Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia personal injury case that arose after an accident that occurred in the Dominican Republic. The case required the court to determine if the lower court correctly held that the case should be transferred from Georgia, where the plaintiff filed the lawsuit, to the Dominican Republic. Finding that Georgia’s out-of-state venue statute only applied to cases that were being transferred to other states, the court denied the defendant’s request to transfer the case.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was vacationing in the Dominican Republic when she was injured while on a zip-line course. Evidently, one of the zip-lines collapsed while the plaintiff was on the course.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the operator of the course. Because the defendant corporation was based out of Georgia, the plaintiff – who was from Michigan – filed the case in Georgia. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the “balance of private and public factors” weighed in favor of transferring the case to the Dominican Republic. Relying on OCGA § 9-10-31.1, the trial court agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s case so that it could be refiled in the Dominican Republic. The plaintiff appealed.
As a general matter, a plaintiff can choose where to file a personal injury case, as long as the chosen court has jurisdiction over the defendant. However, under OCGA § 9-10-31.1, lawmakers have provided for the transfer of cases that would “more properly be heard in a forum outside” of Georgia. A court cannot dismiss a case under OCGA § 9-10-31.1 unless all defendants in the case “waive the right to assert a statute of limitations defense in all other states of the United States.” Thus, in the event the court decides to transfer the case, the delay in time will not prejudice a plaintiff.
The Court’s Decision
Here, the court read the plain language of the statute to allow cases only to be transferred to other “states.” The court looked specifically at subsection (b), which contains the requirement that the defendants agree to “waive the right to assert a statute of limitations defense in all other states of the United States.” The court held that this language contemplates only a transfer to other states, and not to a jurisdiction out of the country. If the legislative intent was to allow transfer out of the country, the court explained that subsection (b) would not have contained language referring to “all other states.”
The court went on to note that its holding does not necessarily mean that there is no appropriate method to transfer the case, only that it cannot be done under OCGA § 9-10-31.1.
Have You Been Injured in an Accident Outside of Georgia?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an accident that occurred outside of Georgia, but that involved a Georgia business or resident, you may be able to pursue a Georgia personal injury claim. At McAleer Law, we have extensive experience representing clients and their families in all types of Georgia personal injury cases, and are prepared to fight for your right to bring the case in your home state of Georgia. To learn more, call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation today.
See More Posts:
Court Considers Whether Traumatic Boat Accident is Sufficient to Recover Emotional Damages Under Georgia’s Impact Rule, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, January 31, 2019.
Georgia Car Accidents Involving Inexperienced Drivers, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, January 14, 2019.