Negligence. Glynn Superior Court. Before Judge Scarlett.
W. Douglas Adams, for appellant.
Brown, Readdick, Bumgartner, Carter, Strickland & Watkins, Richard A. Brown, Jr., for appellee.
McFADDEN, Judge. Andrews, P. J., and Ray, J., concur.
Marietta Brown was injured in a single-vehicle accident that she attributed to a poorly paved road. Defendant Seaboard Construction had performed paving work on the road several years before the accident. Brown, along with the vehicle's driver, Oscar Mangram, sued Seaboard, alleging that Seaboard's employees had negligently performed the paving work and that Seaboard had negligently failed to warn of the road's dangerous and defective condition. The trial court granted summary judgment to Seaboard, and Brown appeals. Because Seaboard has demonstrated the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, we affirm the trial court's grant of summary judgment. We do not reach Brown's claim that the trial court erred in dismissing Mangram's appeal, because that ruling is not properly a part of this case.
[330 Ga.App. 779] 1. 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 party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. OCGA § 9-11-56 (c); Cowart v. Widener, 287 Ga. 622, 623 (1) (a) (697 S.E.2d 779) (2010). " A defendant may do this by either presenting evidence negating an essential element of the plaintiff's claims or establishing from the record an absence of evidence to support such claims." Cowart, 287 Ga. at 623 (1) (a) (citation and punctuation omitted). Once a defendant moving for summary judgment discharges this burden, " the nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings, but rather must point to specific evidence giving rise to a triable issue." Id. (citation and punctuation omitted). We review a grant of summary judgment de novo and construe the evidence, and all reasonable conclusions and inferences drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Abdel-Samed v. Dailey, 294 Ga. 758, 760 (1) (755 S.E.2d 805) (2014).
So viewed, the evidence showed that in 1997 and 1998, Seaboard repaved a portion of the F. J. Torras Causeway pursuant to a contract with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Several years later, on a morning in October 2005, Mangram was driving Brown to work on the causeway when he hit a water-filled pothole, hydroplaned, and collided with a guardrail. In her lawsuit, Brown alleged that the accident and her resulting injuries were proximately caused by Seaboard's repaving work, which she claimed was negligently performed.
The general rule is that " a road contractor cannot be held responsible for completed work over which it no longer exercises any control." Baker v. Reynolds Trucking Co., 181 Ga.App. 242, 243 (351 S.E.2d 657) (1986). " [T]he contractor is not liable to third persons for damages or injuries subsequently suffered by reason of the
condition of the work, even though he was negligent in carrying out the contract, at least, if the defect is not hidden but readily observable on reasonable inspection." Id. at 243-244 (citations and punctuation omitted). There are exceptions to this rule where the work is a nuisance per se, or inherently or intrinsically ...