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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > Personal Injury > Why Residency Matters When It Comes to Filing a Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuit

Why Residency Matters When It Comes to Filing a Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuit


In a Georgia personal injury lawsuit, an employer can be held legally responsible for a tort committed by an employee. This is known as vicarious liability. For example, if a driver is making a delivery for their employer in a company-owned vehicle, runs a red light, and hits a minivan, the employer is just as responsible for any injuries sustained by the people in that minivan as the employee.

Judge Orders LLC to Disclose Names and Addresses of Members in Connection with Car Accident Case

When an employer is a defendant in a personal injury case, however, that can raise additional legal complications. For instance, if the employer is an out-of-state business, it may attempt to transfer (or remove) the personal injury lawsuit from state court to federal court. Under federal law, such removal is the defendant’s right if certain conditions are met.

One such condition is that there must be complete diversity between the parties. In this context, diversity refers to the citizenship of the parties. Essentially, federal jurisdiction only exists if the plaintiffs and the defendants are residents of different states. So if you are a Georgia resident hit by a Florida resident working for a Florida corporation, a federal court would have jurisdiction. But if the Florida corporation’s employee is also a Georgia resident, the state court would retain jurisdiction.

Sorting out these types of jurisdictional issues is often not as simple as you might think. Consider this recent order from a federal judge here in Atlanta. In this ongoing personal injury case, Possee v. Caravan Logistics, LLC, the plaintiff is a Georgia resident who was injured in a car accident involving a vehicle owned by a limited liability company (LLC). The plaintiff alleges that the driver who caused the accident was an “unknown employee” of the LLC, i.e., a “John Doe.”

The plaintiff filed her personal injury claim in Georgia state court. The defendants then removed the case to federal court. The LLC claimed it was based in Pennsylvania. The plaintiff moved to remand (or return) the case to state court since it was unclear whether diversity existed, as the identity and state of residence of the John Doe driver was still unknown.

The federal court denied the plaintiff’s motion, at least for the time being. The judge explained that when it comes to establishing federal jurisdiction, the potential citizenship of any “John Doe” defendants was not taken into account. So the plaintiff could not justify remand on that basis.

The judge did, however, require the defendant LLC to submit additional information regarding its state of residence. An LLC is an unincorporated business made up of one or more “members.” Under federal law, an LLC is therefore considered a “resident” of every state where one of its members is a citizen. So if any of the LLC’s members are Georgia residents, the case would have to go back to state court. The judge therefore directed the LLC to disclose the names and addresses of its individual members.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

A personal injury lawsuit often requires dealing with complicated–and often arcane–procedural rules. That is why you should always work with an experienced Fulton County personal injury lawyer. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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