BEN PERKINS, BRIAN GRIFFIN, AND PATRICK T. O’CONNOR OBTAIN SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR CITY OF TYBEE ISLAND
On April 20, 2021, Ben Perkins, Brian Griffin, and Patrick T. O’Connor obtained judgment in favor of the City of Tybee Island in a case in which the plaintiff blamed the City for the drowning death of a man swimming in the waters off of Tybee’s South End. The plaintiff contended that the City caused the death because a city lifeguard failed to enter the water quickly enough, which caused the victim to wade deeper into the water to help a struggling friend, where he ultimately drowned. The State Court of Chatham County agreed with Oliver Maner’s summary judgment motion, which asserted that (1) by entering the Atlantic Ocean in the first place, the man assumed the risk that he would drown; and (2) the City was entitled to immunity under Georgia’s Recreational Property Act. Patrina Williams v. City of Tybee Island (State Court of Chatham County Case No. STCV1902172-CO).
BEN PERKINS SECURES DISMISSAL ON BEHALF OF CHATHAM COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS IN HIGH-PROFILE ELECTIONS DISPUTE AHEAD OF KEY U.S. SENATE RUNOFF
Oliver Maner LLP partner Ben Perkins recently secured dismissal of claims alleged against the Chatham County Board of Elections. The Plaintiffs—who included the Georgia Republican Party, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Purdue and Loeffler campaigns for United States Senate—sought an injunction to segregate all ballots cast by voters who registered to vote after the November 3, 2020 general election so that they could be reviewed in the event of an election contest. After an hours-long hearing, Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia dismissed the case against the Chatham County Board of Elections and all other defendants. The case is styled Georgia Republican Party, Inc. et al v. Brad Raffensperger, et al. (Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-00135-LGW-BWC) (S.D. Ga. December 18, 2020)).
BEN PERKINS AND BRIAN GRIFFIN SECURE GEORGIA COURT OF APPEALS DECISION AFFIRMING SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR LOCAL MEDICAL PRACTICE
On January 29, 2021, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming the Superior Court of Chatham County’s grant of summary judgment to firm client SouthCoast Medical Group (“SouthCoast”). The Plaintiff, a physician and former member of SouthCoast, was terminated for cause after his medical license was suspended and he lost his local hospital privileges—a violation of SouthCoast’s operating agreement. The Plaintiff asserted that he was entitled to an enhanced valuation of his membership units due to a disability from which he allegedly suffered at the time he left SouthCoast’s employ. After the close of discovery, Ben and Brian filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of SouthCoast, arguing that the Plaintiff had not satisfied conditions precedent to be entitled to any payment for his membership units. The Superior Court of Chatham County agreed and granted SouthCoast’s motion for summary judgment on all claims alleged against it. The Plaintiff appealed the ruling, and in a lengthy unpublished opinion, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. The underlying case is Philip C. Gainey, M.D. v. SouthCoast Medical Group, LLC (Civil Action No. SPCV1600594MO). The case on appeal is Gainey v. SouthCoast Medical Group, LLC (A20A1885).
Oliver Maner LLP attorneys Brian Griffin and Ben Perkins and their co-counsel, Holland & Knight’s Jake Evans recently obtained dismissal of a petition on behalf of the Cherokee County Republican Party (the “CCRP”) and Cherokee County Board of Elections and Registration (“CCBOER”) member Mike Byrd. The Plaintiffs—two Cherokee County citizens—asserted that the CCRP invalidly appointed Mr. Byrd to his CCBOER seat and thus argued that the Cherokee County Probate Court judge should appoint a new CCBOER member to take his place. Brian, Ben, and Jake successfully intervened in the case on behalf of Mr. Byrd and the CCRP and then moved to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ petition for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The Court agreed and dismissed the case. The Plaintiffs did not appeal within the time required. (Probate court of Cherokee County Case No. 2003-029).
BRIAN GRIFFIN, BEN PERKINS, AND JAKE EVANS (OF HOLLAND AND KNIGHT, LLP) WIN DISMISSAL FOR COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS AND REGISTRATION MEMBER
LARRY EVANS WINS SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR APARTMENT OWNER, DEFEATING CONTRACTOR’S LIEN CLAIM
The Superior Court of Chatham County awarded summary judgment in favor of the owner of an apartment complex represented by Oliver Maner LLP. A construction contractor recorded a lien against the apartment owner’s property, claiming unpaid invoices for renovation work, and then filed suit to enforce the lien. The apartment complex, represented by Oliver Maner partner Larry Evans, moved to dismiss the lien on grounds that the contractor failed to comply with Georgia’s statutory scheme for perfecting materialmen’s liens. The Court agreed and granted the apartment complex’s motion in full.
PATRICK T. O’CONNOR AND DAVID BOBO MULLENS SECURE SUMMARY JUDGMENT RULING FROM THE GEORGIA COURT OF APPEALS
On February 3, 2021, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of Chatham County State Court Chief Judge J. Gregory Fowler to dismiss all of Plaintiffs’ claims against Clifford Ducey, Director of the Garden City Parks and Recreation Department, and Hiram Hernandez, Supervisor of Facilities of the same department. The City had been sued for negligence and negligence per se related to a minor child falling approximately twenty feet at Garden City’s football stadium. The Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the entry of summary judgment, finding that Plaintiffs’ suit was barred under the doctrine of qualified immunity and absolved Mr. Ducey and Mr. Hernandez of any liability. (Georgia Court of Appeals No. A20A2032) (not officially reported).
PAUL THRELKELD AND STUART SUMNER WIN SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR INSURANCE AGENCY AND ITS PRESIDENT
Paul Threlkeld and Stuart Sumner recently obtained summary judgment on behalf of firm clients they were defending, Remer Lane Insurance, Inc. and its president, Clark Lane. The Plaintiffs, a chain of grocery stores in Southeast Georgia, asserted that Remer Lane Insurance, Inc. and Clark Lane, their insurer and insurance agent, respectively, underinsured the stores and that the stores were entitled to a payout beyond their insurance policies’ specified limits following losses during Hurricane Matthew. At the close of discovery, a motion for summary judgment was filed on behalf of Defendants arguing that all claims against them should be dismissed as a matter of law. The Superior Court of Chatham County agreed and entered judgment in favor of Remer Lane Insurance, Inc. and Clark Lane, holding that the relevant policy limits were clearly stated within the insurance policies and that the Plaintiffs were bound by the clear and unambiguous language of those policies. (Superior Court of Chatham County Case No. SPCV18-01205).
PATRICK O’CONNOR AND DAVID BOBO MULLENS WIN SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR TELFAIR COUNTY CLIENTS
Patrick O’Connor and David Bobo Mullens won dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims on behalf of Sheriff Chris Steverson, Lieutenant Ron Bowdoin, and Sergeant Betty Riddle of the Telfair County Sheriff’s Office. Plaintiff asserted claims of false arrest, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, kidnapping, and cruel and unusual punishment related to his arrest and detention at the Dodge County Jail for a period of thirty-five days. After extensive briefing by the parties—as well as a stint in federal court in which the case was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction—Dodge County Superior Court Judge Michael C. Johnson ruled that all of Plaintiff’s claims failed as a matter of law and consequently entered a judgment dismissing all of Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants. (Superior Court of Dodge County Case No. 19V-8592).
BENJAMIN PERKINS AND BRIAN GRIFFIN OBTAIN FAVORABLE RULING FROM COURT OF APPEALS
The Georgia Court of Appeals recently issued a favorable decision to Oliver Maner LLP client Rincon, Georgia. The Plaintiff is a real estate developer who sued the City after its denial of the developer's application to build townhomes. The Plaintiff alleged claims for a declaratory judgment that the City's growth management code was void for improper adoption; permanent injunction; mandamus relief; and damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The trial court denied summary judgment to Rincon, granted partial summary judgment to the Plaintiff, declared the entire growth management code void for invalid adoption, and permanently enjoined the City's regulation of the Plaintiff's property. The City appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed every ruling adverse to Rincon. Specifically, it found that the City validly adopted the growth management code, and it was thus not void, that sovereign immunity barred Plaintiff's claim for a permanent injunction, and that mandamus relief was improper because Plaintiff did not properly appeal the Rincon City Council's permit denial to the Effingham County Superior Court. The underlying case is Ernest Communities, LLC v. City of Rincon et al. (Effingham Cty. Sup. Ct. Civil Action No. SUCV-2017000077). The Case on appeal is City of Rincon et al. v. Ernest Communities, LLC (Ga. Ct. App. Case No. A20A0765).
BENJAMIN PERKINS AND BRIAN GRIFFIN SECURE 11TH CIRCUIT DECISION AFFIRMING SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR FORMER CITY OF DARIEN POLICE OFFICER
On June 6, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit issued an opinion affirming the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia's grant of summary judgment to a former City of Darien police officer. The Plaintiffs brought claims alleging that a June 2016 traffic stop which ended in their arrests for possession of marijuana violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and their rights under Georgia law. The Honorable Lisa Godbey Wood held that the Plaintiffs insufficiently alleged federal law claims, and that qualified immunity would have barred such claims had they been properly alleged. Judge Wood further held that official immunity barred the Plaintiffs' state law claims. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit affirmed Judge Wood's grant of summary judgment on all claims. The underlying case is Edward Mahoney and Kaneesha Holt v. Jeremy Owens and the City of Darien (Southern District of Georgia Case No. 2:18-CV-00076-LGW-BWC). The case on appeal is Edward Mahoney and Kaneesha Holt v. Jeremy Owens and the City of Darien (United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Docket No. 19-14916-J).
PATRICK O’CONNOR AND PATRICIA PAUL OBTAIN JUDGMENT IN FAVOR FOR SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS OF RACE DISCRIMINATION
On May 29, 2020, Patrick O'Connor and Patricia Paul obtained judgment in favor of all of their clients in a case which made serious allegations of race discrimination and violation of First Amendment rights against twenty-five defendants in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. Mr. O’Connor and Ms. Paul represented six current or former police chief clients, Garden City Chief Gilbert Ballard, City of Tybee Island Chief Robert Bryson, City of Bloomingdale Chief Blair Jeffcoat, City of Port Wentworth Chief Matthew Libby, former Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Dept. Chief Joseph Lumpkin, and former Pooler Chief Mark Revenew, in the suit styled Kesha Gibson-Carter v. Rape Crisis Center, et al., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division, Civil Action No. 4:19-cv-122. The Honorable R. Stan Baker granted the Motions to Dismiss filed by the Oliver Maner partners in a 70 page Order, dismissing all claims asserted against each of the Oliver Maner clients without the need for any discovery.
PATRICK O'CONNOR AND DAVID BOBO MULLENS WIN SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR GARDEN CITY CLIENTS
Patrick O'Connor and David Bobo Mullens won dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims in state court on behalf of Clifford Ducey, Director of the Garden City Parks and Recreation Department, and Hiram Hernandez, Supervisor of Facilities of the same department. The Plaintiffs asserted claims of negligence and negligence per se related to a minor child falling approximately twenty feet at Garden City’s football stadium. Chief Judge H. Gregory Fowler ruled in favor of Garden City’s employees, finding that Plaintiffs’ suit was barred under the doctrine of qualified immunity and consequently entered a judgment dismissing all of Plaintiff’s claims against Mr. Ducey and Mr. Hernandez, absolving them of any liability. (State Court of Chatham County Case No. STCV18-01021).
PATRICK O'CONNOR AND DAVID BOBO MULLENS WIN SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR PORT WENTWORTH CLIENTS
Patrick O'Connor and David Bobo Mullens won dismissal of the Plaintiffs' claims in federal court on behalf of Sergeant Brian Phinney, Chief of Police Matt Libby, and the City of Port Wentworth, Georgia. The Plaintiffs asserted federal claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for excessive force and unlawful arrest in connection with an arrest made at a convenience store in April of 2015. Judge William T. Moore Jr., ruled that the Plaintiffs' claims failed as a matter of law. An order dismissing all of the Plaintiff's claims against Defendants was entered on September 26, 2019. (McMullen, 4:17-cv-00067-WTM (S.D. Ga. September 26, 2019)).
PATRICK O’CONNOR, DAVID BOBO MULLENS, AND STUART F. SUMNER WIN SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR GARDEN CITY, GEORGIA
The State Court of Chatham County granted summary judgment in favor of Garden City, Georgia. The Plaintiff asserted claims of negligence and negligence per se against Garden City and one of its employees. The Plaintiff alleged that while he was at a Garden City sponsored community program, a city van backed into him and pinned his leg against a wall, resulting in severe injuries. After the employee was dismissed from the case, Oliver Maner moved for summary judgment on all claims, arguing that the ante litem notice provided to the city was not legally sufficient. Following oral arguments, the Honorable Judge Hermann Coolidge granted summary judgment in the defendant’s favor on all claims.
Paul Threlkeld and David Bobo Mullens successfully obtained dismissals of Plaintiff’s claims in federal court on behalf of Lanier County, Georgia, Sheriff Norton, and Deputy Smith of the Lanier County Sheriff’s Office. The Plaintiff, who was in custody after being arrested on three felony charges of theft by taking and one count of felony criminal damage to property, thereafter asserted federal claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for excessive force and failure to provide medical care and various state law claims related to his transport between jails by the Sheriff’s Office. After extensive briefing by the parties, Judge Hugh Lawson ruled that all of Plaintiff’s claims failed to pass Constitutional muster and were barred by immunity. Judgment dismissing all of Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants was entered on March 23, 2019. (Patel v. Lanier County, 7:17-cv-00085-HL (M.D. Ga. March 23, 2019)).
The State Court of Chatham County granted summary judgment to the City of Pooler, Georgia and Sergeant Michael Swords in Parker v. City of Pooler, et al., Civil Action No. STCV18-01061. The Plaintiff asserted claims of negligence, false arrest, and false imprisonment against the City and Sergeant Michael Swords. The Judge ruled that the Plaintiff’s claims were barred by governmental immunity and entered a judgment dismissing all of Plaintiff’s claims against the City and Sgt. Swords. The City of Pooler and Sgt. Swords were represented by Paul H. Threlkeld, David Bobo Mullens, and Patrick T. O’Connor.
Following a four day trial, a Chatham County jury awarded $299,624.29 to Oliver Maner’s client, a national retailer, in a case involving a dispute between the retailer and its landlord over which party was responsible for paying the cost of roof replacement for a Savannah area store. The roof was replaced in 2015 at the retailer’s expense after the landlord refused to replace the roof. The jury’s award included $167,077.87 in damages and $132,546.42 in attorney’s fees. The case was tried before the Honorable Louisa Abbot in the Superior Court of Chatham County. Oliver Maner partners Lawrence Evans and George Major represented the national retailer.
In Reginald Bush v. The Eichholz Law Firm, P.C., Civil Action No. STCV 16-01085-FO, State Court of Chatham County, the plaintiff sued a law firm that formerly represented him and the firm's principal alleging that the firm made material misrepresentations and failed to preserve the plaintiff's personal injury claims arising from an accident at a port facility. The plaintiff alleged that the firm served an ante litem notice that did not comply with statutory requirements and that it failed to file suit within the applicable statute of limitations. Oliver Maner moved for summary judgment on the defendant law firm's behalf, arguing that the ante litem notice was legally compliant and that the firm was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff's failure to timely file a lawsuit. Oliver Maner also argued that the plaintiff's fraud claim failed as a matter of law. On August 13, 2018, Judge Hamrick Gnann, sitting pro tem for Judge Gregory Fowler, granted the motion, validating each of Oliver Maner's arguments and dismissing the case in its entirety.
Patrick O’Connor and Jacob Massee recently obtained summary judgment for a deputy of the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office after the deputy was sued by a detainee at the Dodge County Jail. The detainee alleged the deputy violated his constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments when the detainee was beat up by another prisoner. It was the second fight between the two prisoners, and the detainee asserted the jail staff should have protected him after the first altercation. The Court awarded judgment as a matter of law to the deputy. See Richards v. Daniels, 3:17-cv-00023-DHB-BKE, Rep. & Recommendation (Doc. 45) & Order Adopting Rep. & Recommendation (Doc. 47).
The Superior Court of Effingham County granted summary judgment to Effingham County Sheriff's Deputy Robert McQuaig in Barber v. Driggers and McQuaig, Civil Action No. SU17CV11. The Plaintiff, Maria Barber, asserted claims of false arrest and false imprisonment against Deputy McQuaig. Judge Michael Muldrew held that Deputy McQuaig was entitled to qualified immunity from all of Plaintiff's claims and entered an order dismissing all of Plaintiff's claims against Deputy McQuaig with prejudice. Deputy McQuaig was represented by Paul H. Threlkeld, David Bobo Mullens, and Patrick T. O'Connor.