On February 1, 2021, the Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari in two cases that may have wide significance to attorneys practicing in Georgia.
In Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. McCall, Case No. S20G1368, Georgia Supreme Court will examine whether Georgia courts can exercise general personal jurisdiction over non-Georgia corporations that have registered to do business in Georgia. In the early 1990s, the Georgia Supreme Court held that Georgia law allowed a Georgia court to exercise general jurisdiction over a non-Georgia corporation that had registered to do business in Georgia. Under general personal jurisdiction, a company can be sued in Georgia for claims that have nothing to do with the company’s activities in Georgia. In recent years, United States Supreme Court has significantly reduced the scope of general personal jurisdiction, finding that broad general personal jurisdiction violates due process. Pickup on those holdings, courts in other states have held that a company’s registering to do business in a state will not subject it to the general personal jurisdiction of the courts of that state. This case invites the Georgia Supreme Court to decide whether those trends in the law outside of Georgia will impact the reach of general personal jurisdiction in Georgia.
In Alston & Bird, LLP v. Hatcher Management Holdings, LLC, Case No. S20G1419, the Court will examine two questions regarding the apportionment of fault in tort cases. Georgia statutes allow the apportionment of fault between two defendants. The court will address whether a court also can apportion fault in a case involving only one defendant where non-parties are alleged to be at fault. The court will also consider whether attorney fees awarded as damages under O.C.G.A. § 13-6-11 for stubborn litigiousness or bad faith can be apportioned. Both issues are significant for all defendants looking to have damages apportioned in tort cases.
Both cases have been assigned to the Court’s May argument calendar.