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  • Writer's pictureSteven Leibel

Denson v. Gerteisen: Press Release


DAHLONEGA, GA - The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a significant ruling on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023 in regard to the case of Betty Denson v. Donald Gerteisen, et al. The ruling pertains to a premises-liability claim arising under Georgia law, and has implications for property owners and tenants in short-term vacation rentals.

“We are gratified that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals was able to review the case in light of the Georgia Supreme Court’s analysis of what constitutes a landlord-tenant relationship,” Plaintiff’s Attorney Steven Leibel said. “Now that the case has been remanded, we are confident that the District Court will apply Georgia law in accordance with the Circuit’s direction.”

In this case, Betty Denson and her family rented a cabin in Georgia, which was owned by Donald and Linda Gerteisen. During her stay, Denson suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling on a staircase in the cabin. Denson filed a premises-liability claim against the Gerteisens, alleging that they owed her a duty of care as an invitee to the property.

The Gerteisens sought summary judgment, arguing that they were out-of-possession landlords and thus, subject to limited duties under Georgia law. Under Georgia law, an out-of-possession landlord is responsible only for damages arising from defective construction or failure to keep the premises in repair. The Gerteisens contended that Denson had not provided evidence to support her claim under these standards.

However, the Georgia Supreme Court recently issued a decision in Efficiency Lodge, Inc. v. Neason clarifying the criteria for determining when a landlord-tenant relationship exists.

Based on this decision, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court's summary judgment and remanded the case. The Court directed the district court to apply the Efficiency Lodge framework to determine whether a landlord-tenant relationship existed between Denson and the Gerteisens and to consider alternative legal relationships that might apply.

This ruling underscores the importance of distinguishing between various legal relationships in short-term vacation rentals and has implications for property owners, tenants, and the broader legal landscape in Georgia.

For more information about this case or the recent ruling, please contact Steven Leibel, P.C. (678-541-7024) or visit .



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