Elissa Haynes


Atlanta, GA
D 678.996.9068


  • Loyola University New Orleans College of Law (J.D., 2011)
  • University of Georgia (BA, 2008)

Interdisciplinary Teams

Fair Housing


Elissa Haynes is a Partner in Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP’s Atlanta office where she serves as Co-Chair of the firm’s National Appellate Advocacy practice section. Elissa’s appellate and trial practice is focused primarily on defending claims involving negligent security, premises liability, trucking, and catastrophic injury/wrongful death. She also serves as general counsel for several corporate clients in the convenience store, apartment, towing, and medical billing, coding, and fee analysis expert witness industries. Elissa has served as lead, solo, and embedded appellate counsel in jury trials throughout the state, many of which have ended in defense verdicts. Her background as a former plaintiff personal injury attorney provides her with a unique perspective and leverage to successfully resolve even the most complex cases.  

As for her appellate practice, Elissa has argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the Supreme Court of Georgia, and Georgia Court of Appeals. She routinely consults on appellate matters and often begins her involvement at the trial court level to perfect the record and maximize chances of an advantageous result in any subsequent appeal. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association’s Amicus Curiae Committee where she is tasked with reviewing amicus requests from GDLA members, as well as authoring and submitting briefs on issues that pose particular significance to the defense bar. She also serves as Vice-Chair of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel’s Appellate Law Section. 

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Bar Admissions

All Georgia State Courts

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals


Supreme Court of the United States

Publications & Engagements
Representative Cases & Clients
    • Kadribasic v. Wal-Mart, Inc., 2023 WL 6457250 (11th Cir., Oct. 4, 2023): Successfully upheld the district court’s grant of an employer’s summary judgment motion following oral argument in an FMLA interference case. The Eleventh Circuit held that an employee is not entitled to FMLA leave when an employee fails to comply with her employer’s usual and customary procedures for requesting FMLA leave under 29 CFR 825.300(c) and where no “unusual circumstances” prevented compliance with the employer’s leave policy.  
    • Karekezi v. Pinnacle Systems, Inc., 367 Ga. App. 391 (2023): Succeeded in upholding trial court’s grant of a manufacturer’s 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim in a product liability/failure to warn case. The Supreme Court of Georgia denied Plaintiff’s Petition for Certiorari (S23C0850, Oct. 11, 2023).  
    • Gwinnett Operations, LLC et al. v. Michelle McKinney, Administrator (Ga. Sup. Ct., Jan. 2023): Served as amicus counsel for GDLA and co-authored amicus brief on the constitutionality of Georgia’s statutory punitive damages cap.  
    • Borkowski v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, 2020 WL 4363309 (11th Cir., Sep. 21, 2022): Successfully upheld district court’s grant of summary judgment in slip and fall case.  
    • Davis v. Walmart (Ga. Ct. of App., April 28, 2022) – Successfully upheld trial court’s grant of Defendant’s motion to set aside default judgment and motion to dismiss in an appeal involving insufficient corporate service. The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously denied Plaintiff’s Petition for Certiorari (S22C1027, Feb. 7, 2023).  
    • Rowe Equipment, Inc. v. Terex USA, LLC, 2021 WL 2137599 (11th Cir. May 26, 2021): Successfully defended a global manufacture in an Eleventh Circuit appeal following a defense verdict in the Southern District of Georgia involving Plaintiff’s allegations of improper exclusion of expert witness testimony, the District Court’s grant of Defendant’s Rule 50 motion as to unconscionability of a contract, and failure to give a specific jury charge. 
    • Creek House Seafood & Gril, LLC v. Provatas, 258 Ga. App. 727 (2020): Successfully defended a Savannah restaurant in an appeal involving spoliation sanctions. Briefed and argued the appeal before the Court of Appeals of Georgia which reversed the trial court’s imposition of spoliation sanctions in a wrongful death premises liability case. 
    • ABH Corp. et al v. Montgomery, 356 Ga. App. 703 (2020): Obtained a reversal of trial court’s summary judgment denial in a negligent security case involving an attach in the parking lot of an Atlanta convenience store. The Court of Appeals of Georgia acknowledged that the plaintiff’s own equal knowledge of crime likewise barred his recovery. 
    • Alonzo Reid v. Lakenin Morris et al., 309 Ga. 230 (2020) (amicus curiae): Co-authored amicus brief and successfully argued before the Supreme Court of Georgia on behalf of the Georgia Defense Lawyers Association in an appeal challenging the constitutionality of the active tortfeasor limitation in Georgia’s punitive damages statute. 
    • Bolton v. Golden Business, Inc., 348 Ga. App. 761 (2019): Successfully defended a convenience store owner in a negligent security case involving a deadly parking lot shooting. Briefed and argued the appeal before the Court of Appeals of Georgia, which affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. The Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously denied Appellant’s Petition for Certiorari. 
    • In/Ex Systems, Inc. v. Masud, 352 Ga. App. 722 (2019) (amicus curiae): Reversal of trial court’s denial of Defendant’s summary judgment motion where employee had no knowledge of unsafe condition that caused tire on employee’s vehicle to separate, as required to hold employer vicariously liable. The Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously denied Appellant’s Petition for Certiorari. 

 State Bar of Georgia 

  • Immediate Past President of the State Bar of Georgia’s Young Lawyers Division (2022-2023) 
  • 75th President of the State Bar of Georgia’s Young Lawyers Division (2021-2022) 
  • Member of the State Bar’s Executive Committee (2020-2023) 
  • State Bar Disciplinary Review Board Member (2022-2023) 
  • Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, Committee Member (2021-2022) 
  • Formal Advisory Opinion Board Member (2019-2021) 

Georgia Defense Lawyers Association 

  • Co-Chair of GDLA’s Amicus Curiae Committee (2023-Present) 
  • Chair of GDLA’s Amicus Curiae Committee (2019-2022) 

Atlanta Bar Association 

  • Judicial Selection & Tenure Committee Member (2022-Present) 

Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel 

  • Vice Chair of Appellate Law Section (2023-2024) 

Federalist Society, Member  

Client Successes
Awards and Recognition

  • 2023 Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America
  • Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Star for Appellate Law, Super Lawyers Magazine (2019-2023)
  • Fulton County Daily Report ‘On the Rise’ (2021)  
Classes/Seminars Taught
  • Building/Maintaining an Appellate Practice,” Appellate Judges Education Institute Summit, Panelist (Nov. 2023) 
  • It’s a Trap! Responding to Complex Demand Letters Designed to Manufacture Bad Faith Claims,” Georgia Defense Lawyers Association, Panelist (June 2023) 
  • “Preventing Radioactive Claims from Becoming Nuclear Verdicts and Slaying the Reptile – Part 2” (2023) 
  • “Trial and Error: Evidence,” State Bar of Georgia ICLE, Speaker (March 2023)
  • Constructing a Defense: How to Guard Against Nuclear Verdicts in Negligent Security Cases,” Georgia Association of Convenience Stores Webinar (December 2022) 
  • Anatomy of a Trial – Trial Preparation,” FDCC Annual Meeting, Panelist (July 2022) 
  • Constructing a Defense: How to Guard Against Nuclear Verdicts in Negligent Security Cases,” Atlanta Apartment Association Webinar (May 2021) 
  • Beyond the Verdict: Preserving Issues for Appeal,” DRI Retail & Hospitality Seminar, Co-Presenter (April 2021) 
  • Non-Party Discovery: Getting the Evidence You Need for Settlement/Trial Leverage,” Client Webinar (April 2021) 
  • How to Effectively Present Your Case at Trial Using Trialpad,” Trial Advocacy ICLE, Speaker (Nov. 2019) 
  • Preserving Error for Appeal,” Litigation: Soup to Nuts CLE, Speaker (March 2019)