Placing a boot on an unauthorized vehicle has been a tactic commonly employed by some Georgia business owners to discourage people from parking vehicles on the business’ private property. These business owners believed that common law justified their actions.
However, the Georgia Supreme Court has issued an opinion disputing that businesses have any legal grounds to continue the practice except where local ordinance specifically permits it.
Allen vs. RCC Wesley Chapel Crossing, LLC
In 2018, Forrest Allen filed suit against the owner of RCC Wesley Chapel Crossing, LLC alleging premises liability, negligence, conversion and false imprisonment. Allen sued because the business placed a boot on his tractor-trailer which he parked in the business’ parking lot.
The owners of the business claimed common law made it legal to immobilize unauthorized vehicles parked on private property. However, the Supreme Court concluded that no such right exists. The practice remains legal in cities, such as Atlanta, Union City and Decatur, with local ordinances that allow the practice, but business owners must comply with regulations outlined in the ordinances.
Link between booting and premises liability
Advocates for banning the practice of booting on private property allege that the practice is predatory and often results in violence between vehicle owners and property owners or the companies they hire to place the boots. This represents a safety risk caused by the illegal behavior of property owners.
Property owners who continue the practice of booting vehicles in cities with no local ordinance risk lawsuits by vehicle owners who suffer injuries or other damages due to the practice.