Jay M. O’Brien
Partner / Atlanta
Jay M. O’Brien is a Partner in the Atlanta office of Copeland, Stair, Kingma & Lovell, LLP. His practice focuses on catastrophic injury, premises liability, and transportation litigation. Mr. O’Brien’s extensive litigation experience includes defending individuals, corporations, and retailers in a variety of general liability matters, including inadequate security, negligent training or supervision, slip/trip and fall incidents, dog bites/animal attacks, dram shop liability and motor vehicle accidents. He has also represented major airlines, airports, and fixed base operators throughout Georgia and Florida in personal injury and wrongful death claims. He regularly handles cases from the initial investigation through trial and appeal.
Mr. O’Brien regularly practices in all state trial and appellate courts in Georgia and Florida, the United States Court of Appeals – Eleventh Circuit, and the United States District Court for the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Georgia. From 2014-2019, Jay has been named on the Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Stars® list, an honor given to less than 2.5% of attorneys.
Mr. O’Brien graduated from Hobart College in 2002 with a B.A. in Economics. He earned his J.D. from Nova Southeastern School of Law in 2005, magna cum laude. While in law school, he was a member of both the Nova Law Review and Moot Court. He is licensed to practice law in Georgia and Florida.
Jay O’Brien and Alyssa Rogers Obtain Defense Verdict in Cobb County
November 6, 2019
Jay M. O’Brien and Alyssa S. Rogers obtained a defense verdict for their inflatable amusement rental company client after a three day trial in Cobb County. The case involved a minor that was ejected from an inflatable obstacle course which was rented for a community event. The minor was seriously injured and the case involved some horrible facts and significant exposure. Plaintiffs argued that the inflatable rental company failed to follow industry standards and a number of rules and regulations applicable to the inflatable industry, causing the incident and injuries. Jay and Alyssa put together a formidable defense and arguments that helped convince the jury to make the correct decision in a very difficult case. A defense verdict was obtained after just over an hour of deliberations. The last demand prior to trial was $1 million.
For informational purposes only. Past success does not indicate the likelihood of success in future cases.
Jay O’Brien Obtains Summary Judgment in Slip and Fall Case
July 5, 2019
Jay O’Brien obtained summary judgment on behalf of a property owner and management company in a heavily contested slip and fall case. Plaintiff slipped and fell as he was walking back to his apartment on the only cement walkway that led to his apartment. Plaintiff alleged that the walkway was covered in mud and water, a problem which he testified that he and others had previously reported to the owner and manager, but that they failed to repair. Jay argued that there was an alternate route leading to the apartment which should have been considered, and that Plaintiff failed to exercise ordinary care for his own safety. The court granted the summary judgment motion after oral argument.
For informational purposes only. Past success does not indicate the likelihood of success in future cases.
Jay O’Brien Obtains Defense Verdict for a Limousine Company and Driver
May 20, 2019
Jay O’Brien obtained a defense verdict in DeKalb County for a limousine company and its driver. Plaintiff filed his lawsuit alleging injuries to his neck and back as a result of a motor vehicle accident that took place while he was being transported by a limousine from a concert. Plaintiff alleged that the driver was intoxicated and caused the accident as a result. Defendants denied liability and disputed damages.
For informational purposes only. Past success does not indicate the likelihood of success in future cases.
Jay O’Brien Obtains Summary Judgement on Behalf of Insurance Company in DeKalb County
January 25, 2019
Jay O’Brien obtained summary judgment on behalf of his insurance company client in DeKalb County. Plaintiff in that case filed suit seeking in excess of $6 million, plus punitive damages. He made allegations of misconduct against the attorneys, law firms, and insurance companies involved in a personal injury action he filed. In the motion, Jay argued that the insurance company was not the employer of the attorneys, and it was not vicariously liable for the actions of the attorneys that handled the personal injury litigation. The Court agreed and granted summary judgment.
Jay O’Brien Obtained Summary Judgement on Behalf of a Social Service Agency
January 24, 2019
Jay O’Brien obtained summary judgment on behalf of a social service agency that serves low-income individuals in the metro Atlanta area. Plaintiff filed her lawsuit alleging she was injured while going through a revolving door at the entrance to the building where the defendant was a tenant. Jay argued in the motion that Defendant owed no duty to Plaintiff because it did not own, operate or manage the area where Plaintiff alleges she was injured. The Court agreed, granting the motion.
Jay O’Brien Prevails on Motion to Dismiss
July 20, 2018
Jay O'Brien prevailed on a motion to dismiss with prejudice in favor of an employee and the owner/operator of a residential reentry facility, or halfway house, that provides services to inmates that are transitioning from a federal correctional facility back to society. The Plaintiff, one of the residents assigned to the facility, alleged that he was forced by the Defendants to register as a sex offender with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, despite Plaintiff’s understanding that there was no such requirement that he register as a sex offender. Plaintiff alleged that he eventually registered as a sex offender, but it was determined three weeks later by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, that Plaintiff was not a sex offender, so his name was removed from the list. Plaintiff alleged that his name continued to be listed on internet sites as a registered sex offender. The initial lawsuit was filed in 2015, and alleged defamation. The lawsuit was later dismissed without prejudice, but then re-filed within the six month period permitted by the Georgia renewal statute. After the suit was re-filed, Plaintiff failed to timely serve the corporate defendant with process until 87 days after re-filing his lawsuit; and he never served the employee. A motion to dismiss was filed on the grounds that the claims were barred by the statute of limitation because Plaintiff failed to exercise due diligence in perfecting service of process in a timely manner on the Defendants. After the motion to dismiss was filed, in an effort to avoid the statute of limitation bar, Plaintiff amended his complaint to allege that the defamation was a continuing tort, as he was still listed on the internet as a sex offender, and therefore, the statute had not yet started to run. The judge agreed with the Defendants and granted the dismissal with prejudice.
Jay O’Brien Obtains Summary Judgment for Residential Reentry Facility Defendant
July 3, 2018
Jay O’Brien obtained summary judgment in Fulton County in favor of the owner/operators of a residential reentry facility, or halfway house, that provides services to inmates that are transitioning from a federal correctional facility back to society. One of the residents absconded from the facility two weeks after his placement by the United States Probation Office. The resident was later involved in a failed kidnap for ransom scheme that ended with two victims being executed, one of which was seven months pregnant. Wrongful death and estate claims were asserted on behalf of one of the deceased. Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants were negligent in that they failed to supervise the resident, failed to monitor his location and movement, and failed to prevent him from “escaping” from the facility. Plaintiffs also alleged punitive damages. Defendants argued (1) they did not owe a duty to the victim; and (2) Plaintiffs failed to establish proximate cause because the intervening criminal act was not foreseeable. The Court agreed and granted the Defendants’ motion.
Jay O’Brien and Quinn Bennett Prevail at Trial in Premises Liability Case
February 8, 2018
Jay O’Brien and Quinn Bennett obtained a defense verdict in a heavily contested premises liability case on behalf of their two clients, a condominium association and property management company. Plaintiff alleged that as she was walking through the parking lot at the condominium, she fell into a large hole in front of a storm drain, all the way down to the middle of her chest. As a result, Plaintiff claimed injuries to her knee and a shoulder rotator cuff tear that ultimately required surgery. Plaintiff’s medical bills were in excess of $100,000.00. Plaintiff asked the Jury for her medical bills and an additional $485,000.00 for pain and suffering. The jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning a defense verdict.
Jay O’Brien Obtains Dismissal in Major Airline Discrimination Case
May 17, 2017
Jay obtained dismissal on behalf of a major airline in a case where Plaintiff alleged that he was discriminated against based upon his race when he was not allowed to board a flight. Plaintiff’s complaint sought a declaratory judgment, injunction, compensatory and punitive damages for alleged violations of 42 USC 1981, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Georgia Civil Rights Act, 1964. Jay argued that Plaintiff’s 1981 and Title VI claims were barred by the statute of limitation. While neither federal statute established a time limitation, the settled practice is to adopt a local time limitation as federal law. In this case, Plaintiff’s claims were determined to be personal injury claims subject to a two year statute of limitation, rather than a six year statute of limitation for contracts. Therefore, his claims for discrimination under 1981 and Title VI were properly dismissed. Regarding the state claim for violation of the “Georgia Civil Rights Act of 1964,” there is no such law, and therefore, that claim was dismissed as well.
Jay O’Brien Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of National Retailer in Defective Product and Personal Injury Case
March 9, 2017
Jay obtained summary judgment on behalf of a national retailer in a case involving allegations of a defective product and breach of numerous warranties. Plaintiff also alleged that he suffered personal injuries as a result of the defective product. The Court found that the retailer was the product seller, not the manufacturer or designer of the product, and therefore, could not be held liable under a products liability theory. The Court also found that the retailer did not breach the terms of the contract between the parties, and found that the personal injury claims were barred by the statute of limitation.
Jay O’Brien Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of Major Airline
April 13, 2016
Jay obtained summary judgment on behalf of a major airline in a case alleging that Plaintiff sustained injuries when she fell out of her motorized scooter while riding across an uneven and misaligned area on the jet bridge. Plaintiff had in excess of $300,000.00 in medical bills. Plaintiff contended that the area constituted a hazardous condition and the airline provided no warnings. Jay argued that the Plaintiff had equal knowledge of the condition because she admitted seeing the uneven area prior to the fall, the alleged hazardous condition was open and obvious, and Plaintiff failed to exercise ordinary care for her own safety and assumed the risk of injury. The Court agreed and granted summary judgment.
Jay O’Brien Obtains Dismissal Pursuant to the Airline Deregulation Act
October 6, 2015
Jay obtained dismissal on behalf of a major airline pursuant to the preemption provision of the Airline Deregulation Act (“ADA”). The dismissal was affirmed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. See 631 Fed. Appx. 657 (11th Cir. 2015). Plaintiff contended that she suffered humiliation, embarrassment, fright, and violation by being subjected to verbal abuse, an unknown leaking liquid from the air vent, and her removal from the plane despite having turned off her cell phone. Plaintiff’s claims related to the airlines “price, route, or service,” which included the airline staff conduct, removal from the plane, and leaking air vent, were expressly preempted under the ADA, and properly dismissed. The remainder of the claims for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, training and supervision, and slander were dismissed because they were preempted under the ADA or Plaintiff failed to state a claim.
Jay O’Brien Obtains Dismissal in Major Airline Wrongful Death Suit
June 26, 2013
Jay obtained dismissal of a major airline in a lawsuit related to the death of a passenger. The deceased suffered from an aggressive cancer, and was in the United States from Nigeria to receive palliative treatment. On his way back to Nigeria he boarded a plane with his equipment that he needed as part of his continued treatment. Plaintiffs allege that the deceased was kicked off the flight and was not allowed to retrieve his life saving equipment. He checked into a hotel and was found the next morning lethargic and having trouble breathing. He was taken to the hospital, but died as a result of suffocation due to an accumulation of fluid in his abdomen (his equipment was to drain the fluid from his abdomen). Jay argued that Plaintiffs’ state law claims were preempted by the Montreal Convention and that the claims were precluded under the Montreal Convention. The court agreed that the personal injury and wrongful death claims fell within the Montreal Convention, and therefore, required dismissal.
Jay O’Brien Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of Airport Operator
March 24, 2008
Jay obtained summary judgment on behalf of an airport operator in a case involving allegations that the premises were unsafe due to a defect at the bottom of an escalator leading to the airport train. Because the Plaintiff worked at the airport and had crossed over the same area numerous times in the past, the Court found that the Plaintiff had equal knowledge of any defective conditions, and therefore, granted summary judgment.
Copeland Stair’s Annual Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Seminar in Atlanta, GA – September 12, 2019
September 12, 2019
Copeland, Stair, Kingma & Lovell's Annual Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Seminar was held on Thursday September 12, 2019. Located at the beautiful Atlanta Botanical Gardens, this two-track format addressed the emerging issues that keep you up at night. Some session topics included: the rise in tort litigation, putting together the pieces of the wrongful death case, effective use of recorded statements and the material misrepresentation defense, liability exposure in the age of active shooters and the impact bias has on case evaluation and jury deliberations. For more information on this seminar, please contact Michelle Mattox.
Carlock, Copeland & Stair Announce Lawyers Selected on the Georgia Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars® List for 2018
February 22, 2018
Carlock, Copeland & Stair are proud to announce the following attorneys selected for inclusion on the Georgia Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars® lists for 2018. Only five percent of the lawyers in the state are named by Super Lawyers®. The selections for this esteemed list are made by the research team at Super Lawyers®, which is a service of the Thomson Reuters. Each year, the research team at Super Lawyers® undertakes a rigorous multi-phase selection process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, independent evaluation of candidates by the attorney-led research staff, a peer review of candidates by practice area, and a good-standing and disciplinary check. Super Lawyers® Thomas S. Carlock - Civil Litigation: Defense Wade K. Copeland - Civil Litigation: Defense Eric J. Frisch - Personal Injury Medical Malpractice: Defense Johannes S. Kingma - Professional Liability: Defense D. Gary Lovell, Jr. - Personal Injury Medical Malpractice: Defense Rolfe Martin - Personal Injury General: Defense David F. Root - General Litigation Douglas W. Smith - Personal Injury General: Defense Kent T. Stair - Professional Liability: Defense Frederick M. Valz, III - Insurance Coverage Rising Stars® is a listing of exceptional lawyers who are 40 years of age or under, or who have been practicing for 10 years or less, and have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only 2.5 percent of the total lawyers in the state are honored on the Rising Stars® list. Rising Stars® Lauren Meadows - Civil Litigation Defense Jay M. O'Brien - Personal Injury General: Defense
Carlock, Copeland & Stair Welcomes New Attorneys to Atlanta Office
February 22, 2018
Carlock, Copeland & Stair, LLP welcomes two new attorneys to their Atlanta offices. Jay M. O’Brien has joined Carlock, Copeland & Stair LLP as Of Counsel attorney. His litigation practice is focused primarily in General Liability, Premises Liability, and Trucking and Transportation. Jay regularly defends clients in cases involving serious injuries, wrongful death, and property damage. His experience includes matters involving premises liability, toxic torts, aviation, trucking, products liability, pharmaceuticals, construction, and insurance coverage disputes. Prior to joining Carlock, Copeland & Stair, LLP, Jay worked for a litigation firm in Atlanta defending airlines, major national retailers, trucking companies, and individual defendants in both state and federal courts. Jay regularly practices in all Georgia and Florida State Courts, the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, and the United States District Court for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Georgia. Jay earned his Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2005. In law school, he was a member of both the Law Review and Moot Court. Jay is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and The Florida Bar. He earned his B.A. in Economics from Hobart College in 2002. Jay has been named on Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Stars® list for 2014-2017 in the area of personal injury defense, an honor awarded to less than 2.5 percent of Georgia attorneys. Marvis L. Jenkins has joined Carlock, Copeland & Stair LLP as Of Counsel attorney. His practice focuses on General Liability, Commercial Litigation and Transportation law. Most recently, Marvis has represented a wide variety of clients in the transportation industry including commercial motor vehicle companies and motor carriers, their drivers, specialty haulers, bus lines and motor coaches, automobile dealerships, emergency and non-emergency transportation providers, and their insurers. Marvis has extensive case management, dispute resolution and writing experience and confidently guides his clients through all phases of litigation. Prior to joining Carlock, Copeland, Marvis worked at another well-respected insurance defense firm in the Atlanta area, after moving from the Birmingham, Alabama area. In Alabama, Marvis also practiced defense litigation and maintains his license to practice there. He is a member of the Alabama Bar Association, American Bankruptcy Institute, American Bar Association, Birmingham MS Leadership Class of 2013, Defense Research Institute, Georgia Defense Lawyers Association, State Bar of Georgia, North Fulton Bar Association, DeKalb Bar Association, and was formerly treasurer of the Magic City Bar Association. Jenkins received his law degree from Nova Southern University’s Shepard Broad Law Center where he served as a member of the Moot Court Society and staff member of the International Citator Research Journal. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Clemson University. Please click here to read Press Release.
Copeland Stair Announces Attorneys Elevated to Partner
January 1, 2020
Copeland, Stair, Kingma & Lovell, LLP is pleased to announce six attorneys in our Atlanta office have been elevated to partner effective January 1, 2020. We congratulate each of them for this achievement and couldn’t be prouder of the manner in which they have distinguished themselves, both in the courtroom and within the community.
“As we begin 2020, I am excited to announce our first class of new partners this decade. Our newest partners each exhibit our Firm Fundamentals in all that they do. We are proud to see them continue to grow and help the Firm achieve our ultimate goal of superior client service.”
~Managing Partner, Shannon Sprinkle~Melissa Bailey serves as the Chair of the CSKL Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Practice Group, as well as Co-Chair of the General Liability Practice Group. She represents her clients in complex trial and appellate litigation across Georgia and also advises clients in pre-suit matters. Prior to joining Copeland Stair, Melissa was an attorney with a litigation firm in Savannah where she practiced in the areas of municipal and county liability defense, commercial litigation, and legal malpractice defense. Melissa received her J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law and was inducted into the National Order of Barristers during graduation. In her third year of law school, she was one of only two students to argue in front of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as part of the Gray’s Inn exchange. Melissa was recently selected as Barrister of the Joseph Henry Lumpkin American Inn of Court. This esteemed title is given to only ten members a year that are in their first eight years of practice and possess the potential to move into the top echelon of the bar. John C. deMoulpied, of our Atlanta office, concentrates his practice in commercial litigation, including professional liability claims against attorneys, accountants, directors and officers as well as insurance brokers. John has significant experience in the defense of intellectual property claims, franchise disputes, and class-action suits involving multi-million dollar corporations. As a former Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division, John has successfully handled numerous federal jury trials and appeals. John attended Vanderbilt University graduating cum laude with his undergraduate degree and received a Ph.D. from Purdue University. He graduated with his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and is a member of both the Georgia and Illinois State Bars. Ryan A. Kolb graduated cum laude with his law degree from Georgia State University College of Law, and received his undergraduate degree in International Business from Auburn University. Prior to joining CSKL, Ryan served as an Assistant Attorney General in the post-conviction litigation section of the Georgia Attorney General’s office. While at the Attorney General’s office, he was responsible for litigating cases in superior courts across the state. Ryan’s current practice is concentrated in general liability defense and he is admitted to practice in all Georgia Courts, including the northern, middle, and southern district courts as well as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Ryan has substantial appellate experience, handling dozens of cases in the Georgia Supreme Court and arguing before the Court on multiple occasions. Tawny D. Mack graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law. Following law school and prior to joining CSKL, Tawny practiced with a firm in Savannah, Georgia in the areas of construction litigation, commercial litigation, and employment law. Tawny brought her litigation experience to CSKL, where she currently leads the Atlanta Design Professional Practice Group in addition to managing her employment litigation practice. While Tawny’s practice primarily focuses on the representation of architects and engineers in a variety of design and construction-phase disputes, she counsels all design professionals on best practices for contract formation, administration, and digital practice. Tawny is also a frequent speaker for conferences and events and also hosts seminars tailored to keep employers up-to-date on hot topics in employment law that impact their workforce. In 2019, she was elected to the Board for the Atlanta Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), selected as a Barrister of the Joseph Henry Lumpkin American Inn of Court, and appointed to the State Bar of Georgia’s YLD Board as the Director of Health and Wellness. Jay M. O’Brien’s practice focuses on catastrophic injury, premises liability and transportation litigation. His extensive litigation experience includes defending individuals, corporations and retailers in a variety of general liability matters, frequently handling from initial investigation through trial and appeal. Mr. O’Brien regularly practices in all state and appellate courts in Georgia and Florida and has been named to the Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Stars® every year since 2014. He earned his J.D. from Nova Southeastern School of Law graduating magna cum laude and was a member of both the Nova Law Review and Moot Court. Stephanie Vari is a member of CSKL’s health care and general liability practice groups. She currently focuses on defending medical providers and organizations against allegations of medical negligence. Prior to joining the firm, she practiced with an insurance defense firm in Denver, Colorado, where she represented physicians, nurses, hospitals and other health care organizations in the defense of allegations of medical negligence. Stephanie graduated from Piedmont Hospital School of Nursing and later received her Bachelor in Science from University of Phoenix. After earning her law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, she was admitted to practice in Colorado in 2005. Stephanie relocated to Georgia in 2015 and was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia. Stephanie’s background and experience as a registered nurse and nurse paralegal provides her with a unique perspective and familiarity of the issues faced in medical negligence cases.
Carlock Copeland Attorneys Named to 2019 Georgia Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists
February 28, 2019
Carlock, Copeland & Stair, LLP is proud to announce that several of our lawyers have been selected for inclusion on the Georgia Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars® lists for 2019. Super Lawyers recognizes attorneys who have distinguished themselves in their legal practice. Attorneys are chosen for this honor through a nomination process, peer review by practice area and independent research on candidates. The lengthy process identifies lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Meet our Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars®! Super Lawyers®, only five percent of attorneys in the state of Georgia are selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers list. Our Super Lawyers are: Thomas S. Carlock Wade K. Copeland Eric J. Frisch Johannes S. Kingma D. Gary Lovell, Jr. Rolfe M. Martin Jay M. O'Brien David F. Root Douglas W. Smith Kent T. Stair Fred M. Valz Rising Stars® list recognizes the top up-and-coming attorneys in the state – those who are 40 years old or younger, or those who have been practicing for 10 years or less. No more than 2.5 percent of eligible attorneys are named to the Rising Stars® list, here is ours in Atlanta: Melissa L. Bailey Please click here to Read about our South Carolina Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars®!
Carlock Copeland Attorneys Selected for Georgia 2018 Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars®
February 27, 2018
Carlock, Copeland & Stair, LLP is proud to announce that several of our lawyers have been selected for inclusion on the Georgia Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars® lists for 2018. Super Lawyers recognizes attorneys who have distinguished themselves in their legal practice. Attorneys are chosen for this honor through a nomination process, peer review by practice area and independent research on candidates. The lengthy process identifies lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Meet our Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars®! Super Lawyers®, only five percent of attorneys in the state of Georgia are selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers list: Thomas S. Carlock Wade K. Copeland Eric J. Frisch Johannes S. Kingma D. Gary Lovell, Jr. Rolfe M. Martin David F. Root Douglas W. Smith Kent T. Stair Fred M. Valz, III Rising Stars® list recognizes the top up-and-coming attorneys in the state – those who are 40 years old or younger, or those who have been practicing for 10 years or less. No more than 2.5 percent of eligible attorneys are named to the Rising Stars list, here are ours: Lauren E. H. Meadows Jay M. O'Brien
Publications and Presentations
Shots Fired: Liability Exposure in the Age of Active Shooters and Increased Gun Violence – Presentation at Copeland Stair’s 2019 Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Seminar
September 12, 2019
Clinton Fletcher, Lee Weatherly and Jay O'Brien discussed the national phenomena of mass shootings and the current state of the law with respect to third party criminal acts and premises owners' liability for such. Presenters also shed light for the potential future changes to state law with respect to such shootings as they become more prevalent. For more information on this presentation or firm seminars, please contact Michelle Mattox.