a continuance?

The Appellants argue that the decision of the Court of Appeals radically shifts the control of dockets to parties who can identify new experts after the close of discovery and require continuances.  The Appellee asserts that the Court of Appeals correctly recognized the disparate treatment by the trial court of the parties in the case.

The Court heard oral argument on September 13, 2010.

S10A0801. GLASS SYSTEMS, INC. v. GEORGIA POWER COMPANY

This case originated when two employees of Glass Systems were burned while working at a jobsite.  The employees sued Georgia Power.  Georgia Power then sued Glass Systems, seeking for Georgia Power to indemnify it against the claims of the employees pursuant to Georgia’s High Voltage Safety Act (HVSA).  The trial court granted partial summary judgment to Georgia Power and Glass Systems appealed.

Glass Systems, as the Appellant, argues that the HVSA statute is unconstitutional because it does not provide sufficient due process.  Georgia Power responds that the HVSA is constitutional and does not violate due process.

The Court is deciding this case without oral argument.

S10A1083. BLEVINS v. DADE COUNTY BOARD of TAX ASSESSORS

A former county commissioner in Dade County brought this constitutional challenge to two provisions of Georgia law that provide a homestead exemption freeze for real property values in the county.  After a hearing, the trial court found the homestead exemption freeze was constitutional and Blevins appealed.

Appellant argues that the freeze is unconstitutional because they do not provide uniform taxation within the county.  Appellee responds that the provisions are constitutional, meeting the uniformity requirements of the Georgia constitution.

The Court is deciding this case without oral argument.

S10A1147. MAGBY v. CITY OF RIVERDALE et al.

This case from Clayton County involves a City of Riverdale ordinance related to tax permits.  Magby began operating a home daycare center in Riverdale, and obtained the necessary state license.  But Magby was cited three times for failing to obtain the occupation tax permit from the City.  Magby was ordered to pay the fine and attempted to appeal, but was unsuccessful.  She filed the present case claiming the ordinance was unconstitutional, and her petition was denied by the Superior Court.

The Court heard oral argument on June 7, 2010.

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