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Procedural Errors Can Be Fatal to Your Georgia Commercial Litigation Action

clockIn a commercial litigation situation, there may be multiple different ways to achieve success. There can also be a variety of ways to damage or destroy your case. One of these is failing to complete various procedural necessities, or failing to do them on time. Procedural compliance, even though it is often completely independent of the facts of your case, can still make all of the difference between a favorable and an unfavorable outcome. To be sure your case doesn’t get tripped up by these types of problems, make sure that you retain skilled Georgia business litigation counsel.

A recent lawsuit between a contractor and a financier of commercial equipment was an example of this risk. The finance company asked for, and received, a summary judgment in its favor. The trial court’s summary judgment order effectively ended the case.

Not satisfied, the contractor sought to appeal the summary judgment in favor of the finance company. The contractor filed its notice of appeal in a timely manner. Unfortunately for it, it fell short with regard to several other procedural requirements. When you are seeking to appeal a court order that went in favor of your opponent, several things need to be done. A notice of appeal must be filed within the time period allotted by the law. Additionally, you must also make a timely request to the trial court to have a transcript created of the hearing that produced the order you are appealing. Furthermore, there may be certain court costs that you must pay and pay within a specific deadline.

The contractor in this case did not make the required request for the preparation of a transcript. It also did not pay court costs it owed for 70 days after it received notice of those costs. On those bases, the trial judge threw out the contractor’s notice of appeal, which meant that the summary judgment in favor of the finance company stood.

The contractor appealed, but to no avail. The appeals court explained that the Georgia statutes clearly give trial courts the authority to take the action this trial judge took. The law allows for the dismissal of appeals when an appealing party has engaged in “an unreasonable delay in the transmission of the record to the appellate court, and it is seen that the delay was inexcusable and was caused by the failure of a party to pay costs in the trial court.”

The contractor filed its notice of appeal on July 11. The trial court sent out the bill of costs on July 26. The contractor didn’t pay until October 4. These facts alone gave the trial judge the legal authority to take the action he did. As the appeals court noted, judges are allowed to presume that a delay is unreasonable and inexcusable if it was more than 30 days. This contractor’s delay was more than twice that length. The law allows the appealing party to give the judge evidence that shows that the delay was reasonable, but the contractor did not provide any such evidence in defense of its delay.

Therefore, the court was not wrong to dismiss the appeal. Regardless of the merits of the contractor’s appeal arguments, it lost because it did not meet its procedural obligations. Make sure that you are prepared and give your case a strong chance of success by contacting the experienced Atlanta business litigation attorneys at Poole Huffman, LLC. Our attorneys have spent many years fighting to protect our clients’ interests. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (404) 373-4008 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

New Garnishment Ruling: What You Should Know, Atlanta Business Litigation Attorneys Blog, Atlanta Business Litigation Attorneys Blog, Sept. 29, 2015

Property Investors Beware: “Self-Help” Evictions are Never an Option, Atlanta Business Litigation Attorneys Blog, June 18, 2015

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