When initially pleading a case, attorneys will typically maintain a litigant’s injury is compensable under several distinct theories of liability. However, as the Georgia Court of Appeals recent decision in Demott v. Old Town Trolley Tours of Savannah, Inc. demonstrates, alternative pleading, although often efficacious, does not assure recovery.
The plaintiff in Demott was injured in Savannah on November 17, 2008. On that day, the plaintiff and several family members went to the Savannah Visitor Center in order to procure tickets and take the Savannah Old Town Trolley Tour. After parking and entering the Visitor Center to purchase tickets, the plaintiff walked across the parking lot to a kiosk to inquire about where she and her family should board the trolley. The kiosk attendant informed her that she and her family could board back at the entrance to the Visitor Center. While making her way back across the parking lot, the plaintiff tripped in a pothole and fell.
The plaintiff originally brought a premises liability suit on March 16, 2010 against the City of Savannah. However, after realizing that Old Town, not the City of Savannah, owned the parking lot, the plaintiff amended the complaint on November 16, 2011 to include a premises liability claim against Old Town. However, Old Town argued that this claim fell beyond the two-year statute of limitations period for personal injury actions, see O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33, and moved for summary judgment. In response, the plaintiff again amended the complaint to assert a breach of contract claim based on Old Town’s duty to its riders as a common carrier. While the trial court acknowledged that this is a distinct claim, the court found that the injury did not occur based on a breach of the contractual duty to safely carry and transport the plaintiff and granted the motion for summary judgment.
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