SW Legal studies in Business

In Some States, Contractors Not Liable for Defects Once State Accepts Completed Work
Description

Georgia high court held that the state, with a minority of other states, retains the acceptance doctrine. Under it, a contractor to the state cannot be held liable for negligence for work properly done on the state’s behalf.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Negligence; Death; Highway Construction; Acceptance Doctrine

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

A Georgia county hired Oxford Construction to repave a county road. The work was done to the specifications of the county and overseen by a county engineer. After the work was completed, the Braggs were in a serious accident that killed their unborn daughter. They alleged negligence in the highway work was the proximate cause of the accident and sued the contractor. The trial court granted summary judgment for the contractor; the court of appeals upheld that verdict; the Braggs appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. Georgia, unlike a majority of states, retains the traditional acceptance doctrine. Under the doctrine, once a contractor has completed work to the satisfaction of the state, and turned the completed work over to the state, the contractor is not liable for injuries that result from the defective design of the work. Since the work was properly performed to the satisfaction of the county, Oxford Construction cannot be held liable for injuries resulting from the work.

Citation

Bragg v. Oxford Construction Co., 674 S.E.2d 268 (Sup. Ct., 2009)

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