For all cases filed after May 13, 2022, Georgia has amended its apportionment of fault statute, O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33. The amendment affects subsection (b), which formerly stated that in actions brought against “more than one person for injury to person or property,” the amount of damages awarded, after taking a reduction for the plaintiff’s percentage of fault, shall be apportioned among the person or persons liable according the each person’s percentage of fault. It also eliminated joint liability and the right of contribution. The amended subsection (b) now applies to actions brought “against one or more persons,” thus allowing courts to apply the statute to single-defendant lawsuits. Continue reading
Category Archives: Georgia
Oh Snap! Georgia Supreme Court Revives Suit Against Snapchat for Alleged Faulty Speed Filter
In Maynard v. Snapchat Inc., No. S21G0555, 2022 Ga. LEXIS 68, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed and remanded an appellate court decision that dismissed the popular mobile app Snapchat from suit. Plaintiffs Wentworth and Karen Miller (collectively, Plaintiffs) were struck by a driver who was allegedly using the popular social media app at the time of the accident. More specifically, the Plaintiffs alleged the driver was using the Snapchat “Speed Filter” feature, which displays and records your speed on camera. Users can then send video messages to friends that display the speed you were traveling at the time the video was taken. The Plaintiffs alleged that the app was negligently designed and Snapchat was at fault for promoting unsafe driving through use of the Speed Filter.
Jurisdiction by Consent: Georgia Holds that Corporations Registered to do Business in the State Consent to Being Sued There
In Cooper Tire & Rubber Co, v, McCall, No. S20G1368, 2021 Ga. LEXIS 626 (Cooper Tire), the Supreme Court of Georgia (Supreme Court) held that Georgia courts can exercise general personal jurisdiction over foreign corporations that are registered to do business in the state. In Cooper Tire, the plaintiff, Tyrance McCall, filed a lawsuit against Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (Cooper Tire) in Georgia state court for personal injuries he sustained in a car accident. Cooper Tire filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Continue reading
Strictly Speaking, the Plaintiff’s Fault Matters in Products Liability Actions in Georgia
Many states, finding that the purpose of the strict liability doctrine is to protect otherwise defenseless victims from defective products, hold that principles of comparative negligence do not apply to strict liability actions. Georgia is not one of those states. In Johns v. Suzuki Motor of Am., S19G1478, 2020 Ga. LEXIS 760, the Supreme Court of Georgia recently held that Georgia’s comparative fault statute, OCGA § 51-12-33, applies to strict products liability claims brought pursuant to Georgia’s product liability statute, OCGA § 51-1-11. Continue reading
Georgia Court of Appeals Holds Lay Witness Can Provide Opinion Testimony on the Value of a Property If the Witness Had an Opportunity to Form a Reasoned Opinion
In Woodrum v. Ga. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 815 S.E.2d 650 (Ga. Ct. App. 2018), the Court of Appeals of Georgia considered whether the lower court properly disqualified a contractor as an expert witness and excluded the contractor from offering lay opinion testimony regarding the value of a property. The Court of Appeals held that, while the lower court properly disqualified the contractor as an expert witness, it improperly excluded the general contractor’s lay opinion testimony regarding the value of the property. This case establishes that, in Georgia, a lay witness can provide opinion testimony on the value of a property if the proponent of the testimony demonstrates that the witness had an opportunity to form a reasoned opinion. Continue reading
In Georgia, A Waiver of Subrogation Clause is not an Exculpatory Clause That Must be Prominently Displayed
In Allstate Insurance Company v. ADT, LLC, No. 1:15-cv-517-WSD, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120880 (N.D. Ga.), the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia addressed the question of whether a contract’s insurance and waiver of subrogation clause was an exculpatory clause that was unenforceable because it did not pass Georgia’s Prominence Test. The court held that a waiver of subrogation clause is not an exculpatory clause and, thus, its enforceability does not depend on the clause being prominently displayed.
Georgia Extends Anti-Indemnity Statute to Cover Professional Services
Effective April 26, 2016, Georgia amended its anti-indemnification statute, Ga. Code § 13-8-2, to cover not only construction contracts, but also contracts for engineering, architectural or land surveying services. The amended statute, however, does not apply equally to construction and professional services contracts.
Georgia Clarifies Its Non-Party At Fault Apportionment Statute
Georgia’s apportionment statute, OCGA § 51-12-33, requires a jury, in some cases, to apportion responsibility for an injury among all those who contributed to it – whether a party to the lawsuit or not – based on each person’s respective share of combined fault. After the apportionment, each defendant’s liability is limited to his or her apportioned percentage. In Zaldivar v. Prickett, — S.E.2d –, 2015 WL 4067788 (Ga. July 6, 2015), the plaintiff, Daniel Prickett (Prickett), sued Imelda Zaldivar (Zaldivar) to recover for injuries that Pricket allegedly sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Zaldivar sought to apportion fault to a non-party, Overhead Door Company, Prickett’s employer, arguing that Overhead Door Company negligently entrusted its vehicle to Prickett. In addition to overruling prior case law precluding, as a matter of law, first-party claims based on negligent entrustment, the court considered whether “fault” can be apportioned to a tortfeasor whose negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury but who is otherwise immune from liability.
Arbitration Provision Against Public Policy
In Atlanta Flooring Design Centers, Inc. v. R.G. Williams Construction, Inc., — S.E.2d –, 2015 WL 4311070 (Ga. App. July 16, 2015), the Georgia Court of Appeals addressed the validity of a contract clause in a construction contract. In the contract, R.G. Williams Construction, Inc. (“Williams”), the general contractor, and Atlanta Flooring Design Centers, Inc. (“AFDC”) agreed to arbitrate any disputes related to the contract. In addition, Williams and AFDC expressly agreed “not to challenge the validity of the arbitration or the award.” The court, relying in part on analogous federal arbitration law, held that the clause – precluding judicial review of an arbitration award – altered Georgia’s statutory arbitration scheme, frustrated Georgia’s public policy and was void and unenforceable.