Georgia Officials Called Property Owners Booting Cars 'Nutso'
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Getting your car booted is an extremely frustrating experience and the state laws around this practice can be unclear. Residents of Georgia are fed up with having their cars excessively booted and being forced to pay fees to have the boot removed.
Recently, one Georgian filed a class-action lawsuit against a mall over their aggressive booting practices, and the suit went all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court. Chief Justice David Nahmias said that some of the property owners’ arguments were “crazy” and “nutso.”
Here are more details about the origin of car booting and how the case is going so far, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Forrest Allen filed a suit against a Georgia shopping mall for excessive booting.
What is the history behind car booting?
Georgia, like many states, utilizes the judicial practice of “common law.” What a judge decides in the past will establish how future court cases are handled.
The system generally works pretty well. However, it does rely on legislatures to update the legal code with new laws to prevent common law rulings from becoming antiquated.
This is the crux of the car booting problems in Georgia. The justification for booting comes from a centuries-old common law ruling that isn’t as applicable today.
In the past, a property owner could detain livestock that was trespassing on their property as a means of collateral for damages caused by the animals. This might have been perfectly reasonable in the 19th century, but not so much in the present.
Georgia Chief Justice calls booting ‘nutso’
It seems the Georgia Supreme Court believes that this old common law shouldn’t be applicable to booting cars and parking lots. The suit was filed by Forrest Allen, who had his tractor-trailer booted at the Wesley Chapel Crossing Shopping Center.
Allen had to pay a fine of $650 to get the boot removed. Forrest decided to sue, and the lawsuit eventually morphed into a class-action representing other drivers who had their vehicles booted at the mall.
After two years of litigation, it made its way to the Georgia Supreme Court. It became clear that some of the justices were also annoyed by booting practices.
David Conley, a lawyer representing the property owners of the mall, argued that booting was protected by the owners’ right to prevent trespassing. In response, Justice Sarah Hawkins said “Why isn’t that detaining?”
Conley said that it was only temporary detention to prevent future trespassing, but Chief Justice Nahmias fought back against this argument.
“It is a crazy thing to say the normal cure for an unauthorized entry on your property is to insist that the trespasser remain on your property,” Nahmias said. “I mean, that’s nutso under any conception of the law … Where in the world can you say a cure for trespass is to continue the trespass?”
Does this make car booting illegal in Georgia?
It’s still too early to tell if this means booting will be banned in The Peach State, as the Supreme Court has yet to write its official ruling. While it seems Chief Justice Nahmias may side with the drivers, the other Justices on the court may not fully agree.
Even if Nahmias is supported by his peers, it probably won’t prohibit booting outright. Rather, booting just can’t be used as a means to prevent trespassing.
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