Today, we launch a new blog, Georgia Appellate Developments. Our aim is to provide a weekly update of new decisions issued in the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals. The focus will be on decisions that may be of significance to Georgia businesses and practitioners or those wrestling with issues of Georgia law. The blog will also address developments in appellate procedure in those courts that may impact Georgia practitioners.
On November 5, 2012, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a decision in A Fast Sign Co., Inc. v. American Home Servs., Inc., Case No. S11G1708. That case was a class action asserting a claim under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 for the sending of fax advertisements. The trial court had entered a judgment in the amount of $459 million. The damages were calculated as $1500 for each fax sent. The Georgia Court of Appeals had set aside that judgment, ruling that liability should have been based on the number of faxes received by class members, not the number of faxes sent by the defendant to the class members. The Georgia Supreme Court reversed, stating that the sending of faxed advertisements creates liability under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. In other words, the defendant could be held liable for an attempt to send a fax even if the target did not receive it (for example, if the intended recipient’s fax machine was turned off). The case will now go back to the Georgia Court of Appeals for the consideration of other issues raised on appeal by the defendant.
Technological developments in the 20 years since passage of the TCPA have rendered quaint the idea of advertising by sending faxes. However, as this case shows, the potential exists for significant liability under the TCPA. Given the size of the judgment, it will be interesting to see what the Court of Appeals does with the remaining issues raised in the appeal.
Effective November 1, 2012, the Georgia Court of Appeals amended its rules regarding the length of briefs and petitions. Under amended Rules 24, 30 and 31, tables of contents, tables of authorities, covers and certificates of service will no longer count against page limits.