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Nationstar Mortg. LLC v. Brunt

Court of Appeals of Georgia

December 4, 2014

NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC
v.
BRUNT

Special master. DeKalb Superior Court. Before Judge Flake.

Judgment affirmed.

Rubin Lublin, Peter L. Lublin, Tenise A. Cook, Bret J. Chaness, for appellant.

Maria Brunt, pro se.

ELLINGTON, Presiding Judge. Dillard and McFadden, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 819

Ellington, Presiding Judge.

Nationstar Mortgage LLC (" Nationstar" ) appeals from the consent order and final judgment in this case, challenging an order of the Superior Court of DeKalb County appointing a special master and a separate order directing Nationstar to pay the special master's fees. Nationstar contends that the trial court abused its discretion in appointing the special master to investigate and to hear the case and to make recommendations to the court. It also contends that the fees awarded to the special master are excessive. Finding no error, we affirm.

1. A trial court is authorized to refer a portion of litigation pending before it to a special master pursuant to Uniform Superior Court Rule (USCR) 46, and the exercise of the trial court's discretion to do so will not be interfered with by appellate courts absent an abuse of that discretion. See Alston & Bird v. Mellon Ventures II, 307 Ga.App. 640, 646-647 (6) (a) (706 S.E.2d 652) (2010). Rule 46 provides, in relevant part:

Unless a statute provides otherwise, upon the motion of any party or upon the court's own motion, the court of record may appoint a [special] master: (a) to perform duties consented to by the parties; (b) to address pretrial and post-trial matters that the court cannot efficiently, effectively or promptly address; (c) to provide guidance, advice and information to the court on complex or specialized subjects, including, but not limited to, technology issues related to the discovery process; (d) to monitor

Page 820

implementation of and compliance with orders of the court or, in appropriate cases, monitoring implementation of settlement agreements; (e) to investigate and report to the court on matters identified by the court; (f) to conduct an accounting as instructed by the court and to report upon the results of the same; (g) upon a showing of good cause, to attend and supervise depositions conducted outside of the jurisdiction; and (h) to hold trial proceedings and make or recommend findings of fact on issues to be decided by the court without a jury if appointment is warranted by (i) some exceptional condition, or (ii) the need to perform an accounting, to resolve a difficult computation of damages or if the matter involves issues for which a special substantive competence would be beneficial.

USCR 46 (A) (1).

[330 Ga.App. 203] The record shows that, after giving the parties an opportunity to object to the appointment of a special master and to be heard thereon, the superior court concluded that the litigation involved errors in the legal descriptions of several deeds dating back to 1971, errors which were only recently discovered. The court noted that the reformation sought was not one seeking to correct a simple clerical error in a current conveyance, but, rather, one involving a series of errors dating back four decades and which involved persons in the chain of title who were not parties to the current action. A review of the report of the special master supports the court's conclusion that the matter would benefit from the involvement of one with special substantive competence. The special master found " numerous problems in numerous deeds, ... a faulty beginning point, a call with no direction, a defective survey[,] and the fact that there was no definitive description of which portion of the metes and bounds description was in which of the two subdivision lots." The special master recommended that the court reject ...


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