Crane Composites, Inc. v. Wayne Farms, LLC, No. S14A1680.

CourtSupreme Court of Georgia
Writing for the CourtTHOMPSON, Chief Justice.
Citation296 Ga. 271,765 S.E.2d 921
PartiesCRANE COMPOSITES, INC. v. WAYNE FARMS, LLC et al.
Docket NumberNo. S14A1680.
Decision Date17 November 2014

296 Ga. 271
765 S.E.2d 921

CRANE COMPOSITES, INC.
v.
WAYNE FARMS, LLC et al.

No. S14A1680.

Supreme Court of Georgia.

Nov. 17, 2014.


765 S.E.2d 922

Edward McDowell Newsom, Miller & Martin PLLC, Robert B. Wedge, Smith Moore Leatherwood, LLP, Atlanta, for appellant.

Nels Stefan David Peterson, Sol.-Gen., Samuel S. Olens, Atty. Gen., Jessica Eileen Sabbath, William Lloyd Durham, II, King & Spalding, LLP, Steven Gordon Hall, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, Atlanta, Hobart M. Hind, Jr., Butler Pappas Weihmuller Katz Craig, LLP, Tampa, Jefferson C. McConnaughey, Michael A. McKenzie, Cozen O'Connor, Atlanta, for appellees.

Opinion

THOMPSON, Chief Justice.

296 Ga. 271

The question for decision in this case is whether OCGA § 9–11–68, a tort reform, fee-shifting statute, can be applied to a negligence action in which the injury occurred prior to the effective date of the statute, but in which the action was filed after that date. We answer this question affirmatively and, in so doing, we overrule L.P. Gas Industrial Equipment Co. v. Burch, 306 Ga.App. 156, 701 S.E.2d 602 (2010).

Wayne Farms owned and operated a chicken processing plant in Oakwood, Georgia. A fire broke out at the plant on May 19, 2003. Roughly three years later, Wayne Farms and its insurers filed suit against Crane Composites, Inc. (“Crane”), which manufactured interior panels used in the plant, alleging Crane's negligence caused the fire to spread extensively. In the meantime, the legislature enacted OCGA § 9–11–68(b)(1), which reads:

If a defendant makes an offer of settlement which is rejected by the plaintiff, the defendant shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney's fees and expenses of litigation incurred by the defendant or on the defendant's behalf from the date of the rejection of the offer of settlement through the entry of judgment if the final judgment is one of no liability
296 Ga. 272
or the final judgment obtained by the plaintiff is less than 75 percent of such offer of settlement.1

On March 4, 2009, in the midst of litigation, Crane made a formal offer of settlement for $500,000; appellees did not accept the offer within 30 days and it was deemed rejected.2 On May 30, 2012, a jury returned a verdict in Crane's favor, absolving Crane of liability. Crane then sought to recover attorney fees and costs from Wayne Farms. The trial court denied Crane's request, relying on L.P. Gas, supra, which held that OCGA § 9–11–68 could not be applied in a negligence case where the underlying injury occurred prior to the effective date of the statute. Crane appealed and an equally divided Court of Appeals transferred the case to this Court pursuant to Article VI, Section V, Paragraph V of the Georgia Constitution of 1983.

765 S.E.2d 923

In Fowler Properties v. Dowland, 282 Ga. 76, 646 S.E.2d 197 (2007), plaintiff sued defendants for damages she allegedly sustained as a result of a slip and fall in defendants' parking lot. The suit was filed in 2002. In 2005, following the enactment of OCGA § 9–11–68,...

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5 practice notes
  • Rosser v. Clyatt, A18A0843
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • November 2, 2018
    ...though some of the allegedly defamatory statements were made prior to July 1, 2016. See generally Crane Composites v. Wayne Farms, LLC , 296 Ga. 271, 273, 765 S.E.2d 921 (2014) ("[B]ecause the rights created by the statute pertain to the conduct of litigation, the statute is acting prospect......
  • New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC v. Ga. Dep't of Revenue, A16A2003
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • February 6, 2019
    ...284 (punctuation omitted); accord Harrell , 346 Ga. App. at 639 (2) (b), 816 S.E.2d 738.18 Crane Composites, Inc. v. Wayne Farms, LLC , 296 Ga. 271, 272, 765 S.E.2d 921 (2014) ; accord Enger v. Erwin , 245 Ga. 753, 754, 267 S.E.2d 25 (1980).19 Crane Composites , 296 Ga. at 272, 765 S.E.2d 9......
  • Chadwick v. Brazell, Nos. A14A2279
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • March 19, 2015
    ...Co. v. Burch, 306 Ga.App. 156, 157 n. 3, 701 S.E.2d 602 (2010), overruled on other grounds, Crane Composites, Inc. v. Wayne Farms, LLC, 296 Ga. 271, 765 S.E.2d 921 (2014).The record reveals that Chadwick made an offer of settlement in the amount of $200,000, and that Brazell rejected the of......
  • Bighams v. State, Nos. S14A1464
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • November 17, 2014
    ...motions for new trial more than seven years after the statutory deadline for such a 296 Ga. 270claim.4 And the trial court did not 765 S.E.2d 921grant an extension of that deadline. Appellants therefore waived their challenge to the indictment based on the composition of the grand jury. 3. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Rosser v. Clyatt, A18A0843
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • November 2, 2018
    ...though some of the allegedly defamatory statements were made prior to July 1, 2016. See generally Crane Composites v. Wayne Farms, LLC , 296 Ga. 271, 273, 765 S.E.2d 921 (2014) ("[B]ecause the rights created by the statute pertain to the conduct of litigation, the statute is acting prospect......
  • New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC v. Ga. Dep't of Revenue, A16A2003
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • February 6, 2019
    ...284 (punctuation omitted); accord Harrell , 346 Ga. App. at 639 (2) (b), 816 S.E.2d 738.18 Crane Composites, Inc. v. Wayne Farms, LLC , 296 Ga. 271, 272, 765 S.E.2d 921 (2014) ; accord Enger v. Erwin , 245 Ga. 753, 754, 267 S.E.2d 25 (1980).19 Crane Composites , 296 Ga. at 272, 765 S.E.2d 9......
  • Chadwick v. Brazell, Nos. A14A2279
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • March 19, 2015
    ...Co. v. Burch, 306 Ga.App. 156, 157 n. 3, 701 S.E.2d 602 (2010), overruled on other grounds, Crane Composites, Inc. v. Wayne Farms, LLC, 296 Ga. 271, 765 S.E.2d 921 (2014).The record reveals that Chadwick made an offer of settlement in the amount of $200,000, and that Brazell rejected the of......
  • Bighams v. State, Nos. S14A1464
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • November 17, 2014
    ...motions for new trial more than seven years after the statutory deadline for such a 296 Ga. 270claim.4 And the trial court did not 765 S.E.2d 921grant an extension of that deadline. Appellants therefore waived their challenge to the indictment based on the composition of the grand jury. 3. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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