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

December 16, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. | Updated on December 15, 2021 at 8:44 p.m.

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ATLANTA (AP) — Property owners do not have a common law right to start unauthorized vehicles on their premises, Georgia’s highest court ruled Tuesday.

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

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

The high court rejected these arguments, saying that neither this doctrine nor the right to remove trespassing vehicles gives owners the right to immobilize vehicles on their property.

“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. “wrote Judge 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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