David Hanson and Zach Fuller of WEATHINGTON’s Appellate Team authored an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Georgia on behalf of The Georgia Defense Lawyers Association (GDLA) in the case Cooper Tire & Rubber Company v. McCall, No. S20G1368 (Ga. Sup. Ct. February 1, 2021). David and Zach were specifically asked to draft this brief after their previous amicus brief in support of the Petition for Writ of Certiorari aided in the grant of certiorari.
On March 4, 2021, the amicus brief was filed in the Supreme Court of Georgia in support of the Appellant Cooper Tire’s Merits Brief that seeks to overturn outdated Georgia precedent: Allstate Ins. Co. v. Klein, 262 Ga. 599 (1992). In the case below, Klein permitted the plaintiff to bring suit against Cooper Tire in Georgia merely because Cooper Tire is registered to do business in this State, despite the fact that the underlying automobile accident occurred in Florida, the plaintiff is a Florida resident, the tires were constructed in Arkansas, and Cooper Tire is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Ohio. The defunct Georgia precedent created by Klein flies in the face of subsequent line of United States Supreme Court decisions that make clear that general personal jurisdiction can only be conferred over corporations where that corporation is found to be “at home,” i.e. the corporation’s place of incorporation, principal place of business, or in exceptional cases where the corporation’s contacts are so great with a state that it renders the corporation essentially at home in that state. BNSF Ry. Co. v. Tyrrell, 137 S. Ct. 2549 (2017); Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014); Goodyear Dunlop Tires Ops., S.A. v. Brown, 564 U.S. 915 (2011). Every state supreme court and federal district court that have considered this issue in the wake of the United States Supreme Court precedent have aligned themselves with the controlling precedent.
The amicus brief filed on behalf of GDLA argues that Georgia must overrule Klein to ensure that our state complies with the controlling interpretation of the United States Constitution. Otherwise, Georgia will continue to be a litigation magnet with no predictability about which corporations can be hauled into court in this State. Rejecting the flawed interpretation in Klein furthers the recent trend in Georgia to promote uniformity of our legal system with those in sister and federal jurisdictions, i.e., adopting the federal rules of evidence and the Daubert test for expert testimony to ensure that evidence and experts that would not be permitted in other jurisdictions could be introduced to Georgia courts.
Overall, this is not an instance where Georgia benefits from being an outlier, and the GDLA brief urges the Georgia Supreme Court to follow the lead of sister states and federal district courts in aligning Georgia law with United Supreme Court precedent.
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