Listed below are some recent cases and matters handled by the firm. While not every case can be won, the matters listed below are representative of the types of cases Mr. Henry handles and the results he obtains.
Candidate for Judge of Superior Court
Christian Henry is pleased to announce his candidacy for Judge of the Superior Courts of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit, which includes Baldwin, Greene, Hancock, Jasper, Jones, Morgan, Putnam, and Wilkinson Counties. He seeks to fill the vacancy on the bench created by the announced retirement of the Honorable Hugh V. Wingfield, III. Christian “hopes to be able to serve the people of this circuit by providing fair, courteous, professional, and efficient justice,” and his “most important goal is to ensure fairness and equal treatment for everyone who appears in court.”Christian is an attorney in private practice in Madison, where he has lived and worked for the past 14 years. He established his own firm, Christian G. Henry LLC, in 2005, which is a general practice firm, focused on litigation and representing local governments. Before moving to Madison, Christian was in private practice in Atlanta for almost 5 years. He has tried numerous cases in the Superior and State Courts of Georgia, and has appeared before the Georgia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals more than 24 times. He is also admitted to the Bar of the United States District Courts for the Middle and Northern Districts of Georgia. For the past 11 years, Christian has served as the Morgan County Attorney and has represented the Cities of Bostwick, Buckhead, Shady Dale, and Rutledge. He is currently the President of the County Attorneys Section of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG). As to why he seeks this position on the bench, Mr. Henry says, “although I really love practicing law, especially trying cases, I look forward to a new challenge—the opportunity to help administer justice by presiding over cases, instead of representing one side.” Why would he make a good Superior Court Judge? “I believe I have a good combination of temperament, experience, patience, and insight that will enable me to serve our circuit.”Christian and his wife Cristy have been married for almost 19 years and have two children, Claire and Michael, who attend Morgan County public schools. Cristy is a nurse (RN) working for University Cancer & Blood Center at its Athens and Lake Oconee offices. The Henrys are members of Madison Baptist Church, where Christian has served on a pastor search committee, and as Deacon Chair and Trustee. Christian is a member of the Madison Kiwanis Club, where he is a past president. He has also served as the Chairman of the Morgan County Primary School Governance Board and as Chairman of the Primary School’s principal search committee. Mr. Henry enjoys spending time with his family, camping and hiking, and his hobbies include, “trying to play golf and guitar.” For more information, please go to http://votechristianhenry.com/
-March 11, 2016
Jury Verdict in Partnership Dispute
Mr. Henry convinced a jury in the Superior Court of Morgan County to find in favor of his client in a dispute over the assets of a farm partnership. Mr. Henry’s client operated a farm with his brother for many years. The brother passed away, and the brother’s wife demanded a greater share of the partnership’s assets than Mr. Henry’s client believed was appropriate. The brother’s wife filed a lawsuit against Mr. Henry’s client, demanding an accounting and seeking title to several pieces of real property, equipment, and cash. After a two-day trial, the jury awarded Mr. Henry’s client significantly more of the partnership’s assets than were offered during pre-trial settlement discussions.
-March 9, 2016
Judgment in Zoning Challenge
The Morgan County Superior Court rejected a constitutional challenge to a portion of Morgan County’s Zoning Ordinance regulating short-term rentals, and held that a property owner’s short-term rental of her residence was not a valid “grandfathered” use. The Court denied the landowner’s claims that the ordinance was unconstitutional and that she was entitled to damages and attorneys’ fees. The Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court affirmed the ruling. Christine B. May v. Morgan County, Georgia Supreme Court S14C0227 (January 27, 2014), S15C0061 (January 20, 2015), Georgia Court of Appeals A14D0473 (August 28, 2014).
Jury Verdict – Car Wreck
In the first-ever, civil, jury trial in the State Court of Putnam County, a jury found in favor of Mr. Henry’s client on all counts. In a vigorously contested case involving a rear-end car wreck, Mr. Henry persuaded the jurors that his client was not at-fault in any way, despite repeated claims by the defense that Mr. Henry’s client pulled out in front of the defendant. The jurors also agreed with Mr. Henry that his client’s damages were significantly higher than asserted by the defendant, overcoming the defendant’s expert witness’ testimony. Finally, the jury awarded attorneys’ fees to Mr. Henry’s client, which is usually not allowed under Georgia law in such cases, except in certain, limited circumstances. Prior to trial, the defendant’s insurer refused to offer anything to Mr. Henry’s client, claiming the defendant was not liable.
- August 12, 2013
Judgment Against Landfill
Mr. Henry defeated an attempt by a landfill company to create a large, regional, municipal, solid waste landfill in rural, northern Bryan County. The landfill company sued the County, challenging its zoning ordinance’s regulations of landfills as unconstitutional. The Superior Court ruled in favor of Mr. Henry’s client, the County, finding the zoning ordinance constitutional. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed, unanimously rejecting the landfill company’s appeal. Atlantic Waste Services, Inc. v. Bryan County, S13D1437 (July 8, 2013, Motion for Reconsideration Denied July 24, 2013).
- July 8, 2013
Successful Bridge Replacement Projects
Through significant negotiation and the use of condemnation, Mr. Henry helped acquire more than 20 parcels of property on behalf of a local government in order to replace 5 bridges utilizing Georgia Department of Transportation funds.
- April 13, 2013
Judgment in Zoning Challenge
The Morgan County Superior Court rejected a constitutional challenge to a portion of Morgan County’s Zoning Ordinance regulating short-term rentals. The Court denied a landowner’s claims that the ordinance was unconstitutional and that she was entitled to damages and attorneys’ fees. The case is currently on appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
- April 3, 2013
Dismissal – Commercial Property Tax Appeal
The Morgan County Superior Court agreed with Mr. Henry that a commercial business’ property tax appeal should be dismissed. The company contended that it was entitled to over $1 million in tax exemptions and changes in valuation, but the Court dismissed the company’s appeal before even reaching a jury trial.
- March 1, 2013
Judgment for Damages
Mr. Henry obtained a judgment for more than $20,000.00 on behalf of his client, a small business, against a vendor that refused to pay its bill.
- October 12, 2011
Jury Verdict - Property Tax Appeal
After a four-day trial in the Superior Court of Morgan County, Mr. Henry secured a jury verdict in favor of his client, determining the fair market value of commercial land was worth $1,217,000.00 more (91% higher) than the property owner contended, saving the taxpayers of Morgan County more than $27,000.00.
- March 10, 2011
Court of Appeals Affirms Jury Verdict
The Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict obtained by Mr. Henry in a property tax appeal involving the breach of a Conservation Use Covenant. This becomes one of only eight published appellate court opinions in Georgia analyzing the breach of a conservation use covenant. Malcom v. Morgan County Bd. of Tax Ass'rs, ____ Ga. App. ____, ____ S.E.2d ____, 2011 WL 625358 (February 23, 2011).
- February 23, 2011
Jury Verdict - Breach of Real Estate Sales Contract
Mr. Henry procured another jury verdict for one of his clients in an action for the breach of a real estate contract. The defendant agreed to purchase the property from Mr. Henry's client but refused to carry out the purchase. After the client was unable to get any cooperation from the defendant, Mr. Henry filed suit. Overcoming multiple motions filed by the defendant's attorneys, the case was tried in the Superior Court of Morgan County. Mr. Henry convinced the jury to find that the defendant breached the contract. The jury also awarded attorneys' fees to Mr. Henry's client based on the defendant's bad faith and stubborn litigiousness.
- June 10, 2010
Appearance Before Senate Finance Committee
Mr. Henry was invited to address the Georgia State Senate Finance Committee to discuss Senate Bill 513, which amends the Georgia Tax Code to clarify what income-generating property owned by charitable organizations is exempt from property taxation. Senator Johnny Grant proposed the bill, which was written by Mr. Henry, to allow purely public charities to maintain their property tax exemptions for property rented to certain third-parties. That way, charities could rent their property under certain circumstances to help offset the charities' operating expenses.
- March 17, 2010
Jury Verdict - Property Tax Appeal - Breach of Conservation Use Covenant
After a week-long trial in the Superior Court of Morgan County, a jury held that Mr. Henry's client was correct when it declared that a taxpayer breached a conservation use covenant. The conservation use covenant allows a taxpayer to receive up to 90% savings in property taxes for 10 years, so long as the taxpayer continuously devotes his or her property to the good faith production of a bona fide agricultural product. The taxpayer argued that he was producing bona fide agricultural products under the conservation use statute, relying on numerous provisions of that voluminous, vague, and sometimes confusing law, but thanks to Mr. Henry's advocacy, the jury rejected those arguments.
- March 12, 2010
Arbitration Victories - Property Tax Appeals
Mr. Henry prevailed in three out of three binding arbitrations on behalf of the Morgan County Board of Tax Assessors. The arbitrations involved taxpayers' appeals of property values for tax year 2009. Despite the worst real estate downturn since the Great Depression, Mr. Henry successfully obtained judgments for his client, resulting in a difference in value of over $1,600,000.00.
- February 11, 2010
Zoning Amendment Successful
Mr. Henry convinced the Jasper County Board of Commissioners and Planning Commission to amend its zoning ordinance to allow his client to operate a business on her property. The client had been trying unsuccessfully for almost a year to accomplish the same thing.
- July 20, 2009
Another Jury Verdict in Property Tax Appeal
After yet another two-day trial in the Superior Court of Morgan County, a jury agreed with Mr. Henry that the value of commercial property was $2,600,000.00 greater than claimed by the taxpayer. Despite argument from the taxpayer that the property generated no income, Mr. Henry ultimately swayed the jury to accept the valuation set by the Board of Tax Assessors, overturning the results of an initially successful appeal by the taxpayer to the Board of Equalization.
- March 6, 2009
Jury Verdict in Property Tax Appeal
After a two-day trial in the Superior Court of Morgan County, Mr. Henry was able to convince a jury that the valuation placed on a taxpayer's home by the Morgan County Board of Tax Assessors was correct, despite the difficult economic climate and real estate meltdown. The taxpayer presented evidence through an expert appraiser that the subject property was worth $140,000.00 less than the value set by the Board of Tax Assessors. However, through withering cross-examinations and expert testimony from the County's Chief Appraiser, Mr. Henry successfully persuaded the jury to rule in his client's favor, affirming the exact value placed on the subject property by the Board of Tax Assessors.
- December 3, 2008
Firm Retained to Represent Hospital
Mr. Henry was selected as legal counsel for the Morgan County Hospital Authority, which operates Morgan Memorial Hospital. Morgan Memorial is a 41-bed, nonprofit, acute care and skilled nursing facility located in Madison, Georgia. The hospital employs more than 175 full and part-time employees and offers a 24-hour emergency room and various diagnostic outpatient services. Patients are served through an acute care and swing bed program, along with a transitional care unit. Morgan Memorial Hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO), and the hospital has been operating to serve the citizens of Morgan County since 1960.
- August 5, 2008
Judgment in Property Tax Appeal Trial
Representing the Morgan County Board of Tax Assessors in the trial of an appeal of a real property ad valorem tax assessment, Mr. Henry obtained a judgment in the Board's favor. The taxpayer appealed a 2007 assessment, claiming a value more than 20% lower than assessed by the Board of Tax Assessors. At the trial's conclusion, the Board's assessment was affirmed.
- June 25, 2008
Construction Defect Case Settled for $600,000.00
On behalf of his client, Morgan County, Mr. Henry was able to obtain $600,000.00 in a complex construction case against the general contractor hired by the County to renovate the County's historic courthouse. After significant delay, added expense, and demands by the contractor for more money, the County terminated the contractor, in order to complete the work itself. As the County began to assess the incomplete work, it discovered numerous defects in the building. Eventually, the County was able to correct the contractor's deficient, defective and incomplete work, and it filed suit against the contractor. During litigation, the contractor demanded $700,000.00 from the County, but ultimately it paid the County $600,000.00, and the County paid the contractor nothing. For an online news article on this settlement, see the Morgan County Citizen.
- May 8, 2008
Bond Validation and Issuance for Building Authority
Mr. Henry served as counsel for the Morgan County Building Authority in a recent revenue bond validation and issuance of $19,000,000.00 for the purpose of purchasing land and constructing a new county jail. The bond issuance was so successful, that the Building Authority actually received more funds from the sale of the bonds than the total amount for which the Building Authority is indebted, resulting in a significant savings to Building Authority and Morgan County.
- November 20, 2007
Judgment Obtained in Title Dispute
On behalf of Morgan County, Mr. Henry Filed suit against neighboring landowners of county property who claimed title to a portion of the county's property. The Superior Court agreed with Mr. Henry, granting judgment in the county's favor, declaring the disputed portion of property to be the County's. This case is currently on appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.
- August 16, 2007
Residential Contractor Ordered to Pay Judgment and Attorneys' Fees
Mr. Henry filed an action against his client's homebuilder, who continually failed to complete items on the homeowners' punchlist and defectively constructed other portions of the home. The Superior Court granted judgment in the homeowners' favor, ordering the homebuilder to pay for the incomplete work, the cost of repairing the defective work, and the homeowners' attorneys' fees.
- July 18, 2007
Fraud Judgment Against Contractor
A contractor took over $50,000.00 from Mr. Henry's client to build a barn, but the contractor only completed a small fraction of the work before quitting and refusing to return the client's money. Mr. Henry secured a judgment against the contractor on several counts, including fraud, resulting in an award to Mr. Henry's client of actual damages, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees.
- July 18, 2007
Supreme Court Unanimously Affirms Ruling
Morgan County won a lawsuit filed by EarthResources (Morgan County) LLC, seeking to construct a landfill on property not zoned for such a use. Mr. Henry filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the County, which the Superior Court granted, effectively dismissing the landfill lawsuit before it could reach trial. The County was also awarded its attorneys' fees and litigation expenses against EarthResources, which rarely occurs in Georgia's state courts. After hearing EarthResources' appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the Superior Court's ruling, agreeing with Morgan County. EarthResources, LLC v. Morgan County, 281 Ga. 396, 638 S.E.2d 325 (2006).
- December 15, 2006
Court of Appeals Reverses Lower Court - Personal Injury Case Settled
The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's ruling against Mr. Henry's client in a personal injury/property damage case. The lower court's ruling ended the case, which arose out of an automobile collision with a cow that escaped from a landowner's property and wandered onto the highway. After the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court, reviving the case, the landowner's insurer agreed to settle the case. Hoeflick v. Bradley, 282 Ga. App. 123, 637 S.E.2d 832 (2006).
- October 30, 2006
Real Estate Lawsuit Settled
Mr. Henry recently obtained a favorable settlement for his client, the largest real estate broker in the Lake Oconee area, against some former agents who left the company to go to work for a competitor. The agents improperly contacted realty company's clients to solicit them to break their exclusive listing agreements with the realtor. After filing suit and engaging in extensive discovery, the agents agreed to pay their former employer a substantial sum to compensate it for its damages and to avoid further litigation and a trial.
- May 26, 2006
Insurance Dispute Settled - Trucking Accident
An insurer for Mr. Henry's trucking company client agreed to settle several lawsuits against the trucking company arising out of a multi-vehicle wreck involving a school bus carrying special needs children. The insurer initially denied coverage for the accident, which potentially exposed the trucking company to millions of dollars in damages. After a sustained court battle, the insurance company finally agreed to accept coverage and pay the injured plaintiffs on behalf of the trucking company, as well as reimbursing Mr. Henry's client for its attorneys' fees.
- April 18, 2006
Supreme Court Unanimously Reverses Lower Court
Representing Morgan County, Mr. Henry successfully convinced the Georgia Supreme Court to unanimously reverse a lower court ruling that would have cost the County hundreds of thousands of dollars. In Morgan County Bd of Comm'rs v. Mealor, 280 Ga. 241, 626 S.E.2d 79 (2006), the Supreme Court agreed with Morgan County that its former Superior Court Clerk was not entitled to participate in the County's pension plan because the former clerk already had a state pension that was funded, in part, by the County. Had the lower court's ruling been affirmed, Morgan County would have been required to retroactively include the former clerk and several other current and former constitutional officers in the County's pension plan, which would have cost taxpayers approximately $250,000.00.
- February 27, 2006
Personal Injury - Trucking Wreck Settlement
The insurer for a trucking company agreed to pay Mr. Henry's client for injuries to his neck and back sustained in a rear-end collision caused by the trucking company's driver's failure to stop in time to avoid the wreck. The insurer agreed to settle the case shortly before it was scheduled to go to trial.
- January 23, 2006
Trucking Accident Case - Settled
A personal injury claim of a plaintiff against a trucking company represented by Mr. Henry was settled for a nominal amount on the eve of trial. Rather than go to trial, the plaintiff accepted less than 10% of what she demanded as a settlement from Mr. Henry's client.
Commercial Litigation - Trucking Company Assets Awarded
Mr. Henry was able to procure a court order dissolving a local trucking company and distributing its assets almost exclusively to Mr. Henry's clients, who were the majority shareholders of the small corporation. In the courtroom shortly before the trial was to begin, the defendant shareholder agreed to dissolve the corporation and split the assets on terms favorable to Mr. Henry's clients.
Personal Injury - Premises Liability Settlement
Mr. Henry settled a personal injury, premises liability claim for just under six figures on behalf of a client who suffered several broken bones in his leg caused by a fall from the defendants' deck. The deck railing was improperly and insufficiently anchored to the deck, allowing an entire section of railing to fall 15 feet to the ground, along with the injured client. After filing suit and engaging in extensive discovery, including the hiring of expert witnesses, the defendants' insurer agreed to settle the case, rather than go to trial.