Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Awarding City Legal Fees Under OCGA 9-15-14 Despite Fees Being Borne By City's Insurer


By: A. Ali Sabzevari

The Georgia Supreme Court issued an important ruling regarding the payment of fees under OCGA 9-15-14. The case is LONG et al. v. CITY OF HELEN et al. Additional Party Names: Lesia Long, Water Park Properties, LLC, No. S17A0642, 2017 WL 1548561, at *1 (Ga. May 1, 2017).

In this case, plaintiff appealed an award of attorney’s fees to a city pursuant to OCGA 9-15-14, contending that the award of fees was improper because those fees actually were borne by the city’s insurer, not the city itself. The Court disagreed: the fact that fees were “borne by the party’s insurer, a friend or relative, or some other non-party does not preclude an award of those fees and expenses under OCGA § 9-15-14.”

The key point of law here is that it doesn’t matter whether an insurance company or any third party actually paid the bill. If a lawsuit is ruled frivolous against a party, that party is entitled to collect a judgment for sanctions. Had the Supreme Court found otherwise, the decision could have significantly impacted cases where insurance coverage is involved.

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