Georgia Court Rejects Alleged “Renewal Action” as Untimely After Plaintiff Named the Wrong Defendant

Georgia personal injury plaintiffs have to be very careful to name the correct defendants and file the claim within the applicable statute of limitations. In a recent case, a Georgia appeals court explained why the plaintiff could not refile a claim beyond the statute of limitations after having named the wrong defendant when she first filed case.

According to the court’s opinion, in 2015, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit for injuries she suffered at a water park on Jekyll Island, Georgia in 2013. She filed the lawsuit against the “Georgia Department of Natural Resources d/b/a Summer Waves Water Park.” The first complaint was filed with the two-year statute of limitations under OCGA § 50-21-27 (c). The case was later dismissed in 2015.

Evidently, in 2016, the woman filed a second lawsuit for the same injuries. This time, she filed the suit against “Jekyll Island State Park Authority, a/k/a Jekyll Island Authority, d/b/a/ Sumer Waves Water Park.” She claimed that her claim was a renewal claim and that it related back to the suit filed in 2015. The Jekyll Island State Park Authority argued that the lawsuit was filed too late under the applicable statute of limitations.

Filing a Renewal Action Under OCGA § 9-2-61

Under OCGA § 9-2-61, if a case is filed within the applicable statute of limitations and the plaintiff discontinues or dismisses the case, it can be refiled “either within the original applicable period of limitations or within six months after the discontinuance or dismissal, whichever is later.”

If a plaintiff files a renewal action, the plaintiff may add new parties and new claims to the case if the statute of limitations has not run. However, if the applicable statute of limitations has run, the plaintiff can only sue the same defendants under the same theories of recovery. The cause of action must be “substantially the same” as in the original action, and there must be a “substantial identity of essential parties.”

Court Rejects Renewal Claim

In this case, the court decided that the defendants named in the two lawsuits were not substantially the same. The court explained that the Jekyll Island State Park Authority was a separate entity than the Department of Natural Resources. Although the plaintiff named the trade name of Summer Waves Water Park in both complaints, she incorrectly sued the Department of Natural Resources, claiming that it did business as Summer Waves Water Park. Therefore, the plaintiff’s subsequent complaint was not a renewal action. The plaintiff sued a separate defendant in the subsequent complaint, and because it was filed beyond the statute of limitations, the claim was dismissed.

Experienced Georgia Injury Attorneys

The Georgia personal injury attorneys at the McAleer Law Firm handle all types of claims for accident victims in the Atlanta metro area. We believe that every person should have equal access to justice, and our firm has compassionately and skillfully assisted our clients for over ten years. If you have been injured, we can evaluate your claim to see if we can help you obtain compensation for your injuries. Contact the McAleer Law Firm by calling us at 1-404-622-5337 or by contacting us online.

See More Posts:

Georgia Court Permits Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Case to Proceed against Maintenance Company, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, December 18, 2018.

Georgia Car Accidents Involving Inexperienced Drivers, Georgia Injury Attorney Blog, January 14, 2019.

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