Georgia Appellate Court Reverses Default Judgment Because Defendant Was Never Properly Served

Earlier this month, the Court of Appeals of Georgia issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a man who had slipped and fallen at the defendant’s restaurant. Although the defendant did not initially reply to the plaintiff’s complaint, and a default judgment was entered against the defendant, that judgment was reversed on appeal because the plaintiff had never properly served the defendant.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell while at a restaurant owned by the defendant. After his fall, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the restaurant where he fell. As required by law, the plaintiff attempted to serve the defendant restaurant with notice of the pending case.

The restaurant, however, had a common name, and the owner of the restaurant owned similarly named restaurants. As a result of this confusion, the plaintiff ended up serving the correct owner of the restaurant, but he filed the complaint against one of the owner’s other restaurants. The owner responded that he would not be answering the complaint because it was filed against the wrong entity.

The plaintiff did not amend the complaint, and eventually a default judgment was entered against the restaurant where the injury had not occurred. The owner of the restaurants then responded, claiming that the proper party (the restaurant where the injury actually occurred) had never been served. The owner asked for the default judgment to be lifted.

Ultimately, the court did lift the default judgment because the plaintiff had not served the correct restaurant. The court explained that the owner had a reasonable excuse as to why he did not answer the complaint.

Wasted Time, Wasted Money

The court’s decision did not eliminate the plaintiff’s opportunity to obtain compensation for his injuries. In fact, after the court’s opinion, the case will next proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations. However, it is important to keep in mind that the plaintiff’s failure to name the proper party from the outset of the case resulted in additional delay and additional litigation. Thus, the plaintiff’s mistake ended up delaying any potential award he may receive, as well as reducing the total amount of any such award.

Have You Been Involved in a Georgia Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Georgia slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, determining the true owner of a business is crucial to the expedient resolution of your case. The skilled personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at McAleer Law have extensive experience handling Georgia personal injury cases, and we know all of the procedural rules that must be followed in order for our clients’ cases to be heard in an expedient manner. Call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney at McAleer Law today.

See More Posts:

Granny, Does Your Dog Bite?, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, April 12, 2017.

Long Arm of the Law Does Not Reach Far Enough For Man Who Lost Use of Arm After Cancer Surgery, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, March 31, 2017.

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