The Court of Appeals recently issued a decision in an appeal of a trial court’s ruling dismissing a woman and her husband’s Georgia personal injury lawsuit. The general holding is that when you file a case and serve it and then dismiss it without prejudice, the Court will not throw out the renewal complaint for ticky tacky reasons. Any amendments to the pleadings relate back to the the original pleading.
In 2018, the woman filed a lawsuit against the driver of a car that hit her vehicle. The woman voluntarily dismissed her lawsuit nine months after the initial filing. About two months later, she renewed the lawsuit against the driver and an uninsured motorist carrier. At the renewal, her husband joined the claim alleging a loss of consortium. The insurance company moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the plaintiffs did not include necessary and required pleadings. The plaintiffs amended their complaint to correct the defects; however, the trial court granted the insurance company’s motion.
Under OCGA § 9-2-61, Georgia’s renewal statute, a plaintiff may recommence a previously-filed lawsuit that was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice. Plaintiffs may file the claim in state or federal court within the original statute of limitations or within six months after the dismissal, whichever is later. In cases where a plaintiff relies on the renewal to recommence a lawsuit that the statute of limitations would bar, they must prove that the prior lawsuit was not void. Further, the plaintiff must prove that the renewed action is based upon the same cause of action, and it is not a renewal of an action that was dismissed on its merits.