Ante litem (before suit) notice is a trapdoor through which many tort claims against government fall to their doom. In Shelnutt v. DOT, decided 3/10/05, it happened again. The plaintiffs, represented by out of state counsel, sent ante litem notice under the State Tort Claims Act to the Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS) instead of the Risk Management Division of DOAS. The court held that wasn’t good enough.
As we used to say on the playground when I was growing up, “close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.” When pursuing a claim under the State Tort Claims Act, a lawyer just has to sit down and diagram the sentences in the statute every single time. For about a decade, I did defense work for state officials and employees as outside counsel when my former firm was hired by DOAS. Since then, I have had several cases against state agencies under the Tort Claims Act that was passed about the time I stopped doing the defense work. Even with that background, I read the entire statute again every time I start working on one of those cases. There is no such thing as being too technical in dealing with that statute.
See the case below:
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was 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, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).