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Ga. Court of Appeals confirms decision in nudist resort’s lawsuit against Dawson County
Resort decision 2023 Paradise Valley
During the resort’s 2022 trial, Senior Judge Richard Winegarden criticizes the original drawing for the indoor pool, later saying Paradise Valley doesn’t have a “vested right to build an unsafe building.” - photo by Julia Hansen

A year after a judge ruled in favor of local fire officials in a local nudist resort’s case against Dawson County, that decision has been upheld, according to a document filed Feb. 13 in Georgia’s Court of Appeals.

The appellate court confirmed Senior Judge Richard Winegarden’s 2022 decision in favor of the county, which issued stop work orders on projects for Paradise Valley Club’s greeting room, welcome center, wine bar, cabanas and indoor pool.

The resort’s lawyer, Joey Homans, told DCN that he’s reviewing legal options with his client, resort owner and manager Jeff Wasserman. 

In the ruling from last February, the senior judge ruled that the stop work orders were valid and that the structures’ building permits had expired. Homans later filed an appeal in June 2022. 

Presiding judge Sara Doyle affirmed the lower court’s decision. Judge Todd Markle and Senior Appellate Judge Herbert E. Phipps concurred. 

Paradise Valley’s civil case initially went to a two-day bench trial at the Dawson County Courthouse last January. 

In the lawsuit, the resort sued defendants Fire Marshal Jeff Bailey, then-Fire Chief and EMA Director Danny Thompson and Fire Prevention Lt. Chris Archer in Dawson County Superior Court and asked for a writ of mandamus to lift the stop work orders. 

During the trial, the resort pointed to its vested rights, while the defense argued that stop work orders were in place for the five structures because of lacking life-safety plans.

The appellate court’s Feb. 13 document stated “the evidence supports” their judgment and listed that the legal issues involved were essentially not in the resort’s favor. 

The judgment also stated a court opinion “would have no precedential value,” meaning a decision on the appeal should not be considered legal guidance in future cases. 

DCN will continue to follow this court case for any updates.