SJN PROPERTIES, LLC. v. FULTON COUNTY BOARD OF ASSESSORS et alAnnotate this Case
In 2009, John Sherman, a resident and taxpayer of Fulton County, filed suit, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, against the Fulton County Board of Assessors (“FCBOA”), along with its Chief
Appraiser and each of its members in their official capacities, to challenge the FCBOA’s method of valuing leasehold estates arising from a sale-leaseback bond transaction involving the Development Authority of Fulton County (“DAFC”). Sherman claimed that this so-called “50% ramp-up” methodology results in the valuation of the developers’ leasehold estates at less than fair market value, in violation of defendants’ statutory and constitutional duties to ensure that ad valorem taxes are assessed uniformly and at fair market value. In October 2009, the trial court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss/motion for judgment on the pleadings, and, on appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed, holding that the case was not subject to dismissal because, while there was no dispute as to the valuation methodology employed, there was no way to conclusively determine at that stage of the proceedings that such methodology actually resulted in a fair valuation of the leasehold estate. After remand, SJN Properties, LLC was added as a plaintiff in the action. The plaintiffs filed an amended and restated class action petition, again seeking declaratory, injunctive, and mandamus relief with respect to the valuation methodology, and adding a claim seeking declaratory, injunctive, and mandamus relief with respect to a subset of DAFC-owned properties involved in these bond transactions, which, according to the plaintiffs, have improperly been treated as tax-exempt. Thereafter, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the defendants’ motions. Though the Supreme Court found the trial court erred i striking two of SJN's affidavits, it nonetheless affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants.