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Board of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Georgia v. Myers

Supreme Court of Georgia

October 6, 2014

BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA
v.
MYERS

Certiorari to the Court of Appeals of Georgia -- 324 Ga.App. 685.

Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Kathleen M. Pacious, Deputy Attorney General, Loretta L. Pinkston, Kirsten S. Daughdril, Senior Assistant Attorneys General, Ronald S. Boyter, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, for appellant.

McMahan Law Firm, Barton C. Solomon, Jay R. McCurdy, The Cowan Law Firm, Brian D. Wright, for appellee.

HUNSTEIN, Justice. All the Justices concur, except Benham, J., who dissents.

OPINION

Page 544

Hunstein, Justice.

We granted certiorari in this case to determine whether the Court of Appeals correctly interpreted the ante litem notice requirements of the Georgia Tort Claims Act (" GTCA" ), OCGA § 50-21-20 et seq. For the reasons set forth below, we hold that the claimant's ante litem notice in this case did

Page 545

not strictly comply with the notice requirements of the GTCA because it failed to state the amount of the loss claimed to the extent of the claimant's knowledge and belief as was practicable under the circumstances. Accordingly, we reverse.

On June 28, 2010, Appellee Kimberly Myers was injured when she stepped in an unrepaired pothole in a parking lot on the campus of Dalton State College, an institution within the University System of Georgia. Myers received medical emergency treatment that day, received follow-up orthopedic care, and started physical therapy, which ran from approximately September through December 2010. Thereafter, she continued to seek medical treatment because she had not yet completely recovered from her injuries.

[295 Ga. 844] On October 11, 2010, Myers sent a Notice of Claim letter via certified mail pursuant to OCGA § 50-21-26 to the Georgia Department of Administrative Services (" DOAS" ) and the University System's Board of Regents (" Board" ). Myers' ante litem notice stated that she asserted a negligence claim against the Board based on the unsafe condition of its parking lot at Dalton State College. She explained that on June 26, she stepped into a hole in the parking lot, " injuring her left ankle including a fracture and torn tendons." Myers' ante litem notice further stated that " [t]he amount of Ms. Myers [sic] loss is yet to be determined as she is still incurring medical bills and does not yet know the full extent of her injury."

On December 30, 2010, DOAS sent a letter to Myers' attorney acknowledging receipt of Myers' October 11 correspondence and requesting copies of Myers' medical bills, reports, and verification of any wage loss. Myers did not respond.

On August 2, 2011, DOAS sent a follow-up letter to Myers' counsel requesting the same documentation and a demand for settlement within 30 days. On April 23, 2012, Myers made a demand for $110,000 to settle her claims. On May 7, 2012, DOAS responded with a settlement offer of $10,128.24.

Myers then filed suit on June 20, 2012, seeking damages for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and mental anguish, as well as loss of earning capacity. The Board answered Myers' complaint and moved to dismiss, arguing that Myers' ante litem notice did not contain the " amount of the loss claimed," and therefore, it failed to comply with OCGA ยง 50-21-26 (a) (5) (E). The trial court granted the Board's motion to dismiss, finding that Myers' suit was ...


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