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Court of Appeals of Georgia.


Barnett et al. v. Georgia Pacific Corporation et al.

Isbell et al. v. Georgia Pacific Corporation et al.

Nos. A07A0637, A07A0709, A07A0710.

Decided: April 12, 2007

Wendell K. Willard, David Alfred Webster, Atlanta, for Appellants. Evert, Weathersby & Houff, Baltimore, MD, Jennifer Techman, Hawkins & Parnell, Erin Shofner, Atlanta, Stewart, Melvin & Frost, J. Douglas Stewart, Gainesville, Devlin & Robinson, Marvin Devlin, Gray, Rust, St. Amand, Moffett & Brieske, Michael Rust, Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, Thomas Wamsley, Jr., Hunton & Williams, Matthew Calvert, Atlanta, Carlock, Copeland, Semler & Stair, Gregory Wheeler, Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers, Kenneth Barre, Cruser & Mitchell, Norcross, Kathleen Hurley, Atlanta, Chivilis, Cochran, Larkins & Bever, John Dalbey, Green, Johnson & Landers, David Sapp, Carter & Ansley, Robert Barnaby II, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, Michael Hutchins, Atlanta, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, David Hughes, Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Martin, Nicholas Papleacos, Owen, Gleaton, Egan, Jones & Sweeney, Charles Cole, Gambrell & Stolz, Jennifer Cooper, Alston & Bird, Orlyn Lockard III, Angela Spivey, Atlanta, for appellees.

These consolidated appeals consist of three asbestos cases brought by multiple plaintiffs against multiple defendants.   The trial court dismissed all three cases under OCGA § 51-14-5 of the asbestos and silica claims statute.   That statute provides that plaintiffs must submit reports establishing “prima-facie evidence of physical impairment” either with the complaint, if it was filed after April 12, 2005, or within a specific time frame, if the complaint was pending on April 12, 2005.  “Prima-facie evidence” is defined in detail in OCGA § 51-14-2(15) and (16), which provide, among other things, that the plaintiffs must submit a “detailed narrative medical report and diagnosis” verifying that exposure to asbestos or silica was “a substantial contributing factor to the exposed person's medical condition and physical impairment.”  OCGA § 51-14-2(15)(A), (B)(v), (16)(A) (ii), (C)(iv).

While these cases were on appeal, the Supreme Court of Georgia held that the statute, OCGA § 51-14-1 et seq., could not be constitutionally applied to cases in which the cause of action accrued before the effective date of the statute, April 12, 2005, and could not be severed to apply any part of the statute to those cases.  Daimler Chrysler v. Ferrante, 281 Ga. 273, 275(1), (2), 637 S.E.2d 659 (2006).   The court held that the statute was unconstitutional in these cases because it affected the plaintiff-employees' substantive rights by establishing a new element which did not exist when the original cause of action accrued.

In the cases before us, all the parties have agreed that the trial court's orders must be reversed and the cases remanded for further proceedings because of the ruling in Daimler Chrysler.   We agree.   Accordingly, we reverse and remand these cases for further proceedings.

Judgments reversed and cases remanded.

BARNES, Chief Judge.

SMITH, P.J., and MILLER, J., concur.

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Docket No: Nos. A07A0637, A07A0709, A07A0710.

Decided: April 12, 2007

Court: Court of Appeals of Georgia.

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