Written by: Gabi Klaes
On May 1, 2018, the Georgia Court of Appeals held that a provision in a residential lease limiting the time a tenant can sue to one year applies to all claims. This ruling is important because it applies to all personal injury claims that would normally be subject to Georgia’s two-year statute of limitations. Premises owners should be aware of this decision.
This case arises out of personal injuries allegedly suffered by Plaintiff, Pamela Langley, an elderly tenant at the Spring Lake apartment complex. On March 3, 2014, Ms. Langley slipped and fell on a crumbling section of curb in the apartments’ common area. As a result of her fall, she underwent knee replacement surgery on both knees.
On March 6, 2016, two years after Ms. Langley’s alleged fall, she filed suit against the Spring Lake apartment complex in Clayton County Superior Court, Langley v. MP Spring Lake, LLC. She alleged that Spring Lake was negligent and negligent per se, due to its alleged failure to repair the curb despite awareness of the curb’s disrepair.
As one of its defenses, Spring Lake asserted that the Plaintiff’s claims were barred by a contractual limitation period contained within her lease. Spring Lake moved for summary judgment on this same basis.
In the 33rd paragraph of the lease, the provision at issue provides:
Limitation on Actions. To the extent allowed by law, Resident also agrees and understands that any legal action against Management or Owner must be instituted within one year of the date any claim or cause of action arises and that any action filed after one year from such date shall be time barred as a matter of law.
The Plaintiff argued that a contractual limitation period, such as the one at issue, should not apply to claims that do not arise out of the agreement in which it is contained. The Trial Court rejected Ms. Langley’s arguments. Judge Robert Mack found in favor of Spring Lake and declared Langley’s suit to be time-barred. The Appellate Court agreed. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Stephen Dillard, with the concurrence of Judges Sara Doyle and Amanda Mercier, held that Ms. Langley agreed to bring any action against Spring Lake—including, but not limited to, personal-injury actions—within one year. In this case, she failed to do so when she filed suit on March 3, 2016, seeking to recover damages for an injury that occurred on March 3, 2014.
 Langley v. MP Spring Lake, LLC, No. A18A0193, 2018 Ga. App. LEXIS 258 (Ct. App. May 1, 2018).
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