Court of Appeals Dismisses Premises Liability Lawsuit Against Georgia City Based on Insufficient Ante-Litem Notice

Whenever a plaintiff files a Georgia premises liability lawsuit against a government entity, they must file an ante-litem notice to the government entity named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The ante-litem requirement is designed to provide notice to the government entity about the nature of the lawsuit so that the entity can conduct a pre-trial investigation.The requirements of an ante-litem notice are set forth in O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5. Specifically, the plaintiff must submit the ante-litem notice no more than six months after their injury, and they must detail “the time, place, and extent of the injury, as nearly as practicable, and the negligence which caused the injury.” If a plaintiff fails to file an ante-litem notice or files a notice that does not substantially comply with the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5, the court hearing the case may dismiss the plaintiff’s case. A recent case illustrates how a Georgia premises liability plaintiff’s case was dismissed for failing to comply with the ante-litem notice requirement.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff inadvertently stepped in a manhole that was left uncovered. The next day, the plaintiff called the police department to inform them that he had stepped in an uncovered manhole, and he provided the address of 425 Chappell Road in Atlanta. The plaintiff also indicated this was near the intersection of Chappell Road and Mayson Turner Road.

Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff filed an ante-litem notice to the city, claiming that the address of the incident was 239 Chappell Road, but referenced no intersection. After filing the notice, the plaintiff filed the actual lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that the manhole was located at 425 Chappell Road.

As it turns out, the manhole was actually located at 380 Chappell Road, which was near the intersection of Chappell Road and Mayson Turner Road. The city asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiff failed to comply with O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5 because the city was not provided with adequate notice of where the incident occurred. The city explained that there were 20 water meters between where the plaintiff claimed the accident occurred and where it actually occurred, and the two locations were over a quarter-mile apart.

The court agreed with the city and dismissed the case. The court explained that one of the main purposes of an ante-litem notice is to provide notice to the government entity being sued about the nature of the lawsuit. Here, the court explained, the plaintiff’s failure to properly identify the correct address prevented the city from conducting a pre-trial investigation. Thus, dismissal was proper under O.C.G.A. § 36-33-5.

Have You Been Injured While on Government Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on the land of the government, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Georgia premises liability lawsuit. Whether your accident occurred on the property of a business, private citizen, or government entity, the dedicated Georgia personal injury attorneys at McAleer Law can help you with the preparation and litigation of your case. With extensive experience handling Georgia premises liability cases, the attorneys at McAleer Law know what it takes to be successful in Georgia courtrooms. Call 404-622-5337 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Georgia personal injury attorney today.

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