COVID afflicted cases have incubated long enough


By: Wayne S. Melnick and Carlos Fernández

Recently, we examined one of the first rulings about the Georgia Supreme Court’s Emergency Orders and their effect on a case’s statute of limitations. In Owens, the Middle District of Georgia determined the addition of 122 days to every cases’ statute of limitations was “simply unreasonable.” The court’s Order was ultimately vacated as the parties agreed to substitute the relevant parties from the Motion to Dismiss. Now, the question of how to interpret the Emergency Orders has finally made it to the Georgia Court of Appeals.  

As a reminder, the Emergency Orders provided “[t]he 122 days between March 14 and July 14, 2020, or any portion of that period in which a statute of limitation would have run, shall be excluded from the calculation of that statute of limitation.” (emphasis added) In Beauparlant v. Aiken, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident and sustained multiple injuries on June 11, 2018 meaning the statute of limitations would normally run on June 11, 2020. Plaintiff timely filed her complaint but process was not served until August 9, 2020. The trial court dismissed the matter finding service was untimely. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision and ruled that the statute of limitations was tolled by the Emergency Orders holding the Emergency Orders’ plain language entitled plaintiff to tolling relief because the case’s statute of limitations was set to expire in the tolling period between March 14–July 14, 2020. The Court determined that because the statute would have run 90 days after the tolling began on March 14, 2020, plaintiff had an additional 90 days after the tolling period ended to serve defendant.1 

This ruling washes it hands of the argument the Emergency Orders granted a 122-day extension to all cases. For now, cases where the statute of limitations would have expired within the tolling period are entitled to relief by the Emergency Orders. As such, parties should maintain close distance with their cases’ statutes of limitations to ensure deadlines mandates are followed.  

If you would like a copy of this case, Beauparlant v. Aiken, please contact Wayne S. Melnick at or Carlos A. Fernández at directly.