Georgia Court of Appeals Reiterates that Notice Pleading Is a “Forgiving” Standard

By Andre T. Tennille III

“The forgiving notice pleading standard of O.C.G.A. § 9-11-8 … is ‘the starting point of a simplified pleading system, which was adopted to focus litigation on the merits of a claim.’”1

In Oller v. Rockdale Hospital, LLC, the Georgia Court of Appeals applied that “forgiving” standard, holding that an amended expert affidavit filed after the statute of limitations related back to a timely renewal complaint.2

In holding that the affidavit related back, the court distinguished Thomas v. Medical Center of Central Georgia.3 The plaintiff in Thomas, unlike the plaintiffs here, attempted to add nurses a new class of professionals even though the complaint only mentioned doctors.

Several judges concurred, explaining that even if the amended affidavit hadn’t related back, the Georgia Civil Practice Act allows for initial theories of liability to be amended “freely.”

The concurrence also rejected the medical practice’s argument that “every theory of vicarious liability against it … must include each treating physician’s name.” “[T]hat is not how notice pleading works,” the concurrence explained. “[T]he idea [i]s not to keep litigants out of court but rather to keep them in.”4

About the Author

Andre T. Tennille III is an attorney at Ken Hodges Law LLC, specializing in constitutional law, business litigation, and appellate practice. The opinions in this article are his not the firm’s.

Footnotes

1 Oller v. Rockdale Hosp., LLC No. A17A1208, at 3 (Aug. 14, 2017) (Dillard, C.J., concurring) (quoting Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506 (2002)).

2 See generally No. A17A1208 (majority opinion).

3 286 Ga. App. 147 (2007).

4 Oller, No. A17A1208, at 3 n.6 (Dillard, C.J., concurring) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 575 (2007) (Stevens, J., dissenting).

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