Legal Memorandum: Claim for Fraudulent Suppression in GA

Issue: What are the elements of a claim for fraudulent suppression under Georgia law?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Fraudulent suppression; Elements of claim
Jurisdiction: Georgia
Cited Cases: 837 F. Supp. 1231; 379 S.E.2d 612; 497 S.E.2d 616
Cited Statutes: Ga. Code § 23-2-53
Date: 04/01/2001

           As the fraudulent suppression statute makes clear, establishing a confidential relationship between the parties is not a prerequisite to the creation of a duty to disclose or liability for suppression.  See Ga. Code § 23-2-53.  Although a confidential relationship is one circumstance that may create a duty to disclose, it is certainly not the only circumstance that creates such a duty.  The statute expressly provides that “an obligation to communicate” may arise from “the confidential relations of the parties or from the particular circumstances of the case.”  Id. (emphasis added).  See McLendon v. Georgia Kaolin Co. Inc., 837 F. Supp. 1231, 1240 (M.D. Ga. 1993) (“Thus, even if a jury determined that defendant, through its agent, was not in a confidential relationship with the Smith heirs, they could find that defendant had a duty to disclose due to the particular circumstances surrounding the transaction.”). 

With respect to the meaning of “particular circumstances,” the Georgia Supreme Court holds that:

it would seem to be a sound rule to place within “the particular circumstances” referred to any case where a person intentionally concealed a fact from a certain other person hoping thereby to derive a benefit, and knowing that only by silence and concealing the truth would the anticipated benefit accrue.

Reeves v. B.T. Williams, Co., 160 Ga. 15, 127 S.E. 293, 295 (Ga. […]

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