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Georgia Court of Appeals will rule on Higdon appeal

All court records in the civil action filed by the Grady County Joint Development Authority (JDA) against Joseph W. Higdon were transmitted by Grady County Clerk of Court Debbie Kines to the Court of Appeals of Georgia last week.
Higdon has appealed Judge A. Wallace Cato’s March 29, 2011, order granting summary judgment in favor of the JDA and awarding damages from Higdon of $145,078.55 plus court costs and attorney’s fees of $21,761.78.
Higdon’s attorneys, Michael A. Strickland and Robin B. Redding, filed the motion for appeal before the Court of Appeals on April 20.
JDA Attorney Thomas L. Lehman said this week he had received notification from the clerk that the court file had been submitted on May 10 to the Court of Appeals, but no notice of docketing from the Court of Appeals has been received.
Higdon’s attorneys are not seeking to present oral argument and, according to Lehman, the Court of Appeals will judge the matter on the exact evidence Judge Cato ruled on.
The JDA attorney said he would not venture a guess as to the outcome, but noted the vast majority of similar cases are affirmed by the court.
“Basically, the court will decide if Judge Cato ruled properly. At the earliest, a ruling could be made at the end of July, but I expect it will not come until sometime this September or October,” Lehman said.
JDA Chairman Charles M. Stafford briefed the members of the authority of the latest development during the authority’s monthly meeting Tuesday.
“We had asked Tom to prepare to take action on another claim, but no additional action should be taken until we have a ruling on this appeal,” Stafford said.
The JDA is in an ongoing legal battle with Higdon over the terms of a lease for a manufacturing facility constructed by the JDA for Higdon Furniture Company on Wight Road, which he personally guaranteed.
The authority owes a consortium of local banks approximately $1.5 million for the vacant plant.
Also Tuesday, the authority discussed options for the marketing of the facility for sale or for lease to prospective new employers.

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