Task Force for the Homeless Wins Two Georgia Court of Appeals Rulings


(APN) ATLANTA — Within the last two weeks, the
Georgia Court of Appeals has issued two separate orders benefitting the Metro
Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, which is in a dispute with the City of
Atlanta, Central Atlanta Progress, Manny Fialkow, Emory University, and others
regarding what the Task Force asserts is the parties’ illegal scheme of
racketeering and tortious interference with private contractual

At issue is, first, who owns the building at the
corner of Peachtree and Pine, which currently houses several hundred homeless
men. Premium Funding Solutions (PFS) is the entity that currently owns
notes that the Task Force defaulted on. However, the Task Force alleges
that PFS, and Ichthus Community Trust before it, acquired the notes through an
illegal conspiracy to both deprive the Task Force of funds, and then
financially profit from that deprivation.

The Task Force has separate litigation against
the City of Atlanta in federal court; against Emory University that began in
DeKalb County Superior Court; and against Central Atlanta Progress and others
that begin in Fulton County Superior Court.

In the Fulton County case, Metro Atlanta Task
Force for the Homeless v. Premium Funding Solutions, on March 29, 2013, the
Court of Appeals of Georgia issued a ruling overturning the dispossessory order
of Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall, dated February 09, 2012,
in the case Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless v. Premium Funding Solutions.

Thus, the Task Force will now have the
opportunity to present its case.

“On February 9, 2012, the [Fulton County
Superior] court entered an order granting a writ of possession to PFS,”
the Georgia Court of Appeals wrote.

“The Task Force contends that the court
erred in granting a writ of possession to PFS because, inter alia, the court
failed to follow the procedures required for a dispossessory action. We
agree,” the Court wrote.

“‘The exclusive method whereby a landlord
may evict a tenant is through a properly instituted dispossessory action filed
pursuant to OCGA 44-7-50 et seq.’ The statutory procedures for
dispossessing a tenant must be strictly construed and observed. Our
review of the trial court’s ruling on a legal question is ‘plain legal
error,'” the Court wrote.

“In this case, the court did not adhere to
the requirements of the dispossessory statute. For instance, the Task
Force was entitled to a trial on the issues, which would include taking the
testimony of witnesses orally in open court (unless otherwise provided), and
proper notice of a trial. But, assuming arguendo that PFS met the
affidavit and other requirements for applying for a writ of dispossession, the
Task Force did not receive the required trial and notice. Accordingly,
the court erred by granting a writ of possession to PFS. Thus, the
court’s order granting the writ of possession is reversed,” the Court

The Fulton County ruling was first reported by
the Saporta Report online news service.

Meanwhile in the DeKalb County case, Emory
University, et al., v. Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, on March 18,
2013, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of DeKalb County
Superior Court Judge Eleanor Ross, issued on March 05, 2012, that denied Emory’s
motion to dismiss the Task Force’s complaint against it.

Emory had filed a motion to the trial court,
asking to dismiss the Task Force’s complaint on the basis that the complaint
fell under the Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation)
Statute, and that the Task Force had not provided notice required under the
Anti-SLAPP statute.

However, Judge Ross ruled, and the Court of
Appeals affirmed, that the Task Force’s complaint did not fall under the
Anti-SLAPP statute.

Court of Appeals Judge William M. Ray authored
the opinion, with Presiding Judge M. Yvette Miller and Judge Elizabeth L.
Branch concurring.

Emory University has already filed a Notice of
Appeal, indicating its intent to appeal the issue to the Supreme Court of

Meanwhile, the Task Force recently lost a
federal appeal regarding its federal claims against the City of Atlanta;
however, attorney Steve Hall, who represents the Task Force, tells APN that,
despite a report to the contrary by the Saporta Report, the Task Force has not
exhausted its federal appeals, and in fact plans to ask the Supreme Court of
the US to hear its case.

Hall believes there are important issues
involved in the Task Force’s federal case against the City of Atlanta involving
the question of what constitutes race-based discrimination versus “class
of one” discrimination, which are on the cutting edge of civil rights
litigation, and that the Supreme Court of the US may want to consider.

In the meantime, the Task Force is celebrating
what it considers to be two legal victories.

“We’re thrilled about it. It’s a real
victory,” Anita Beaty, Executive Director of the Task Force, told

“We think we’re winning. This is a
good indication we’re going to trial and all the evidence that we have accumulated
is going to be exposed, and that is a very good thing,” Beaty

Hall tells APN he believes that because the Task
Force’s defenses against the PFS dispossessory are, in fact, connected to the
Task Force’s RICO and tort claims against PFS, he therefore hopes the court
will conduct a single trial that will cover all issues.

“We want it all in one. My
belief is… we do it all that the same time, it makes the most sense, it’s the
fairest, everybody gets to see the whole thing, and it’s in the interest of
judicial economy,” Hall said.

“What we believe, our opinion of where things are, if you go and you cause
somebody to not be able to pay their bills, you do not get to profit from the
fact that they didn’t pay their bills when you caused it,” Hall

“Our position has always been, to the extent we have not paid the mortgage
or the water bill, it’s because people have prevented the Task Force from being
able to do that by… [interfering with] their relationship with their donors,
and that’s what we’re arguing,” Hall said.

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