Elissa Haynes is a Partner and Chair of the Appellate Practice Group at Drew Eckl & Farnham where she specializes in both trial and appellate practice. Elissa’s trial practice is focused primarily on defending claims involving negligent security, premises liability, personal/catastrophic injuries, wrongful death, and religious institution liability. She has served as both lead and solo counsel in jury trials throughout the state, many of which have ended in defense verdicts. Her background as a former plaintiff’s personal injury attorney provides her with a unique perspective and leverage to successfully resolve even the most complex cases.
As for her appellate practice, Elissa has argued before the Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals and was part of the first group of attorneys to argue at the Georgia Supreme Court remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Elissa routinely consults on appellate matters and often begins her involvement at the trial court level to perfect the record and maximize chances of an advantageous result in any subsequent appeal. She also serves as Chair of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association’s Amicus Curiae Committee where she is tasked with reviewing amicus requests from GDLA members as well as authoring and submitting briefs on issues that pose particular significance to the defense bar.
In addition to chairing the Appellate Practice Group, Elissa also serves as Chair of the firm’s Retail and Hospitality Team. Outside of the firm, Elissa serves as President of the State Bar of Georgia’s Young Lawyers Division (“YLD”). She is also a graduate of the 2016 YLD Leadership Academy and previously served as Chair of the YLD Appellate Admissions and Legislative Affairs Committees. Additionally, Elissa has been recognized as a Georgia Super Lawyer Rising Star for 2019, 2020, and 2021, an award given to only 2.5% of attorneys under the age of 40.
Elissa received her J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and her B.A. from the University of Georgia where she graduated cum laude. In law school, Elissa was an active member of the Moot Court Program, winning first place and the award for “Best Oral Argument” at the Tulane Sports Law Competition and later serving on the Executive Moot Court Board. Elissa was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia and currently resides in Chamblee.
The following is a representative sampling from the past three years:
- Row Equipment, Inc. v. Terex USA, LLC, 2021 WL 2137599 (11th Cir.) – Successfully defended a global manufacturer in an Eleventh Circuit appeal following a defense verdict in the Southern District of Georgia involving Plaintiff’s allegations of improper exclusion of expert witness testimony, the District Court’s grant of Defendant’s Rule 50 motion as to unconscionability of a contract, and failure to give a specific jury charge.
- Creek House Seafood & Grill, LLC v. Provatas, 358 Ga. App. 727 (2020) – Successfully defended a Savannah restaurant in an appeal involving spoliation sanctions. Elissa briefed and argued the appeal before the Georgia Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial court’s imposition of spoliation sanctions in a wrongful death premises liability case.
- ABH Corp. et al. v. Montgomery, 356 Ga. 703 (2020) – Obtained reversal of trial court’s summary judgment denial in a negligent security case involving an attack in the parking lot of an Atlanta convenience store. The Georgia Court of Appeals acknowledged that the plaintiff’s own equal knowledge of crime likewise barred his recovery.
- Alonzo Reid v. Lakenin Morris et al., 309 Ga. 230 (2020) (amicus curiae) – Co-authored amicus brief and successfully argued before the Supreme Court of Georgia on behalf of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association in an appeal challenging the constitutionality of the active tortfeasor limitation in Georgia’s punitive damages statute.
- Bolton v. Golden Business, Inc., 348 Ga. App. 761 (2019) – Successfully defended a convenience store owner in a negligent security case involving a deadly parking lot shooting. Elissa briefed and argued the appeal before the Georgia Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. The Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously denied Appellant’s Petition for Certiorari.
- In/Ex Systems Inc. v. Masud, 352 Ga. App. 722 (2019) (amicus curiae) – Reversal of trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for summary judgment where employee had no knowledge of unsafe condition that caused tire on employee’s vehicle to separate, as required to hold employer vicariously liable. The Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously denied Appellant’s Petition for Certiorari.
- James Lancaster v. Shumate Mechanical, LLC et al., Case No. A17A1882 (2018) – Served as lead appellate counsel in an appeal affirming the trial court’s exclusion of evidence of Plaintiff’s retirement benefits.
- Successfully set aside a quarter million dollar default judgment in a premises liability case involving disputes as to proper service on a corporate defendant.
- Obtained defense verdict while serving as first chair during a disputed liability car accident jury trial in DeKalb County (July 2019)
- Obtained defense verdict during first solo jury trial in a disputed liability car accident case in Fulton County (August 2019).
- Succeeded on Daubert motion to exclude Plaintiff’s expert in a negligent security case involving a physical altercation between two motorcycle club members.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of restaurant in premises liability case involving a patron’s fall from a chair.
- Obtained summary judgment in favor of restaurant in dram shop action.