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Georgia Department of Corrections v. Grady Mem. Hosp. Corp.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 16, 2015

GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
v.
GRADY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL CORPORATION. DOUGLAS COUNTY
v.
GRADY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL CORPORATION

Sovereign immunity. Douglas Superior Court. Before Judge James.

Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, W. Wright Banks, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, Julie A. Jacobs, Senior Assistant Attorney General, for appellant (case no. A15A0549).

Freeman, Mathis & Gary, Theodore Freeman, Brian R. Dempsey, for appellant (case no. A15A0550).

Samuel C. Harvey, for appellee.

PHIPPS, Presiding Judge. Doyle, C. J., and Boggs, J., concur fully in Divisions 1 and 3, and concur in judgment only in Division 2.

OPINION

Page 774

Phipps, Presiding Judge.

Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation d/b/a Grady Health System (" Hospital" ) filed a complaint against the Georgia Department of Corrections (" DOC" ) and Douglas County, Georgia, seeking payment for emergency medical care provided by the Hospital to an inmate who had been injured while housed at the Douglas County jail. The DOC and Douglas County moved for summary judgment based on sovereign immunity; Douglas County additionally moved for summary judgment based on the Hospital's alleged failure to comply with the notice provisions of OCGA § 36-11-1. The trial court denied both defendants' motions for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgments.

On appeal from the grant or denial of a motion for summary judgment, we conduct a de novo review of the law and evidence, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, to determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists and whether the moving party was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.[1]

Further, " [w]hether sovereign immunity has been waived is a matter of law, which we review de novo." [2]

The record reveals that Shaun Hood was an inmate at a DOC state prison when the DOC transferred physical custody of Hood to [333 Ga.App. 316] the Douglas County sheriff on or about July 10, 2008 pursuant to a superior court production order, so that Hood would be available for trial in a Douglas County criminal case. The production order further provided that after his court appearance, Hood was to be returned by the Douglas County sheriff or his deputies to the custody of the DOC. On or about August 11, 2008, while he was being housed in the Douglas County jail, Hood was injured. Douglas County sheriff's deputies transported Hood to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he remained until August 31, 2008. The sheriff's deputies returned Hood to the custody of the DOC in September 2008.

Case No. A15A0549

1. The trial court denied the DOC's motion for summary judgment on the basis that the state's sovereign immunity was waived under OCGA § 42-5-2. The DOC contends that this was error because, inter alia, OCGA § 42-5-2 requires the governmental entity to have physical custody of the inmate, which the DOC did not.

Except as specifically provided in this Paragraph, sovereign immunity extends to the state and all of its departments and agencies. The sovereign immunity of the state and its departments and agencies can only be waived by an Act of the General Assembly which specifically provides ...

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