Georgia Supreme Court Reverses Plaintiff’s Verdict But Leaves Apportionment Questions Undecided


By: Wayne S. Melnick and Kevin R. Stone

Recently, FMG blogged about the Court of Appeals’ opinion in Goldstein, Garber & Salama, LLC v. J.B., a case in which a jury found a dental office (GGS) 100% at fault for criminal conduct committed by a nurse anesthetist (Paul Serdula) who sexually assaulted a dental patient (J.B.) while she was sedated for a surgical procedure. The jury found Serdula to be 0% at fault despite the undisputed fact that he committed the assault, and the Court of Appeals upheld this verdict. Earlier this week, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed.

The Court found there was no evidence that GGS knew, or reasonably should have known, that Serdula would have committed the assault. Thus, GGS could not be liable for Serdula’s criminal conduct and the trial court erred in not granted GGS’s motion for directed verdict. Restated, the Georgia Supreme Court found GGS had 0% fault as a matter of law—the opposite of the jury verdict.

We watched this case because of two different issues: whether the employer could be held liable for the criminal acts of its employee in light of Georgia’s apportionment statute; and whether a finding of 0% liability to an admitted criminal wrongdoer was an illegal verdict requiring reversal.

Because of its ruling, the Georgia Supreme Court did not reach the above issues, and they remain undecided. So, for now, Georgia law continues to remain clouded on these points, and we continue to monitor the appellate pipeline for cases that will present either/both those issues.

For any questions, contact Wayne Melnick at or Kevin Stone at