DILLARD, C. J., RAY, P. J., and SELF, J.
Grantham brought this action against the City of Kingsland
(the "City") and its police officer, Vincent
Bryant, after she sustained injuries when a patrol car driven
by Officer Bryant collided with the car in which she was
riding. The City appeals from the denial of its motion for a
partial judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the trial
court erred in concluding that Grantham's claims against
the City for negligent training, negligent supervision, and
negligent entrustment were not redundant to her claims
against the City for respondeat superior. For the following
reasons, we reverse.
Court reviews de novo a trial court's decision on a
motion for judgment on the pleadings. Mills v. Allstate
Ins. Co., 288 Ga.App. 257, 257-258 (XX) (2007). When
ruling on a motion for a judgment on the pleadings, the issue
is whether the undisputed facts appearing from the pleadings
entitle the movant to judgment as a matter of law. All
well-pleaded material allegations by the nonmovant are taken
as true. . . . Where the movant does not introduce
affidavits, depositions, or interrogatories in support of the
motion, such motion is the equivalent of a motion to dismiss
the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. The motion to dismiss should not be granted
unless the averments in the complaint disclose with certainty
that the plaintiff would not be entitled to relief under any
state of facts which could be proved in support of the
(Citation omitted.) Mills, supra at 257-258.
complaint alleges that on June 14, 2015, Destini Grantham was
a passenger in a vehicle driven by a non-party on I-95 in
Camden County. At the same time, Officer Bryant was
"conducting radar speed detection on vehicles traveling
on I-95." As Grantham's vehicle approached Officer
Bryant's location on I-95, Officer Bryant abruptly pulled
out of the median and into the lane of travel occupied by
Grantham's vehicle. As a result, Grantham's vehicle
struck Officer Bryant's police cruiser and then
overturned. Grantham sustained injuries as a result of the
sued Officer Bryant and the City to recover for her injuries.
Grantham's complaint asserted claims for negligence and
negligence per se under various code sections, and contended
that the City was vicariously liable for Officer Bryant's
acts because he was acting in the course and scope of his
employment. Grantham also asserted a claim against the City
for negligent training, negligent supervision, and negligent
entrustment of Bryant.
City filed a motion for partial judgment on the pleadings on
Grantham's claim for negligent training, negligent
supervision, and negligent entrustment. In that motion, the
City argued that the claims for negligent training, negligent
supervision, and negligent entrustment should be dismissed as
redundant because they seek recovery that is duplicative of
that sought under respondeat superior. In her response,
Grantham argued that these claims should not be dismissed
because the City's liability could differ from Officer
Bryant's under Georgia's new apportionment statute,
OCGA § 51-12-33. The trial court entered an order
denying the City's motion for partial judgment on the
pleadings, but certified it for immediate review. This Court
granted the City's application for an interlocutory
appeal from that order.
true that, prior to 2005, Georgia cases held that if a
defendant employer concedes that it will be vicariously
liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior for the
negligence of its employee, the employer is entitled to
summary judgment on the plaintiff's claims for negligent
entrustment, negligent hiring, negligent training, and
negligent supervision, unless the plaintiff has also brought
a valid claim for punitive damages against the employer for
its own independent negligence (hereinafter, the
"Respondeat Superior Rule"). See Kelley v. Blue
Line Carriers, LLC, 300 Ga.App. 577, 580 (2) (685 S.E.2d
479) (2009); Durben v. American Materials, Inc., 232
Ga.App. 750, 751 (1) (503 S.E.2d 618) (1998); Bartja v.
Nat. Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., 218 Ga.App.
815, 817 (2) (463 S.E.2d 358) (1995). The rationale
underlying the Respondeat Superior Rule "is that, since
the employer would be liable for the employee's
negligence under respondeat superior, allowing claims for
negligent entrustment, hiring, and retention would not
entitle the plaintiff to a greater recovery, but would merely
serve to prejudice the employer." (Citation omitted.)
Durben, supra. Such prejudice could be caused by,
inter alia, allowing the introduction of unfairly prejudicial
information about the employee's prior employment
history. See Kelley, supra. That line of cases held
that "[w]here no punitive damages are sought, . . . a
defendant employer's admission of liability under
respondeat superior establishes the liability link from the
negligence of the driver . . . rendering proof of negligent
entrustment unnecessary and irrelevant."
2005, the Georgia General Assembly enacted tort reform
legislation. Laws 2005, Act 1 §12. As part of that
reform, the General Assembly passed Georgia's
apportionment statute, OCGA § 51-12-33, eliminating
joint and several liability. Georgia's apportionment
statute, OCGA § 51-12-33 (b), states in pertinent part:
Where an action is brought against more than one person for
injury to person or property, the trier of fact . . . shall .
. . apportion its award of damages among the persons who are
liable according to the percentage of fault of each person.
Damages apportioned by the trier of fact as provided in this
Code section shall be the liability of each person against
whom they are awarded, shall not be a joint liability among
the persons liable, and shall not be subject to any right of
§ 51-12-33 (b). See also McReynolds v. Krebs,
290 Ga. 850. 852 (1) (b) (725 S.E.2d 584) (2012).
Accordingly, the General Assembly has now expressly
determined that fault must be apportioned between all
negligent parties whose negligence caused or contributed to
cause a plaintiff's injuries.
argues, and the trial court agreed, that in the wake of
Georgia's abolishment of joint and several liability
through the enactment of the apportionment statute, OCGA
§ 51-12-33 (b), the Respondeat Superior Rule is no
longer applicable. In support of this argument, Grantham
cites to Little v. McClure, 2014WL 4276118 (M.D.
Ga., decided August 29, 2014). In Little, the United
States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia held
that Georgia's apportionment statute superseded the
Respondeat Superior Rule. The Little court held that
"[b]ecause the jury must apportion separate percentages
of damages to each party at fault [under OCGA § 51-12-33
(b)], the employer's ...