Lathrop v. DealAnnotate this Case
The constitutional doctrine of sovereign immunity forbids Georgia courts to entertain a lawsuit against the State without its consent. This case began in 2012, not long after the adoption of House Bill 954, which concerned medical procedures for the termination of pregnancies. Eva Lathrop, Carrie Cwiak, and Lisa Haddad are physicians licensed to practice in Georgia. In their petition, the plaintiff-physicians alleged that House Bill 954 violated the Georgia constitution in several respects. Based on their allegations, the plaintiff-physicians sought a declaratory judgment that certain provisions of House Bill 954 were unconstitutional, and they sought injunctive relief to restrain the defendant-state officers from enforcing House Bill 954. The trial court granted a motion to dismiss these claims, and the plaintiff-physicians appealed dismissal of their petition. The Georgia Supreme Court held that the doctrine of sovereign immunity extends generally to suits against the State, its departments and agencies, and its officers in their official capacities for injunctive and declaratory relief from official acts that are alleged to be unconstitutional. In so holding, however, the Court recognized the availability of other means by which aggrieved citizens may obtain relief from unconstitutional acts, including prospective relief from the threatened enforcement of unconstitutional laws.