Quattrocchi v. State, A20A1127

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Citation850 S.E.2d 432,357 Ga.App. 224
Docket NumberA20A1127
Parties QUATTROCCHI et al. v. STATE of Georgia.
Decision Date20 October 2020

357 Ga.App. 224
850 S.E.2d 432

STATE of Georgia.


Court of Appeals of Georgia.

October 20, 2020

850 S.E.2d 434

Schreeder Wheeler & Flint, John A. Christy, Jonathan A. Akins ; King Yaklin & Wilkins, Russell D. King, Collin D. Hatcher, for appellants.

Christopher M. Carr, Attorney General, Anne S. Infinger, Deputy Attorney General, Jacquelyn L. Kneidel, Melissa M. Devine, Andrew D. Chesser, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.

Rickman, Judge.

357 Ga.App. 224

As a sanction for spoliating evidence, the trial court struck the answer of Asta Quattrocchi and Erran Yearty (collectively, "Appellants") in this unfair trade practices case brought by the State of Georgia. The court also ruled that Appellants were not entitled to a jury trial on the issue of remedies. Appellants appeal both rulings. For the following reasons, we affirm.

The record shows that in July 2017, the State sued Appellants and the business they operated, Marvelay, LLC, under the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act ("FBPA"), OCGA § 10-1-390 et seq. The complaint alleged that Appellants controlled approximately 4,700 Internet domain names through which they disseminated deceptive advertisements to induce consumers to make uninformed purchases. The State sought injunctive relief, restitution for wronged consumers, civil penalties, and attorney fees. In September 2017, Appellants, individually, each timely answered the complaint, denying liability and asserting affirmative defenses. The State amended the complaint several times to assert more specific allegations of wrongdoing against the defendants, most recently in its Third Amended Complaint filed in July 2018. Appellants initially did not file an answer or other response to the Third Amended Complaint.

During the litigation, however, the State moved for sanctions against Appellants, alleging that they had failed to comply with discovery requests and had destroyed crucial evidence. Following multiple hearings on the matter, the trial court struck Appellants’ answers as a sanction for the spoliation, directing the clerk to immediately enter default against Appellants and inviting the State to file a motion for default judgment.

Thereafter, Appellants filed an answer to the Third Amended Complaint, citing OCGA § 9-11-55 (a) (regarding default, opening default, and default judgment). In this answer, Appellants denied that the State was entitled to any money damages based on the factual allegations in the Third Amended Complaint. Further, Appellants requested a jury trial "as to all remaining issues."

357 Ga.App. 225

The State moved to strike the answer. The State also moved for a default judgment, requesting an order making findings of fact and conclusions of law and awarding injunctive relief, civil penalties, and restitution as remedies for Appellants’ violations of the FBPA.

In response to these motions, the trial court entered an order finding that Appellants were in default as to the Third Amended Complaint and were not entitled to a jury trial. The court further ordered that all remaining issues would be resolved after an evidentiary hearing on FBPA remedies. We granted Appellants’ request for interlocutory review.

1. Appellants contend that the trial court erred by finding them to be in default as to the Third Amended Complaint. Appellants do not challenge the trial court's finding that they spoliated evidence or its determination that striking their answer was an appropriate sanction. Rather, they argue that despite the court's ruling, they are not in default as to the Third Amended Complaint because the court struck only their September 2017 answer to the original complaint,

850 S.E.2d 435

and they were not required to file an answer to the Third Amended Complaint.

Appellants are correct that they were not required to file an answer to the Third Amended Complaint. OCGA § 9-11-15 (a) provides that "[a] party may plead or move in response to an amended pleading" (emphasis supplied), and OCGA § 9-11-8 (d) provides that "[a]verments in a pleading to which no responsive pleading is required ... shall be taken as denied[.]" The effect of a failure to respond to an amended complaint, therefore, is that the allegations of the amended complaint stand denied. See Shields v. Gish , 280 Ga. 556, 557 (1), 629 S.E.2d 244 (2006) ; Building Assoc. v. Crider , 141 Ga. App. 825-826 (1), 234 S.E.2d 666 (1977). Appellants are also correct that it is error for a trial court to find...

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3 cases
  • Georgia ex rel. Carr v. Elite Integrated Med., LLC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • April 12, 2021
    ...Ct. App. 1980). The GFBPA may be enforced through both governmental and private action, each with its own remedies. Quattroccki v. State, 850 S.E.2d 432, 436 (Ga. Ct. App. 2020) (detailing the parallel enforcement scheme which provides for "damages" as a remedy for private litigations but n......
  • Matthews v. Mills
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • October 20, 2020
    ...most of the facts identified in the trial court's order fail to relate to the appropriate legal question in determining whether Matthews’ 850 S.E.2d 432 conduct was sanctionable under subsection (a) or (b). The fact that Mills made only one report to the deputy is inconsequential to whether......
  • Smith v. State
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • February 21, 2023
    ...not adopt the original complaint or the amended complaint, it superseded and replaced those pleadings. See Quattrocchi v. State of Ga., 357 Ga.App. 224, 225 (1) n.1 (850 S.E.2d 432) (2020). [2] The trial court denied in part Appellants' motions on March 7, 2022, and scheduled a bench trial ......

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