MILLER, P. J., DOYLE and REESE, JJ.
Miller, Presiding Judge.
appeal arises from a personal injury lawsuit brought by
Darryl Williams against the City of Atlanta (the
"City") for injuries he allegedly sustained when he
stepped in an uncovered water meter hole. The City moved for
summary judgment on the basis that the ante-litem notice
Williams provided was deficient under OCGA § 36-33-5 in
that it identified the wrong address for the missing water
meter cover. The trial court granted summary judgment to the
City, finding that the notice failed to substantially comply
with the statutory requirements. For the reasons provided
herein, we agree and affirm.
judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue of material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. We review the grant of summary judgment de novo,
construing the evidence in favor of the nonmovant."
(Citations and punctuation omitted.) White v. Ga. Power
Co., 265 Ga.App. 664, 664-665 (595 S.E.2d 353) (2004).
viewed, the evidence shows that on October 29, 2011, Williams
alleges that he "tripped and fell on a water maintenance
hole that was missing it's (sic) cover" and
sustained injuries as a result. The following day, he
reported to the Atlanta Police Department that he fell
through an open "manhole" at 425 Chappell Road in
Atlanta, and further stated that the incident took place in
the vicinity of the intersection of Chappell Road and Mayson
Turner Road. Subsequently, Williams sent a timely
ante-litem notice to the City, that stated that the incident
took place at or near 239 Chappell Road (the "Ante-Litem
Address"), but did not include a reference to the
intersection. Williams then filed suit wherein he again took
the position through much of the litigation that the location
of the incident was 425 Chappell Road (the "Litigation
Address"). Williams even required that the City
designate a representative for deposition capable of
testifying as to the Litigation Address. On appeal, the
parties do not dispute that the incident actually took place
at yet another address - 380 Chappell Road (the "Actual
Address"), which is located near the intersection of
Mayson Turner and Chappell Roads.
receiving the ante-litem notice, the City researched 239
Chappell Road, the Ante-Litem Address, and found no record of
a water meter at that location. The City proffered undisputed
evidence that .3 miles separate the Actual Address and the
water meter closest to the Ante-Litem Address, and that there
are 20 water meters between the two spots, which are on
opposite sides of the street. Also undisputed is the
City's evidence that the distance between the Litigation
Address and the water meter closest to the Ante-Litem Address
is .6 miles, the spots are on opposite sides of the road, and
there are 30 separate water meters between the two addresses.
trial court granted the City's motion for summary
judgment on the basis that the ante-litem notice did not
substantially comply with the requirements of OCGA §
36-33-5, and this appeal followed.
sole enumeration of error, Williams contends that the trial
court erred in granting the City's motion for summary
judgment because his ante-litem notice substantially complied
with OCGA § 36-33-5 given the geographic proximity of
the address provided in the notice and the address where
Williams actually was injured. We disagree.
Within six months of the happening of the event upon which a
claim against a municipal corporation is predicated, the
person . . . having the claim shall present the claim in
writing to the governing authority of the municipal
corporation for adjustment, stating the time, place, and
extent of the injury, as nearly as practicable, and the
negligence which caused the injury. No action shall be
entertained by the courts against the municipal corporation
until the cause of action therein has first been presented to
the governing authority for adjustment.
supplied.) OCGA § 36-33-5 (b). "This statute is in
derogation of the common law, which did not require such ante
litem notice; therefore it must be strictly construed and not
extended beyond its plain and explicit terms." (Citation
and punctuation omitted.) City of Atlanta v.
Benator, 310 Ga.App. 597, 601 (3) (714 S.E.2d 109)
a timely and proper ante-litem notice is a precondition to
bringing a personal injury lawsuit against a city.
Atlanta Taxicab Co. Owners Assn. v. City of
Atlanta, 281 Ga. 342, 350 (5) (638 S.E.2d 307)
(2006). "[T]he very purpose of OCGA § 36-33-5 [is
to] provide the municipality with an opportunity to
investigate before litigation is commenced so as to determine
whether suit can be avoided." Id. at 351 (5).
There is no precise standard for determining whether any
given ante-litem notice is substantively sufficient, since
substantial compliance with the statute is all that is
required. The information supplied will be deemed sufficient
if it puts a municipality on notice of the general character
of the complaint, and, in a general way, of the time, place,
and extent of the injury. The act recognizes, by the use of
the words "as nearly as practicable, " that
absolute exactness need not be had.
and punctuation omitted.) Id. at 352 (5).
the ante-litem notice Williams provided did not substantially
comply with the plain and explicit requirements of OCGA
§ 36-33-5 (b). Williams provided the City with an
incorrect address in his ante-litem notice which directed the
City to investigate an address which does not even contain a
water meter. Although this address was geographically close
to the Actual Address, it is not the geographic proximity of
the addresses that matters. Rather, to substantially comply
with the statute, the notice itself must provide enough
information for the City to be able to properly investigate
and adjust a claim pre-litigation. See Atlanta Taxicab Co.
Owners Assn., supra, 281 Ga. at 351 (5); see also
Simmons v. Mayor & Alderman of City of Savannah,
303 Ga.App. 452, 455 (693 S.E.2d 517) (2010) (ante-litem
notice was insufficient when it contained the wrong address
even though the city had oral notice of the correct ...