Georgia Supreme Court Elects to Uphold State Tort Reform Law That Divvies Up Damage Awards To Plaintiffs In Premises Liability Cases
A small victory for property owners took place in the legal arena this summer. In July, Georgia's Supreme Court upheld the validity of a key tort reform law that permits juries to consider "the fault of [a personal injury plaintiff's] assailants and apportion the amount of the damages based on the percentage of all those responsible for the attack." The court also said a jury can receive a special verdict form requiring it to decide how much the [property owners] and "the assailants should pay, should the jury find them liable," according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
By an overwhelming vote of 5-2, the high court made this decision in response to a case involving an Atlanta Red Roof Inn hotel owner and a patron who was attacked on the hotel's premises by persons unknown. The victim sued the "owners for failing to keep their premises safe and provide adequate security." Property owners are, of course, delighted that the tort reform law has been upheld, as it drives down costs for what they often deem to be unfortunate circumstances over which they have absolutely no control. Personal injury plaintiffs' attorneys are concerned, however, that this ruling will have the unfair result of preventing victims from being "fully compensated for their injuries."