AMAZING AMUSEMENTS GROUP, INC.
WILSON et al.
P. J., DILLARD, P. J. and REESE, J.
Amusements Group, Inc. ("AAG"), appeals from an
order of the Superior Court of Fulton County dismissing its
petition for certiorari and/or statutory judicial review of
an adverse decision by the Georgia Lottery Corporation
("GLC").The superior court dismissed the petition
on the ground that AAG failed to exhaust its administrative
remedy before seeking judicial review. On appeal, AAG
contends that the superior court erred because the
controlling statute authorizes an appeal of "all actions
of the [GLC]" to the superior court, so the
administrative remedy exhaustion requirement does not apply.
We disagree and affirm.
case turns on statutory interpretation and resolution of
questions of law, so we apply a de novo standard of
facts are not materially disputed. AAG held a master license
issued by the GLC authorizing AAG to lease coin-operated
amusement machines to licensed retail
businesses. In April 2016, the GLC issued a citation
to AAG alleging certain violations of GLC rules. The citation
notified AAG of a hearing date, AAG contested the citation,
and an evidentiary hearing ensued before a hearing officer
over three days with both parties present and represented by
counsel. After considering all of the evidence from the
hearing, the hearing officer entered a 27-page
"Executive Order" listing his findings, analysis,
and conclusions, ultimately revoking AAG's master license
for 10 years, revoking any other business licenses, and
fining AAG a total of $75, 000.
not pursue an appeal of the hearing officer's decision
available under GLC rules. Instead, within 30 days, on December
19, 2016, AAG filed a petition in the Superior Court of
Fulton County seeking a writ of certiorari under OCGA §
5-4-1 et seq. and judicial review under OCGA § 50-27-76
(a). The superior court sanctioned the petition and issued a
writ of certiorari on December 20, 2016. The GLC made a
limited appearance to move to dismiss the case, and following
a hearing, the superior court granted the motion. The
superior court reasoned that because AAG had not exhausted
its administrative remedies, it could not seek judicial
review in the superior court.
the denial of AAG's motion for reconsideration, AAG
sought discretionary review in this Court, which was granted,
giving rise to this appeal.
begin by noting that our interpretation and application of
statutory language is guided by the following principles:
A statute draws its meaning, of course, from its text. Under
our well-established rules of statutory construction, we
presume that the General Assembly meant what it said and said
what it meant. To that end, we must afford the statutory text
its "plain and ordinary meaning," we must view the
statutory text in the context in which it appears, and we
must read the statutory text in its most natural and
reasonable way, as an ordinary speaker of the English
language would. Though we may review the text of the
provision in question and its context within the larger legal
framework to discern the intent of the legislature in
enacting it, where the statutory text is clear and
unambiguous, we attribute to the statute its plain meaning,
and our search for statutory meaning ends.
appellate argument relies on OCGA § 50-27-76 (a) which
provides: "Appeal by an affected person from all actions
of the [GLC] or chief executive officer shall be to the
Superior Court of Fulton County. The review shall be
conducted by the court and shall be confined to the
record." Based on this language, AAG argues that any and
all actions by the GLC or its CEO are appealable to the
superior court at any time, regardless of whether the
decision was appealed at the agency level. In short, AAG
argues, "all actions" should mean all actions in
the most literal and broad sense - whether final, temporary,
pending, or otherwise. Therefore, AAG argues that it did not
have to engage in the agency appeal process required by GLC
rules provide for the three-day evidentiary hearing before a
hearing officer that took place in this case as well as a
two-step appeal procedure:
RU 13.2.5 APPEAL PROCEDURE; POST-HEARING MOTIONS
(1) The following two-step appeal procedure shall be the
exclusive administrative remedy for appealing decisions
entered pursuant to these rules.
(a) Step One - Request for Reconsideration:
1. A licensee or applicant who is aggrieved by the Order
entered by the Hearing Officer . . . may appeal by filing a
Request for Reconsideration with the Hearing Officer no later
than ten (10) days after receipt of the Order.
2. The Hearing Officer shall review the request and either
deny the request or modify the initial Order by an Order on
Reconsideration. . . .
(b) Step Two - Motion for Review:
1. (A) Provided a timely Request for Reconsideration was
filed with the initial Hearing Officer . . . a licensee or
applicant shall have ten (10) days from the date of receipt
of the Hearing Officer's Order on Reconsideration (or
denial of request), to file with the President/CEO a written
Motion for Review by electronic mail to
email@example.com. . . .
2. The motion shall set forth a concise statement of the
basis upon which the appeal is made together with supporting
arguments setting forth an enumeration of erroneous