DRUMM, IN HIS CAPACITY AS CITY MANAGER FOR THE CITY OF BRUNSWICK et al.
GEORGE et al.
DIVISION MCFADDEN, P. J., RAY and RICKMAN, JJ.
granted an application for interlocutory review from James
Drumm, in his capacity as City Manager for the City of
Brunswick, and the City of Brunswick (collectively
"Drumm") following the denial of their motion for
summary judgment on a complaint for breach of contract filed
by Paul George, Erik Hartshorn, Stephan Lowrey, Carla Futch,
Alan Wainwright, and Terrence Tanner (collectively "the
Officers"). Because the Officers' suit is barred by
sovereign immunity, we reverse.
On appeal from the denial or grant of summary judgment, the
appellate court conducts a de novo review of the evidence to
determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact
and whether the undisputed facts, viewed in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, warrant judgment as a
matter of law.
(Citation and punctuation omitted.) Watts v. City of
Dillard, 294 Ga.App. 861 (670 S.E.2d 442) (2008).
viewed, the record shows that approximately three months
after becoming the City Manager for the City of Brunswick,
Drumm met with the City's Chief of Police to discuss the
retention and promotion of City police officers . Drumm
agreed to the Chief's proposal to promote officers who
met certain requirements, but it was unclear at the time of
the meeting how many officers would be eligible for the
the meeting, the following text message exchange took place
between the Chief and Drumm:
[The Chief]: There are 2 in drug squad And 4 in detectives
eligible for promotion to corporal.
[Drumm]: Set up the paperwork[.]
to Drumm receiving any paperwork regarding the promotions,
the Chief sent the Officers a letter congratulating them on
their promotion to corporal. The Chief also announced the
promotions publicly on a social media website.
the Officers received their next paycheck, they noticed that
they did not receive an increase in salary to reflect their
promotions. At that point, the Chief was informed that Drumm
never signed the personnel forms authorizing the
Officers' promotions and salary increases. Drumm sent the
Chief a text message expressing his concerns about the cost
of the salary increases.
the Officers' salaries were not increased, all of the
Officers except for Tanner filed grievances against the City.
Drumm met with the Officers who filed grievances and
following that meeting, sent a letter to them explaining that
their promotions were unauthorized. The letter stated that,
"[a]s I explained in our meeting, you are not due the
pay increase requested in your grievance. As such you are not
due back pay. You are not now, nor have you been the rank of
[c]orporal with the Brunswick Police Department."
Officers filed a complaint alleging breach of contract and
seeking damages against Drumm. Drumm filed a motion for
summary judgment asserting that, inter alia, the
Officers' suit was barred by sovereign immunity because
there was no written contract between the parties. The trial
court denied the motion, concluding that there was evidence
from which a jury could determine that "the essential