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Georgia measure bars ‘direct action’ lawsuits against motor carriers, insurers


(The Center Square) — The Georgia Senate passed legislation to limit plaintiffs’ ability to sue motor carriers and their insurers simultaneously.

The state Senate passed Senate Bill 426 by a 46-2 margin to bar so-called “direct action.” Proponents say the measure should stabilize and reduce the insurance rates.

“The passage of this legislation was desperately needed in order to get Georgia’s business community the relief it needs,” Lt. Governor Burt Jones said in a statement.

“Thanks to the Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 426, we are making legitimate strides to level the playing field when a case reaches the courtroom,” Jones, a Republican, added. “I look forward to the House taking swift action to move this legislation to the Governor’s desk and provide the critically important aid to Georgia’s business community.”

State Sen. Colton Moore, R-Trenton, one of two lawmakers to vote against the measure, supported an amendment to allow “direct action” to apply to motor carriers operating 10 or fewer vehicles. The amendment failed.

“I want to protect the innocence of our small business owners,” Moore said on the Senate floor. “You see, if a small trucking company finds themselves in an accident and, say, they’re completely innocent, but you know, the big strong-arm billboard comes after them, well, before, through direct action, the insurance company would handle it, even if they were innocent.

“But now they’re going to have to fight that big, strong attorney,” Moore added. “And ultimately, if they lose, then they’re going to have to go fight their big insurance company. I worry that when this is passed, it’s going to greatly hinder our small business trucking companies.”