Lawsuit challenging the existence of the City of Mableton dismissed in Superior Court

photo of Cobb Superior Court building from the front with a blue sky with clouds in the background

Cobb County Superior Court Judge Sonja Brown dismissed the case filed by a group of plaintiffs challenging the legality of the referendum that created the City of Mableton.

The plaintiffs were Deidre White, Ronnie Blue, Judy King, Tanya Leake and Robert Swarthout.

The plaintiffs argued that the wording of the referendum on the ballot authorized the city to set up a Community Improvement District (CID), violating the state’s single-subject rule (only one subject can be addressed in a referendum).

The city’s attorney in the case, former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton, argued that the CID was germane to the city’s creation, was not a separate subject, and, therefore, didn’t violate the single-subject rule.

The two sides presented their arguments to Judge Brown in a hearing on March 6. Judge Brown ruled in favor of the City of Mableton.

Read Judge Brown’s ruling by following this link.

Allen Lightcap, the attorney for the plaintiffs, emailed the following statement to the Courier:

“While we are disappointed in the ruling, the Plaintiffs thank the Court for its thoughtful consideration of the issues. The Plaintiffs also thank counsel for the city of Mableton for their professionalism throughout this process. The Plaintiffs plan to file a notice of appeal and take their case to the Supreme Court of Georgia.”

Mableton Michael Owens released the following statement in reaction to the ruling.

Today, the City of Mableton celebrates a milestone legal victory as Cobb County Superior Court Judge Sonja Brown issued the Final Order Granting Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss in the case challenging the city’s incorporation. The lawsuit, filed by Mableton residents Deidre White, Ronnie Blue, Judy King, Tanya Leake, and Robert Swarthout, questioned the city’s creation based on the state constitution’s single-subject rule regarding ballot questions and legislation.

After careful consideration of the arguments presented, including oral arguments on March 6, 2024, the Court determined that the legislation establishing the City of Mableton, approved by voters in November 2022, complies with Georgia law. The Court’s decision affirms the legitimacy of Mableton’s incorporation as a city.

Mayor Michael Owens expressed his gratitude to Harold David Melton, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia and the City’s attorney in this case, stating, “We are deeply thankful for Mr. Melton’s exceptional legal expertise and tireless dedication to defending our city’s interests. His leadership has been instrumental in securing this important victory for Mableton.”  

Mayor Owens also acknowledged the continued support of Mableton residents throughout this legal process and reiterated the city’s commitment to moving forward with its development plans,  “Mableton has won decisions at the General Assembly, at the Governor’s office, at the ballot box, and now in the courts. We are here to stay and look forward to a future of growth, progress, and unity as we continue to build our city and serve and represent the interests of our residents.”