A Cobb jury ordered an abortion doctor and his clinic to pay nearly $1.5 million Friday, ruling in favor of the office park association that housed the clinic.
Alpha OB/GYN off Powers Ferry Road near Delk Road was for years the target of sign-waving protesters, and was even the victim of arson in 2012. It closed in 2015, according to court records.
In 2013, the Governor’s Ridge Property Owners’ Association filed suit against the clinic and owner Dr. Daniel McBrayer, arguing the clinic was a nuisance and violated the association’s covenants.
In court filings, the office park association’s attorneys said the clinic “brought unwanted attention to the other owners, greatly embarrassing and distressing them, the protests of anti-abortion picketers, who, among other things displayed large placards of terminated fetuses.”
The attorneys also said their clients feared for their safety if another arson or other attack were to be carried out. Another clinic McBrayer worked at in Sandy Springs was bombed in 1997 by Olympic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph.
The case went to trial Sept. 16 before Cobb Superior Court Judge S. Lark Ingram, and the jury turned around its verdict in about four hours.
Over $311,000 of the $1,491,000 will go to attorney’s fees, and the rest will be split between the association and several property owners, according to attorney Noah Rosner, who represented the plaintiffs.
Rosner said this decision may be the first of its kind.
“I’ve looked, and I think it’s the first case of its type in the history of Georgia, possibly the nation, where somebody used a violation of a declaration to essentially tell someone you can’t do anything that’s going to cause harm or discomfort to your co-owners.”
But Rosner said this case does not necessarily indicate a precedent for future plaintiffs seeking to shut down clinics.
“The reason I say that is it’s going to depend on the circumstances,” he said. “Nuisance law in Georgia, probably every state, essentially states that any and all nuisances stand on their own facts, meaning that every case is unique. In this situation, we did have a declaration.”
The defendant’s lawyer, A. Keith Logue of Marietta, did not respond to voicemails Monday.
Rosner characterized the trial as dramatic, and said a key moment came when McBrayer took the stand and admitted the actions that had been taken at the clinic had harmed his neighbors.
“Their position was threefold,” Rosner said. “No. 1, they never created a nuisance, No. 2, they had no control over the protesters and their actions, and that No. 3 that everything he had done was above board and legal, and therefore he felt that he was not subject to any actions by the association board.”
Rosner said he will not be surprised if the clinic files an appeal.
“They haven’t said anything yet, but who knows?” he said. “I assume they will. It’s up to them.”