The Georgia Court of Appeals overturned a verdict awarding over $1.4 million to a Marietta office park, which said a doctor performing abortions caused a nuisance by attracting protestors to the property.
Governors Ridge Office Park, located near the intersection of Powers Ferry and Terrell Mill roads, sued Dr. Daniel E. McBrayer in 2013. The suit alleged protestors, “some of whom harassed employees or invitees of the businesses in the office park … (and) could be limited to a handful or up to hundreds” made other offices difficult to lease and disrupted businesses.
The case was originally decided in the office park’s favor in Cobb Superior Court, but Court of Appeals Judge Ken Hodges, who wrote the case’s opinion, found their argument insufficient.
“There was no evidence presented at trial that McBrayer provided abortion services in a way which unnecessarily intruded on his neighbors,” Hodges wrote, noting the medical office was in a properly zoned location for the practice.
Hodges continued, ruling that were the court to decide the practice could not operate in a location legally suited to it, “we would be, in effect, holding that such clinics cannot properly operate anywhere.”
“Under the common law, property ownership in Georgia does not guarantee only ideologically-aligned neighbors whose business practices will cause no upset or attract no controversy, and we will not hold otherwise.”
Since the late 1990s, the office park’s management raised concerns with McBrayer over the impact of his business on fellow tenants. The lawsuit followed McBrayer’s refusal in 2010 to pay financial sanctions to management.
The court’s decision grants McBrayer a new trial.