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Released Opinions

October 29, 2012

This morning, the Supreme Court of Georgia released opinions in 15 cases, two of which are civil within the scope of our coverage. Summaries of the cases and opinions are below. The next scheduled oral argument date is Monday, November 5, 2012.

S12A0947. Ehlers, Exr. v. Upper West Side, LLC et al.

While this case involves a property dispute, the issue for the Supreme Court of Georgia is the proper application of the statute of limitations to a deed reformation.  The case centers around the disputed ownership of property in northwest Atlanta that originally passed to the estate of Albert T. Ehlers when he died in 1993. At some point in the transactions related to the property, there was a drafting error, leading to a deed that resulted in title of only a 25-foot strip of land passing instead of the entire eight-acre parcel. In 2008, Upper West Side sued, requesting the court reform the deed so that the deed conveyed the entire parcel instead of just the strip of land. The trial court changed the deed and Ehlers appealed, arguing that the claims were barred by the seven-year statute of limitations, and that a 1995 deed could not be changed in a lawsuit brought in 2008. Upper West Side argues that the statute did not begin running until the error was discovered in 2002.

The case was heard at oral argument on May 7, 2012.

On Monday, October 29, 2012, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the decision of the trial court. Writing for the Court, Justice Melton explained that the action to reform the deed of assent was not barred by the statute of limitations because no prejudice would result, in part because Ehlers intended to convey the property and the only reason the conveyance was not properly reflected was due to a scrivener’s error.

S12A1068 Burgess v. Liberty County Board of Elections et al.

This case is an election challenge regarding the 2011 Hinesville City Council elections. Burgess qualified to run for City Council in 2011. After a challenge by voters in the district, the Board of Elections determined that Burgess had not lived in the district for the 12-month period required, based in part of the fact that Burgess served on the city council of Allenhurst until 2011, and removed him from the ballot. Burgess appealed the decision, but while that decision was on appeal, the Board issued a decision in a second challenge to Burgess’ qualifications which Burgess did not appeal. The trial court rejected Burgess’ appeal of the first decision because he failed to appeal the second decision. Burgess then appealed to the Supreme Court.

The case was heard at oral argument on October 2, 2012.

On Monday, October 29, 2012, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the trial court ruling. Writing for the Court, Justice Nahmias explained that because the second disqualification order was not appealed, reversal of the first disqualification order would do no good, and the trial court correctly determined the challenge was moot.

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