The Georgia Supreme Court is allowing Clark Atlanta University to proceed with a lawsuit in which it claims that it owns parts of Morris Brown College that were sold to the city of Atlanta in 2014.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that the suit is part of a lengthy battle over three properties on the Morris Brown campus that was included when the financially troubled college sold off a large portion of its properties to the city’s economic development agency.
Having filed for bankruptcy and facing $30 million in debt, Morris Brown sold its properties to Invest Atlanta and Friendship Baptist Church. But Clark took it to court saying that the three properties should have reverted to them when the sale went through, based on the stipulations of a deed drawn up in 1940.
In September of 2014, CAU filed a complaint seeking to have the property transferred to them, but Invest Atlanta countered the claim in an attempt to have the complaint dismissed, but a Fulton County Superior Court judge would not dismiss the claim to the land. Invest Atlanta appealed, saying the court did not consider the vague definition of “use” under Georgia law.
However in its ruling on Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court said Clark Atlanta gave use of the building back to Morris Brown, seeing it as a “charitable organization” back then. It also laid out how the deed originally said the property was to be used, which legitimizes the original CAU lawsuit.
“…The Restriction provides not only that the Property be used for “educational purposes” but then lists the fields of study which qualify as such “educational purposes,” the court’s decision reads. “Moreover, once the Property is alienated, MBC loses control over it for any purpose…”
“Consequently, in the present circumstances, sale of the Property to Invest Atlanta does not qualify as MBC’s “use” of the Property as contemplated in the Deed.”