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Supreme Court Provisions Allow Georgia Plaintiffs Double Recovery of Attorney Fees

March 8, 2022

Georgia’s Supreme Court has been unanimously generous to plaintiffs. In Junior v. Graham (S21G0578 03/08/22), the Court held that a plaintiff can recover the same attorneys’ fees twice if he/she proves entitlement to the fees under two different statutes. One statute (9-11-68) allows fees when a defendant fails to accept a settlement offer in a particular set of circumstances. The other statute (13-6-11) allows recovery of fees when a defendant acts in bad faith or causes the plaintiff unnecessary trouble and expense. The lower courts had held that the plaintiff could recover under one statute or the other, but not both, because otherwise there would be a double recovery. The Supreme Court disagreed, countering that permitting a plaintiff to recover the same fees twice was not permitting a double recovery because the fees under one statute are compensatory and under the other punitive. It’s a brave new world for defendants in Georgia.