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General Electric Co. v. Lowe's Home Centers, Inc.

279 Ga. 77 (2005)

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General Electric Co. v. Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc.

Georgia Supreme Court

279 Ga. 77 (2005)

Facts

Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. (plaintiff) operated a store on approximately six acres in Rome, Georgia. This store was near a General Electric Company (defendant) plant where polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were used. Lowe’s sought to expand the store into a larger superstore and entered into an agreement with a developer. The developer agreed to purchase an adjoining parcel of land and lease it back to Lowe’s. The developer and Lowe’s discovered that the adjoining parcel of land was contaminated with PCBs. The developer and Lowe’s tried again with a different adjoining parcel but ran into the same problem. Lowe’s also discovered that its existing parcel was contaminated with PCBs. Lowe’s sued General Electric, alleging federal environmental claims along with trespass, nuisance, negligence, and negligence per se. After a trial, the jury awarded Lowe’s damages, including $18 million in lost profits expected from the planned superstore and $2 million for reduced rental value of the existing land. General Electric appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit certified a question to the Georgia Supreme Court. The certified question asked whether Lowe’s could recover for lost profits related to the planned superstore, even though the development of the superstore required the purchase of additional land.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fletcher, C.J.)

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