United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
JAMIE LEE ANDREWS, as surviving spouse of Micah Lee Andrews, Deceased, and JAMIE LEE ANDREWS, as Administrator of the Estate of Micah Lee Andrews, Deceased, Plaintiff,
AUTOLIV JAPAN, LTD, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR". UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Autoliv Japan,
Ltd.'s ("Autoliv") Motion for Attorney's
Fees and Expenses of Litigation  ("Motion for
Attorneys' Fees"). Also before the Court is
Plaintiff Jamie Lee Andrews' ("Plaintiff) Motion for
Leave to File a Surreply in Opposition to Autoliv's
Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Expenses of Litigation
 ("Motion to File Surreply").
product liability action arises from the April 12, 2013,
death of Micah Lee Andrews. Mr. Andrews died when his 2005
Mazda3 veered off Interstate 575 and collided with three
trees. Plaintiff contends Autoliv's driver's seatbelt
assembly (“Seatbelt Assembly”) design should have
incorporated one of two alternate designs: (1) a torsion bar
with a higher deployment threshold, or (2) a
“stop” feature. Plaintiff contends Autoliv's
failure to incorporate these designs into the Seatbelt
Assembly render the Restraint System defective.
October 24, 2014, Defendants Mazda Motor Corporation, Mazda
Motor of America, Inc. (together, the “Mazda
Defendants”), Autoliv, Inc., Autoliv ASP, Inc., Autoliv
AB, Autoliv Japan, Ltd., Autoliv Safety Technology, Inc.,
Autoliv LLC, Autoliv North America, Inc. (collectively, the
“Autoliv Defendants”), Robert Bosch LLC, Robert
Bosch North America Corporation, Robert Bosch Motor Systems
Corporation, and Bosch Corporation (collectively, the
“Bosch Defendants”) removed the case to this
April 22, 2015, the Court granted Bosch Corporation's
Motion to Dismiss , and on August 25, 2015, the
remaining Bosch Defendants were dismissed from this action
pursuant to a consent motion filed by Plaintiff and the Bosch
Defendants , . On May 5, 2015, Plaintiff and the
Autoliv Defendants filed a consent motion to dismiss all
Autoliv Defendants except for Autoliv Japan, Ltd. . On
August 27, 2015, the Court granted the motion .
March 30, 2016, Autoliv and the Mazda Defendants submitted
motions for summary judgment , . On April 25, 2016,
Plaintiff filed her response to the summary judgment motions
, . On May 12, 2016, Autoliv and the Mazda
Defendants filed reply briefs in support of their motions
25, 2016, Autoliv served Plaintiff an offer of settlement in
the amount of $200, 000 [276.2]. The offer stated:
Autoliv is offering $200, 000 to settle this litigation in an
attempt to avoid further litigation expenses - not because it
doubts the viability of its defenses. Autoliv believes that
[the Court] will enter summary judgment in its favor because
“strict” liability does not apply to design
defect cases and because Plaintiff has offered no evidence
that Autoliv was “actively involved in the design,
specifications, or formulation . . . of a defective component
part which failed during use of a product and caused
injury.” Davenport v. Cummins Alabama, Inc.,
284 Ga.App. 666, 671 (2007).
([276.2] at 3-4). In addition to sending the offer by
certified mail, Autoliv emailed a courtesy copy of the offer
letter at 9:43 a.m. the same day. Three minutes later,
Plaintiff's counsel sent a response email, stating:
“Be advised there will be no discussion of settlement
with Autoliv unless and until said letter is
withdrawn.” ([276.3] at 2).
8, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Settlement with the
Mazda Defendants . On July 7, 2016, the Court granted
Plaintiff and the Mazda Defendants' consent motion to
dismiss the Mazda Defendants , . Autoliv was then
the only remaining defendant in this action.
January 10, 2017, the Court issued its order granting
Autoliv's Motion for Summary Judgment, and dismissed this
action. In its order, the Court stated that the Georgia Court
of Appeals' decision in Davenport was
“instructive, ” and relied on it in finding that
summary judgment was warranted on Plaintiff's design
defect claim under O.C.G.A. § 51-1-11. (See
 at 9-16).
January 16, 2017, Autoliv filed its Motion for Attorneys'
Fees, arguing that, because Plaintiff rejected Autoliv's
May 25, 2016, offer of settlement, Autoliv is entitled to
attorneys' fees under O.C.G.A. §91-11-68. Autoliv
seeks $29, 961.23 in attorneys' fees for the period May
25, 2016, through January 10, 2017. ( at 5).
contends that Autoliv's offer was not made in good faith,
including because (1) Autoliv told Plaintiff it had no risk
of losing, but its attorneys were preparing for trial on the
merits, and (2) Autoliv's offer was dramatically lower
than the damages in this case. Plaintiff also argues that,
even if the Court finds Autoliv's offer was made in good
faith, Plaintiff's response to Autoliv's email was
not a rejection. Plaintiff argues that, under O.C.G.A. §
91-11-68, the offer was deemed rejected thirty (30) days
after it was made, and Autoliv cannot recover fees incurred
before June 24, 2016. Plaintiff thus argues that, even if the
offer was made in good faith, Autoliv's fees should be
reduced by $13, 065.35 for fees incurred between May 25,
2016, and June 24, 2016, for a total recovery of $16, 895.88.
March 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Motion for Leave to File a
Surreply . Plaintiff contends a surreply is needed to
respond to several new arguments “and blatant
distortions of law in Autoliv's reply brief.”
( at ...