Georgia’s Supreme Court ruled Monday on Clark Atlanta University’s lawsuit against Invest Atlanta, which planned to buy properties it now appears Morris Brown wasn’t legally allowed to sell.
Clark Atlanta University was right to sue. That’s the state Supreme Court’s decision on land Clark Atlanta deeded to Morris Brown College in 1940, stipulating the property be used for “educational purposes.”
When Morris Brown filed for bankruptcy in 2012, it tried to sell those properties to Invest Atlanta to help pay off several million dollars in debt. The college argued that selling the property in order to stay open was an educational purpose. That’s when Clark Atlanta sued.
After Monday’s decision, technically, the lawsuit goes back to the lower Fulton County Superior Court. However, the Supreme Court’s opinion essentially confirms that the property has reverted back to Clark Atlanta because of the deed’s explicit language.
“Consequently, in the present circumstances, sale of the property to Invest Atlanta does not qualify as Morris Brown College’s ‘use’ of the property as contemplated in the deed,” wrote Presiding Justice P. Harris Hines in his opinion.
In an emailed statement, Clark Atlanta says it’s pleased and plans to complete appropriate legal action. Morris Brown says it is reviewing the ruling, but declined to comment. Invest Atlanta also said it was reviewing the court’s decision.
“We look forward to resolving all legal issues regarding this historic property in a way that preserves the legacy of the Atlanta University Center and catalyzes the revitalization of the Martin Luther King corridor,” said Eloisa Klementich, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, in an emailed statement.