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New Grants of Petitions for Certiorari in Civil Cases – February 10, 2010

February 10, 2010

The Supreme Court of Georgia has granted a petition for certiorari in one new civil case in the last week.

S10G0084. Robinson et al. v. Boyd

This case began from an automobile accident, but now involves key questions on the ability of a plaintiff to revive an action after the statute of limitations has run, particularly after failing to serve the opposing party in a timely manner.  Boyd filed a pro se action against Robinson and another defendant on the day the statute of limitations ran after the accident, February 22, 2002.  But Boyd did not even attempt to serve the defendants until more than four years later, on December 28, 2006.  After service was perfected in February 2007, Boyd dismissed the case from Cobb County Superior Court and re-filed it in Fulton County Superior Court as a renewal action.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants, finding the action was barred by the equitable doctrine of laches because Boyd’s delay had prejudiced the ability of the defendants to defend themselves.

The Court of Appeals (Johnson, Ellington, and Mikell) unanimously reversed the trial court’s determination, in a somewhat-grudging opinion noting the “unjust result” in the case.  The Court of Appeals concluded it was compelled to follow Supreme Court precedent, indicating that as long as service was perfected before the case was dismissed and refiled, the only question for review was the service on the renewal action.  The Court of Appeals also found the doctrine of laches could not apply to legal actions.

The Supreme Court unanimously granted certiorari on February 8, 2010 to review the following question:

  1. Whether the Court of Appeals correctly applied Hobbs v. Arthur, 264 Ga. 359 (1994)?

The case will be assigned to the May 2010 oral argument calendar.

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