No common law right to start unauthorized vehicles, Georgia Supreme Court judge

ATLANTA (AP) – Landowners are prohibited from starting unauthorized vehicles on their premises, Georgia’s highest court ruled on Tuesday.

Forrest Allen sued the owner and operator of a DeKalb County mall and several of his tenants after his vehicle was immobilized in February 2018 and he had to pay $ 650 to have the trunk removed.

The defendants argued on appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court that they had a common right to remove vehicles that entered their property. They also cited the age-old “distress damage doer” doctrine, which recognizes the right of a landowner to contain intruding cattle and keep them until the owner of the animal can be determined and pays. the landowner for damages, according to opinion.

The High Court rejected these arguments, saying that neither this doctrine nor the right to remove intruder vehicles gives owners the right to stop vehicles on their property.

“Indeed, there does not appear to be any legal authority recognizing a common law right to immobilize unauthorized vehicles located on private property and to detain them against the owner’s will until payment is received.” wrote Justice Shawn LaGrua.

Some municipalities in Georgia have ordinances that specifically allow the starting of unauthorized vehicles, but this is not the case everywhere.

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