LICATA et al.
2685 LANGFORD PARKWAY, LLC
DILLARD, P. J., REESE and BETHEL, JJ.
S. Licata and D. Ray Humphrey appeal from the denial of their
motion for summary judgment and the grant of summary judgment
in favor of 2685 Langford Parkway, LLC ("the LLC")
and Ali Katoot, a representative of the LLC, in the
appellants' action regarding their rights to a billboard,
advertising revenue, and an easement on real property
purchased by the LLC. For the reasons set forth, infra, we
affirm the denial of summary judgment to Licata and Humphrey
and reverse the grant of summary judgment to the LLC and
undisputed evidence shows that, from approximately 1985 until
2011, R. Bogan Renfroe owned real property in Gwinnett County
now known as 2685 Langford Parkway (the "Property").
In 1998, during his ownership of the Property, Renfroe
entered into an agreement with Sterling Outdoor, LLC
("Sterling"), allowing Sterling to erect and
operate a billboard on the Property in exchange for 15
percent of any advertising revenue.
borrowed approximately $1.1 million and executed a security
deed in 2009, pledging as collateral certain real property in
Gwinnett County. After Renfroe defaulted on the loan, the
lender instituted foreclosure proceedings and thereafter sold
the Property at public sale in 2011. The following year, the
LLC purchased the Property.
March 2015, Licata and Humphrey filed a complaint against the
LLC and Katoot. Licata and Humphrey, who alleged that they
were the successors in interest of Sterling, sought
declaratory and injunctive relief and damages for conversion
and trespass with respect to a billboard and the advertising
trial court granted the appellees' motion for summary
judgment and denied the appellants' motion for summary
judgment. The court found that Sterling entered into an
agreement whereby it would pay rent for the use of the
property in an amount of 15 percent of the advertising
revenue. This created a landlord-tenant relationship subject
to termination without notice after the foreclosure. The
trial court also rejected the appellants' claim of
ownership in the billboard sign, which the court found had
been sold with all fixtures upon foreclosure.
appeal from the grant or denial of summary judgment, we
review the evidence de novo, construing all reasonable
conclusions and inferences drawn from the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmovant. Summary judgment
is proper when there is no genuine issue of material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
[T]he burden on the moving party may be discharged by
pointing out by reference to the affidavits, depositions and
other documents in the record that there is an absence of
evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. If the
moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party
cannot rest on its pleadings, but rather must point to
specific evidence giving rise to a triable
these guiding principles in mind, we turn now to the
appellants' specific claims of error.
an initial matter, we address the contention of the
appellees, that the appellants lacked standing to bring the
appellees state in their appellate brief that the trial court
found that the appellants "had failed to prove that they
were the successors of Sterling." The appellants reply
that the issue is not properly before this Court because the
trial court never ruled on it.
summary judgment order, the trial court found that
"[s]hort of their self-serving affidavits, [the
appellants] ha[d] produced no documentary evidence of their
ownership in the billboard sign." The trial court thus
apparently concluded that the appellants had not established
unclear, however, to what extent the court based its grant of
summary judgment on this conclusion. "[A] grant or
denial of summary judgment must be affirmed if it is right
for any reason." Because the appellants had an opportunity
to respond to the challenge to their standing below,
will address this issue.
appellees argue that the appellants failed to prove that they
were successors of Sterling because the sole basis for their
claim of ownership of the billboard was their
"self-serving" affidavits. The appellants cite
cases for the proposition that "'[a] self-serving
conclusory affidavit not supported by fact or circumstances
is insufficient to raise a genuine issue of material
affidavit, Licata testified that he was an officer and
controlling shareholder of Valiant Steel and Equipment, Inc.
("Valiant"), which furnished steel for
Sterling's construction of the billboard in 1998.
Sterling failed to pay Valiant the agreed-upon price of $25,
000 for the steel. In 1999, Licata formed Horizon Outdoor
Advertising, Inc. ("Horizon") as its sole officer
and shareholder and later became its sole member when Horizon
became a limited liability company.
further attested that, in 1999, Valiant sold to Horizon its
claim against Sterling for the cost of the steel. In
satisfaction of its unpaid contract claim, Sterling conveyed
to Horizon its interest in the billboard, billboard contract,
and easement. Sterling also received 50 percent of the equity
interests in Horizon. Horizon dissolved in 2002, and Licata
received its assets, including the remaining 50 percent
interest in the billboard, billboard contract, and easement.
also submitted an affidavit, attesting that he was an officer
and a shareholder of Sterling from 1997 until 2002. In 1998,
Renfroe and Sterling agreed that Sterling could erect, own,
and operate a billboard on the Property. Sterling agreed to
pay the costs of erecting the billboard, including the burden
of obtaining the necessary zoning variance, and to pay 15
percent of the advertising revenue to Renfroe in exchange for
a perpetual easement on the Property. Sterling obtained the
variance and contracted with Valiant for the steel to erect
to Humphrey, Sterling conveyed to Horizon its rights with
regard to the billboard, billboard contract, and easement in
exchange for a 50 percent equity interest in Horizon.
Sterling later dissolved and transferred its assets to
Humphrey. Once Horizon and Sterling dissolved, the appellants
each retained a 50 percent interest in the ...