A small but important change is coming to Georgia civil lawsuit filings at the beginning of 2018. The Georgia Civil Practice Act, which governs the procedural rules for civil lawsuits in Georgia (including tort cases such as personal injury and wrongful death matters, as well as domestic relations, contract, property, and business claims) has long provided for a "General Civil Case Filing Information Form" to be included with all civil lawsuits, setting out information about the parties, the filing attorney, and type of case being filed. A separate form was established specifically for domestic relations filings, and similar forms (the “disposition forms”) were required to be filed at the conclusion of cases. For many years, specific forms were set out in O.C.G.A. § 9-11-133, part of the Civil Practice Act.
The Georgia legislature amended O.C.G.A. § 9-11-133 in its 2017 session, and under the revised statute, the prior forms were eliminated. Instead, the law states that "The Judicial Council of Georgia, with the approval of the Supreme Court, shall promulgate forms to be used for civil case filing and disposition information...." The only statutory requirement for the form is that it provide a certification that the person filing the lawsuit has complied with the redaction requirements of O.C.G.A. § 9-11-7.1, which prohibits (with certain exceptions) the inclusion of birth dates, Social Security Numbers, taxpayer identification numbers, and financial account numbers in court filings.
As required by statute, the Georgia Supreme Court has now adopted modified forms that are posted on its web site:
Under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-3, another provision of the Civil Practice Act, a case shall not be dismissed (nor shall the clerk refuse to accept the filing) because the form is not filed, or is filed in the wrong form, although the trial court can order the information to be submitted or corrected. Despite this statutory rule, at least one clerk's office has stated that "No case will be initiated and no judgment will be entered without a properly completed form."