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Georgia Department of Transportation v. Wyche

Court of Appeals of Georgia

June 25, 2015

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
v.
WYCHE

Cert. applied for.

Sovereign immunity. Bibb State Court. Before Judge Adams.

Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Kathleen M. Pacious, Deputy Attorney General, Loretta L. Pinkston, C. McLaurin Sitton, Senior Assistant Attorneys General, for appellant.

The Boston Law Firm, Russell M. Boston, Wendy S. Boston, for Wyche.

Carlock, Copeland, Semler & Stair, Kent T. Stair, Cheryl H. Shaw, for Moreland Altobelli Associates, Inc.

Drew, Eckl & Farnham, Stevan A. Miller, Melanie C. Eyre, for Reeves Construction Company.

MCMILLIAN, Judge. Barnes, P. J., and Ray, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 170

McMillian, Judge.

Defendant Georgia Department of Transportation (" DOT" ) appeals the trial court's order denying its motion to dismiss the complaint of Plaintiff Mary Wyche, individually and as surviving mother of Larry J. Bowen, Jr., deceased. Because we find that Wyche's claims against the DOT are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity for the reasons that follow, we reverse.

[332 Ga.App. 597] " We review de novo a trial court's ruling on a motion to dismiss based on sovereign immunity grounds, which is a matter of law. Factual findings are sustained if there

Page 171

is evidence supporting them." [1] (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Bd. of Regents of the Univ. System of Ga. v. Canas, 295 Ga.App. 505, 509 (3) (672 S.E.2d 471) (2009).

So viewed, the record shows that Bowen was killed on the night of May 4, 2005 while employed as a construction worker by Reeves Construction Company (" Reeves" ). Reeves was performing paving work on Eisenhower Parkway in Macon, Georgia pursuant to a contract with the DOT for Project No. STP-3201(9). At approximately 11:20 p.m., Bowen was standing in the area of the intersection of Eisenhower Parkway and Log Cabin Drive[2] when he was struck by a vehicle traveling south on Log Cabin Drive. He was then struck and dragged through the intersection by a second vehicle also traveling southbound on Log Cabin Drive. Tragically, he died at the scene. The drivers later deposed that they were proceeding through a green light at the intersection, which was " very dark," and that they did not see any signs indicating construction work was underway at the intersection. That evening, the only DOT employee present was Johnny Moss, a field materials inspector, who had just arrived to perform asphalt testing and was still stopped at the traffic light at the time of the accident. Also at the scene was Cedric ...


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