Client Alerts


Cartersville City Schools et. al v. Johnson — The Sky is NOT Falling on Idiopathic Claims
March 28, 2018

Since first defining idiopathic injury, the Georgia appellate courts have refined and attempted to clarify the definition and legal framework for analyzing what has been coined the “idiopathic defense.” At one time or another, the defense appeared to die only to be resurrected. For the most part, it has been a viable defense available to employers and insurers for more than sixty years. The most recent decision by a three-member panel of the Georgia Court of Appeals in Cartersville City Schools v. Johnson seems to at first glance once again call into question the definition of an idiopathic injury. However, a closer analysis of the actual decision, which remains subject to further appeal, indicates not much has actually changed and the analysis of idiopathic injuries based on the standard set forth in Chaparral Boats, Inc v. Heath, 269 Ga. App. 339 (2004) should continue. Despite what you may hear, the sky is not falling, and the idiopathic injury defense is not dead.

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. Koch
March 23, 2018

In its recent decision, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. Koch, No. S17G0654, 2018 Ga. LEXIS 176 (Mar. 15, 2018), the Supreme Court of Georgia further clarified the duties surrounding preservation of evidence rules in Georgia. In Koch, the plaintiff’s husband was involved in a motor vehicle accident when the tread on the left rear tire of his 2001 Ford Explorer detached. Following the accident, the vehicle and some of the tires were crushed for scrap. After Plaintiff filed a product liability suit against Cooper Tire for a tire defect, Cooper Tire filed a motion to dismiss the complaint or impose other sanctions for spoliating the vehicle and tires.

The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that the facts did not give rise to litigation being reasonably foreseeable or that it should have been reasonably contemplated by the plaintiff so as to trigger the duty to preserve the subject vehicle. Importantly, the Georgia Supreme Court noted that the duty of preservation is the same for plaintiffs and defendants: “let us now eliminate any doubt: the duty is defined the same for plaintiffs and defendants, and regardless of whether the party is an individual, corporation, government, or other entity.” However, the Court explained the practical application of that duty may depend on the party’s experience and sophistication in matters of litigation. Therefore – while the duty is “the same” for plaintiffs and defendants – corporate defendants (who are more experienced and sophisticated in litigation than individual plaintiffs), should take heed from the Koch decision and employ prudence when it comes to preserving evidence. When in doubt, preserve the evidence.

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Litigation Case Updates: Spring 2018
February 22, 2018

The following client alert addresses three recent case decisions:

  • Haulers Insurance Company v. Davenport
  • ML Healthcare Services, LLC and Robin Houston v. Publix Super Markets, Inc.
  • Wellstar Kennestone Hospital v. Roman
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Authorizing Medical — Significant Board Rule Change
July 21, 2017

The State Board of Workers’ Compensation periodically implements amendments to its procedural Rules. Effective July 1, 2017, the Board implemented a major change to Rule 205, which we anticipate will have a profound impact on how quickly employers and insurers must respond to disputes involving authorized medical treatment.

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Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act in Jeopardy as One Circuit Judge Declares Act Unconstitutional
May 12, 2017

This week, a Circuit Court judge in Jefferson County, Alabama, considering the legality of the $220.00 per week cap on permanent partial disability benefits and the statutory limitation on attorney fees, held the entire Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act is unconstitutional under both the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and multiple provisions of the Alabama Constitution. While finding constitutional problems with specific provisions of the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act, the judge declared in Clower v. CVS Caremark Corp., CV13-904687, the entire Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act unconstitutional due to the non-severability provision in the Act.

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