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Georgia Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment in Double-Fatality Case

June 13, 2018 BY DEF Admin

Andrew Horowitz recently received a favorable ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals on behalf of a guardrail-installation contractor in a case stemming from a horrific highway accident on Interstate 75 in which two motorists were killed.  The accident occurred when the motorists’ vehicle was pushed off the highway into the median area, where it struck a concrete pier, killing the motorists instantly.  Their daughter and estate subsequently sued the guardrail contractor, which had recently installed a stretch of guardrail alongside the concrete pier, alleging that the installation violated applicable regulations as it was too short.

In affirming summary judgment to the guardrail contractor, the Court of Appeals held that Georgia’s acceptance doctrine insulated the contractor against tort liability stemming from its previous work.  That doctrine generally provides that contractors have no tort liability for accidents, claims, or damages that occur after the owner accepts their completed work.  Here, the accident occurred nearly 10 months after the Georgia Department of Transportation accepted the guardrail work and reclaimed control over the project area.  Consequently, the Court of Appeals determined that the guardrail contractor was not responsible for the accident, even if the guardrail were in fact too short.  The Court of Appeals appeared to have been further persuaded by the undisputed evidence that the contractor played no role in the project’s design.

The case had spanned nearly 5 years, involved roughly 20 depositions, and included an unsuccessful mediation in which Plaintiff demanded a 7-figure settlement.

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Mr. Horowitz focuses his practice in civil tort litigation and represents individuals, corporations and insurance companies in state and federal courts. His practice includes an emphasis on general tort and insurance litigation, construction, and products liability law.

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