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Forthcoming Opinions

June 22, 2012

On Monday, June 25, 2012, the Supreme Court of Georgia will release opinions in 10 cases, two of which are civil within the scope of our coverage. Brief summaries of the cases are below and we will update on Monday with links to the opinions.

The Court next hears oral argument on Monday, July 9, 2012.

S10U1780. In Re Formal Advisory Opinion No. 86-1

Formal Advisory Opinion No. 86-1 was issued by the Georgia Supreme Court on December 17, 1987. The opinion advised that it was “ethically proper for a lawyer to serve simultaneously as a state legislator and a part-time solicitor,” while recognizing that conflicts could arise in particular cases.

On July 14, 2010, the State Bar petitioned for the withdrawal of the Formal Advisory Opinion. The Supreme Court treated the petition as a petition for discretionary review.

On November 7, 2011, the Supreme Court granted the petition for discretionary review and requested the Bar and interested parties address the following issues:

  1. Whether OCGA § 16-10-9 (a) (1) prohibits a lawyer-legislator from serving as a part-time solicitor.
  2. Whether Rule 1.16 (a) (1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct is comparable to former Standard 45 (e) and whether a lawyer would violate Rule 1.16 (a) (1) by serving as both a lawyer-legislator and a part-time solicitor.
  3. Whether FAO No. 86-1 should be withdrawn.
No oral argument was held on this matter.

S12Q0631. WHITE v. STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY

This is the case began when White submitted a claim to State Farm for theft of more than $135,000 in personal property from his home in January 2008. State Farm denied the claim after determining that White misrepresented information in filing his claim. In June 2009, White filed a complaint against State Farm, which State Farm removed to federal court. State Farm filed for summary judgment based on the one-year limitation period in the policy. White responded that the one-year limitation period violates Georgia law, primarily a regulation which provides for a two-year period for commencing a claim after the date of loss. State Farm argued the regulation was invalid under the state constitution.

The federal district court ruled that the one-year provision of the policy violated Georgia statutes pertaining to fire coverage, but not regarding theft-related damage, granting summary judgment to State Farm. The district court did not rule on the validity of the regulation and White appealed.

The Eleventh Circuit certified the following questions to the Supreme Court of Georgia:

  1. Did the Georgia Insurance Commissioner act within his legal authority when he promulgated Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 120-2-20-.02, such that a multiple-line insurance policy providing first-party insurance coverage for theft-related property damage must be reformed to conform with the two-year limitation period provided for in Georgia’s Standard Fire Policy, Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 120-2-19-.01?
  2. Is this action barred by the Policy’s one-year limitation period?

No oral argument was held on this case.

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