Ga. Supreme Court rules against Richmond County school board

Educator sued for back wages of $23,166 for breach of contract

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a former Richmond County teacher who sued the county Board of Education for back wages.

Margaret Hunt initiated a lawsuit in Richmond County Civil Court seeking back wages of $23,166 for breach of contract. Attorneys for both sides stipulated that was the amount of damages, and after a bench trial, the judge ruled in Hunt’s favor.

The Board of Education issued two checks, one for the interest owed on the damages, and another for $15,224 – the damages minus the state and federal tax withholding.

Hunt, according to the Supreme Court opinion released Monday, objected. Her position was that the school board agreed to the amount of any damages if she prevailed and that a civil judgment is taxed separately from wages.

The school board contended it was required by law to withhold taxes from wages. Theorizing the case could result in legal action against the board, it sought an injunction against Hunt in Richmond County Superior Court. Judge Michael N. Annis ruled in the school board’s favor and issued an order preventing Hunt from pursuing any legal action to collect the full sum.

The Supreme Court found that the school board could have raised the issue of tax withholding in civil court before, during or even after the judgment was entered in Hunt’s favor. The school board had other legal options if it became embroiled in further litigation because of Hunt’s case, the court found.

Writing the opinion for the unanimous ruling, Justice P. Harris Hines also wrote that the mere apprehension of injury did not justify the injunction against Hunt.

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