Susan Hurt

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In Gilbert v. Richardson, the Georgia Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether a county waives its sovereign immunity by purchasing liability insurance. On September 1, 1991, Deputy Kathy Richardson responded to an emergency call and collided with Emma and Tommy Gilbert's vehicle. Both Gilberts were injured. The Gilberts brought suit against the Walker County Sheriff's Department, the sheriff, and a deputy sheriff. Plaintiffs alleged that Sheriff Millard, as the employer of the deputy sheriff, was liable for the acts of the deputy while she was acting within the course of her employment. Walker County's Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Association ("GIRMA") coverage agreement protected the county against motor vehicle liability. Through GIRMA, participating counties jointly purchase general liability, motor vehicle liability, or property damage insurance. The trial court granted Richardson's and Millard's motion for summary judgment. The court held that Walker County's participation in GIRMA did not waive the sheriff's sovereign immunity or the deputy sheriff's official immunity. The court of appeals affirmed. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine if the doctrines of sovereign and official immunity barred the action against two Walker County officials. The court held that official immunity barred the claims against Deputy Richardson but that the county and Sheriff Millard were liable to the extent of insurance