Court Opinions

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Recent opinions released by Georgia's Appellate courts
Caldwell et al. v. Church, A17A0280
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/20/2017, 7/13/2017)
CONTRACTS:
The trial court properly granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on her breach of contract claim arising out of the sale of a business because defendants' claim that an alleged contemporaneous oral agreement modified the terms of the written contract was without merit, since the written contract contained a merger clause providing that it was the sole agreement of the parties, that it correctly set forth the parties' obligations and that any other agreements or representations not expressly set forth in the contract were null and void.
SDS Real Property Holdings, Ltd et al. v. The City Of Brookhaven et al., A17A0336
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/20/2017, 7/13/2017)
LAND USE PLANNING:
The trial court erred in affirming a decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals, which upheld the Planning Director's refusal to issue a land disturbance permit to two developers, as the trial court failed to apply the appropriate de novo standard of review to the interpretation of the zoning ordinances at issue and erroneously found that appellants failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. 
Odum v. Russell, A17A0477
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/20/2017, 7/13/2017)
FAMILY LAW:
In a child custody dispute, the trial court erred in modifying child custody and father's summer custody arrangement, because the trial court expressly found that there were no material changes in circumstances and therefore was not authorized to modify the original custody order in those ways.
Glispie v. The State, A15A1281
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/20/2017, 7/12/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The incoming text messages extracted from defendant's cell phone were not admissible at trial as an admission by a party-opponent because the incoming text messages were not defendant's statements, but even assuming that the incoming messages were hearsay, any error in their admission was ultimately harmless, in light of the other admissible evidence of defendant's guilt.
Atlantic Speciality Insurance Company v. Lewis et al., A17A0190
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/20/2017, 7/12/2017)
CIVIL PRACTICE:
The trial court erred in denying insurer's motion to dismiss plaintiff's declaratory judgment action against City and insurer seeking a determination that City had available $5 million in insurance coverage to cover the claims in plaintiff's pending personal injury suit against City and that City had waived its sovereign immunity up to that amount because plaintiff had no standing to bring the declaratory judgment action against insurer in the absence of an unsatisfied judgment against City in the underlying personal injury suit.
Bowman v. The State., A17A0379
Georgia Court of Appeals, Criminal Case (6/19/2017, 7/12/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The trial court properly denied defendant's motion to suppress his recorded custodial statement, as defendant offered insufficient evidence that his waiver of his right to counsel was ineffective and the evidence supported the trial court's conclusion that defendant freely and voluntarily gave his statement. 
Gordon et al. v. Dennis; and vice versa., A17A0525
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/19/2017, 7/12/2017)
APPEALS:
The Court vacated the denial of defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's appeal and remanded that case for further proceedings because the trial court denied the motion without making the necessary findings of fact under O.C.G.A. § 5-6-48 subsection (c), which mandated that the Court vacated the order dismissing the appeal and remanded the case with the direction that findings of fact be entered on those issues. 
The stuttering foundation, inc. v. Glynn County, et al., s17a0405
Supreme Court of Georgia, Civil Case (6/19/2017, 7/11/2017)
LAND USE PLANNING:
The Court affirmed the dismissal of tenant's petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to reverse County's approval of landlord's application for rezoning of the property because tenant failed to demonstrate a substantial interest in the zoning decision that it could assert adversely to the actual property owner's interest. 
Menefee v. The State, s17a0542
Supreme Court of Georgia, Criminal Case (6/19/2017, 7/11/2017)
CRIMINAL PRACTICE:
The evidence supported defendants' convictions for malice murder and related crimes stemming from a "drug deal gone bad" but the trial court erred in failing to merge defendants' convictions for aggravated assault of the murder victim into the malice murder count and erroneously merged the count for the attempted armed robbery of one victim into the malice murder count concerning another victim; accordingly, the Court remanded for the trial court to sentence defendants on that count.
Attaway Construction & Associates, LLC, A17A0608
Georgia Court of Appeals, Civil Case (6/19/2017, 7/11/2017)
CIVIL PRACTICE:
The trial court erred in awarding defendant attorney fees pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 13-6-11 on his counterclaims arising out of the same transaction underlying plaintiff's complaint, as the counterclaims were compulsory and thus fees were not permitted for those claims under § 13-6-11.
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