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Glynn County v. Coleman

Court of Appeals of Georgia

November 16, 2015, Decided

A15A1522, A15A1523, A15A1524.

Opinion

 [*559]  [**754]   Boggs, Judge.

In these consolidated appeals, Glynn County (“the County”) appeals from orders certifying three related class actions brought by Elizabeth and J. Matthew Coleman IV (“the Colemans”). In each of these cases, the County asserts that the trial court erred by granting the class certification. In Case No. A15A1522, the County also asserts that the trial court should have considered and granted its motion to dismiss the class allegations in the Colemans' complaint. For the reasons explained below, we affirm.

The record shows that the Colemans filed three class action lawsuits against the County seeking a refund of ad valorem taxes under OCGA § 48-5-380, a declaratory judgment, as well as equitable, injunctive, and mandamus relief. In Case No. A15A1522, the trial court certified four classes: (1) taxpayers for whom an exemption was miscalculated in any year between 2001 and 2007; (2) taxpayers for whom an exemption was miscalculated in 2008; (3) taxpayers for whom an exemption was miscalculated in 2009; and (4) taxpayers for whom an exemption was miscalculated in 2010. In Case No. A15A1523, the trial court certified a class for tax years [***2]  2011 and 2012, and in Case No. A15A1524, the trial court certified a class for tax years 2013 and 2014. The County appeals from these class certification orders. In Case No. A15A1522, it also appeals from the trial court's denial of its motion to dismiss the class allegations in the Colemans' complaint.

As a preliminary matter, we note that ] “[o]n appellate review of a trial court's decision on a motion to certify a class, the discretion of the trial judge in certifying or refusing to certify a class action is to be respected in all cases where not abused.” (Citation and punctuation omitted.) State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. Mabry, 274 Ga. 498, 499-500 (1) (556 SE2d 114) (2001).

] When a court determines the propriety of a class action, the first issue to be resolved is not whether the plaintiffs have stated a cause of action or may ultimately prevail on the merits but whether the requirements of OCGA § 9-11-23 have been met. Any assertion that the named plaintiff cannot [*560]  prevail on [his] claims does not comprise an appropriate basis for denying class certification. Further, any argument that [plaintiff] is not an adequate representative because [he] will not ultimately prevail on [his] claim does not comprise an appropriate basis for denying class certification.

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334 Ga. App. 559 *; 779 S.E.2d 753 **; 2015 Ga. App. LEXIS 675 ***

GLYNN COUNTY v. COLEMAN et al. (three cases).

Subsequent History: Cert. applied for.

Writ of certiorari denied Glynn County v. Coleman, 2016 Ga. LEXIS 189 (Ga., Feb. 22, 2016)

Decision reached on appeal by Coleman v. Glynn County, 2018 Ga. App. LEXIS 20 (Ga. Ct. App., Jan. 22, 2018)

Prior History: Class action. Glynn Superior Court. Before Judge Brantley, Senior Judge.

Disposition: Judgments affirmed.

CORE TERMS

class action, tax refund, trial court, refund, class certification, certifying, taxpayers, allegations, motion to dismiss, cases, orders, sovereign immunity, reasons, merits, nonmonetary

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Appellate Review, Certification of Classes, Prerequisites for Class Action, Class Members, Named Members, Tax Law, State & Local Taxes, Administration & Procedure, Credits, Overassessments & Refunds, Governments, Local Governments, Claims By & Against, Legislation, Statutory Remedies & Rights, Preliminary Considerations, Justiciability, Exhaustion of Remedies, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Presumptions, Creation, Interpretation