Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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In 2011, Georgia Trust Bank secured a judgment against Virgil Lovell for $1.2 million. The next year, Georgia Trust failed, and its assets went into receivership with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which later sold the judgment to Community & Southern Bank. When CSB was unable to collect the full amount of the judgment, it discovered a number of recent transactions in which Lovell and his companies had conveyed their respective interests in properties that, CSB believed, otherwise would have been available to satisfy the judgment. In 2015, CSB filed a lawsuit against Lovell, his wife, and several of his companies, asserting claims under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act (UFTA) to set aside those conveyances as fraudulent transfers. The trial court dismissed some of those claims on the ground that they did not state claims upon which relief might properly be granted. After reviewing the transfers, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed in part, and reversed in part. The Court found that trial court erred when it dismissed a claim under the UFTA against Lovell, his wife, and Ankony Land, LLC, relating to property in Habersham County: the trial court rested its dismissal of the claim upon the time bar of former OCGA 18-2-79 (1), and did not consider the other grounds asserted by Lovell, his wife, and Ankony Land for dismissing the claim. The trial court reasoned that former Section 18-2-79 (1) was a statute of repose, not a statute of limitation, and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) did not, it concluded, preempt statutes of repose. CSB contended that this conclusion was in error, and with that contention, the Supreme Court agreed. The Court reversed the trial court on this point, affirmed in all other respects, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Community & Southern Bank v. Lovell" on Justia Law

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Thomas McBee and his wife Mary (the “McBees”) and Aspire at West Midtown Apartments, L.P. (“Aspire”) were adjoining landowners. The McBees claimed title by prescription to a rectangular strip of land measuring about 24 feet by 58 feet located on a lot to which Aspire held record title. Aspire used this lot and several adjoining properties it owned to develop an apartment complex, thereby depriving the McBees of the use of it. The McBees sued Aspire, and the trial court granted Aspire’s motion for summary judgment on the McBees’ adverse possession claim. Two appeals followed. After review, the Georgia Supreme Court: (1) summarily affirmed the trial court’s order denying Aspire’s motion to dismiss the McBees’ appeal for delay in filing the record appendix; and (2) found that the trial court record did not reflect evidence conclusively rebutting the presumption that the McBee’s had a good faith claim of right to the disputed area. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the order granting summary judgment to Aspire on the McBees’ adverse possession claim, and remanded the case for the trial court to consider Aspire’s other arguments for summary judgment. View "McBee v. Aspire at West Midtown Apartments, L.P." on Justia Law

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Kammerer Real Estate Holdings, LLC owned a lot on which it wanted to construct an automotive service facility. Kammerer applied for a site development permit. The lot was subject to a zoning condition under the Forsyth County Unified Development Code that certain “open space” on the lot remain undeveloped. The Director of the Forsyth County Department of Planning and Community Development concluded that the proposed construction would not comply with this condition, and so, he refused to issue a site development permit. Kammerer then asked the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners to amend the zoning condition, but the Board declined to do so. At that point, Kammerer filed this lawsuit against the County, the Board, and the Director, alleging that the Director had misconstrued the “open space” condition, and if it actually meant what the Director said it meant, it was unconstitutional in several respects. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The trial court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. Kammerer appealed the dismissal of certain claims, and the defendants cross-appealed the refusal of the trial court to dismiss other claims. The Georgia Supreme Court determined the trial court properly dismissed a claim for attorney fees, but reversed in all other respects, finding the trial court misinterpreted the controlling caselaw that governed this case, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Kammerer Real Estate Holdings, LLC v. Forsyth County Bod. of Comm'rs" on Justia Law

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The parties to this appeal were an unmarried couple. Appellant Adam Vargo purchased the real property in which the parties formerly resided in his own name as sole owner, and executed a purchase money mortgage on it. Shortly thereafter, Vargo executed a warranty deed conveying the property to himself and appellee Brittany Adams as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. The couple broke up and Vargo filed a claim for equitable partition. Vargo testified at trial that he contributed the down payment to purchase the property and nearly all the mortgage payments made on the loan, and claimed that an inequity existed, requiring equitable partition of the property, due to the disparity of funds he paid toward the purchase of the property compared to that paid by Adams. The trial court found equitable partition was not an available remedy to parties who hold property as joint tenants with right of survivorship except in actions for divorce. In the order denying Vargo’s petition for equitable partition, the trial judge advised Vargo that he could sever the joint tenancy and then seek either a statutory partition under OCGA 44-6-160, or equitable partition if no sufficient remedy at law existed. The order also granted Vargo certain of his claims for conversion of items of personal property retained by Adams, but denied Vargo’s claim for attorney fees. Vargo filed this appeal, but finding no error in the trial court’s judgment, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vargo v. Adams" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a trial court order quieting title in favor of TDGA, LLC. Appellant Peter Mancuso argued, inter alia, that he did not receive proper notice from TDGA regarding the foreclosure of his right of redemption. After review of the trial court record, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the evidence showed TDGA met its burden as required by OCGA 48-4-45(a)(2) by sending notices to Mancuso's known addresses via certified mail. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court's order. View "Mancuso v. TDGA, LLC" on Justia Law

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Lowell and Janice Register were shareholders of Register Communications, Inc. Green Bull Georgia Partners, LLC threatened to foreclose on property that had been pledged to secure the debts of Register Communications. The Registers sued Green Bull. In connection with their lawsuit, the Registers sought an interlocutory injunction to prohibit any foreclosure pending final judgment. At first, the trial court provisionally granted some injunctive relief, but after further consideration, it concluded that an injunction pending final judgment was not warranted, and it set aside the injunction that it previously had entered. The Registers appealed the order setting aside the interlocutory injunction, and they asked the trial court for an injunction at least to prohibit any foreclosure pending the resolution of their appeal. The trial court granted an injunction pending appeal, and in this case, Green Bull appealed the entry of that injunction. The Georgia Supreme Court found no abuse of discretion in the grant of the injunction, and affirmed the trial court. View "Green Bull Partners, LLC v. Register" on Justia Law

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Joshua Martin sustained life-changing injuries in a brutal attack at a bus stop outside the Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park in 2007. A jury determined that Six Flags was liable for those injuries, along with the four named individual defendants who perpetrated the attack. The trial court apportioned the jury’s $35 million verdict between the parties, assigning 92% against Six Flags and 2% each against the four assailants. On cross-appeals by Six Flags and Martin, a majority of the twelve-member Court of Appeals found no error in the jury’s determination regarding Six Flags’ liability but concluded that the trial court had erred in its pretrial rulings regarding apportionment of fault, necessitating a full retrial. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine: (1) whether Six Flags could properly be held liable for the injuries inflicted in this attack; and (2) assuming liability was proper, whether the trial court’s apportionment error does indeed require a full retrial. After review, the Supreme Court concluded: (1) because the attack that caused Martin’s injuries began while both he and his assailants were on Six Flags property, Six Flags’ liability was not extinguished simply because Martin stepped outside the property’s boundaries while attempting to distance himself from his attackers; and (2) the trial court’s apportionment error did not require a full retrial, but rather required retrial only for the apportionment of damages. View "Martin v. Six Flags Over Georgia II, L.P." on Justia Law

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Appellee M7VEN Supportive Housing and Development Group (“M7”) failed to pay taxes on two properties in Carroll County, and, consequently, the Tax Commissioner conducted a tax sale. The properties were purchased by Appellant DLT List, LLC (“DLT”), for a total of $110,000, and the tax sale resulted in excess funds of approximately $105,000. The Commissioner notified M7, DLT, and others of excess funds, and, M7 filed a certificate of authorization seeking to receive the excess funds. Though there were no other claims made on the funds, the Commissioner did not release the funds. Appellee Design Acquisition, LLC, as a lienholder against M7, redeemed the properties from DLT, and DLT issued quitclaim deeds of redemption to M7. Design Acquisition filed a declaratory judgment action claiming entitlement to the excess funds, and the Commissioner filed an equitable interpleader action for the purpose of distributing the excess funds. The two actions were consolidated. The trial court determined that, because M7 was the only entity to have made a claim for the excess funds or to have had a recorded interest in the properties at the time of the tax sale, the Commissioner should have timely released the excess funds to M7. DLT and Design Acquisition appealed, arguing that Design Acquisition had first priority to the excess funds as the redeeming creditor. The Court of Appeals overruled the controlling case law in this matter, applied OCGA 48-4-5 (a) to the question of excess funds and determined that Design Acquisition had no claim to the excess funds because it was not a lienholder at the time of the tax sale. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether a redeeming creditor after a tax sale has a first priority claim on excess tax-sale funds. Though the Court disagreed with the rationale employed by the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court nevertheless affirmed its decision. View "DLT List, LLC v. M7VEN Supportive Housing & Development Group" on Justia Law

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After the Merle and Lesia Long and their business Water Park Properties, LLC dismissed their most recent lawsuit against the City of Helen with prejudice, the trial court awarded more than $17,000 to the City for attorney fees and litigation expenses pursuant to OCGA 9-15-14. The Longs and Water Park appealed, contending that the award of fees and expenses was improper because those fees and expenses actually were borne by the City’s insurer, not the City itself. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the award. View "Long v. City of Helen" on Justia Law

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The Community Bank loaned money to several entities (“the Borrowers”) over the course of several years. The Borrowers executed five promissory notes, granting the bank a security interest in real estate located in three different counties. To further secure the loans, the Guarantors signed commercial guaranties (“the Guaranties”) in which they guaranteed full payment of the notes. In 2011, RES-GA foreclosed on and bought the properties that were serving as collateral. It then filed confirmation actions in the three counties in which the secured properties were located. In each instance, the court entered an order refusing to confirm the sale, finding that RES-GA had failed to prove that it obtained the fair market value of the property in question, and refusing to allow a resale. RES-GA appealed two of those orders, and the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed in each case. Last year, the Supreme Court held that compliance with OCGA 44-14-161, Georgia’s confirmation statute, “is a condition precedent to the lender’s ability to pursue a guarantor for a deficiency after foreclosure has been conducted, but a guarantor retains the contractual ability to waive the condition precedent requirement.” The Court granted certiorari in this case to consider additional questions regarding creditors’ ability to pursue deficiency actions against guarantors. The Court concluded that Jim York and John Drillot (“the Guarantors”) waived any defense based on the failure of creditor RES-GA LJY, LLC (“RES-GA”) to confirm the relevant foreclosure sales, and thus affirmed the Court of Appeals’ decision that upheld deficiency judgments against them. View "York v. RES-GA LJY, LLC" on Justia Law