A summary judgment is a means by which attorneys and courts avoid unnecessary trials when no contested issues of fact are present in the case. Such was the situation in Fulton County State Court when it sided with the defendant for summary judgment. The plaintiff, however, felt that the facts were in dispute and appealed the trial court’s decision.
A man filed the initial suit on behalf of his brother, a victim of an accident that left him unable to speak or move. He has spent the last seven years in the fetal position, eating through a tube after being electrocuted on the job. The defense, the victim’s employer, claimed that the young man was at fault because he failed to shut off the power before performing maintenance. The trial court agreed, opting for summary judgment.
The court’s actions prompted the plaintiff to appeal, holding that the young man’s injuries stemmed from improperly labeled circuit breakers. He assumed that he had cut the power but unwittingly toggled the wrong switch. Georgia’s Court of Appeals felt that summary judgment was irrelevant and determined that a jury should decide on liability. Two dissenting Appeals Court judges believed that the plaintiffs were unable to demonstrate the defendant’s negligence, which would allow for jury speculation on the issue.
As a result of the Appeals Court decision, the defendant has asked Georgia’s Supreme Court to review the case.