Over the past year I have had the pleasure of serving, along with some folks who are clearly smarter than me, on the advisory board of Georgia Court Watch, which is a project of Georgia Watch, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group committed to consumer rights in Georgia.

We recently issued an annual report on Georgia appellate courts. The reports shows that, contrary to the politically motivated statements of some, the Georgia Appellate judges are not big liberal  activists. I have become acquainted with most of the judges through Bar work, and can assure one and all that they are generally a conservative, well-grounded bunch of folks.

“Many of the decisions reached by the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals significantly impact the rights that consumers have under law,” said Georgia Watch Executive Director Allison Wall. “Georgia Watch launched this project to provide ongoing, thoughtful, fact-based analysis.”

The “2007 Annual Report” identifies and profiles the most noteworthy consumer-related decisions released by the appellate courts throughout the year, and identifies emerging trends. It focused on decisions on payday loan, insurance coverage, medical malpractice, and other consumer issues.

Notable consumer cases discussed include:

Glenn v. State, a case in which the court upheld Georgia’s Payday Lending Law. Two individuals convicted of issuing payday loans argued that the statewide ban on payday lending was unconstitutionally vague and did not specifically prohibit the schemes they utilized in issuing loans, such as a “sales-leaseback” of a cell phone or coffee maker. The lenders also claimed they were not subject to the ban because they were located out-of-state.

Kaminer v. Canas, in which the court upheld the two-year statute of limitations for medical misdiagnosis, regardless of futures failures to properly diagnosis, even in the presence of a patient’s additional or significantly worsened symptoms. In Georgia, a claim must be filed within two years of the date of the first misdiagnosis, whether or not the patient knows they have been misdiagnosed. In Kaminer v. Canas, the patient unsuccessfully argued that repeated misdiagnosis over a decade of treatment by multiple medical providers should have restarted the statute of limitations.

Dees v. Logan, in which the court established that insurance companies are prohibited from creating offset clauses to reduce the amount owed to drivers who purchased uninsured motorist (UM) insurance. Offsets deny policyholders benefits already purchased that are needed to cover medical and property damage resulting from an accident with an underinsured driver. The court ruled that insurance policies containing offsets for personal injury benefits are in conflict with Georgia’s Uninsured Motorist Act. This year, the Georgia General Assembly responded to this decision by passing Senate Bill 276, which expressly permits insurance carriers to use offsets for workers’ compensation benefits, effectively overturning part of this decision. SB 276 also expanded drivers’ access to UM coverage.

The Shigley Law Firm  represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases arising from motor carrier accidents statewide in Georgia
.  Recently elected Secretary of the State Bar of Georgia, Ken Shigley has been designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and former chair of both the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, bus wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.