I am a Fulton County personal injury lawyer, and I represent people who
have been injured in car wrecks or by using a defective product, etc.
I have been blogging about a legal concept called “jurisdiction”.
When a court has “jurisdiction” over a person, the court has
legal authority over the person. In order to make that exercise of legal
control fair, the person must have some “minimum contacts”
with Georgia. In Georgia, a statute sets out six situations which will
be considered “minimum contacts”. The first three sections
are the most important ones for most tort cases involving personal injury.
In today’s blog entry, I will be discussing the first two of these
situations, and I will talk about the other four in my next blog entry.
(1) A Georgia court has jurisdiction over a nonresident who “[t]ransacts
any business within this state.”
O.C.G.A. § 9-10-91(1). As a
Cobb County premises liability lawyer, I might use this provision to explain to a court why it has jurisdiction
over a slip-and-fall at Walmart, or an assault that occurs at a McDonald’s
here in Georgia. When I handle a Legionnaire’s Disease case, I might
cite to this statutory provision when I tell the Georgia court that it
has jurisdiction over a hotel that failed to properly maintain its pool
or whirlpool/spa. This provision used to be rather cut-and-dried, but
it has become more and more interesting with the advent of the Internet.
Companies in any state, or for that matter, in any part of the world,
advertise via the Internet. A Georgia citizen may read the advertisement,
and order a product or service. The company then sends the product into Georgia.
(2) A Georgia court also may exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident
who “[c]ommits a tortious act or omission within this state, except
as to a cause of action for defamation of character arising from the act.”
O.C.G.A. § 9-10-91(2). When I act as a Cherokee County nursing home
malpractice lawyer, I might cite to this provision to explain why the
Cherokee County court has authority over a national nursing home chain
that failed to care for my client’s much-loved parent. When I handle
an Augusta car wreck case, I might use this section of the statute to
explain why it is fair for the Richmond County court to exercise jurisdiction
over a man from Maine who was driving on I-20 near Augusta when he crossed
the road and hit my client. (Georgia also has a special provision to address
The lawsuit (cause of action) has to “aris[e] from any of the acts,
omissions, ownership, use, or possession enumerated in this Code section.”
In other words, the fact that the person had a Fayette County car accident
does not give the Fayette County court jurisdiction over the person when
it comes to a completely separate car wreck that the person had in Tennessee.
The fact that an Alabama company ships a defective product into Spalding
County, Georgia, does not give the Spalding County Court jurisdiction
over a contract that the company made in Alabama with another Alabama company.