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City of Atlanta v. Kovalcik

Court of Appeals of Georgia

November 12, 2014

CITY OF ATLANTA
v.
KOVALCIK et al

Cert. applied for.

Negligence. Fulton State Court. Before Judge Roth.

Laura S. Burton, for appellant.

Robin F. Clark, Deitch & Rogers, Andrew T. Rogers, for appellees.

DOYLE, Presiding Judge. Miller and Dillard, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Doyle, Presiding Judge.

In this interlocutory appeal, the City of Atlanta appeals from the denial of its motion for summary judgment in a wrongful death action brought by the parents of Stephanie Kovalcik, who died in a nighttime car wreck at a newly reconfigured intersection in the City. The City contends that the trial court erred because (1) the City cannot be liable for any lighting defects in the absence of an underlying roadway defect, (2) the City had no duty to maintain the lighting, and (3) the undisputed facts show that the City had not assumed maintenance responsibility for the lighting. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

Summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue of material fact

Page 694

and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A de novo standard of review applies to an appeal from a grant of summary judgment, and we view the evidence, and all reasonable conclusions and inferences drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the nonmovant.[1]

The background facts in this case are largely undisputed and are the same as those recited in Dept. of Transp. v. Kovalcik,[2] in which this Court recently addressed an appeal by the Georgia Department of Transportation (" DOT" ) based on the same wreck.[3]

[T]he DOT, the City of Atlanta, and the Buckhead Community Improvement District (" BCID" ) began planning a road improvement project to redesign a portion of Peachtree Road (" Project" ), a State route within the City limits. In February 2004, the DOT and the City entered into an agreement to undertake certain improvements including the Project. The agreement stated that the City would [" ]accomplish all of the design activities for the project in accordance with the DOT's Plan Development Process, the applicable guidelines of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the DOT's Standard Specifications Construction of [329 Ga.App. 524] Roads and Bridges, the [DOT's] Plan Presentation Guide, Project schedules, and applicable guidelines of the DOT.[" ]
The contract further provided that the DOT [" ]shall review and has approval authority for all aspects of the Project provided however this review and approval does not relieve the City of its responsibilities under the terms of this agreement. The DOT will work with the [Federal Highway Administration] to obtain all needed approvals with information furnished by the City.[" ]
Pursuant to an agreement between the BCID and the City, the BCID retained URS Corporation to deliver construction plans that included road design, signage, pavement markings, curbs, traffic signals, and landscaping. URS prepared the plans and, through an ...

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