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May 3, 2022

Blinded By The Light? Georgia Court of Appeals Says Commercial Greenhouse Light Not A Nuisance

In Kempton v. Southern Flavor Real Estate, L.P.[1], the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed a summary judgment order in favor of a commercial greenhouse operator and against a residential neighbor’s claim of nuisance due to excess light emitted from the greenhouse. The greenhouse business was located on rural land zoned for agricultural use. The greenhouse used automated lights mounted near the glass roof and pointed down toward the floor. A significant amount of the light reflected upward and was emitted through the roof. The neighbor owned the adjoining land with a house located about 1,000 feet from the greenhouse. The… Read more


Apr 19, 2022

Georgia General Assembly Passes HB 478: Establishes Daubert Evidentiary Standard in Georgia Criminal Cases

On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, the Georgia General Assembly passed HB 478 to extend the Daubert evidentiary standard for expert testimony in Georgia to criminal prosecutions. The move to adopt Daubert for criminal matters was motivated, in part, by the need for insightful discussion into the validity of expert testimony in criminal cases and the need for consistency across civil and criminal proceedings in Georgia.[1] Undoubtedly, the passage of HB 478 is timely and important. The benefits of this bill would upgrade Georgia’s criminal jurisprudence and make the State’s expert witness standards consistent. The Daubert standard (embodied in O.C.G.A. §… Read more


Apr 14, 2022

Is Your Product Really “Made in the USA?” The FTC is Asking.

Authored by: Amy E. Buice and Wm. Parker Sanders The FTC is serious about enforcing the Made in USA Labeling Rule. On April 12, 2022, the DOJ, on behalf of the FTC, sued Lithionics Battery LLC and its owner, Steve Tartaglia, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida for allegedly falsely representing that its lithium ion cells are made in the United States.[1] It brought its action under the Made in the USA Labeling Rule and Section 5 of the FTC Act. The Made in the USA Labeling Rule, which took effect on August 13,… Read more


Mar 8, 2022

Rescission of Agreement Defeats Arbitration Clause

Authored by: Marcia M. Ernst The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the district court’s denial of a defendant’s motion to compel arbitration because the parties had mutually rescinded the settlement agreement containing the arbitration clause. In Reiterman v. Abid,[1] a law school admissions test prep teacher sued a former student in 2018, claiming she had defamed him by creating anonymous blogposts that accused him of sexually assaulting multiple women.[2] The former student denied involvement in the internet smear campaign, and the teacher and student entered into a settlement agreement in the summer of 2018. The settlement agreement included… Read more


Feb 10, 2022

Use of Signal Jammer to Prevent Employees from Using their Phones at Work Results in FCC Fine

Authored By: Marcia M. Ernst  While the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) previously upheld an employer policy that prohibited employee phone use at work for safety and security reasons[1], the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) recently upheld a fine against an employer for using a signal jamming device to prevent employees from using their phones at work.[2] Signal jammers, which overpower, block, or interfere with authorized radio frequencies and communications, are illegal under the federal Communications Act of 1934, as amended (“Act”)[3], with only a few exceptions recognized for use by the government. Jammers present a direct danger to public safety… Read more


Feb 1, 2022

SB 329 and HB 961 Introduced in the Georgia General Assembly to Address Court Ruling Barring Apportionment of Damages in Single Defendant Cases

Authored By: Marcia M. Ernst In Alston & Bird, LLP v. Hatcher Management Holdings, LLC, 862 S.E.2d 295 (Ga. 2021), the Georgia Supreme Court limited the apportionment of fault in tort cases. As reported in SGR’s Appellate Blog, the Court ruled that O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33(b) allowed the apportionment of fault among persons who are liable (parties and non-parties) only in a multi-defendant case. In other words, where a case is brought against only a single defendant, no fault can be apportioned to responsible non-parties and the defendant must pay 100 percent of the damages, less any percentage of fault attributed… Read more


Jan 25, 2022

There is No Common-Law Right to Boot a Vehicle in Georgia: Booting a Car is Not the Same as Corralling Livestock

Authored by: Marcia M. Ernst In the case of RCC Wesley Chapel Crossing, LLC et al. v. Forrest Allen et al., the Georgia Supreme Court addressed whether a common-law right exists to allow a private property owner to boot a vehicle parked on its property without permission. Booting is the practice of immobilizing a vehicle until the owner pays to have the immobilization device removed. Plaintiff sued the owner-operator of a parking lot and the commercial tenants of the connected shopping center claiming negligence, premises liability, false imprisonment, conversion, and violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act… Read more


Jun 29, 2021

Elizabeth Holmes: A Lesson in Attorney-Client Privilege

Joint Employer Rule

When an attorney works with a company, either in-house or as outside counsel, that attorney often wears many hats. They’ll attend meetings, be copied on all sorts of emails, and give both legal and business-related advice. Given this dynamic and the multiple lines and types of communication, employees may be confused about their relationship with corporate counsel and may mistakenly believe their communications are protected by attorney-client privilege. This confusion can lead to serious implications for the later invocation of the attorney-client privilege both for the company and the employee. Most recently, these blurred lines led to a loss of… Read more


Jun 4, 2021

The Importance of Follow-Up/Oversight on Contract Provisions

Companies should be aware that even when they have a written contract that spells out the parties’ responsibilities, e.g., pay rent monthly, they need to monitor compliance with those responsibilities.  Failure to do so – sloppy follow-up – can result in a “quasi-new agreement.” The Georgia Court of Appeals’ recent decision in The Hatchett Firm, P.C. v. Atlanta Life Financial Group, Inc., 358 Ga. App. 607 (2021), vividly illustrates this point.  In that case, a sublessee paid partial rent payments for ten months and no rent for 6 months.  The sublessor sued the subtenant for the unpaid past due rent… Read more


Mar 30, 2021

United States Supreme Court Unanimously Rejects a Causal Link Requirement in Specific Jurisdiction Inquiry

Ford Litigation

A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held in Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court that the connection between Ford’s activities in a forum state and products liability claims was “close enough” to support specific jurisdiction. The 8-0 decision (Justice Barrett not participating) rejected Ford’s arguments that the state courts lacked jurisdiction because Ford had not designed, manufactured, or sold the particular vehicles involved in the car accidents. The Montana Eighth Judicial District Court case was consolidated with Ford Motor Co. v. Bandemer. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court case involved a Ford Explorer that had originally been purchased in Washington that through subsequent repurchases… Read more