Representative Cases

  • Berryhill v. Georgia Community Support and Solutions, Inc., 281 Ga. 439 (Georgia Supreme Court 2006)

Georgia Community Support and Solutions, Inc. (GCSS), a non-profit organization which assists disabled adults and their families, sued Shirley Berryhill for tortious interference with business relationship and libel per se based upon false statements posted by Berryhill on a webpage and in an email sent to numerous individuals.

After successfully arguing GCSS’s case and making new law in the Court of Appeals, Richard Witterman was faced with taking on Berryhill’s appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. Once again, Richard Witterman successfully argued GCSS’s case leading to a clarification of the scope of the Georgia Anti-SLAPP statute, and the overturning of a previous Court of Appeals decision in the case of Chatham Orthopaedic Surgery Center v. Ga. Alliance of Community Hospitals, 262 Ga.App. 353, 585 S.E.2d 700 . Agreeing with Witterman’s arguments, the Supreme Court found that Berryhill did not perform any act which could reasonably be construed as a statement or petition within the definition of OCGA § 9-11-11.1 (c), as properly interpreted. Accordingly, the Supreme Court found that the Court of Appeals correctly refused to expand the scope of the anti-SLAPP statute beyond terms of the statute so as to encompass a broad range of speech and conduct which is arguably connected with any issue of public interest or concern.

  • Berryhill v. Georgia Community Support and Solutions, Inc., 275 Ga. App. 189 (Georgia Court of Appeals 2005)

Georgia Community Support and Solutions, Inc. (GCSS), a non-profit organization which assists disabled adults and their families, sued Shirley Berryhill for tortious interference with business relationship and libel per se based upon false statements posted by Berryhill on a webpage and in an email sent to numerous individuals.

Along with the lawsuit, GCSS submitted the verifications required by Georgia’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute. OCGA § 9-11-11.1 (b). The trial court dismissed GCSS’s lawsuit, finding, among other things, that Ms. “Berryhill’s statements satisfied the threshold requirement for applicability of the anti-SLAPP statute because they ‘were made in furtherance of her right to free speech about an issue of public concern ….’” Georgia Community Support& Solutions v. Berryhill, 275 Ga. App. 189, 191-192 (1) (620 SE2d 178) (2005).

Effectively arguing for GCSS, Richard Witterman obtained a reversal of the trial court decision. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, and held that “[t]he anti-SLAPP statute does not encompass all statements that touch upon matters of public concern. Rather, by its terms, the statute’s application is limited to” those statements which come within the definition found in OCGA § 9-11-11.1 (c). Georgia Community Support & Solutions v. Berryhill, supra at 192 (1).

  • Brown v. Premiere Designs, Inc., 543 U.S. 1152 (U.S. Supreme Court 2005)
  • Brown v. Premiere Designs, Inc., 266 Ga. App. 432 (Georgia Court of Appeals 2005)

 

Representative Clients

  • Construction/Surety Bond
  • Various Businesses and Organizations
  • Consulting Firms
  • Restaurants
  • National Associations
  • Portable Storage Dealers
  • Warehouse and Packaging Companies
  • Contractor/Subcontractors
  • Material Suppliers
  • Franchisees/Franchisors

Classes/Seminars Taught

  • How a Lawsuit Works, Georgia Civil Justice Center, 1994
  • Operating A Small Business: The Legal Prospective, North Fulton County Chamber of Commerce, 1994
  • Portable Storage Containers and Municipal Regulation, National Portable Storage Association, 2003 – 2004

Published Works

  • How to Avoid Problems with Local Government: Zoning Issues, The Global Container