In Manzanares v. City of Brookhaven, the Court of Appeals of Georgia ruled in favor the City of Brookhaven in an automobile accident case that involved a defective pre-suit ante-litem notice. In an unanimous three judge opinion, the Court held that the plaintiff failed to comply with the notice requirement of O.C.G.A. sec. 36-33-5, which requires that the claimant provide the municipality an offer to settle for a specific amount within six month of the incident in question. The letter sent to the City stated that the “value of this claim may exceed $250,000.” The Court held that this statement could mean any amount above $250,000, and thus did not constitute a specific offer to settle. The Court also ruled that the plaintiff, when confronted with this defense, cannot dismiss the lawsuit and then send another notice in an effort to cure the deficiency. Mel Mobley of Lokey, Mobley and Doyle represented the City of Brookhaven in this case.
On September 24, 2019, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Lokey, Mobley and Doyle’s client the City of Waco in a case involving a deficient ante litem notice, Pickens v. City of Waco. Mel Mobley handled the case and the appeal. Before a party may bring suit against a municipality, the party must give the city advance notice, an ante litem notice, stating a specific monetary claim pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5 (e). The notice at issue stated that the “value of the claim may exceed $300,000.00.” The purpose of the ante notice requirement is to give the city the opportunity to investigate potential claims and avoid unnecessary litigation. The Court of Appeals held that the notice did not state a specific demand, and so it failed to meet the ante litem notice requirements. The Court of Appeals followed a 2018 case that Mel Mobley handled, Harrell v. City of Griffin, where the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the City of Griffin finding that an ante litem notice was deficient since it did not state a specific dollar amount of the claim.