Anderson v. Mergenhagen, No. A06A1752.

CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtBarnes
Citation283 Ga. App. 546,642 S.E.2d 105
PartiesANDERSON v. MERGENHAGEN.
Docket NumberNo. A06A1752.
Decision Date17 January 2007
283 Ga. App. 546
642 S.E.2d 105
ANDERSON
v.
MERGENHAGEN.
No. A06A1752.
Court of Appeals of Georgia.
January 17, 2007.
Reconsideration denied February 12, 2007.

[642 S.E.2d 106]

David A. Webster, Donald A. Weissman, Atlanta, for Anderson.

Taylor W. Jones, Stacy M. Pineo, Jones, Jensen & Harris, Atlanta, for Mergenhagen.

BARNES, Chief Judge.


Maureen Anderson sued Paul Mergenhagen for stalking, invasion of privacy, and

642 S.E.2d 107

intentional infliction of emotional distress, seeking a restraining order, damages, and fees. After both parties moved for partial summary judgment, the trial court granted Mergenhagen's motion on the invasion of privacy and emotional distress claims, but set the injunction against stalking for a bench trial. Only Anderson appealed from the trial court's order, alleging the trial court erred in denying her motion for summary judgment on the stalking claim, in granting summary judgment to Mergenhagen on her invasion of privacy claim, and in granting Mergenhagen's motion to quash a subpoena. She did not appeal the trial court's grant of summary judgment to Mergenhagen on her emotional distress claim. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court in its denial of summary judgment on the stalking claim and its grant of the motion to quash, but reverse the grant of summary judgment to Mergenhagen on Anderson's invasion of privacy claim.

On appeal we review the trial court's grant of summary judgment de novo to determine whether the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, demonstrates a genuine issue of material fact. Summary judgment is proper only when no issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Preferred Real Estate Equities v. Housing Systems, 248 Ga.App. 745, 548 S.E.2d 646 (2001). Further, when ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a court must give the opposing party the benefit of all reasonable doubt, and the evidence and all inferences and conclusions therefrom must be construed most favorably toward the party opposing the motion. Moore v. Goldome Credit Corp., 187 Ga.App. 594, 596, 370 S.E.2d 843 (1988). On motions for summary judgment, however, courts cannot resolve the facts or reconcile the issues. Fletcher v. Amax, Inc., 160 Ga.App. 692, 695, 288 S.E.2d 49 (1981). When reviewing the grant or denial of a motion for summary judgment, this court conducts a de novo review of the law and the evidence. Desai v. Silver Dollar City, 229 Ga.App. 160, 163(1), 493 S.E.2d 540 (1997).

This dispute apparently arose from the campaign of an ex-wife (Karyn Anderson) and her new partner (appellee Mergenhagen) to [283 Ga. App. 547] harass an ex-husband's second wife (appellant Maureen Anderson). The animus between the parties to this suit has its origins in the collapse of Dick Anderson's marriage. After his divorce from his first wife, Karyn Anderson, Dick Anderson learned that he was not the father of the two children born to the couple. Mergenhagen was seeing Karyn Anderson at this time. After Karyn began harassing Dick Anderson's second wife, Maureen Anderson, by driving a car toward her on four occasions, Maureen swore out a warrant for her arrest, after which time Karyn stopped harassing her. Maureen alleges that it was around this time that Mergenhagen began following her.

Though the parties' accounts of their contacts diverge widely in their details, Anderson contends that from early spring 2003 to mid-2005, Mergenhagen followed her on many occasions with increasing frequency, taking pictures, making obscene gestures, and otherwise letting her know he was there. She details at least 15 such occasions, beginning in June 2003, when Mergenhagen followed her in his car, sometimes taking pictures through his windshield, other times pulling alongside her car and taking pictures from his open window. She testified that these events left her frightened, disturbed, distracted, nervous, upset, shaken, and scared. She called the police several times to report that Mergenhagen was following her, and she became frightened all of the time and particularly feared that she would have an accident because he often distracted her while she was driving.

For example, on one occasion in July 2003, Anderson pulled onto Steeplechase Drive to take her children to the community pool when Mergenhagen began following her and taking pictures. Anderson passed the pool entrance and fled down a side road, but Mergenhagen followed her, slowing at each driveway. Anderson turned her car around, and as she drove past Mergenhagen, he rolled down his window to take more pictures, and began laughing. Anderson yelled for him to stop stalking her, and went home

642 S.E.2d 108

shaken, scared, and angry because she "just wanted to go to the pool."

On another occasion in November 2003, Anderson was walking in her neighborhood with her two small children when Mergenhagen drove up alongside them, rolled down his window, and began taking pictures of her. She cut her walk short and took her children home because she was afraid of him. These incidents occurred approximately monthly from June 2003 to July 2004, and several times afterward.

By his own account, Mergenhagen followed Anderson at least four times and took more than 30 pictures of her car. He admits that at least two of these encounters occurred after Anderson sent Mergenhagen a cease-and-desist letter in December 2003. Additionally, [283 Ga. App. 548] the security guard at the entrance to the Andersons' subdivision gave undisputed testimony that Mergenhagen frequently lay in wait for Maureen's car outside the guard house, and that she was "visibly shaken and upset, almost to the point of tears," by one incident.

1. Anderson contends that the trial court erred in denying her motion for summary judgment on her stalking claim, arguing that the evidence clearly established that she was entitled to injunctive relief and fees.

Under OCGA § 16-5-90(a)(1),

A person commits the offense of stalking when he or she follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person. ... For the purpose of this article, the term "place or places" shall include any public or private property occupied by the victim other than the residence of the defendant. For the purposes of this article, the term "harassing and intimidating" means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes emotional distress by placing such person in reasonable fear for such person's safety or the safety of a member of his or her immediate family, by establishing a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior, and which serves no legitimate purpose. This Code section shall not be construed to require that an overt threat of death or bodily injury has been made.

Anderson sought relief under OCGA § 16-5-94(a), which authorizes restraining and protective orders for the conduct prohibited by OCGA § 16-5-90.

"The grant or denial of a motion for protective order generally lies within the sound discretion of the trial court." Alexander Properties Group v. Doe, 280 Ga. 306, 307(1), 626 S.E.2d 497 (2006)....

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20 practice notes
  • Benedict v. State Farm Bank, No. A10A2289.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • April 6, 2011
    ...704–705(1), 409 S.E.2d 835 (1991); Udoinyion v. Re/Max of Atlanta, 289 Ga.App. 580, 583, 657 S.E.2d 644 (2008); Anderson v. Mergenhagen, 283 Ga.App. 546, 549(2), 642 S.E.2d 105 (2007); [309 Ga.App. 136] Johnson v. Allen, 272 Ga.App. 861, 863(1), 613 S.E.2d 657 (2005); Everett v. Goodloe, 26......
  • E.L. v. V.L. (Ex parte E.L.), 1140595.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 18, 2015
    ...(b) is inapplicable, the six-month limitation in subsection (e) clearly does not bar the motion to set aside."281 Ga. at 841, 642 S.E.2d at 105 (Carley, J., dissenting). We agree with the analysis of Justice Carley and his conclusion that the six-month bar in § 19–8–18(e) should not apply i......
  • Smith v. Northside Hosp., Inc., A15A2303, A15A2304
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • October 23, 2018
    ...what information that the requested discovery would have revealed beyond what had already been disclosed); Anderson v. Mergenhagen , 283 Ga. App. 546, 552 (3), 642 S.E.2d 105 (2007) (holding the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it granted a motion to quash a subpoena seeking ce......
  • Skapinetz v. CoesterVMS.com, Inc., Civil Action No. 8:17-cv-01098-PX
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • June 24, 2019
    ...intrusion, which would be offensive or objectionable to a reasonable person, into a person's private concerns." Anderson v. Mergenhagen, 283 Ga. App. 546, 549 (2007). "[U]nauthorized surveillance, by means of eavesdropping, wiretapping, or otherwise, may constitute invasion of privacy." Yar......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Benedict v. State Farm Bank, No. A10A2289.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • April 6, 2011
    ...704–705(1), 409 S.E.2d 835 (1991); Udoinyion v. Re/Max of Atlanta, 289 Ga.App. 580, 583, 657 S.E.2d 644 (2008); Anderson v. Mergenhagen, 283 Ga.App. 546, 549(2), 642 S.E.2d 105 (2007); [309 Ga.App. 136] Johnson v. Allen, 272 Ga.App. 861, 863(1), 613 S.E.2d 657 (2005); Everett v. Goodloe, 26......
  • E.L. v. V.L. (Ex parte E.L.), 1140595.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 18, 2015
    ...(b) is inapplicable, the six-month limitation in subsection (e) clearly does not bar the motion to set aside."281 Ga. at 841, 642 S.E.2d at 105 (Carley, J., dissenting). We agree with the analysis of Justice Carley and his conclusion that the six-month bar in § 19–8–18(e) should not ap......
  • Smith v. Northside Hosp., Inc., A15A2303, A15A2304
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • October 23, 2018
    ...what information that the requested discovery would have revealed beyond what had already been disclosed); Anderson v. Mergenhagen , 283 Ga. App. 546, 552 (3), 642 S.E.2d 105 (2007) (holding the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it granted a motion to quash a subpoena seeking ce......
  • Skapinetz v. CoesterVMS.com, Inc., Civil Action No. 8:17-cv-01098-PX
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • June 24, 2019
    ...which would be offensive or objectionable to a reasonable person, into a person's private concerns." Anderson v. Mergenhagen, 283 Ga. App. 546, 549 (2007). "[U]nauthorized surveillance, by means of eavesdropping, wiretapping, or otherwise, may constitute invasion of privacy."......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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