On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued an opinion concerning the application of Ante Litem Notice under OCGA § 36-33-5 to the Georgia Whistleblower Act. OCGA § 36-33-5 concerns only ante litem notice to Georgia Municipalities – not notice to State, County, or other governmental entities.
A former employee of the City of Albany, Georgia, filed a complaint in Federal Court against the City of Albany under the Georgia Whistleblower Act. OCGA § 45-1-4. However, the employee did not provide ante litem notice pursuant to OCGA § 36-33-5, resulting in the City filing a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings with regard to the whistleblower claim. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia certified the question to the Supreme Court of Georgia to determine whether an ante litem notice under OCGA § 36-33-5 is required when pursing money damages under the Georgia Whistleblower
Pursuant to OCGA § 36-33-5, a Plaintiff must provide a specific type of written notice to any Georgia Municipality within six (6) months of “the event upon which a claim against a municipal corporation is predicated.” The Supreme Court of Georgia held the pre-suit notice requirement contained in the municipal ante litem notice statute does not apply to a Georgia Whistleblower Claim brought pursuant to OCGA § 45-1-4. The Court strictly construed OCGA § 36-33-5 and did not extend the Statue beyond its plain and explicit language. The Court further stated that “the statute’s plain language demonstrates it applies only to damages caused by negligence, not intentional acts.” Supreme Court of Georgia, Docket Number S16Q1881 (March 6, 2017).
Link to the full text written by Justice Benham: