Mall had no common law right to start vehicles, higher state court rules in car owner’s RICO lawsuit

Trial & Litigation

Mall had no common law right to start vehicles, higher state court rules in car owner’s RICO lawsuit

Image from Shutterstock.

A car owner who had to pay $650 to have an immobilizer boot removed from his tire will get a second crack at class action status in his racketeering lawsuit following a Georgia Supreme Court ruling Tuesday. .

In one Notice of December 14the court said a private shopping mall lot in DeKalb County, Georgia, had no common law right to apply boots to trespassing vehicles.

The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of plaintiff Forrest Allen, who sued the owner and operator of the parking lot, as well as commercial tenants in the adjacent mall, including Dollar Tree stores.

Allen has filed for class action status for his lawsuit alleging negligence, premises liability, forcible confinement, conversion and violation of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The court rejected two theories put forward by the defendants.

The first theory rejected was that starting is permitted because of a landowner’s common law right to carefully remove another’s property left on his land without permission.

The court said that the act of immobilizing an intruding vehicle is different from removing unauthorized property because immobilizing the vehicle perpetuates the trespass. In addition, Georgia’s towing law replaced, at least in part, the common law rule, the court said.

The second theory rejected was that starting is permitted under the common law doctrine of “doing distress damages”. The theory recognizes a landowner’s right to impound intruding livestock causing actual damage to property and hold them as collateral until the animal owner compensates the landowner for the damage.

The state Supreme Court said the doctrine applied only to livestock. And if it applied in this case, there must be proof of actual damage to the property, which did not happen.

“Defendants have not cited any authority in Georgia or any other jurisdiction where a court has applied the doer of distress doctrine to anything other than livestock or where the court has held that a landowner has the right to confiscate and detain personal property, such as an automobile, whose owner is readily identifiable,” the Georgia Supreme Court said.

“Indeed, there does not appear to be any statutory authority recognizing a common law right to immobilize unauthorized vehicles located on private property and hold them against the will of the owner until payment is received. .”

The court returned the lawsuit to the trial court for reassessment of the plaintiff’s motion for collective certification.

Hats off to Courthouse News Service.

Comments are closed.