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Wright v. IC Enters., Inc.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

November 21, 2014

WRIGHT et al.
v.
IC ENTERPRISES, INC. et al

Reconsideration denied December 11, 2014 -- Cert. applied for.

Lease. Cobb State Court. Before Judge Tanksley.

O'Kelley & Sorohan, Lawrence L. Washburn IV, for appellants.

O'Dell & O'Neal, Leslie D. O'Neal, for appellees.

BRANCH, Judge. Barnes, P. J., and Boggs, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 485

Branch, Judge.

This is a landlord-tenant dispute concerning two commercial properties in Doraville. On motions for summary judgment, the trial court ruled that the lease governing one of the properties was so riddled with errors as to be unenforceable, that undisputed facts showed that the landlord breached a post-lease agreement to improve that property for

Page 486

the tenant's benefit, that the tenant was not liable for any rent or fees associated with either property, and that the landlord was not entitled to retain the tenant's security deposits. Because these rulings were erroneous, we reverse.

In reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion for summary judgment, we conduct a de novo review to determine whether the undisputed facts warrant judgment as a matter of law. OCGA § 9-11-56; Vick v. Tower Place, 268 Ga.App. 108 (601 S.E.2d 348) (2004). " [T]he opposing party should be given the benefit of all reasonable doubt, and the court should construe the evidence and all inferences and conclusions arising therefrom most favorably toward the party opposing the motion." Eckerd Corp. v. Alterman Properties, 264 Ga.App. 72, 74 (589 S.E.2d 660) (2003) (footnote omitted).

So viewed, the record shows the following relevant facts. The plaintiff/appellant is the landlord, Joseph Jerry Wright, individually and as trustee of the Wright IV Trust d/b/a Y & W Partnership (" Wright" ), and the defendants/appellees are the tenant, IC Enterprises, Inc. (" ICE" ), and its CEO, Il C. Park d/b/a National Supply (" Park" ). Beginning in 1999, the parties and their predecessors executed various leases and amendments thereto in connection with two parcels of property -- a 14,700 square foot warehouse and a smaller commercial space on the same street. Because the amendments refer to and incorporate previous leases, a detailed description of the documents is necessary.

The larger property.

In May 1999, Wright entered into a detailed three-year lease with Young Choi d/b/a National Supply for the larger property. The lease gave the property's address (3206 and 3208 Oakcliff Industrial Street) and square footage (14,700), and it listed a base rental amount as well as a monthly common area maintenance (" CAM" ) fee. The lease further provided that the tenant would pay for utilities, keep the premises " in good order, condition and repair," and pay attorney fees " [i]f any rent owing under this Lease is collected by or through an attorney at law."

In May 2002, Wright and Choi executed a one-page " 1st Lease Amendment" which was " [t]o be attached to and made part of" the May 1999 lease and which extended the lease term for one year. In [330 Ga.App. 304] January 2003, Wright acknowledged in writing that the tenant had changed from Choi to ICE, reflecting Park's purchase of Choi's interest in National Supply. In May 2004 and May 2005, Wright and ICE executed two more amendments, both confusingly titled " 2nd Lease Amendment," that were " [t]o be attached to and made part of" the May 1999 lease and that further extended the lease term through May 2008.

In April 2008, Wright and ICE executed a " 3rd Lease Amendment" that is the main subject of this dispute. This amendment listed the property as the 14,700 square foot warehouse space at 3206 and 3208 Oakcliff Industrial Street in Doraville, extended the lease term for three more years, raised the rent, and kept the same CAM fee listed in the original lease. As with the previous amendments, the " 3rd Lease Amendment" specifically provided that " [a]ll other terms and conditions of original lease are hereby reconfirmed as being in full force and effect." Unlike the previous amendments, however, the " 3rd Lease Amendment" recited that it was " [t]o be attached to and made part of that certain lease dated the 12th day of January 2007 between ...


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