Please Note: This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site is not intended to provide legal advice or a legal opinion and should not be construed as the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Specific questions should be directed to an attorney at NowackHoward, LLC or to another lawyer.
On July 10, 2020, the Supreme Court of Georgia entered its Fourth Order Extending Declaration of Statewide Judicial Emergency proceeding with its previously stated plan to re-impose deadlines on litigants effective July 14, 2020 and return to more robust court operations. Although the Fourth Order extends the ongoing judicial emergency, deadlines in pending litigation have been re-imposed, and lawsuits are now moving forward again. If your association has a pending case, it’s time to talk to your HOA attorney about the process and what you need to prepare for litigations to resume.
All deadlines that were previously suspended, tolled or extended since the Supreme Court’s initial Order Declaring Statewide Emergency was entered on March 14, 2020, have been re-imposed as of July 14, 2020—including answer and other response deadlines, as well as the applicable statutes of limitations for new lawsuits.
In lawsuits pending before March 14, 2020, parties and their HOA attorney will have the same amount of time to file pleadings or responses or act after July 14, 2020 that they had as of March 14, 2020.
For lawsuits filed between March 14, 2020 and July 13, 2020, the time for deadlines will begin running on July 14, 2020.
In calculating the applicable statute of limitations for new lawsuits, the 122-day period from March 14, 2020 through July 14, 2020 will not be counted in the calculation for the deadline to file suit.
Remote and In-Person Proceedings to be Conducted
While the Fourth Order continues to prohibit all jury trials, new and pending cases will now move forward except for jury trials. The Fourth Order directs the courts to continue to use and increase the use of technology to conduct more remote judicial proceedings as a safer alternative to in-person proceedings.
However, courts will have the discretion to conduct in-person proceedings, if in compliance with public health guidance and with the requirements of the United States and Georgia constitutions and applicable statutes and court rules. The Fourth Order also authorizes the individual courts to impose greater restrictions in response to local conditions in their discretion.
The parameters for litigation during the pandemic remain an evolving situation. Our HOA and condominium attorneys continue to monitor applicable court orders and the conditions at individual courthouses, as well as hearing notices to determine if the court is holding in-person hearings. If the hearing notice indicates an in-person hearing, we will generally request a remote proceeding. Your HOA attorney will also keep you updated regarding the type of hearing required and whether they can be conducted remotely.
For clients and managers who may be witnesses for your association’s pending lawsuits, if you have any specific health concerns that may make you hesitant to appear in person, please let your HOA attorney at NowackHoward know as soon as possible, so we can convey this information to the court.
Lawsuits and Service Resume – Prepare with Your HOA Attorney
Upon the entry of the original Declaration of Statewide Judicial Emergency on March 14, 2020, we temporarily suspended the filing and serving of lawsuits and garnishments. We then reached out to clients on a case-by-case basis to review whether it was best for each association to move forward with filing suit during the Judicial Emergency. Beginning July 20, 2020, your NowackHoward HOA attorney will move forward with filing and serving lawsuits again unless otherwise instructed by your board or manager, and subject to local court orders.
Garnishments Remain on Hold
The Chief Judge of the Superior Court of Gwinnett County entered a local order prohibiting the Gwinnett Clerk of Court from accepting any new garnishment filings in Gwinnett County Courts for the duration of the Court’s Emergency Order, which is still in effect. Since Gwinnett County is the preferred venue for garnishment cases, this local order will continue to delay new garnishment filings until the Order is lifted.
Please let us know if you have questions about the impact of the Judicial Emergency on your associations’ pending lawsuits. If you have new collection cases you would like to pursue, you may request those by completing our Collection Work Request Form. Please stay safe and well and let us know how our HOA and condominium lawyers can help you.