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City of Atlanta v. Demita

Court of Appeals of Georgia

August 20, 2014

CITY OF ATLANTA
v.
DEMITA

Reconsideration denied September 9, 2014 -- Cert. applied for.

Nuisance. Fulton State Court. Before Judge Edlein.

Cathy Hampton, Torrey D. Smith, Davené D. Walker, for appellant.

Martin & Jones, Samuel L. Starks, for appellee.

ELLINGTON, Presiding Judge. Phipps, C. J., and McMillian, J., concur in judgment only.

OPINION

Page 437

Ellington, Presiding Judge.

Regina Demita brought this nuisance action against the City of Atlanta in the State Court of Fulton County to recover for damage to her home and property allegedly caused by the City's negligent construction or maintenance of a storm water drainage system. A jury found in Demita's favor and awarded her $85,200 in damages, $88,800 in attorney fees, and $54,433.21 in litigation expenses. The City appeals from the judgment, contending, inter alia, that there was no evidence that it created or maintained a nuisance and that it is therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law. For the reasons explained below, we reverse.

1. The City contends that there was no evidence that it created or maintained a nuisance or that it violated any duty to abate the alleged nuisance. Rather, the City contends that the evidence established that the developer that built a group of homes, including Demita's home, on Oakridge Avenue,

Page 438

created the conditions that allow water to collect on her property. Accordingly, the City contends that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

On appeal from a trial court's rulings on motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict,[[1]] we review and resolve the evidence and any doubts or ambiguities in favor of the verdict; directed verdicts and judgments notwithstanding the verdict are not proper unless there is no conflict in the evidence as to any material issue and the evidence introduced, with all reasonable deductions therefrom, demands a certain verdict.

( Citation, punctuation and footnote omitted.) PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP v. Bassett, 293 Ga.App. 274 (666 S.E.2d 721) (2008).

Under Georgia law, municipalities have sovereign immunity against claims of negligence in performing, or failing to perform, their governmental functions.[2] Generally, a municipality will be immune [329 Ga.App. 34] from liability for ...


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