Nelson v. Alliance Hospitality Management, LLC (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-096-16, 20 pp.) (Douglas McCullough, J.) Appealed from Wake County Superior Court (James Gale, J.) N.C. App.
Holding: Even though O.C.G.A. § 51-12-10 says, “When a tort is committed … the remote damages occasioned thereby become a proper subject for the consideration of the jury,” Georgia case law makes it clear that the statute does not preclude the summary disposition of damages claims.
We affirm summary judgment for defendants on plaintiff’s damages claims.
Plaintiff claims that, because of defendants’ failure to pay him his purported share of the proceeds of a corporate sale, plaintiff was unable to pay other judgments against him, leading to the loss of two houses in Wisconsin. However, the judgments predated the corporate sale by years. Plaintiff has failed to show a legal attributable causal connection between defendants’ conduct and plaintiff’s alleged injuries.
Georgia’s courts have made it clear that a claim for punitive damages has efficacy only if there is a valid claim for actual damages to which it could attach. Because the trial court properly dismissed plaintiff’s claims for damages, plaintiff is not entitled to any punitive damages.
Plaintiff also claims that the partial sale of defendant Alliance Hospitality Management, LLC, left Alliance unable to operate profitably, that any election to continue the business of Alliance after the sale was made in bad faith, and that defendant Rolf Tweeten was using Alliance as his personal bank. We interpret plaintiff’s claim to be that, based on the mismanagement of Alliance’s funds by Tweeten, the value of plaintiff’s ownership interest in Alliance is diminishing. The trial court correctly found that plaintiff’s claim, if proper at all, should have been brought derivatively on behalf of Alliance.