Georgia Supreme Court on Worker Death Case

Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys and work accident attorneys noticed a recent ruling issued by the Supreme Court of Georgia.

It is actually a group of consolidated cases, rather than a single case, but they all stem from the same incident. They involve a 2007 work accident that killed Mack Pitts. He was working at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when he was struck and killed by a truck operated by A&G Trucking. Mr. Pitts was working for Archer Western Contractors on construction of the new international terminal. Pitts’ family sued A&G Trucking for wrongful death and won a $5.47 million judgment, but that exceeded A&G’s auto liability insurance. Due to their inability to pay, Mr. Pitts’ family sued the city of Atlanta, Holder-Manhattan, and Archer Western. They claimed that these entities were contractually obligated to make sure A&G carried sufficient liability insurance to cover claims up to $10 million, due to the main contract, which specifically stipulated that the bodily injury insurance must be $10 million per person and occurrence. The city failed in regard to enforcing this with A&G.

On the secondary claim about liability insurance, The Estate of Pitts v. City of Atlanta, the trial court ruled in favor of the defendants. The judgment said that Mr. Pitts was not the intended beneficiary of the contracts claimed. The appellate court reversed in October 2011 and found that the city had, in fact, breached its contractual obligations to Mr. Pitts because he was a third-party beneficiary to the main contract.

The Georgia Supreme Court majority disagreed with the Court of Appeal’s conclusion about the contracts’ beneficiaries. The decision was issued on November 27 and written by Justice Keith Blackwell. He wrote that there were important questions of law that the appeals court did not answer, so the Supreme Court sent the case back to the Court of Appeals for further consideration on these questions. Justice Harris Hines wrote a dissenting opinion, as the Court was split 4 to 3. His dissent agrees with the Court of Appeals’ approach and found the unanswered questions mentioned irrelevant. He noted that the majority decision left the Court of Appeals to “wander in the wilderness” to figure out how to determine this wrongful death case anew.

Now, all that is left to do is to wait and see how the case is handled the second time around by the judges at the Court of Appeals.

Atlanta Wrongful Death and Work Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured at work or if there has been a wrongful death in your family, contact the personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter. As this case demonstrates, personal injury claims can become complicated by insurance issues or contractual obligations, and our experienced lawyers can help you understand all the potential elements of your case. If you have any questions or want to discuss a potential case, call our law office at 404-814-8948, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form for a free consultation.

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