Georgia Courts Still Bound by Workers’ Compensation Exclusive Remedy Doctrine

On March 6, 2020, the Georgia Court of Appeals found that the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers' Compensation Act barred a truck driver’s personal injury action against a trucking company for which she alleged she provided services as an independent contractor, after she was injured in an accident that occurred when she was in the sleeping compartment of tractor trailer and her husband was driving. Estes v. G&W Carriers, LLC, No. A19A2385, 2020 WL 1074056 (Ga. Ct. App. Mar. 6, 2020). The trial court had granted summary judgment on the basis the action was barred by O.C.G.A. § 34-7-21 which shields employers from liability for injuries arising from negligence or misconduct of other e

Georgia Court of Appeals Clarifies Voluntary Undertaking Doctrine

On March 13, 2020, the court addressed the question of whether a residential rehabilitation facility owed a duty to a program participant who was sexually assaulted after leaving the facility for a job assignment where employment was a required part of the rehabilitation program. Plaintiff, who had agreed to the rehabilitation program as part of a diversion program to avoid jail time, had missed her bus to work and, instead of waiting for the next bus, walked to a convenience store, where she was sexually assaulted. St. Jude’s Recovery Center, Inc. v. Laura Vaughan, Case No A19A2438. At trial, where summary judgment was denied, the plaintiff argued that St. Jude’s had voluntarily undertake

Landowners Do Not Need to Exercise Extraordinary Care When Inspecting for Dangers

The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld the grant of summary judgment to a homeowners association and a management company in Ermert v. Wildwood at Meadow Gate Homeowners Association, Inc., --- S.E.2d ----, 2020 WL 946116 (2020). In September 2016, Ermert was walking in a common area near a pond, when she stepped in a hole and fractured her foot. Ermert brought suit against the homeowners association and the management company, claiming a failure to keep the premises safe. Within a few days of Ermert’s fall, the president of the homeowners association walked the area where Ermert claimed she fell. The president was unable to find a hole in the area, but found an impression further away that h

What Evidence Is Necessary To Establish Punitive Damages?

The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s denial of partial summary judgment and motion for directed verdict related to punitive damages in the recent decision of Jones v. Bebee, --S.E. 2d ---, 2020 WL 771117 (2020). The Court noted that the entry of the judgment at trial, mooted the motion for summary judgment filed by the Joneses and only addressed the denial of the motion for directed verdict. Bebee, a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, delivered a package to the Jones’s house. Jones’s 11 year old son accepted the packages, but as he went back into the house, the Jones’s dog rushed out and bit Bebee on the leg. Bebee was able to get the dog off her leg, but the dog lunged and

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