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WPD Center, LLC v. Watershed, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

November 21, 2014

WPD CENTER, LLC et al.
v.
WATERSHED, INC. et al

Reconsideration denied December 10, 2014.

Lease. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Campbell.

Steven Rosen, Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs, Eric J. Taylor, Peter F. Busscher, for appellants.

Bloom Sugarman Everett, Simon H. Bloom, Stephanie A. Everett, for appellees.

ANDREWS, Presiding Judge. McFadden and Ray, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 532

Andrews, Presiding Judge.

Watershed, Inc. entered into a commercial lease agreement with WPD Center, LLC, to operate a restaurant on premises owned by WPD. Watershed sued WPD for breach of the lease, and WPD answered and counterclaimed asserting that Watershed breached

Page 533

the lease.[1] WPD appeals from the trial court's order granting partial summary judgment in favor of Watershed and denying WPD's motion for summary judgment.

To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, " the moving party must demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the undisputed facts, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, warrant judgment as a matter of law." Lau's Corp. v. Haskins, 261 Ga. 491, 491 (405 S.E.2d 474) (1991); OCGA § 9-11-56. The moving party on summary judgment may carry this burden by affirmatively presenting evidence which negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim, or by demonstrating the absence of evidence to support an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim. Lau's Corp., 261 Ga. at 491. Applying these principles to WPD's claims, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

1. WPD claims that the trial court erred by denying its motion for summary judgment on all ten counts of Watershed's complaint on the basis of defenses asserting that Watershed's suit for breach of the lease was barred by the doctrine of res judicata, or, in the alternative, by an agreement between the parties.

(a) It is undisputed that, prior to the present suit (filed in Fulton County Superior Court), WPD filed a dispossessory proceeding against Watershed in the Magistrate Court of DeKalb County; that Watershed filed counterclaims against WPD in the dispossessory seeking damages in excess of the $15,000 jurisdictional limit of the magistrate court; and that, when the dispossessory was dismissed, the counterclaims were dismissed with prejudice.

The doctrine of res judicata prevents the re-litigation of all claims which have already been adjudicated, or which could have been adjudicated, between identical parties or their privies in identical causes of action. Before res judicata applies, three prerequisites must be satisfied -- (1) identity [330 Ga.App. 290] of the cause of action, (2) identity of the parties or ...

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