Webster v. Star Distributing Co., Inc.

Decision Date04 April 1978
Docket NumberNo. 33210,33210
Citation244 S.E.2d 826,241 Ga. 270
Parties, 1978-2 Trade Cases P 62,322 Garah L. WEBSTER et al. v. STAR DISTRIBUTING COMPANY, INC.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

Floyd E. Siefferman, Jr., Floyd Siefferman & Associates, Atlanta, for appellants.

Glenville Haldi, Atlanta, for appellee.

MARSHALL, Justice.

Garah L. and Jean Webster operate a "One Hour Martinizing" laundry and dry cleaning establishment in Sage Hill Shopping Center in Atlanta, Georgia. They lease this property from Plant Improvement Co., Inc., and there is a restrictive covenant in their lease limiting the use of the premises to professional dry cleaning and commercial laundering but not coin-operated laundering.

Star Distributing Company operates "Star's Great Western Laundromat and Cleaning Center," also located in Sage Hill Shopping Center. They also lease their property from Plant Improvement Co., Inc. A restrictive covenant in Star's lease limits the use of their premises to coin-operated laundering, coin dry cleaning, and budget dry cleaning.

Star Distributing Co. assigned its lease to Richard Guerin in 1973. Approximately one year later, the Websters brought suit to enjoin Guerin from performing services prohibited by the terms of the restrictive covenant in his lease. Holding that under Rosen v. Wolff, 152 Ga. 578, 110 S.E. 877 (1922) and numerous subsequent decisions, the Websters had standing to enforce the terms of the restrictive covenant in Guerin's lease, this court in Guerin v. Webster, 233 Ga. 521, 212 S.E.2d 352 (1975) affirmed the grant of an interlocutory injunction against Guerin. The Websters were subsequently awarded a permanent injunction and damages.

Guerin then reassigned the lease to Star Distributing Co., and Star Distributing began to operate a coin-operated laundry establishment. Star began engaging in a practice known in the trade as "drop-off" laundry, i. e., the customer drops the laundry off with attendants at the coin-operated laundry, the attendants then wash the laundry in the coin-operated machines, the attendants dry and fold the washed laundry, the customer is then presented with the fluff laundry and is charged 25 cents per pound.

The Websters filed the present action for injunctive relief and damages against Star Distributing Co., arguing that this drop-off laundry practice constitutes commercial laundering and is, therefore, prohibited under the terms of Star's lease. After hearing arguments of counsel, the trial court ruled that to enforce the restrictive covenant in this manner would constitute an unreasonable and illegal restraint of trade, and thus the plaintiffs would not, as a matter of law, be entitled to relief. From the judgment for the defendant, the plaintiffs appeal. Held :

The trial court cited no authority for the proposition that enforcement of the restrictive covenant would constitute an unreasonable and illegal restraint of trade. However, for general principles used in determining whether contracts in restraint of trade are valid, see Brittain v. Reid, 220 Ga. 794, 141 S.E.2d 903 (1965); Clein v. Kapiloff, 213 Ga. 369, 98 S.E.2d 897 (1957).

In this appeal, the appellee does not cite any authority to sustain the trial court in its ruling that enforcement of the restrictive covenant would constitute an illegal restraint of trade. Rather, the appellee argues that what it is doing simply is not a violation of the restrictive covenant in its lease.

We are, therefore, presented with two questions: (a) Would enforcement of the restrictive covenant in the manner sought constitute an illegal restraint of trade? If not, (b) has the appellee violated the restrictive covenant in its lease?

( a) Rosen v. Wolff...

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12 cases
  • Moore v. Tri-City Hosp. Authority
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • 27 juin 1988
    ...unresolved after the application of such rules does the ambiguity raise a question of fact for the jury. See Webster v. Star Distributing Co., 241 Ga. 270, 244 S.E.2d 826 (1978); Runyan v. Economics Laboratory, 147 Ga.App. 53, 248 S.E.2d 44 (1978); see also Ga. Off'l Code Ann. § 7 Defendant......
  • Kusuma v. Metametrix, Inc.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 5 avril 1989
    ...set forth in OCGA § 13-2-2 (id.), and this rule applies even though the contract is "difficult to construe." Webster v. Star Distrib. Co., 241 Ga. 270(b), 244 S.E.2d 826. Words in a contract generally bear their usual and common signification with certain exceptions not here applicable. OCG......
  • Parkside Center v. Chicagoland Vending
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • 16 juillet 2001
    ...necessary for the covenantee's protection, and that they not unduly prejudice the interests of the public. Webster v. Star Distrib. Co., 241 Ga. 270, 272, 244 S.E.2d 826 (1978). Parkside contends the trial court should have concluded that the covenant was unambiguous and imposed unreasonabl......
  • Jordan v. Smith
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • 5 octobre 1984
    ...it uncertain as to which of two or more possible meanings represents the true intention of the parties." Webster v. Star Distributing Co., 241 Ga. 270, 273, 244 S.E.2d 826 (1978). In looking solely to the contract to find the parties' intent, the court is guided by two standards of construc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Georgia
    • United States
    • ABA Archive Editions Library State Antitrust Practice and Statutes. Fourth Edition Volume I
    • 1 janvier 2009
    ...the Parks decision, thus reaffirming that this principle applies to modern business transactions. 63. See part 3.c of this chapter. 64. 244 S.E.2d 826 (Ga. 1978). 65. Id. at 828. 66. Id. 67. 622 S.E.2d 14 (Ga. Ct. App. 2005). 68. Hart v. Atlanta Terminal Co., 58 S.E. 452 (Ga. 1907); Atlanta......
  • Georgia. Practice Text
    • United States
    • ABA Antitrust Library State Antitrust Practice and Statutes (FIFTH). Volume I
    • 9 décembre 2014
    ...the Parks decision, thus reaffirming that this principle applies to modern business transactions. 58. See part 3.c of this chapter. 59. 244 S.E.2d 826 (Ga. 1978). 60. 244 S.E.2d at 828. 61. Id. 62. 622 S.E.2d 14 (Ga. Ct. App. 2005). 63. 622 S.E.2d at 17. Georgia 12-9 exclusive franchises ar......

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