Verdict - Summer 2017 - 26

Criminal attack premises liability cases remain a difficult area of law in Georgia.
The mixed question of law and fact posed by proximate causation is one of the
many thorny issues for the trial attorney.
avoid the consequences of the defendant's

Jackson is a good reminder that "undispu-

damages sustained, our "law of the case"

alleged negligence." In so doing, the Court

table" is a high bar and that when it comes to

doctrine will in most instances preclude

of Appeals reversed the trial court finding

facts, it is better to have them and not need

the re-litigation of these issues once the

several questions of fact for a jury:

them than to need them and not have them.

jury's verdict on them has been affirmed. 8

* Did the plaintiff improperly use the window

This recent pronouncement by the Georgia

locks and thumbscrews in her apartment

APPORTIONMENT

Supreme Court confirms that a jury's findings

on the night of her rape?

Apportionment in criminal attack premises

of liability and calculation of damages may not

liability cases has been the norm for more

be undone by the latest trend in protracted

than a decade in Georgia, but the appel-

litigation and appellate practice.

* Should the plaintiff have reported some
alleged defect in her window locks?
* Did the plaintiff's knowledge that her win-

late courts' weighing in on the application

Criminal attack premises liability cases

dows were "flimsy" preclude the defen-

of apportionment is far from complete.

remain a difficult area of law in Georgia.

dant's liability?

Importantly, the Supreme Court's recent

The mixed question of law and fact posed

* Was the plaintiff's move to a ground floor

decision in Martin v. Six Flags drew a bright

by proximate causation is one of the many

apartment from an upper level apartment

line between the jury's tasks of determining

thorny issues for the trial attorney. Without a

despite her knowledge of the risk of a crimi-

liability and the total amount of damages,

doubt, criminal attack premises liability cases

nal attack on the ground floor a failure to

and the jury's task of apportioning fault to

require the victim's attorney to have a passion

exercise ordinary care for her own safety?

non-parties.

for the facts. ●

Unlike the assessment of the plaintiff's

Warren R. Hinds, P.C.
"an Attorney's Attorney"

relative fault-which, if greater than or

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

equal to 50 percent of total fault, will pre-

The Crime Victim Law Group is the Atlanta-

clude the plaintiff's recovery altogether,

based law firm of Deitch & Rogers, LLC consist-

see O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33 (g)-the assess-

ing of attorneys Gilbert Deitch, Andrew Rogers,

ment of fault among tortfeasors will in

Michael D'Antignac and Kara Phillips. Their

most if not all cases have no impact on

mission is to obtain justice for crime victims

the jury's finding of liability or on the total

by obtaining money damages from negligent

amount of damages to which the plaintiff

parties who fail to take reasonable steps to

is entitled. Accordingly, relative fault

prevent criminal attacks.

among tortfeasors will not in all cases
be "inextricably joined" with the issues

ENDNOTES

of liability and damages so as to preclude

1 Atlanta Obstetrics & Gynecology Group v. Coleman, 260
Ga. 569 (1990).
2 Six Flags Over Georgia II, L.P. v. Martin, 335 Ga. App. 350
at 362 (overruled on other grounds in Martin v. Six Flags
Over Georgia II, L.P. et al, 2017 Ga. LEXIS 454 (June 5,
2017) see fn. 6 "Though Six Flags challenged the jury's
finding of proximate cause on direct appeal, the Court
of Appeals affirmed that finding, and we declined to
grant certiorari on that issue.")
3 Martin v. Six Flags Over Georgia II, L.P. et al, 2017 Ga.
LEXIS 454, *10 (June 5, 2017) citing Sturbridge Partners,
Inc., v. Walker, 267 Ga. 785, 786 (1997) (emphasis
in original).
4 Six Flags Over Georgia II, L.P., at 362 (emphasis
in original).
5 Id., at 363 (emphasis in original).
6 Jackson v. Post Props., 236 Ga. App. 701, 702 (1999) citing
Lau's Corp. v. Haskins, 261 Ga. 491, 493 (2) and Bishop v.
Mangal Bhai Enterprises, 194 Ga. App. 874, 875 (2) (1990).
7 Martin, 2017 Ga. LEXIS 454, *32.
8 Martin, 2017 Ga. LEXIS 454, *32-33 citing O.C.G.A.
§ 9-11-60 (h) (emphasis in original).

a retrial on apportionment only. 7
Upholding the jury's damages verdict in

"He who is his own lawyer
has a fool for a client."
ŒDEFENSE OF BAR COMPLAINTS
ŒLEGAL MALPRACTICE
ŒETHICS CONSULTATION
1303 Macy Dr.
Roswell, GA 30076
Call (770) 993-1414
www.warrenhindslaw.com
26 Georgia
869183_Warren.indd
1

Trial Lawyers Association
5/11/17 4:12 AM

Martin, the court concluded,
In sum, and as a general matter, where
correction of an apportionment error
involves only the identification of tortfeasors and assessment of relative
shares of fault among them, there is no
sound reason to disturb the jury's findings on liability or its calculation of damages sustained by the plaintiff.
[...]
In fact, where the issue of apportionment
is distinct from the issues of liability and


http://www.warrenhindslaw.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Summer 2017

President’s Message
Don’t Stop Fighting: Overcoming Obstacles Leads to Record Verdict in Camden County
Amazing Things Happen When Women Get Involved!
AAJ Addresses Top Concerns with Congress
Pro Bono Representation: A Bond Forged between a Naval Officer and Trial Lawyer
3 Tips for Defeating Daubert Motions
Common Issues to Stay on Guard in Cases Involving Tortious Security Officers
The Confusing Question of Causation in Criminal Attack Premises Liability Cases
Technology: Notetaking for the Digital Lawyer
New Lawyers’ Corner: 6 Questions for Verdict
Pope Langdale: Community Investments for a Cause
Case Updates: Federal Employees Health Benefits Act of 1959
Workers’ Comp: Standard of Review — “Any Evidence” Rule
Thank You, Civil Justice PAC Contributors!
GTLA Champion Members
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Index to Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Intro
Verdict - Summer 2017 - cover1
Verdict - Summer 2017 - cover2
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 3
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 4
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 5
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 6
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 7
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 8
Verdict - Summer 2017 - President’s Message
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Don’t Stop Fighting: Overcoming Obstacles Leads to Record Verdict in Camden County
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 11
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Amazing Things Happen When Women Get Involved!
Verdict - Summer 2017 - AAJ Addresses Top Concerns with Congress
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Pro Bono Representation: A Bond Forged between a Naval Officer and Trial Lawyer
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 15
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 3 Tips for Defeating Daubert Motions
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 17
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Common Issues to Stay on Guard in Cases Involving Tortious Security Officers
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 19
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 20
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 21
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 22
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 23
Verdict - Summer 2017 - The Confusing Question of Causation in Criminal Attack Premises Liability Cases
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 25
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 26
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 27
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Technology: Notetaking for the Digital Lawyer
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 29
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 30
Verdict - Summer 2017 - New Lawyers’ Corner: 6 Questions for Verdict
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 32
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 33
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Pope Langdale: Community Investments for a Cause
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 35
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Case Updates: Federal Employees Health Benefits Act of 1959
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 37
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Workers’ Comp: Standard of Review — “Any Evidence” Rule
Verdict - Summer 2017 - 39
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Thank You, Civil Justice PAC Contributors!
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Welcome New GTLA Members!
Verdict - Summer 2017 - Index to Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Verdict - Summer 2017 - cover3
Verdict - Summer 2017 - cover4
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