Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Stefan Turkheimer appears as legal expert on HLN program

On June 18, Turkheimer & Hadden partner Stefan Turkheimer joined host Kyra Phillips to provide legal commentary for the HLN (formerly "CNN Headline News") program "Raising America." He discussed jury selection in the George Zimmerman trial as well as other legal issues in the news.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Atlanta Trial Lawyers welcome new Court of Appeals Judge Carla McMillian

Atlanta Trial Lawyers chairs Michael Neff (L) and
John Hadden (R) with Judge Carla Wong McMillian
On Tuesday, the Atlanta Trial Lawyers Association welcomed newly-appointed Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Carla Wong McMillian to the group's lunch meeting. Following an introduction by Atlanta Trial Lawyers Association co-chair John Hadden, Judge McMillian, who served as judge of the Fayette County State Court prior to her recent appointment, discussed her time on the trial and appellate benches of Georgia and gave practice pointers to the attorneys in attendance.

The Atlanta Trial Lawyers Association is an organization made up of trial lawyers from around the metro Atlanta area. Recent luncheon guest speakers have included two other court of appeals judges: Judge M. Yvette Miller and Judge Stephen Dillard.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Georgia Law of Torts - Trial Preparation and Practice 2013 edition now available

The 2013 edition of Georgia Law of Torts - Trial Preparation and Practice is now available from Thomson Reuters. The publication, a leading treatise on Georgia trial preparation and advocacy, is authored by Turkheimer & Hadden partner John Hadden and former State Bar of Georgia President Kenneth Shigley.

The 2013 edition contains nearly 100 pages of all-new material including one of the most complete resources available dealing with issues involving sovereign immunity and governmental liability issues in Georgia. The book also includes a comprehensive cross-reference chart of the new Georgia evidence code (which went into effect at the beginning of 2013) as well as general coverage of all phases of a Georgia tort claim from investigation through trial and appeal.

The book is available for purchase through the Thomson Reuters web site, and can also be accessed through Westlaw with a subscription.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Another great reason to have uninsured motorist coverage on your automobile

In a previous blog post, we wrote about why Georgia drivers should have uninsured motorist ("UM") coverage. But in addition to providing protection against uninsured drivers who cause a wreck (or drivers who have too little insurance to cover your damages), UM coverage may also provide coverage for injuries that occur even when you are not in a vehicle. Moreover, it pay protect others in your household from the same dangers (if you haven't read our post on the basics of Georgia uninsured motorist coverage, click here, or click here to view our firm's general information page on automobile insurance).

The Georgia Uninsured Motorist Act, Official Code of Georgia, Annotated, or O.C.G.A., section 33-7-11, provides that uninsured motorist coverage applies to "damages for bodily injury [or] loss of consortium or death . . . of an insured sustained from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle . . . ." The statute does not require that the injured person be in an automobile when the injury occurred, only that the injury be caused by an automobile. Thus, uninsured motorist benefits may be available where a pedestrian or bicyclist is hit by a negligent driver who is uninsured or underinsured (that is, the driver has liability insurance but not enough to fully compensate the injured person for all medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering).

The uninsured motorist law, O.C.G.A. section 33-7-11, also states that the coverage applies to the "named insured" (the person whose name is on the policy, which is usually the owner of the vehicle) as well as that named insured's relatives who live in the household. Relative includes relatives of a spouse of the named insured, and, through a 2006 amendment to the statute, also includes "a foster child or ward residing in the household of the named insured pursuant to a court order, guardianship, or placement by the Department of Family and Children Services or other department or agency of the state." While anyone riding in the insured motor vehicle is considered to be covered by the uninsured motorist coverage, the additional coverage that may apply to injuries sustained both in the insured vehicle and in other contexts (such as for a pedestrian) only comes into play if the injured person is both a resident of the named insured's household and is a relative of that named insured or the named insured's spouse.

It is important to note that many policies contain exclusions on when uninsured coverage applies, and these exclusions are sometimes upheld by the courts. Therefore, absent a written assurance from an insurer that coverage will apply to a pedestrian or cyclist, no one should rely upon UM coverage to protect them in those activities. But it may often be possible to collect additional coverage through uninsured motorist benefits on a car that was not involved in an accident, even though it may not have been immediately apparent that the coverage had any relation to the wreck. For this reason, our firm extensively studies all possible insurance policies to ensure that our clients do not miss out on available coverage, particularly where the at-fault driver had little or no liability coverage.

The information contained in this article is applicable to Georgia automobiles and wrecks only, and nothing contained in this article should be considered legal advice. However, our firm has handled many claims involving automobile wrecks, including uninsured motorist claims, and we will be glad to meet with you if you have been involved in a wreck due to the negligence of another driver. Our attorneys have years of experience representing both insurance companies and injured people in hundreds of cases.

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com
(404) 890-7200

Monday, April 8, 2013

O.C.G.A. section 9-11-67.1: when does it apply?

Following our recent post on the recent enactment of O.C.G.A. 9-11-67.1, we have received many questions asking when the new statute goes into effect. Although the statute has not yet been signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal, he is expected to do so in the near future. The statute applies to car wrecks that occur on or after July 1, 2013. For automobile accidents occurring before that date, the restrictions created by O.C.G.A. 9-11-67.1 do not apply, even to policy limits demands (often called "Smoot demands" or "Holt demands") made after that date. And, by its terms, the statute only applies (1) to automobile accidents, and (2) to those cases in which an attorney is involved.

Click here for the full text and legislative history.

The new statute does not alter the requirement that an insurer act in good faith in accepting or rejecting an offer to settle a demand from an injured party. Insurers may still be liable for failing to properly evaluate a serious injury case.

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com
(404) 890-7200

Mediation Techniques



When John Hadden and I attended mediation training a few years ago, one of the strategies mentioned was the "Mediator Proposal." It is a technique we have used since that time both as mediator and participant in meditations. No matter the type, whether it is an EEOC mediation, Workers Compensation mediation, or mediation with an Insurance Company, both parties can benefit when the mediator becomes more than a water carrier. For an excellent post discussing one mediator's use of the technique, check out John Watkins' post entitled "The Mediator's Proposal."

Why Georgia drivers should have uninsured motorist coverage

We often hear from clients who have been involved in automobile wrecks that they have "full insurance coverage" on their automobiles. Unfortunately, very often what they thought was full coverage is actually minimal coverage that provides only personal injury and property liability coverage that pays for damages to others involved in a wreck. It often excludes one of the most important types of automobile insurance, uninsured motorist coverage, sometimes referred to as "UM" or underinsured motorist coverage. (Click here to view our firm's information page on automobile insurance).

Uninsured motorist coverage is a unique form of insurance available to protect you from the very real risk of injury caused by a driver who has either no insurance or insurance that is insufficient to fully compensate you (or your passengers) for your injuries. In other words, it protects you against not only the negligence of another driver for his unsafe driving, but also against his failure to obtain insurance. Thousands of vehicles are operated on the road without proper liability insurance. According to several sources, approximately 15% of drivers in Georgia may be uninsured. While this is illegal, and a driver caught driving while uninsured faces serious penalties, these penalties do little to compensate a person injured by the uninsured driver. Moreover, a very high percentage of drivers carry only the statutory minimum $25,000 in liability insurance coverage, which is often grossly insufficient to cover the damages resulting from an auto wreck. This is why UM coverage is so important.

For example, if you are involved in an automobile accident where another driver is at fault (let's call him Sam), and you sustain $50,000 in medical bills, you are legally entitled to payment for your medical expenses as well as other damages, such as lost wages or pain and suffering. But if Sam is uninsured it may be nearly impossible to receive any payment for your injuries, despite Sam's legal liability to you. In other words, Sam may be judgment proof. Similarly, if Sam has only $25,000 in insurance coverage, which is the minimum required by the state of Georgia, it is very likely that Sam's insurance company will settle for the $25,000, but you may have no other way to receive payment for the rest of your damages and might be forced to pay the remainder of your own medical bills.

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you in these situations by providing additional insurance coverage for your damages. In the example, if Sam had no insurance, but you had purchased $50,000 in uninsured coverage through your own provider, you could receive an additional $50,000 in insurance benefits to cover your loss, including medical bills and lost wages as well as pain and suffering. The specific amount of benefits you could receive would depend on the type of of uninsured motorist coverage purchased. The usual (and, by law, default) type provides the full amount of UM coverage purchased on top of the at-fault driver's liability coverage. So, if an at-fault driver has $25,000 in insurance, an injured person with $50,000 in UM coverage would be entitled to up to $75,000 in total coverage (Sam's $25,000 in liability coverage plus your own $50,000 uninsured motorist coverage) if the damages were extensive.

The other type of uninsured motorist coverage, often called "offset" (or "setoff") UM coverage applies only to the extent the UM insurance purchased exceeds the at-fault driver's liability coverage. Thus, in the example, this type of coverage would provide only an additional $25,000 in possible insurance payments, since the $50,000 in UM coverage would be reduced by $25,000 as a result of the at-fault driver's own $25,000 in coverage. This "offset" coverage was the standard form of UM coverage in Georgia prior to an amendment to the Georgia Uninsured Motorist Act (Official Code of Georgia, Annotated, or O.C.G.A.) section 33-7-11 that went into effect on January 1, 2009.

Unlike automobile liability insurance, which is required for all vehicles, drivers are not required to carry uninsured motorist coverage. Automobile insurers in Georgia are required, however, to offer uninsured motorist coverage. Although the default version of UM coverage provides the greatest protection against uninsured motorist, drivers may elect to either waive the right to such insurance altogether, or to chose the "offset" form of UM coverage. Although the choice of insurance coverage is a personal matter and should be discussed with your insurance agent, it is hard to imagine a situation where more insurance is not preferable. Fortunately, uninsured motorist coverage is usually relatively inexpensive. Furthermore, as we will discuss in a later post, uninsured motorist coverage may even provide protection for individuals who are injured by uninsured or underinsured drivers when the injured individual is not even in a car, such as injuries to pedestrians or cyclists.

The information contained in this article is applicable to Georgia automobiles and wrecks only, and nothing contained in this article should be considered legal advice. However, our firm has handled many claims involving automobile wrecks, including uninsured motorist claims, and we will be glad to meet with you if you have been involved in a wreck due to the negligence of another driver. Our attorneys have years of experience representing both insurance companies and injured people in hundreds of cases.

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com
(404) 890-7200

Friday, April 5, 2013

Federal government increases oversight of bus transportation companies

United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro met Friday with representatives of the motorcoach industry to discussed heightened safety oversight of that industry's operations. According to the DOT press release, the federal government has shut down 15 commercial motor carriers engaged in bus transport in the past two months over safety concerns. Secretary LaHood noted in the release that "[s]afety is our highest priority and we are committed to keeping those who do not follow our safety rules off the road."

The DOT is also requesting the public's help in identifying unsafe bus companies:
"FMCSA [the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA's consumer complaint web site: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp"

Motorcoah operators have faced increased scrutiny in recent months. At least one Georgia-based operator was recently ordered to cease operations according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Link: Full US Department of Transportation Press Release


Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com
(404) 890-7200

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Federal government shuts down two Georgia trucking firms

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a part of the United States Department of Transportation, recently ordered two Georgia trucking companies to cease operations over safety concerns. 

Southern Transportation, Inc. was ordered to shut down on Friday, March 29, and General Transportation, Inc., which reportedly operated from the same location, was ordered to cease operation the prior week. According to the AJC report and the government's order, Southern Transportation, Inc. failed to turn over safety records to the FMCSA as required under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, or FMSCRs. The FMCSA order indicated that the company failed to maintain proper driver qualification files for its employees, which are required under the FMCSRs, and failed to properly monitor drivers' hours of service records, drug and alcohol monitoring, among numerous other violations that resulted in an increased risk of serious injury or death to the general public. Motor carriers and drivers are required to keep extensive records of their activities, including duty hours; amendments to the allowable driving hours will go into effect this summer for commercial trucking operations.

A DOT press release announcing the action noted that:

“Truck and bus companies that refuse to cooperate with safety investigators have no place on our nation’s roadways,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We will continue to use our authority to shut down motor carriers that endanger the public.”

“MAP-21 strengthens the ability of FMCSA investigators to take necessary and appropriate actions to protect innocent lives,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “We will not allow the safety of the traveling public to be compromised by an unsafe commercial truck or bus company.

A copy of the FMCSA order can be found here. 

Our attorneys are experienced in handling serious injury and death claims involving commercial motor vehicles, including interstate motor carriers operating tractor trailers. These claims may involve both driver error and negligent or, in some cases, intentional failure to properly maintain and inspect commercial vehicles, among other violations of federal law.

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com
404.890.7200




Thursday, March 28, 2013

Young Lawyers welcome legendary lawyer Bobby Lee Cook

Bobby Lee Cook and John Hadden
On March 27, Turkheimer & Hadden partner John Hadden, chair of the Litigation Committee of the State Bar Young Lawyers Division, welcomed one of the nation's best-known attorneys, Bobby Lee Cook, the the committee's monthly meeting as its featured speaker. Mr. Cook, a Summerville, Georgia lawyer who is reputed to be the inspiration for television's "Matlock," discussed cases he had handled over his legal career, ranging from multi-million dollar property disputes on behalf of  New York's Rockefeller family to post-conviction success, based on prosecutorial misconduct, on behalf of convicted murderers sentenced to death.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New law adds requirements for automobile personal injury "Holt demands" and bad faith claims

On March 22, 2013, the Georgia Senate passed House Bill 336, which establishes a number of requirements and provisions for pre-lawsuit demands to automobile liability insurers made by those injured by other drivers. The bill, which had already passed the Georgia House of Representatives, will become law unless vetoed by Governor Nathan Deal, which is not expected. The law, which will be located at section 9-11-67.1 of the Official Code of Georgia, Annotated (O.C.G.A.), will apply to all automobile wrecks occurring on or after July 1, 2013.

Under Georgia law, insurers providing liability insurance coverage for at-fault drivers causing personal injuries or property damages to others are required to act in good faith in determining whether to pay the injured party's damages. It is not uncommon for a claim to be made for the policy limits of the at-fault driver's insurance coverage. Such demands are often referred to as "Holt demands" or "Smoot demands," based on the principles established in the cases of Southern General Insurance Co. v. Holt, 262 Ga. 267, 416 S.E.2d 274 (1992) and State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Smoot, 381 F.2d 331 (5th Cir. 1967). While the at-fault driver is liable for damages incurred by another party in excess of his or her liability limits, in some cases the insurer can be liable to its own insured (its customer) for those excess damages where it is determined that the insurer acted in bad faith in adjusting the claim.

For example, if an injured party demanded that an insurer pay the at-fault driver's liability limits of $25,000 (which is the minimum coverage required in Georgia) and the injured person was ultimately awarded $50,000 at trial, the insurance coverage would only pay the first $25,000, with the at-fault driver being personally liable for the remaining $25,000. In some cases, however, where the at-fault driver can show that the insurer acted unreasonably by failing to simply pay the $25,000 liability insurance limits, the at-fault driver may be able to recover the excess $25,000, and possibly punitive damages, from the insurance company. The newly enacted O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1 establishes certain time requirements and payment options that will now be required in connection with the injuries party's demands.

The full text of the new statute is copied below.

O.C.G.A. § 9-11-67.1

(a) Prior to the filing of a civil action, any offer to settle a tort claim for personal injury, bodily injury, or death arising from the use of a motor vehicle and prepared by or with the assistance of an attorney on behalf of a claimant or claimants shall be in writing and contain the following material terms:
(1) The time period within which such offer must be accepted, which shall be not less than 30 days from receipt of the offer;
(2) Amount of monetary payment;
(3) The party or parties the claimant or claimants will release if such offer is accepted;
(4) The type of release, if any, the claimant or claimants will provide to each releasee; and
(5) The claims to be released.

(b) The recipients of an offer to settle made under this Code section may accept the same by providing written acceptance of the material terms outlined in subsection (a) of this Code section in their entirety.

(c) Nothing in this Code section is intended to prohibit parties from reaching a settlement agreement in a manner and under terms otherwise agreeable to the parties.

(d) Upon receipt of an offer to settle set forth in subsection (a) of this Code section, the recipients shall have the right to seek clarification regarding terms, liens, subrogation claims, standing to release claims, medical bills, medical records, and other relevant facts. An attempt to seek reasonable clarification shall not be deemed a counteroffer.

(e) An offer to settle made pursuant to this Code section shall be sent by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, and shall specifically reference this Code section.

(f) The person or entity providing payment to satisfy the material term set forth in paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of this Code section may elect to provide payment by any one or more of the following means:
(1) Cash;
(2) Money order;
(3) Wire transfer;
(4) A cashier's check issued by a bank or other financial institution;
(5) A draft or bank check issued by an insurance company; or
(6) Electronic funds transfer or other method of electronic payment.

(g) Nothing in this Code section shall prohibit a party making an offer to settle from requiring payment within a specified period; provided, however, that such period shall be not less than ten days after the written acceptance of the offer to settle.

(h) This Code section shall apply to causes of action for personal injury, bodily injury, and death arising from the use of a motor vehicle on or after July 1, 2013.

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com

Friday, March 1, 2013

Stefan Turkheimer and John Hadden recognized as "Rising Stars" by SuperLawyers and Atlanta Magazine

For the fourth consecutive year SuperLawyers Magazine has recognized the firm of Turkheimer & Hadden in its annual publication of Georgia lawyers.

Partners Stefan Turkheimer and John Hadden have been named "Rising Stars" by the publication, a designation limited to no more than 2.5% of lawyers in the state. According SuperLawyers, recognized attorneys are selected through  "a rigorous, multiphase rating process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with third party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Georgia Trend Magazine names John Hadden as one of Georgia's Legal Elite

Georgia Trend magazine, the state's leading business publication, has named Turkheimer & Hadden partner John Hadden as one of Georgia's Legal Elite for 2012. This recognition is based upon nominations from thousands of attorneys state wide who are asked to name to top lawyers in a variety of legal fields.

The 2012 Legal Elite list appears in the December issue of Georgia Trend.

Friday, November 2, 2012

John Hadden to chair continuing legal education seminar

Turkheimer & Hadden partner John Hadden will serve as chair of the Trial and Error Continuing Legal Education Seminar on March 15, 2013, at the studios of Georgia Public Broadcasting. The program, which is co-chaired by Christopher Abrego, is presented by the Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia and the State Bar of Georgia Young Lawyers Division, of which John is chair. This seminar will cover a variety of issues frequently arising in litigation in state and federal courts as well as on appeal. It will be broadcast statewide, and, as in past years, is expected to be attended by over 300 attorneys.

The program is being assembled and a full agenda will be published soon.

For information, contact John Hadden at 404-939-4525 or jhadden@haddenfirm.com


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Listeria Outbreak At Whole Foods!

Listeria, which can cause death in children, the elderly, and in people with suppressed immune systems, has been found in ricotta cheese sold by Whole Foods. According to Whole Foods, all four of their stores here in Georgia have been affected. The Center for Disease Control (and Prevention!) has an update on their website here.

This is one of a number of labels to look for, but all ricotta cheese bought from Whole Foods should be closely examined.


If you have any questions about Food Safety, Listeria, Whole Foods, or even Ricotta cheese as a concept, please call the Attorneys of Turkheimer & Hadden or visit our web site at TurkHadden.com

Friday, August 10, 2012

Turkheimer & Hadden partner publishes two articles

Turkheimer & Hadden partner John Hadden recently published two law-related articles. His article on mediation, co-authored with Atlanta attorney and mediator Burke Johnson, was published in the Summer 2012 issue of The Verdict, the magazine of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, and his interview with now-retired Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice George Carley was published in the Summer 2012 issue of The Sidebar, a publication of the American Association of Justice. The articles can be accessed below.

From the Bench: An Interview with the Honorable Chief Justice George H. Carley (The Sidebar, 2012)

Mediation Preparation and Practice for the Plaintiff's Lawyer (The Verdict, 2012)

Earlier articles:
United States Supreme Court Revisits Due Process Limitation on “Stream of Commerce” Exercise of Personal Jurisdiction (The Sidebar, 2011)

United States Supreme Court Weighs in on Judicial Recusal in Light of Campaign Donations (The Verdict, 2010)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Supreme Court ruling provides recovery for diminished value under homeowners insurance policies

The Georgia Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a property insurance customer that had sought compensation not only for the cost of repairing its property, but also for the amount by which the property's value was permanently decreased as a result of the repairs. In Royal Capital Development LLC v. Maryland Cas. Co., decided May 29, 2012, the Supreme Court extended a prior ruling and held that insurers providing first-party insurance, which includes homeowners insurance, are required to compensate policyholders for what is sometimes called "stigma" damages, or a decrease in value based solely on the fact that the property has been damaged in the past.

Previously, the Supreme Court had ruled, in State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Mabry, 274 Ga. 498 (2001), that automobile insurers are required to compensate auto owners for the diminution in value to their automobiles in addition to the vehicle repair cost. In the case of vehicles, it is often the case that the vehicle's value is lowered simply by virtue of it having been in an accident, even if the repair work is done perfectly. Such repairs can show up in databases easily accessible to anyone looking to purchase the car. That reasoning now applies to homeowners insurance claims as well, providing an additional source of recovery for insurance policy holders and more of a means for them to be made whole for the damages they have sustained.

The latest decision is Royal Capital Development LLC v. Maryland Cas. Co., Supreme Court Case No. S12Q0209, ___ S.E.2d ___, 2012 WL 1909842 (Ga. May 29, 2012). It may be accessed on the Supreme Court web site here.

Our firm has extensive experience in insurance company litigation. We previously represented insurance companies in state and federal litigation, but now represent individual insureds seeking to obtain the coverage they have paid for from their insurer. We believe that this recent Supreme Court ruling may well Please call us if you wish to talk about your homeowners or automobile claim.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives not entitled to overtime pay, says US Supreme Court


The United States Supreme Court today clarified the scope of the “outside sales” exemption in the context of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In Christopher v.SmithKline Beecham Corp., Case no. 11-204, the Court held that pharmaceutical sales representatives, also known as detailers, fell under the exemption and were not owed for overtime pay. 

The FLSA requires employers to pay employees overtime wages for all time worked in excess of 40 hours per week unless the workers fall under certain specific exemptions, one of which covers outside sales persons. This means that if an employee qualifies as an outside sales person, the employer is not required to pay overtime wages. But the Act does not define what constitutes an outside sales person and instead leaves it up to the Department of Labor to determine the criteria for this exemption. The Department of Labor has issued criteria to define an outside sales person, three of which were at issue in this Supreme Court case. The first criterion is that an outside sales person is one whose primary duty is making sales, including a sale, exchange, contract of sale, consignment for sale, or shipment for sale. The second at issue is that the DOL determined that sales must include a transfer of property. The third criterion at issue is that promotions for one's own sales would fall into the exemption, while promotions incidental to another's sales would not. 

The Supreme Court focused on the pharmaceutical sales representative and ruled that this type of sales person falls into the exemption for several reasons. The first reason given was that a transfer of title is not required, rather a transfer of title somewhere within the terms of the sale was sufficient. The Court ruled that requiring a transfer of title is too narrow of an interpretation of legislative intent and Congress, based on the wording of the FLSA, intended a broader meaning of the term “sale.” Therefore, the nonbinding commitment to prescribe (the typical form of sale made by a detailer) should be considered a sale because there will be a transfer of title when the doctor prescribes the medication. The Court also noted that in ruling that this action constitutes a “sale,” any promotions by these detailers would be in furtherance of their own sales. The court further noted that there was a fairness issue involved. Employers had no reason, until 2009, to suspect that treatment of detailers as exempt employees violated the FLSA. Furthermore, considering the inaction of the DOL in following up on its regulations, employers had no reasons to suspect that their treatment of detailers violated the act. Therefore the Court held that pharmaceutical representatives employed in this manner fell under the outside sales exemption of the FLSA.

If you have a legal question regarding your status under the FLSA and whether you are being compensated fairly for your overtime hours, call the employment lawyers at Turkheimer & Hadden LLC.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Firefighter pursues discrimination and retaliation claims


The city of Houston, Texas was recently sued by a firefighter for race and age discrimination as well as unlawful retaliation, according to a recent report by the Houston Chronicle. Charles Julian, 69, had previously sued the city - and twice won - for discrimination stemming from his efforts to become the Houston Fire Department's first black fire chief. Julian alleged that he has received poor performance reviews in retaliation for filing the previous two lawsuits. Performance reviews are said to be one of the most important criteria in considering an employee for promotion and Julian claimed that these poor reviews are being used to intentionally prevent his promotion.

Not only is discrimination based on race a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but age discrimination is also illegal based on the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. But the ADEA does not specifically prohibit retaliatory measures by federal employers in response to claims of age discrimination in a public sector job. It does, however, expressly prohibit such measures in the private sector. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has ruled that sovereign immunity is waived in retaliation claims made by federal employees under the ADEA. This essentially means that governmental immunity does not apply in a situation where a government employee is retaliated against for making claims of age discrimination.

If you have any questions regarding possible retaliatory actions by your employer, call the employment lawyers at Turkheimer & Hadden LLC.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Kia recalls 73,000 cars

According to an Associated Press report published last week in the Washington Post, Hyundai Motor Group-owned Kia is recalling 73,000 Rio vehicles manufactured between 2005 and 2007 because of airbag sensor problems. The problem stems from sensors designed to prevent airbag deployment when children are sitting in the front passenger seat. Children seated in the front seat can be harmed when airbags deploy. The vehicles were sold as 2006, 2007, and 2008 model year Rios.


Those who believe they may be affected can contact the company at (800) 333-4542.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

An Interview with Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice George Carley

The 29th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, George H. Carley, agreed to sit down in his chambers earlier this week with partner John Hadden to discuss his legal and judicial career, the evolution of the legal profession, and much more. Chief Justice Carley, who has served on the Georgia appellate courts since 1979 - first on the Court of Appeals, and since 1993, on the Supreme Court, is the only judge in the history of Georgia to serve as both Chief Judge/Justice and Presiding Judge/Justice on both the Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Georgia. He is also active in the High School Mock Trial Program. Chief Justice Carley will retire this summer.

The interview will be published later this summer in the Sidebar, a publication of the American Association for Justice. Justice Carley was a member of the organization, then known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, when he was a practicing attorney.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Protecting First Amendment rights: Turkheimer & Hadden advises blogger in defense of defamation case

As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today, Turkheimer & Hadden partner Stefan Turkheimer recently served as counsel for Melanie Goux, editor of the web site Blog for Democracy, and Jane Bradshaw, a former Democratic Party of Georgia official, in a defamation lawsuit filed against them and blogger Andre Walker by Rashad Richey. The lawsuit was dismissed before Goux and Bradshaw were served with the lawsuit, but the dismissal as it related to them was "with prejudice," meaning it cannot be refiled.

Our firm is proud to have been involved in the successful resolution of this lawsuit. We are committed to ensuring that the principals and guarantees established by our founders in the Constitution continue to be upheld.

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
(404) 890-7200
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Is Sharon Stone Paying Workers a Sliver of What is Owed?

Sharon Stone recently was sued by one of her domestic workers over an overtime pay dispute, and the complaint contains allegations that Stone discriminated against her employee, Erlinda Elemen, by making derogatory comments about her accent, the food of her people, and that "Filipino people were stupid."

While discrimination based on national origin, as is alleged in the complaint, is clearly outlawed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, determining overtime liability in the Sphere of Domestic Workers can be a difficult task. Generally, those workers who live on the premises of the employer are not eligible for overtime (but minimum wage rules still apply) whereas those that come and go are eligible for overtime wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime regulations would apply to them. However, there are exceptions that cut both ways, and it is best to consult an FLSA Specialist, such as Stefan Turkheimer, John Hadden, or Jordan Britt to determine whether the FLSA overtime rules apply to a specific job.

Employers such as Stone fall into two categories: The Quick and The Dead. Those that immediately fix the wage and hour problems as soon as they can and pay what they owe to their employees will not have to pay heavy penalties in the form of attorney's fees, but those who refuse can be held responsible for all of the fees of the underpaid worker's attorney. This rule of the FLSA prevents an employee who was wrongfully denied overtime pay from having to pay anything up front to hire an attorney.

Source: TheWrap.com 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New law imposes new legal requirements for owners of dangerous and vicious dogs

A new bill recently signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal provides extensive rules governing ownership of dogs deemed dangerous and vicious and provides substantial penalties for failure to properly control dogs that may pose a danger to the public.

House Bill 685, which is effective July 1, 2012, revises several portions of Title 4 of the Official Code of Georgia to require, among other things, a "certificate of registration" for certain categories of dogs. Significantly, the law does not specify particular breeds, but rather creates two categories of dogs to which the law applies. Specifically, the law creates a distinction between "dangerous" and "vicious" dogs, with the latter category generally comprising animals capable of causing serious injuries. For both categories, owners must demonstrate that they maintain a proper enclosure for the pet to prevent its escape from their property and that they have warning sides visible from all entrances to the property. For dogs considered vicious, the law additionally requires that the owner maintain no less than $50,000 in liability insurance to cover damages to a third party caused by the dog and that the dog be tagged with an embedded microchip identifying the owner.

It is not entirely clear whether owners have an affirmative duty to seek classification of dogs they believe may be vicious or dangerous under the terms of the law. But if the local dog control officer receives notice from someone of a potentially dangerous or vicious dog, the officer must undertake an inspection under the rules set forth in O.C.G.A. § 4-8-23. The rules also provide from the right to a hearing and subsequent appeal by a dog owner.

The law prohibits those convicted of of certain felonies from obtaining certificates of registration for vicious dogs, and also prohibits issuance of more than one certificate per household or ownership of more than one vicious dog per person. Finally, the law established strict requirements, such as leash lengths and muzzle and crate criteria, that apply any time a dog covered by the law is taken off of the owner's property. A dog owner previously convicted of violation of the new law who is found guilty of a second offense is punishable, in some circumstances where the dog causes serious injuries to another person, by imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Earlier this year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the trial of a dog owner whose animal had caused serious personal injuries to a 10-year-old girl. The owner was convicted of six misdemeanors and sentenced to 16 months in jail. The young victim lost an arm. In addition to criminal liability, victims of dog attacks may be able to pursue civil remedies against negligent owners.

The entire bill, including legislative history, can be accessed here. Selected provisions of the bill are produced at the bottom of this article, with portions of particular interest in bold (including definitions for "dangerous" and "vicious" dogs).

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
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(404) 890-7200

O.C.G.A. § 4-8-20
This article shall be known and may be cited as the 'Responsible Dog Ownership Law.' 


O.C.G.A. § 4-8-21
(a) As used in this article, the term:

(1) 'Classified dog' means any dog that has been classified as either a dangerous dog or vicious dog pursuant to this article.

(2) 'Dangerous dog' means any dog that:

(A) Causes a substantial puncture of a person's skin by teeth without causing serious injury; provided, however, that a nip, scratch, or abrasion shall not be sufficient to classify a dog as dangerous under this subparagraph;

(B) Aggressively attacks in a manner that causes a person to reasonably believe that the dog posed an imminent threat of serious injury to such person or another person although no such injury occurs; provided, however, that the acts of barking, growling, or showing of teeth by a dog shall not be sufficient to classify a dog as dangerous under this subparagraph; or

(C) While off the owner's property, kills a pet animal; provided, however, that this subparagraph shall not apply where the death of such pet animal is caused by a dog that is working or training as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog.

(3) 'Local government' means any county or municipality of this state.

(4) 'Owner' means any natural person or any legal entity, including, but not limited to, a corporation, partnership, firm, or trust owning, possessing, harboring, keeping, or having custody or control of a dog. In the case of a dog owned by a minor, the term 'owner' includes the parents or person in loco parentis with custody of the minor.

(5) 'Serious injury' means any physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death; results in death, broken or dislocated bones, lacerations requiring multiple sutures, or disfiguring avulsions; requires plastic surgery or admission to a hospital; or results in protracted impairment of health, including transmission of an infection or contagious disease, or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.

(6) 'Vicious dog' means a dog that inflicts serious injury on a person or causes serious injury to a person resulting from reasonable attempts to escape from the dog's attack.

(b) No dog shall be classified as a dangerous dog or vicious dog for actions that occur while the dog is being used by a law enforcement or military officer to carry out the law enforcement or military officer's official duties. No dog shall be classified as a dangerous dog or a vicious dog if the person injured by such dog was a person who, at the time, was committing a trespass, was abusing the dog, or was committing or attempting to commit an offense under Chapter 5 of Title 16.



O.C.G.A. § 4-8-23
(a) For purposes of this Code section, the term:

(1) 'Authority' means an animal control board or local board of health, as determined by the governing authority of a local government.

(2) 'Mail' means to send by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery to the recipient's last known address.

(b) Upon receiving a report of a dog believed to be subject to classification as a dangerous dog or vicious dog within a dog control officer's jurisdiction, the dog control officer shall make such investigations as necessary to determine whether such dog is subject to classification as a dangerous dog or vicious dog.

(c) When a dog control officer determines that a dog is subject to classification as a dangerous dog or vicious dog, the dog control officer shall mail a dated notice to the dog's owner within 72 hours. Such notice shall include a summary of the dog control officer's determination and shall state that the owner has a right to request a hearing from the authority on the dog control officer's determination within 15 days after the date shown on the notice. The notice shall also provide a form for requesting the hearing and shall state that if a hearing is not requested within the allotted time, the dog control officer's determination shall become effective for all purposes under this article.

(d) When a hearing is requested by a dog owner in accordance with subsection (c) of this Code section, such hearing shall be scheduled within 30 days after the request is received; provided, however, that such hearing may be continued by the authority for good cause shown. At least ten days prior to the hearing, the authority conducting the hearing shall mail to the dog owner written notice of the date, time, and place of the hearing. At the hearing, the dog owner shall be given the opportunity to testify and present evidence and the authority conducting the hearing shall receive other evidence and testimony as may be reasonably necessary to sustain, modify, or overrule the dog control officer's determination.

(e) Within ten days after the hearing, the authority which conducted the hearing shall mail written notice to the dog owner of its determination on the matter. If such determination is that the dog is a dangerous dog or a vicious dog, the notice of classification shall specify the date upon which that determination shall be effective. If the determination is that the dog is to be euthanized pursuant to Code Section 4-8-26, the notice shall specify the date by which the euthanasia shall occur.

(f) Judicial review of the authority's final decision may be had in accordance with Code Section 50-13-19.


O.C.G.A. § 4-8-27
(a) It shall be unlawful for an owner to have or possess within this state a classified dog without a certificate of registration issued in accordance with the provisions of this Code section. Certificates of registration shall be nontransferable and shall only be issued to a person 18 years of age or older. No more than one certificate of registration shall be issued per domicile.

(b) Unless otherwise specified by this Code section, a certificate of registration for a dangerous dog shall be issued if the dog control officer determines that the following requirements have been met:

(1) The owner has maintained an enclosure designed to securely confine the dangerous dog on the owner's property, indoors, or in a securely locked and enclosed pen, fence, or structure suitable to prevent the dangerous dog from leaving such property; and

(2) Clearly visible warning signs have been posted at all entrances to the premises where the dog resides;

(c) Except as provided in subsections (e) and (f) of this Code section, a certificate of registration for a vicious dog shall be issued if the dog control officer determines that the following requirements have been met:

(1) The owner has maintained an enclosure designed to securely confine the vicious dog on the owner's property, indoors, or in a securely locked and enclosed pen, fence, or structure suitable to prevent the vicious dog from leaving such property;

(2) Clearly visible warning signs have been posted at all entrances to the premises where the dog resides;

(3) A microchip containing an identification number and capable of being scanned has been injected under the skin between the shoulder blades of the dog; and

(4) The owner maintains and can provide proof of general or specific liability insurance in the amount of at least $50,000.00 issued by an insurer authorized to transact business in this state insuring the owner of the vicious dog against liability for any bodily injury or property damage caused by the dog.

(d) No certificate of registration shall be issued to any person who has been convicted of two or more violations of this article.

(e) No person shall be the owner of more than one vicious dog.

(f) No certificate of registration for a vicious dog shall be issued to any person who has been convicted of:

(A) A serious violent felony as defined in Code Section 17-10-6.1;

(B) The felony of dogfighting as provided for in Code Section 16-12-37 or the felony of aggravated cruelty to animals as provided for in Code Section 16-12-4; or

(C) A felony involving trafficking in cocaine, illegal drugs, marijuana, methamphetamine, or ecstasy as provided for in Code Sections 16-13-31 and 16-13-31.1 from the time of conviction until two years after completion of his or her sentence, nor to any person residing with such person.

(g) Certificates of registration shall be renewed on an annual basis. At the time of renewal of a certificate of registration for a vicious dog, a dog control officer shall verify that the owner is continuing to comply with provisions of this article. Failure to renew a certificate of registration within ten days of the renewal date or initial classification date shall constitute a violation of this article. 


O.C.G.A. § 4-8-29
(a) It shall be unlawful for an owner of a dangerous dog to permit the dog to be off the owner's property unless:

(1) The dog is restrained by a leash not to exceed six feet in length and is under the immediate physical control of a person capable of preventing the dog from engaging any other human or animal when necessary; or

(2) The dog is contained in a closed and locked cage or crate.

(3) The dog is working or training as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog.

(b) It shall be unlawful for an owner of a vicious dog to permit the dog to be:

(1) Outside an enclosure designed to securely confine the vicious dog while on the owner's property or outside a securely locked and enclosed pen, fence, or structure suitable to prevent the vicious dog from leaving such property unless:

(A) The dog is muzzled and restrained by a leash not to exceed six feet in length and is under the immediate physical control of a person capable of preventing the dog from engaging any other human or animal when necessary; or

(B) The dog is contained in a closed and locked cage or crate; or

(2) Unattended with minors.

(c) A person who violates subsection (b) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature.

(d) An owner with a previous conviction for a violation of this article whose classified dog causes serious injury to a human being under circumstances constituting another violation of this article shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years, a fine of not less than $ 5,000.00 nor more than $ 10,000.00, or both. In addition, the classified dog shall be euthanized at the cost of the owner.

(e) Any irregularity in classification proceedings shall not be a defense to any prosecution under this article so long as the owner of the dog received actual notice of the classification and did not pursue a civil remedy for the correction of the irregularity. 


O.C.G.A. § 4-8-32
Except as otherwise specified in this article, any person who violates any provision of this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

O.C.G.A. § 4-8-33
(a)(1) Any dog classified prior to July 1, 2012, as a potentially dangerous dog in this state shall on and after that date be classified as a dangerous dog under this article.

(2) Any dog classified prior to July 1, 2012, as a dangerous dog or vicious dog in this state shall on and after that date be classified as a vicious dog under this article.

(b) The owner of any dog referred to in subsection (a) of this Code section shall come into compliance with all current provisions of this article by January 1, 2013. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Changes ahead for litigators with new Georgia evidence code - revised by Georgia General Assembly in 2011

On January 1, 2013, Georgia's new evidence code will go into effect, bringing with it one of the most significant changes to Georgia court in history. Representing the first wholesale revision of the Code since 1863, the new Georgia evidence provisions, located in Title 24 of the Official Code of Georgia, Annotated, in large part adopt the Federal Rules of Evidence, which have governed federal litigation since 1975.

Georgia Law of Torts - Trial Preparation and Practice (published by West, a Thomson Reuters business), co-authored by partner John Hadden along with Kenneth Shigley, contains a comprehensive overview of the new evidence code, including a complete cross-reference table of the old and new codes as well as a table detailing the substantial changes ushered in by the new rules. Among the substantial changes to the rules are an expansion of the hearsay doctrine, including admissibility of opinion testimony contained in business records; the ability for attorneys to unilaterally issue subpoenas; expansion of the use of habit and routine evidence; application of journalist privilege to electronic media; and changes to the law governing the use of prior inconsistent statements in court.

The new code was passed during the 2011 Georgia General Assembly and the text of the bill (House Bill 24) can be located on the General Assembly's web site: TEXT OF HB 24


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Police call results in pedestrian fatality

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a Dekalb County police officer responding to a fatal shooting at the Starlight Six Drive-In movie theater struck and killed a pedestrian earlier today. Although police reported that the pedestrian victim was not in a crosswalk when he was hit, witnesses also stated that the law enforcement vehicle was speeding and did not have its blue lights activated. The investigation is ongoing, according to police, and it does not appear that fault for the pedestrian's death has been determined. Georgia law, codified at O.C.G.A. 40-6-6, allows police vehicles to exceed the speed limit when necessary for law enforcement purposes. But the law also requires in such circumstances that both the vehicle's siren and blue lights be activated. While governmental entities enjoy broad sovereign immunity in many cases, a partial immunity waiver exists where damages are caused by the negligence of a police vehicle. Whether the officer was negligent in this case is unknown.

Our firm represents those injured by the wrongdoing of others, including police departments, and recently secured a victory at the Georgia Court of Appeals in a police pursuit case against the City of Atlanta. Partner John Hadden will be a featured speaker on litigation involving law enforcement at a seminar sponsored by the National Business Institute later this summer:[SEMINAR INFORMATION]


Monday, May 14, 2012

Time to raise the minimum wage? Employers' failure to pay proper wages compounds economic difficulties

A recent article in The Atlantic, citing a report by the National Employment Law Project, addresses the prospect of an increase in the national minimum wage, currently set at $7.25 per hour. According to the NELP report, the present minimum wage, unchanged since 2009, is well below the historical standard once inflation and cost of living adjustments are taken into account. For example, the report claims that using the 1968 rate as the baseline, today's minimum wage should be $10.55 once adjusted for inflation.

Regardless of whether the minimum wage is raised in the near term, the reality is that many employers are failing to pay workers the full amount due under federal wage-and-hour laws even under the current rate. The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, requires employers to pay workers the minimum wage for all of the time they spend working, plus time-and-a-half for all overtime work, meaning all time in excess of 40 hours per week. Although a number of exceptions or exemptions apply to these rules, typically (though not always) for higher-paid workers who receive a salary or for commissioned sales employees, it is not unusual for employers to incorrectly claim such as exemption and fail to pay proper wages. The fact that a worker receives a salary, rather than payment by the hour, does not exempt the employer from these rules, although many employers attempt to claim otherwise.

Additionally, employers sometimes fail to consider all work as "on the clock." For example, if an employee is required to eat lunch at his or her desk, or is required to wear special protective clothing that takes time at the workplace to put on, those activities may be compensable work time even though the employer claims they are not. In such cases, the employer may be liable for back pay to any employee not receiving compensation for those activities.

A minimum wage increase would be of immediate benefit to many workers currently earning the minimum wage, and would potentially benefit those earning higher wages if employers raise wages across the board. But as many as 70% of employers, according to the Labor Department, are violating FLSA rules on wages in some way, meaning that American workers are being deprived of substantial wages that are rightfully theirs. Fortunately, federal law provides substantial remedies in favor of those workers. If you or someone you know has not been paid proper wages, or has been asked to work "off the clock," you may have a valuable legal right to pursue those claims.

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
(404) 890-7200
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com

Monday, April 30, 2012

Turkheimer & Hadden Partners Lead Seminar Tracks at Georgia Trial Lawyers Annual Convention

The Annual Convention of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association begins next week at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta. Partners Stefan Turkheimer and John Hadden are heavily involved in this event. John is co-chair of the New Lawyers track, featuring lectures from successful young lawyers from around the state as well as special guest John Morgan, founder of the law firm Morgan & Morgan. Stefan is chair of the Employment Law track, which includes presentations by prominent employment litigators discussing wage-and-hour (FLSA), Americans with Disabilities Act, sexual discrimination/harassment, and whistleblower (qui tam) cases. John Hadden will be a speaker at this track on screening cases for possible overtime/Fair Labor Standards Act violations.

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial & Appellate Lawyers
(404) 890-7200
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

YLD Litigation Committee Welcomes Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias



L-R: John Hadden, Justice Nahmias,
Brandon Smith, Lara Percifield
Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias was the guest speaker at today's "War Stories in Litigation," sponsored by the Litigation Committee of the State Bar Young Lawyers Division. Turkheimer & Hadden partner John Hadden serves as co-chair of the Litigation Committee.

Justice Nahmias, a Harvard Law School  grad and Harvard Law Review editor who was appointed to the state high court in 2009, previously served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, where he had previously worked as an Assistant US Attorney. During his time in that office, he was involved in the investigation into, and then prosecution of, Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph, which he spoke about today. He also spoke about his time as counsel to the US Attorney General, where he assisted with investigations into Al Qaeda following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The War Stories Program was created to give younger lawyers the opportunity to meet with more experienced judges and litigators from around the state. This year we were joined by lawyers BJ Bernstein and Jim Butler, and past programs have included Governor Roy Barnes, Tommy Malone, Adam Malone, Emmett Bondurant, Tom Carlock, Lin Wood, and many others. Brandon Smith served as subcommittee chair for the War Stories program this year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Turkheimer & Hadden wins victory at Georgia Court of Appeals

Turkheimer & Hadden partner John Hadden, along with co-counsel Ben Windham and John Bell, recently won an important victory at the Georgia Court of Appeals reversing the decision of a trial judge granting summary judgment to the defendants. The Court of Appeals ruling allows the case to proceed to trial.

The case concerned the extent to which an individual is considered an employee, as opposed to an independent contractor, of an employer. The defendants argued that the individual who caused a traffic collision (with resulting catastrophic injuries to the plaintiff) was an independent contractor for whom they were not liable. The trial court ruled in favor of the employer, but the Georgia Court of Appeals reversed, finding there to be genuine issues of material fact as to the defendants' control over the driver's actions.

The case is Broadnax v. Daniel Custom Construction et al., Case no. A11A2124 (March 29, 2012).

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
(404) 890-7200
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com

Friday, April 20, 2012

Georgia General Assembly Passes "Taxpayer False Claims Act"

The Georgia General Assembly has passed, and Governor Nathan Deal has signed, a bill intended to prevent government fraud and taxpayer waste arising from abuse of government programs. The bill applies broadly to state government and agencies, Medicaid (a joint state and federal program), and local governments. It provides for substantial penalties for those taking action to defraud the government, including repayment of the amounts defrauded, and allows so-called "whistleblowers," or those who report government fraud, to be compensated with a portion of the recovered funds.

The federal government has a similar rule, known as the "False Claims Act" (located in the US Code at 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–3733) that provides substantial penalties for those abusing federal programs for monetary gain. Like the Georgia law, the Federal FCA allows whistleblowers to recover potentially substantial amounts for turning in those involved in defrauding the government.

The bill was signed into law on April 16, 2012, and becomes effective on July 1, 2012.

Full text of bill
Atlanta Journal-Constitution article

Turkehimer & Hadden
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
(404) 890-7200
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Georgia Law of Torts - Trial Preparation and Practice

Turkheimer & Hadden partner John Hadden has authored and published, along with State Bar of Georgia President Kenneth Shigley, an authoritative treatise on Georgia tort law, with an emphasis on courtroom advocacy and case preparation. The book, Georgia Law of Torts - Trial Preparation and Practice, is published by West, the nation's leading publisher of legal resources and is available for order from the West web site.

The book covers all aspects of the preparation of a tort and personal injury case from initial investigation to appellate procedure, and includes an overview of the history of tort law, comprehensive comparison and cross-reference tables for the new Georgia evidence code (going into effect on January 1, 2013), jury psychology, lien resolution, mediation advocacy, and trial procedures and advocacy in state and federal courts.

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
(404) 890-7200
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com

Monday, April 9, 2012

Innocent lives destroyed by negligent police pursuits

A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article took an in-depth look at some of the tragic outcomes of high-speed police chases when innocent bystanders become involved. Focusing on two high-profile cases - the death of Kathy Porter, wife of Atlanta Braves trainer Jeff Porter, and a recent verdict $2 million verdict against Gwinnett County for the death of Wille Allen Sargent, Jr., following a collision with a county law enforcement vehicle that was en route, 34 miles per hour over the speed limit, to back up another officer.

In some cases, police pursuits may be necessary. But virtually all law enforcement agencies, from local police to the State Patrol, have strict guidelines about when those pursuits should take place, which is generally only where there is evidence of a serious crime or a risk of immediate harm. Even in those limited circumstances where a high-speed police pursuit is appropriate, strict rules govern how it is conducted. Sadly, law enforcement officers fail to follow the proper rules and procedures far more often than is reasonable.

Last fall, in the case of City of Atlanta v. Lockett (312 Ga. App. 19, 717 S.E.2d 529 (2011)), Turkheimer & Hadden partner John Hadden won an important victory at the Georgia Court of Appeals
on behalf of an innocent bystander who was injured during an Atlanta Police Department pursuit where the evidence showed Atlanta officers violated both the rules governing when a high-speed pursuit should take place as well as the procedure to be followed once the pursuit is underway. As a result, our the innocent bystander suffered serious injuries. The City of Atlanta argued that it was entitled to sovereign immunity for actions arising from the decisions of APD officers leading to the pursuit. The Court of Appeals disagreed, and the case was remanded to the State Court of Fulton County. This summer, John Hadden will lecture on this case and other issues surrounding police negligence and pursuits at a continuing legal education seminar sponsored by the National Business Institute.

Turkheimer & Hadden is a firm dedicated to obtaining justice for innocent victims injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others and holding wrongdoers, including law enforcement officers, accountable for their acts.

Turkheimer & Hadden, LLC
Trial and Appellate Lawyers
(404) 890-7200
TrialLawyersAtlanta.com