The NFIB Small Business Legal Center jas filed an amicus brief asking the Georgia Supreme Court to uphold a state law outlining how blame — and damages — must be assigned in civil cases.
“Having clear, simple to understand, and easy to implement rules for the distribution of fault in tort lawsuits is of utmost importance (to Georgia’s small businesses),” the Legal Center writes in its amicus brief. “Application of apportionment rules consistently and uniformly across cases brings a semblance of predictability to litigation, allowing companies to accurately and effectively plan for potential adverse verdicts.”
The brief was filed in the appeal of Atlanta Women’s Specialists LLC v. Keith Trabue. The appeal stems from a $45.8 million medical malpractice verdict over a Georgia woman’s profound brain damage following childbirth. In the case, the jury found that two doctors had violated the woman’s standard of care but failed to apportion fault between the two.
Georgia law says defendants can be held liable to a plaintiff only for damages attributable to them. By declining to apportion fault between the doctors, the lower court’s opinion “ignores the clear mandate” of the Georgia statute, the Legal Center writes in its amicus brief. “The apportionment statute requires that finders of fact apportion fault between each liable tortfeasor.”
“The situation at the center of this lawsuit is heartbreaking, but we believe the lower courts’ error in apportioning fault sets a bad precedent,” said Nathan Humphrey, the National Federation of Independent Business’ state director for Georgia. “This isn’t a question of whether defendants should pay damages instead we are just asking the court to uphold the statute that spells out how juries are supposed to decide how much each defendant in a case is held to blame.”
The NFIB Small Business Legal Center is the voice of small business in the nation’s courts and the legal resource for small-business owners nationwide. To learn more, visit www.NFIB.com/legal and follow @NFIBlegal on Twitter.