United States: The Georgia Supreme Court Nears The End Of Its December Term

The Georgia Supreme Court has readjusted its terms of court. One of those adjustments includes adding a December term that will end this year on March 31. As the Court approaches the end of that term, it issued a number of decisions on March 6.

Those opinions included the following:

Coon v. Medical Ctr., Inc. (Case No. 16G0695). The Court reaffirmed an overlooked aspect of Georgia's choice of law rules. Applying those rules, a court may conclude that the claim is governed by the law of another state. However, if the matters at issue are controlled by the common law both in Georgia and in the other state, a court should look to Georgia common law precedents to define the common law and is not bound by the common law precedents of that other state. For example, in tort cases, Georgia courts will apply the law of the state where the tort occurred. If, an accident occurs in Virginia and Virginia law applies, if the law at issue is the common law, the Georgia court should look to Georgia precedents, not Virginia precedents, to determine the governing common law.

United Health Servs. of Georgia, Inc. v. Norton (Case No. S16G1143). In that case, the Court held that if a party has signed an arbitration agreement that purports to cover wrongful death claims, that party's beneficiaries are bound by that obligation to arbitrate if they pursue a wrongful death case. In Norton, Mrs. Norton, a resident of a nursing home, signed an arbitration agreement with the nursing home that specifically stated that it would apply to wrongful death actions. After Mrs. Norton passed, her husband sought to bring a wrongful death action against the nursing home. The Court concluded that he was obligated to arbitrate the claim because his wrongful death claims were wholly derivative of the deceased's causes of action.

Grange Mut. Cas. Co. v. Woodard (Case No. S17Q1875). The Court held that in formulating an offer of judgment under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1, the party making the offer could condition acceptance on the performance of certain acts including setting a deadline for paying the amount contained in the offer.

West v. City of Albany (Case No. S16Q1881). The Court held that pursuing a claim under the Georgia Whistleblower Act, O.C.G.A. § 45-1-4, when the defendant was a municipality, the plaintiff did not need to provide the pre-suit notice required for other claims against municipal corporations.

TMX Finance Holdings, Inc. v. Drummond Financial Servs., LLC (Case No. S16A1895). The parties were competing title loan companies based in Georgia. Drummond sought and obtained a nationwide preliminary injunction preventing TitleMax from engaging in certain practices that it asserted were tortious and amounted to a taking of trade secrets. The Georgia Supreme Court trimmed back the injunction on several grounds, including that a nationwide injunction needed to account for differences between the law of other states and the law of Georgia. The Court noted "we remind that activities in one state are not due to be enjoined simply because they might be unlawful if done in another state." Opinion, p. 9.

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