Beauparlant v. Aiken, A21A1255

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Writing for the CourtPipkin, Judge.
Citation362 Ga.App. 341,868 S.E.2d 482
Parties BEAUPARLANT v. AIKEN et al.
Docket NumberA21A1255
Decision Date25 January 2022

362 Ga.App. 341
868 S.E.2d 482

BEAUPARLANT
v.
AIKEN et al.

A21A1255

Court of Appeals of Georgia.

January 25, 2022


868 S.E.2d 483

Colin Andrew Barron, Norcross, for Appellant.

Kimberly Cofer Butler, Kristin Anne Massee, for Appellee.

Pipkin, Judge.

362 Ga.App. 341

The trial court granted a motion to dismiss filed by Appellee Tara Freyermuth Aiken after concluding that Appellant Deborah Beauparlant filed her complaint shortly before the expiration of the statute of limitation but that she thereafter failed to use reasonable diligence to perfect service after the limitation period had run.1 We agree with Appellant that the trial court failed to properly consider the various orders issued as part of the Statewide Judicial Emergency and, consequently, erroneously calculated the applicable statute of limitation. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.

While the grant of a motion to dismiss for untimely service is generally reviewed for abuse of discretion, see, e.g., Baxley v. Baldwin , 279 Ga. App. 480, 482 (3), 631 S.E.2d 506 (2006), this appeal requires

362 Ga.App. 342

us to review the undisputed facts to determine the applicable statute of limitation; this is a question of law that we review de novo. See Harrison v. McAfee , 338 Ga. App. 393, 395 (2), 788 S.E.2d 872 (2016).

On June 11, 2018, Appellant was driving through a private parking lot in Pooler, Georgia, when she collided with a vehicle driven by Appellee; Appellant claims that, as a result of the collision, she "sustain[ed] multiple injuries to her body, requiring extensive and subsequent medical treatment." Appellant filed the instant action on June 2, 2020, and served Appellee with the complaint on August 9, 2020.

On October 8, 2020, Appellee answered and moved to dismiss,2 arguing that Appellant failed "to timely serve [Appellee] within the applicable statute of limitation." In her supporting brief, Appellee averred that the complaint was filed just days before the expiration of the statute of limitation but that Appellant failed to exercise due diligence in perfecting service after the limitation period had run; according to Appellee, Appellant was guilty of laches and the complaint was due to be dismissed. Appellee also argued that Appellant's action was not saved by the various tolling provisions included in the orders issued by the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court as part of the Statewide Judicial Emergency. In response, Appellant argued that the applicable statute of limitation had, in fact, been tolled and that, even if it had not, she had acted in a reasonably diligent manner in attempting to serve Appellee; Appellant also asserted that Appellee's motion to dismiss was frivolous and moved the trial court to award attorney fees under OCGA § 51-7-81. The trial court adopted Appellee's position and granted the motion,3 giving rise to this appeal.

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