Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gresham v. Harris

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Fourth Division

March 5, 2019

GRESHAM
v.
HARRIS a/k/a "TI" et al.

          DILLARD, C. J., DOYLE, P. J., and MERCIER, J.

          DILLARD, CHIEF JUDGE.

         What started off as a jam-packed week of parties, concerts, and watching renowned rappers mixing new music tracks in the waning days of summer abruptly ended with Norris Gresham being dragged down a flight of 30 stairs and viciously pistol whipped in front of a crowd of onlookers. Gresham blacked out shortly after the attack began, eventually coming to in a nearby parking lot. He then called the police, who responded to the scene and transported him to the precinct (where he gave them a report of the incident). Gresham suffered significant physical injuries during the attack, and later filed suit against numerous parties.

         Gresham alleged several claims against Clifford Harris a/k/a "TI" or "Tip";[1]Echo Studios, LLC; Grand Hustle, LLC; Grand Hustle Management, LLC; King of da South, Inc. (collectively, "Harris defendants"), and others to recover for the injuries he sustained when Jhonathan Carle a/k/a "Spodee" attacked him on property partly owned by Harris. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Harris defendants, and Gresham appeals, arguing that the court erred in finding that the defendants or their agents (1) were not in control of the property at the time of the attack; (2) were not responsible for knowingly allowing an environment to exist that placed him at a greater risk of injury; and (3) did not conspire with Carle or were not otherwise complicit in the attack. For the reasons set forth infra, we affirm.

         As a preliminary matter, it is helpful to identify some of the individuals and corporate entities that are either parties to this appeal or otherwise involved in the events leading up to the assault. As to the corporate-entity defendants, Harris and Jason Geter co-own both Grand Hustle, LLC, which is a record label, and King of da South, Inc., which is a company that "facilitates certain areas of [their] business." Harris and Geter also co-own Echo Studios, LLC, which is a recording studio located at 1740 Defoors Place in Atlanta, where the relevant events occurred. Grand Hustle entered into "exclusive recording artist agreement[s]" with several recording artists, including Carle and a group known as P$C ("Pimp $quad Click"), which includes Nathaniel Josey a/k/a "Mac Boney," Cortez Thomas a/k/a "C-Rod," Akeem Lawal, and Sean Merrett. Finally, Grand Hustle Management is a company that primarily manages recording artists, and it is solely owned by Geter, who is not a party in this appeal.

         Turning to the evidence, which we view in the light most favorable to Gresham (i.e., the nonmoving party), [2] the record shows that on September 5, 2010, Gresham went to Echo Studios for a movie premiere ("Takers"), a Labor Day cookout, and a showcase of Grand Hustle recording artists. Later that evening, Gresham, along with others, went to a nightclub ("Club Libra"), where he worked for Josey as his assistant.[3] Gresham's job was to make sure that Josey did not "get in any confrontations with . . . patrons in the nightclub, distribute CDs to the patrons, and to make sure that [they] exit[ed] safely and [did] not get in any trouble." Eventually, everyone returned to the studio for an after party, where Gresham continued working as Josey's assistant.

         While at the nightclub, Josey wore a gold-encrusted chain that belonged to Michael Render a/k/a "Killer Mike," another recording artist. But upon his return to the studio, after "working on the next mix [they] were about to release," Josey noticed the Render's chain was missing and there was then "chaos in the building." According to Gresham, Render stopped by the studio and "threatened to kill everybody in the building if his chain was not returned to him." And after Render left the studio, the building was "on lockdown" and the only way to leave was to exit through Harris's office. Carle-who had a gun on him-and some other guests also left the studio before the lockdown occurred.

         At some point, Josey contacted Harris to advise him of the missing chain and that a search of the studio was being conducted. Harris informed Josey that if the chain was not recovered, he would be required to reimburse Render for the loss. And while the search for the missing chain was ongoing, Gresham informed the others that he had seen Carle trying to sell his firearm to Thomas in Terrance "Cap" Beasley's studio bedroom, [4] which led someone to suggest that they "should do a full search of the building and go back in [Beasley's bedroom] and check the ceiling." Then, after searching the ceiling of the bedroom, the missing chain was discovered.[5] Gresham then told the others that he had previously seen Carle "stashing the gun in the ceiling" in Beasley's bedroom.

         According to Gresham, Josey and Thomas contacted Carle to let him know that he had been "busted" for stealing the necklace, and Carle "decided to return to the studio to commit harm against [Gresham]." Apparently, Carle believed Gresham "snitched on him" because Gresham had seen Carle "inside [Beasley's bedroom] stashing the gun in the ceiling [in the same place] where [they] found the chain." Gresham "guess[ed]" that for Carle to keep his contract as a Grand Hustle artist, he would have to "assault" or "commit harm against [Gresham] to clear his name." When Carle arrived, Thomas and Beasley not only accused Carle of stealing the chain, they claimed that he had also stolen from them on previous occasions. Following this confrontation, Carle became "a little afraid, a little nervous[, ]" and began threatening Gresham. Carle then aimed his gun at Gresham, at which point Beasley ordered everyone to go outside. Beasley also told Carle to put the gun down, or at the very least, to "take it outside," and not to shoot Gresham inside the studio.

         Gresham refused to leave voluntarily, so Josey and Beasley grabbed him by the arms, pushed him out of Harris's office and onto a staircase, and encouraged him to "knock [Carle] out or something." Gresham first attempted to call 911, but Carle took his phone and threw it. Once outside, Gresham remained at the top of the stairs so the police would see him if they arrived, and Carle was at the bottom of the stairs, leaving Gresham with no way to escape. But then, Carle approached Gresham, pulled him down the flight of stairs, and beat him mercilessly with his gun for about half an hour in front of 25 to 30 witnesses. Gresham blacked out soon after the attack began, and all he can remember is going down the stairs and waking up later on the ground in a nearby parking lot. Once he was conscious, Gresham was able to call the police, who responded to the scene and transported him to the precinct to report the incident. Gresham suffered significant physical injuries during the attack, and incurred dental and medical bills as a result of the injuries he sustained.

         On August 6, 2015, Gresham filed a complaint against the Harris defendants and others, alleging claims of civil conspiracy, assault, battery, false imprisonment, and premises liability.[6] In addition to compensatory damages, Gresham requested punitive damages and attorney fees. Discovery ensued, and on September 29, 2016, the Harris defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing, inter alia, that the assault was the result of a dispute with a third party with whom Gresham voluntarily associated and they did not have a duty to rescue him from harm they did not cause. Following Gresham's response in opposition to the motion and a hearing, the trial court granted summary judgment to the Harris defendants. This appeal follows.

         Summary judgment is appropriate when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."[7] And we review a grant or denial of summary judgment de novo, construing "the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant."[8] With these guiding principles in mind, we will now address Greshem's specific claims of error.

         1. In his first two claims of error, [9] Gresham contends that the trial court erred in finding that Harris (1) was not in control of the Echo Studios premises when the attack occurred and (2) did not knowingly allow an environment to exist that placed Gresham at greater risk of injury than he would have been elsewhere.[10] But the trial court made no such rulings, and in fact, these arguments bare no relation to the order being appealed. Indeed, the trial court did not address the questions of whether Harris "controlled" the premises or knowingly allowed a dangerous environment to exist there. Instead, the trial court correctly found that the fact "the alleged assault took place at Echo [Studios] was irrelevant" because the dispute between Gresham and Carle was "a private dispute" about which Gresham had superior knowledge to that of Harris.[11] Indeed, Gresham was aware that Carle was armed, had a history of violence, and was upset with him over the stolen chain, while Harris was not even present at the time of the assault or for any of the events leading up to it.[12] Thus, as to his first two claims of error, Gresham has simply not identified any alleged error committed by the trial court, and under such circumstances, we have no error to review.[13]

         2. Lastly, Gresham argues that the trial court erred by holding that Harris did not conspire with Carle and was not otherwise complicit in the attack. But again, the trial court did not substantively rule on Gresham's conspiracy claim. Instead, the trial court merely found that the claim failed because there is no cause of action for conspiracy absent proof of any underlying tort; and this finding by the trial court is correct.[14] Regardless, we need not address ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.