Judge v. Wellman, A90A1971

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Writing for the CourtBEASLEY
Citation198 Ga.App. 782,403 S.E.2d 76
Docket NumberNo. A90A1971,A90A1971
Decision Date28 February 1991

James N. Finkelstein, Albany, for appellant.

Hodges, Erwin & Hedrick, William H. Hedrick, Albany, for appellee.


Plaintiff Connie Judge appeals the grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant Frances Wellman.

Wellman owned two contiguous tracts of land, one behind the other, which were located on a corner at 810 Clark Avenue and 204 Adkins Drive. There was no clear line of demarcation between the two properties, but 810 Clark contained a commercial building while 204 Adkins was vacant.

Wellman and Judge executed a written lease for a term of one year on August 1, 1988. Couched in residential form language it refers to an "apartment, duplex, house" located at "808 Clark Avenue" with no other description of location. Because Judge planned to use the building as a beauty parlor, she sought permission to use the unimproved land behind the building for parking space. Wellman told Judge she could use the land as far as the railroad track but Judge would have to clean it off. This area comprised a portion of 204 Adkins Drive. Judge also sought to have certain improvements made on the property but Wellman declined. Judge testified by deposition that she wanted a five-year lease and was told that would be accomplished later.

The form used was appropriate to a residential lease rather than for business use. It contained no provision about parking and provided that the premises were rented "as is." The lease also contained an entire agreement clause which stated: "This agreement and any attached addendums constitute the entire agreement between the parties and no oral statements shall be binding."

Three days after the lease was executed Wellman sold a portion of the 204 Adkins Drive property to the county under threat of condemnation. Judge learned of this sale two months later, after having substantially invested in improvements to the property. In January 1989 she moved from the premises because she lacked available parking for her customers.

Judge sued to recover losses resulting from breach of contract or fraud in the inducement to enter the contract and for unjust enrichment. After discovery, Wellman moved for summary judgment, which was granted.

The lease document is insufficiently clear as to what property actually was leased. It was a commercial building, not an "apartment, duplex, [or] house." There was no 808 Clark location but only 810 Clark. The form provided the premises would be used for residential purposes only and prohibited certain business activities which obviously the parties did not intend. No precise determination of the extent of the leased premises is possible from an examination of the document.

The issue here does not involve construction of the contract, which ordinarily is a question for the court, but what the parties intended the contract to encompass as a matter of fact. See Travelers Indem. Co. v. A.M. Pullen & Co., 161 Ga.App. 784, 789(6), 289 S.E.2d 792 (1982); Wahnschaff Corp. v. O.E. Clark etc., Co., 166 Ga.App. 242, 243(1), 304 S.E.2d 91 (1983). Because the lease is incomplete and ambiguous, parol evidence is admissible to ascertain the intention of the parties and to explain exactly what its terms were. Taylor Freezer Sales Co. v. Hydrick, 138 Ga.App. 738, 227 S.E.2d 494 (1976). Accord Gans v. Ga. Fed. Savings, etc., Assn., 179 Ga.App. 660, 663(2), 347 S.E.2d 615 (1986). The question...

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6 cases
  • Davis v. State
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 8 Septiembre 2014
    ...in the written contract, where the complaining party does not elect to stand on the contract but proceeds on fraud.” Judge v. Wellman, 198 Ga.App. 782, 783, 403 S.E.2d 76 (1991); accord City Dodge, Inc. v. Gardner, 232 Ga. 766, 768, 208 S.E.2d 794 (1974). 32.See Stonecypher v. Georgia Power......
  • Georgia Osteopathic Hosp., Inc. v. O'Neal
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 28 Febrero 1991
    ... ...         Howard, Secret & Howard, James W. Howard, Atlanta, for appellees ...         [198 Ga.App. 770] BANKE, Presiding Judge ...         The appellees sued the appellant, Georgia Osteopathic Hospital, Inc. d/b/a Doctors Hospital, seeking damages for the death of ... ...
  • Shanks v. Hall
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    • 21 Junio 2019
    ...in the written contract, where the complaining party does not elect to stand on the contract but proceeds on fraud." Judge v. Wellman, 198 Ga. App. 782, 783 (1991). The Court has determined that the 2003 Agreement is unambiguous, and because Plaintiff does not intend to proceed on a claim f......
  • Steptoe v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., AUTO-OWNERS
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 21 Octubre 1993
    ...correctly declined to consider the release because that document was not included in the record before it. See Judge v. Wellman, 198 Ga.App. 782, 783, 403 S.E.2d 76 (1991). We reject the Steptoes' contention on appeal that the release did not need to be made a part of the record because the......
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