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This Week at the Court

November 18, 2013

After releasing opinions this morning, the Supreme Court of Georgia will be hearing one day of oral argument this week, in a special session at Mercer Law School in Macon tomorrow. Both cases being argued are within the scope of our coverage and are discussed below. Briefs in both cases are available through Mercer’s website.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 10:00 am Special Sitting

S13A1650 Danforth v. Apple Inc.

This case involves the use of Georgia’s workplace violence statute against a former employee of the Apple store at Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta. Catherine Danforth began working at the Apple Store in August 2011 after having been diagnosed with a variety of different mental illnesses over the course of her life. After working at the store for a year, Apple fired Danforth for inappropriate verbal outbursts and displays of extreme emotion in front of customers. Several months after firing Danforth, Apple sought an injunction under Georgia’s workplace violence prevention statute (OCGA 34-1-7), claiming that Danforth was stalking its employees, sending long emails, leaving disturbing voicemails, and showing up at the store despite being asked not to do so. Following a hearing, a Cobb County Superior Court judge issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Danforth from entering any Apple store for a period of three years or having any contact with Apple employees. Danforth appealed.

The case will be heard on November 19, 2013.


This case began when Hartley was arrested on a variety of charges as a result of arrest warrants sought by Agnes Scott College police officers based on a student’s complaint. The District Attorney later dropped all the charges and Hartley sued the college and the police officers for false arrest and other claims, alleging they failed to make a reasonable investigation. Hartley asserts that a reasonable investigation would have demonstrated she was not even in the state at the time of the alleged assault. Agnes Scott College and the officers moved to dismiss, claiming that the officers were law enforcement officers acting within the scope of their official duty and thus entitled to official immunity as state officers or employees. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, finding that the campus police were not state officers or state employees who would be entitled to official immunity.

The Court of Appeals granted the application for interlocutory appeal and reversed the trial court ruling in a 4-3 decision (Ray, Andrews, Branch, concurring; Boggs, concurring in judgment only; Miller, Phipps, Doyle, dissenting). The majority found that the Campus Policemen Act makes officers employed by private colleges who meet the requirements “law enforcement officers” for purposes of official immunity. The officers in this case were acting to enforce the laws of the state and thus were state officers for purposes of official immunity. The minority would have found the statutory language excludes employees of private entities from the definition of state employees or officers entitled to official immunity.

On September 9, 2013, the Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari in a 4-3 vote(Thompson, Hines, and Melton dissenting) to consider the following issue:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals err in ruling that the campus police officers in this case qualify as State officers or employees within the meaning of OCGA § 51-21-22 (7)?

The case will be heard on November 19, 2013.


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