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New Grants of Petitions for Certiorari

July 29, 2010

As pointed out by commenter Charles Cork, the Supreme Court’s website had not been updating with several new grants of petitions for certiorari through the month of July.  A brief summary of the four new grants of certiorari in civil cases is below.

S10G1027. JOHNSON et al. v. RLI INSURANCE COMPANY

This case originated in Walker County against multiple defendants, and J&N Holdings attempted to file a direct appeal from a trial court order dismissing one of the many defendants in the case.

The Court of Appeals dismissed the direct appeal, because it found that when a decision by a trial court adjudicates less than all the claims of all parties, there is no final judgment.  Without a final judgment, any direct appeal is premature.

On July 14, 2010, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in a 5-2 vote (Thompson and Hines dissenting) to consider the following issue:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals err by dismissing Petitioners’ direct appeal?

The Court assigned the case to the October oral argument calendar.

S10G0619. SAPP et al. v. CANAL INSURANCE COMPANY

This case is a declaratory judgment action filed by an insurer to determine its liability under an insurance policy.  Canal Insurance Company issued an insurance policy to EDB Trucking with a specific provision that coverage was limited to a 50-mile radius around Tifton.  An EDB Trucking dump truck was involved in a wreck with Pamela Sapp outside of that radius.  Canal moved for summary judgment that it was not liable for damages from the accident because it occurred outside its limitation of use area.  The trial court granted summary judgment, finding that the insurance contract was clear and unambiguous.

The Court of Appeals (Johnson, Ellington, Mikell) unanimously affirmed the trial court’s ruling, finding that the language provided for the limitation, and the arguments that the motor carrier rules made the policy apply were not supported in this case.

On July 12, 2010, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in a 5-2 vote (Hines and Thompson, dissenting) to consider the following issues:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals err in holding that an insurance policy is not subject to the Motor Carrier Act if the policyholder fails to file for a permit under the Act and the policy does not contain a Form F endorsement, without regard to whether both parties knew, or should have known, that the policy should have been issued as a motor carrier policy subject to the Act?
  2. Did the Court of Appeals err in relying on the absence of a transcript of the hearing on the motion for summary judgment to assume that the trial court had an adequate evidentiary basis for its findings?.
  3. Did the Court of Appeals err in holding that the 50-mile radius-of-use limitation in the automobile insurance policy was valid as not in violation of public policy?

The Court assigned the case to the October oral argument calendar.

S10G1142. MCG HEALTH, INC. v. OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY

This case originated from a car accident.  Braxton Morgan was injured in an accident by an insured of Owners Insurance Company.  He received treatment by MCG Health, Inc.  Morgan was an active duty soldier at the time of his injury, but MCG Health did not bill TRICARE for Morgan’s medical treatment, but instead filed a hospital lien against Morgan.  Morgan then settled with Owners, and MCG Health instituted an action against Owners to collect the lien, and Owners filed a third-party claim against Morgan.  Morgan moved to dismiss the claim and the trial court treated the motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment and granted Morgan’s motion to dismiss the complaint.

The Court of Appeals (Doyle, Blackburn, Adams) unanimously affirmed the trial court’s ruling, finding that the right to file a hospital lien under OCGA 44-14-740 attaches not to the individual, but to the causes of action the individual might have.  The Court of Appeals also found that MCG Health was correct that the TRICARE contract was binding, but that the lien was still invalid because there was no underlying debt.  The court noted that the issue of whether an underlying debt was required to make a hospital lien valid was previously undecided, and applied the rules of statutory interpretation to arrive at its conclusion.

On July 12, 2010, the Supreme Court unanimously granted certiorari to consider the following issue:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals correctly interpret OCGA Section 44-14-470 to require an underlying debt that is the obligation of the patient?

The Court assigned the case to the October oral argument calendar.

S10G0877. ROSENBERG v. FALLING WATER, INC.

This case resulted from a collapsed deck in Cobb County.  Rosenberg had purchased the house after it was constructed in 1994.  In August 2005, the deck collapsed and Rosenberg sued the builder for negligent construction and fraud.  The builder argued that the eight-year statute on claims arising from deficient construction applied.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the builder based on the statute of repose, implicitly ruling that even if the builder committed fraud in 1994, that fraud did not estop the builder from relying on the statute of repose 11 years later.

The Court of Appeals (Ellington, Johnson, Mikell) unanimously affirmed the trial court’s ruling, finding that a statute of repose cannot be tolled and the doctrine of equitable estoppel did not apply.

On July 9, 2010, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in a 4-3 vote (Hunstein, Benham, and Hines, dissenting) to consider the following issue:

  1. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the defendant was not equitably estopped from relying on the statute of repose to defeat a construction defect claim.

The Court assigned the case to the October oral argument calendar.

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One Comment
  1. J. Clifford Head permalink
    July 29, 2010 10:32 am

    The Supremes also snuck an opinion by you late last Friday.

    http://www.gasupreme.us/sc-op/pdf/s10a0258.pdf

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