Suing Cities

O.C.G.A. §36-33-1(a), in conjunction with the Georgia Constitution, establishes that it is the public policy of the State of Georgia that there is no waiver of the sovereign immunity of municipal corporations except as expressly waived by the Georgia General Assembly, and implied waivers of a municipality’s sovereign immunity are not favored. The important distinction for understanding when a municipality is liable is whether the action causing the injury was the neglectful performance of a governmental function. An example of a governmental function is garbage collection done for the public benefit. In contrast, there is no immunity for an accident related to the operation of a municipality’s water works – a proprietary function.

Unlike counties, there are several express waivers of a municipality’s sovereign immunity. There is a statutory waiver for car accidents caused by the neglect of municipal employees. The Streets and Sidewalks doctrine, codified at O.C.G.A. § 32-4-93, sets forth a municipality’s liability for defects existing in a municipal street system. Municipalities are not immune from nuisance causes of action. It is a plaintiff’s burden to prove that a city is liable for negligence, and The Eisenberg Firm embraces this burden.

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