Blogging to you from Atlanta, Georgia, I have been writing a series on
“jurisdiction” as it is applied under Georgia law. My most
recent two entries have been about the concept of what minimum contacts
a non-resident must have with the State of Georgia before he can be haled
into court here. For example, When I file a
Gwinnett County personal injury lawsuit, I have to be sure that the Gwinnett County court has jurisdiction over
the defendant who committed the tort. In Georgia, we have a statute that
sets out six conditions under which a Georgia court can have jurisdiction
over a non-resident.
Yesterday, I discussed the first two provisions that are set out in the
statute. To briefly recap those provisions, a Georgia court has jurisdiction
over a non-resident who:
(1) Transacts business within this state. O.C.G.A. § 9-10-91(1).
(2) “Commits 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 file a Fayette County nursing home neglect case, for example, generally
one of these two provisions will apply.
Today I would like to focus on the other four provisions, and particularly
the third provision. Georgia courts get jurisdiction of virtually every,
if not every, tort action as a result of one of the first three provisions.
(3) A non-resident is subject to the jurisdiction of the Georgia courts
even when he has committed a tortious act or omission outside the state,
if it caused an injury in the state of Georgia, and if “the tort-feasor
regularly does or solicits business, or engages in any other persistent
course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed
or services rendered in” Georgia.
O.C.G.A. § 9-10-91(3). When I act as a Chatham County product liability lawyer, or a Peachtree
City product liability lawyer, I might cite this provision to support
my contention that the Peachtree City or Chatham County court can exert
jurisdiction over the defendant product manufacturer who made the defective
product in another state, but sold it here.
(4) A non-resident is subject to jurisdiction in Georgia if he “owns,
uses or possesses any real property” in the State of Georgia. O.C.G.A.
(5) In divorce, separate maintenance, annulment or domestic relations actions,
the Georgia court has jurisdiction where a non-resident who “maintains
a matrimonial domicile in this state at the time of the commencement of
this action.” Additionally, if the defendant resided in Georgia
before the case was brought and one of the parties still lives in Georgia,
then the Georgia courts have jurisdiction “as to all obligations
arising from alimony, child support, apportionment of debt, or real or
personal property orders or agreements.” O.C.G.A. § 9-10-91(5).
(6) Georgia courts may assert jurisdiction over a non-resident who was
subject to the exercise of the jurisdiction of a Georgia court in the
past, even if he leaves the state, if: (1) the action relates to “an
order of alimony, child custody, child support, equitable apportionment
of debt, or equitable division of property” that was issued in the
earlier action; (2) the action involves modifying the previous order;
and (3) either the person moving to modify the order lives in Georgia
or the action involves enforcing the order “notwithstanding the
domicile of the moving party.” O.C.G.A. § 9-10-91(6).
Note, however, that the lawsuit (cause of action) has to “aris[e]
from any of the acts, omissions, ownership, use, or possession enumerated
in this Code section.” For example, a resident of the State of California
who allegedly breached a contract in California cannot be sued in Georgia
simply because he has a part ownership in a rental property in St. Simon’s.
On the other hand, the person can be sued in Georgia for a matter that
relates to the rental property in St. Simon’s.