Georgia Supreme Court Rules for Receiver on Complex Immunity Question
Brian Spitler and Joe Kingma prevailed for their clients , an accounting firm/receiver, on June 1, 2015. The receivership had been created in attempt to salvage a once thriving business that had been hamstrung by a bitter fight amongst its principals. While the receivership was still in place, one of the principals sued the receiver, claiming gross negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. Joe and Brian filed a motion to dismiss which was granted, but that was just the beginning. Two trips to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari followed.The defenses sprung from the confluence of official immunity, judicial immunity, and statutory immunity under the Georgia Tort Claims Act. The plaintiff argued, amongst other things, that an accounting firm cannot itself be protected by official immunity because only its principal was the receiver. In the years following Carlock, Copeland & Stair’s first motion, the Supreme Court had issued numerous opinions on immunity and, in this case, specifically asked that the parties describe all the various immunities which might protect a receiver. At oral argument Joe was peppered with questions from the Justices who clearly had strong views on immunity. At the close of the argument one of the lions of the Georgia Bar approached Joe and muttered “Bad Day at Black Rock” referencing the old western wherein a lone traveler is assaulted by all the members of a small town.A unanimous Supreme Court vacated much of the Court of Appeals immunity analysis but agreed with Brian and Joe that dismissal for lack of jurisdiction was required. CCS convinced the Court that this plaintiff was not entitled to another day in court, however the law remains complex. Please contact Brian or Joe if you would like to discuss the nuances of immunity protection for receivers.