Wiggin and Dana Partner Wins Georgia Supreme Court Appeal, Reversing $3.7 Million Verdict

March 1, 2017

The Georgia Supreme Court sided unanimously on Monday with Wiggin and Dana on behalf of its client in Goldstein, Garber & Salama, LLC v. J.B. a case addressing important first principles in Georgia tort law.

The decision reversed an earlier decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals, which had found that the dental practice of Goldstein, Garber & Salama (GGS) could be held liable for the intentional torts of a nurse anesthetist working there, even though there was no reason to suspect that the anesthetist would sexually abuse his sedated patients. The intermediate appellate court had upheld a trial court judgment endorsing the jury's $3.7 million verdict against the dental practice.

Wiggin and Dana was retained to handle the appeal after the loss in the trial court. After the intermediate appellate court ruled against the client 4-3, the appellate team successfully sought certiorari and then convinced the Georgia Supreme Court to reverse. The opinion made clear that in Georgia, a defendant cannot be liable for the intervening criminal acts of a third party unless there is reason to suspect that the third party will commit criminal acts.

Jonathan Freiman, Chair of Wiggin and Dana's Appellate and Complex Legal Issues Group, argued the appeal in Atlanta in December. Freiman worked on the case with appellate group member Tadhg Dooley.