Emory University v. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Inc., Nos. A12A1841

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Writing for the CourtRAY
Citation740 S.E.2d 219,320 Ga.App. 442
PartiesEMORY UNIVERSITY et al. v. METRO ATLANTA TASK FORCE FOR THE HOMELESS, INC. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Inc. v. Emory University et al.
Decision Date18 March 2013
Docket NumberNos. A12A1841,A12A1842.

320 Ga.App. 442
740 S.E.2d 219

EMORY UNIVERSITY et al.
v.
METRO ATLANTA TASK FORCE FOR THE HOMELESS, INC.
Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Inc.
v.
Emory University et al.

Nos. A12A1841, A12A1842.

Court of Appeals of Georgia.

March 18, 2013.


[740 S.E.2d 220]


Arnall, Golder & Gregory, Robert Leonard Rothman, Henry Chalmers, Atlanta, for Appellants.

Mark E. Murray, Atlanta, for Appellee.


RAY, Judge.

[320 Ga.App. 442]These cross-appeals stem from a complaint filed by Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Inc. (“Metro”) which asserted claims against Emory University and Emory Healthcare, Inc. (“Emory”) for tortious interference with business and contractual relations, violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, and defamation. Emory moved to dismiss or to strike the complaint based on Metro's failure to comply with the verification requirements of OCGA § 9–11–11.1, Georgia's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute. Metro then filed verifications “out of an abundance of caution.” After a nonevidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the motion to dismiss or to strike the complaint, finding that the claims did not come within the scope of the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court further found that, had the anti-SLAPP statute applied, Metro had been placed on notice of such defense at the time of Emory's answer and that Metro's subsequent filing of the verifications was untimely. Emory filed a request for a [320 Ga.App. 443]certificate of immediate review, but Metro voluntarily dismissed its complaint without prejudice before the trial court could address the request. Emory then filed a motion to strike the voluntary dismissal, which the trial court denied.

The cross-appeals in the instant action are consolidated for our review. In Case No. A12A1841, Emory contends that the trial court erred (1) in denying its motion to dismiss or to strike the complaint for failure to timely file the verifications required under OCGA § 9–11–11.1 and (2) in denying its motion to strike Metro's voluntary dismissal without prejudice. In Case No. A12A1842, Metro contends that the trial court erred in determining that Emory's answer placed

[740 S.E.2d 221]

Metro on notice of the OCGA § 9–11–11.1 defense, thus making Metro's subsequent verifications untimely if the anti-SLAPP statute applies in this case. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment in Case No. A12A1841 and dismiss as moot the appeal in Case No. A12A1842.

On appeal, we conduct a de novo review of the denial of a motion to dismiss. 1 In reviewing the trial court's order, “we construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the plaintiff with any doubts resolved in the plaintiff's favor.” 2

The complaint indicates that Metro is a non profit enterprise that relies on government grants and private donations to provide shelter and other services to the homeless population in Atlanta. In 1997, Metro obtained a 95,000 square-foot facility in which to base its operations on the corner of Peachtree and Pine streets in midtown Atlanta (“Peachtree Pine building”). Thereafter, Metro received $900,000 in loans from private entities to renovate the facility. These loans were secured by security deeds on the property.

In its complaint, Metro alleged that Emory initiated efforts to interfere with its business operations and oust it from the Peachtree Pine building. Metro generally alleged that Emory, acting alone or through unidentified co-conspirators, engaged in “deceptive, covert, and malicious actions designed to drive [Metro] from the Peachtree Pine building.” The alleged actions included Emory's efforts to undercut public and private funding using a “defamatory propaganda campaign,” as well as efforts to “deceptively purchase the notes on the Peachtree Pine building and oust [Metro] from the property through a foreclosure process.” Metro further alleged that, as a consequence of these actions, it sustained a loss of public and private funding which resulted in its loss of title to the Peachtree Pine building. It is [320 Ga.App. 444]this alleged conduct that forms the general basis of each of the claims in the complaint.

CASE NO. A12A1841

1. Emory argues that the trial court erred in denying its motion to dismiss or strike Metro's complaint because of the alleged untimely verifications. Specifically, Emory argues that the trial court erred in finding that the anti–SLAPP statute does not apply to the claims asserted in Metro's complaint and that Metro was not required to file verifications in accordance with OCGA § 9–11–11.1(b). Finding no error, we affirm.

“If the anti-SLAPP statute applies to a claim asserted in a complaint, and the plaintiff fails to timely file the required subsection (b) verifications, the defendant is entitled to have the claim stricken and the complaint dismissed.” 3 However, where a complaint asserts multiple claims and allegations, only those claims that are based on an act that falls under the scope of the anti-SLAPP statute are afforded the procedural protections of the statute and are subject to its verification requirements. 4

The purposes of Georgia's anti-SLAPP statute are to encourage citizens to participate in matters of public significance by exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and to petition the government for...

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11 practice notes
  • Rogers v. Dupree, A16A1714
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • March 16, 2017
    ...to the plaintiff with any doubts resolved in the plaintiff's favor." Emory Univ. v. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless , 320 Ga.App. 442, 445, 740 S.E.2d 219 (2013) (punctuation and footnote omitted.). A "strategic lawsuit against public participation" (SLAPP action) is a lawsuit int......
  • Rogers v. Dupree, A16A1714
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • March 15, 2019
    ...to the plaintiff with any doubts resolved in the plaintiff's favor." Emory Univ. v. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless , 320 Ga. App. 442, 443, 740 S.E.2d 219 (2013) (citation and punctuation omitted). See also Ikomoni v. Bank of America , 330 Ga. App. 776, 769 S.E.2d 527 (2015). So ......
  • Rogers v. Dupree, A16A1714
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • March 15, 2019
    ...to the plaintiff with any doubts resolved in the plaintiff’s favor." Emory Univ. v. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless , 320 Ga. App. 442, 443, 740 S.E.2d 219 (2013) (punctuation and footnote omitted). See also Ikomoni v. Bank of America , 330 Ga. App. 776, 769 S.E.2d 527 (2015). So ......
  • Rosser v. Clyatt, A18A0843
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • November 2, 2018
    ...version of the statute was speech connected to an official proceeding. See Emory Univ. v. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless , 320 Ga. App. 442, 444-445 (1), 740 S.E.2d 219 (2013).The revision "replaced the plaintiff’s complaint verification requirement with a probability-of-success ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • Rogers v. Dupree, A16A1714
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • March 16, 2017
    ...to the plaintiff with any doubts resolved in the plaintiff's favor." Emory Univ. v. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless , 320 Ga.App. 442, 445, 740 S.E.2d 219 (2013) (punctuation and footnote omitted.). A "strategic lawsuit against public participation" (SLAPP action) is a lawsuit int......
  • Rogers v. Dupree, A16A1714
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • March 15, 2019
    ...to the plaintiff with any doubts resolved in the plaintiff's favor." Emory Univ. v. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless , 320 Ga. App. 442, 443, 740 S.E.2d 219 (2013) (citation and punctuation omitted). See also Ikomoni v. Bank of America , 330 Ga. App. 776, 769 S.E.2d 527 (2015). So ......
  • Rogers v. Dupree, A16A1714
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • March 15, 2019
    ...to the plaintiff with any doubts resolved in the plaintiff’s favor." Emory Univ. v. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless , 320 Ga. App. 442, 443, 740 S.E.2d 219 (2013) (punctuation and footnote omitted). See also Ikomoni v. Bank of America , 330 Ga. App. 776, 769 S.E.2d 527 (2015). So ......
  • Rosser v. Clyatt, A18A0843
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • November 2, 2018
    ...version of the statute was speech connected to an official proceeding. See Emory Univ. v. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless , 320 Ga. App. 442, 444-445 (1), 740 S.E.2d 219 (2013).The revision "replaced the plaintiff’s complaint verification requirement with a probability-of-success ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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