Georgia Court of Appeals Embraces Liberal Application of Renewal Statute
In Strickland et al. v. Geico General Insurance Company, A20A1971, the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a plaintiff’s renewed complaint. In July 2016, plaintiff’s, Emily Strickland, vehicle was struck by another vehicle purportedly causing injuries to Ms. Strickland. Ms. Strickland brought suit against the driver of the other vehicle in July 2018, prior to the end of the statute of limitations. In April 2019, Ms. Strickland voluntarily dismissed her complaint. Approximately two months later, Ms. Strickland refiled her suit, her husband added a claim for loss of consortium, and the uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier, Geico, was served with process.
Geico filed a motion to dismiss contending Ms. Strickland failed to comply with the renewal statute because she failed to included required information, including that the previous action was “substantially the same cause of action” and that the prior dismissal was not based upon the merits. Ms. Strickland filed an amended complaint, attaching a copy of the prior complaint and included information that the prior suit involved substantially similar cause of action. Geico filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint contending that the amendment was not within the renewal period and therefore was untimely and void.
The Georgia Court of Appeals disagreed with Geico finding that the amended complaint related back to the original complaint pursuant to O.C.G.A. §9-11-15(c). The Court also noted that even if the amended complaint had not been filed a trial court may take judicial notice of its own records to determine that Ms. Strickland’s renewed complaint was similar to the original complaint. As such, the renewed complaint filed by Ms. Strickland was not untimely or void.