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Hall County wins suit over sidewalk construction
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Hall County government has won a summary judgment lawsuit against Selective Insurance Company of America Inc. for uncollected bond payments on sidewalk construction in three subdivisions — Grandview Estates, Ellison Farm Estates and Flat Stone Overlook.

In an April 19 decision, Hall was awarded the aggregate amount of the bond limits for a total of $265,595.65.

Hall asserted that Selective Insurance wrongfully denied claims to collect on three bonds after the principal, Ruby Forrest Inc., allegedly defaulted and failed to perform specific work.

Ruby Forrest, the owner and developer of the three subdivisions, failed to complete sidewalk construction in the allotted time and failed to secure a new bond by deadline, according to the lawsuit.

County Attorney Bill Blalock said when the suit was filed last summer that previous bonds did not adequately cover costs and that the defendants had denied liability and refused to pay.

Costs on the construction of the Grandview Estates sidewalk network had risen to nearly $185,000 last July, according to the lawsuit.

The bond had received continuation certificates from Selective Insurance since it originated in 2007.

“Defendant contends by contrast that the dates listed in each of these bonds, and their subsequent continuations, served as contractual periods of limitation and thus preclude the current suit,” the summary judgment states.

The defendants also argued that Hall County was required to file suit within the term period of the bonds.

But William C. O’Kelley, senior U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Georgia, ruled that the language reading “issuer shall have no more liability after that date” is not a form of statute of limitations.

Such a claim would be “inherently unreasonable,” the judge ruled, and the bond language only related to when liability could accrue.

The judge ruled that the bonds would have had to lapse before any party could be sure a default occurred.

And since the plaintiff gave sufficient notice, and no specific limitation on filing claims was written in the bond terms, Hall won a favorable decision.