Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Strict Interpretation of the Georgia Daubert Statute


The Georgia Supreme Court’s recent decision in HNTB Georgia, Inc. v. Hamilton-King,1 outlines the high standard to which Georgia courts will be held in assessing the qualifications of a party’s “expert.” In HNTB, the Court upheld a trial court’s exclusion of an expert’s testimony based on the court’s determination that he lacked the education and experience to testify about construction defect standards. This decision will provide construction litigants with grounds upon which to challenge the opposing sides’ experts and should serve as a word of caution to those litigants who do not perform their due diligence in retaining a qualified expert.

HNTB involved negligence claims of two individuals, Lakeisha Hamilton-King and Justin Hamilton (the Hamiltons) against HNTB Georgia, Inc. (HNTB). The Hamiltons had suffered physical injuries stemming from an accident in a bridge construction zone on Interstate 95 in south Georgia, in which their brother Johnny was killed. The Hamiltons sued HNTB, the designer of the bridge-widening project, and Plant Improvement Company d/b/a Seaboard Construction Company (Seaboard), alleging, among other things, that they had failed to include shoulders in their traffic control plans and failed to implement proper lighting in the construction zone.

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