Cobb Jury Finds for Defendant, Refuses to Award $727,000
On August 25, 2023, a Cobb Superior Court jury returned a verdict in favor of Ashley Rice’s client after four (4) days of trial. The lawsuit involved an admitted fault 2019 rear-end accident that resulted in very little property damage to the vehicles. Plaintiff reported no injury at the scene and proceeded to complete a full day of work at his physically demanding job. He admitted to a prior lumbar fusion over twenty (20) years earlier but denied any significant lower back problems since that time. Nine (9) days after the accident, plaintiff began treating for lower back pain that was shooting into his legs. He underwent months of physical therapy and epidural steroid injections before undergoing an adjacent fusion surgery to L4-5. Plaintiff presented $305,000 in medical bills and sought over $40,000 in lost wages. Ms. Rice argued that plaintiff had not been honest about his pre-accident lower back pain and treatment in the years since his initial fusion surgery and that the charges for the healthcare services he received were far in excess of their reasonable value. Both parties presented testimony of multiple experts on the disputed issues of causation and damages. Plaintiff had declined a $50,000 offer of settlement pre-trial and requested the jury award $727,000.
Defense Verdict in Rabun County
On August 23, 2023, Kevin Reardon and Andrew Panella obtained a defense verdict in the Superior Court of Rabun County for their client who admitted fault for causing the accident. On the day of the accident, plaintiff treated at the ER and was then transported to another medical center for surgery to repair an aortic tear allegedly caused by the accident. At trial, plaintiff asserted injuries to his heart as well as life altering depression. Asserted medical specials were $370,000, all for treatment within three (3) days of the accident. Plaintiff’s counsel asked for a jury award of all of plaintiff’s medical specials as well as an award for general damages. On cross-examination at trial, defense counsel successfully impeached plaintiff numerous times by effectively utilizing plaintiff’s prior deposition testimony and pre-accident medical records. Further, the defense focused on the insufficiency of medical evidence presented by plaintiff to meet the burden of proof as to causation of his asserted injuries. After deliberating for forty (40) minutes, the jury returned a verdict in favor of defendant.
Defense Verdict Issued in Cobb County
Justin Sanders obtained a defense verdict in Cobb County following a one-day trial on August 21, 2023. The case involved a 2018 automobile accident where the defendant admitted to negligence after rear ending plaintiff’s vehicle. Plaintiff alleged injuries to his neck and back; however, his most significant injury was to his left pinky. Plaintiff was a professional musician. Plaintiff’s treatment included chiropractic therapy for his neck and back, physical therapy for his left pinky, and a cortisone injection for the left pinky following an MRI. Plaintiff’s medical expenses amounted to just over 22,000. Plaintiff submitted to the jury two medical narratives, one from the chiropractor and one from his orthopedic doctor, relating the injuries to the accident. The defense introduced pictures of the vehicles, showing minor damage, and crossed plaintiff on the mechanism of his finger injury. Plaintiff was also impeached with his prior deposition testimony after failing to recall he was diagnosed with gout prior to the accident. As for the medical narratives, the defense argued the opinions were solely based on what plaintiff told his providers. Plaintiff asked for an award that would be fair and reasonable with a suggestion of four times his medical expenses. After an hour of deliberations, the jury returned a defense verdict.
Harbin Obtains Verdict of ER Bills Only
Ben Harbin obtained a favorable result in Jackson County. After a 2 days trial, a jury awarded the ER bill only ($1,809) to plaintiff. This was an admitted fault case with minimal damage. Plaintiff had around $34,000 in medical bills. Plaintiff had his doctor testify via video deposition about plaintiff’s soft tissue injuries and need for injections. Plaintiff asked the jury for $95,000. This was a situation where the jury was hung for most of deliberations with one person who was a holdout. The judge dismissed the holdout juror (who happened to be the foreperson) by consent of plaintiff and plaintiff’s counsel and the jury then returned a favorable verdict within 15 minutes. Plaintiff last demanded the medical specials and the last pre-trial offer was $12,000.
Defense Verdict Issued in Fayette County
Justin Sanders obtained a defense verdict in Fayette County on July 18, 2023, following a two day jury trial. The case involved a 2016 accident with minor property damage. Defendant admitted fault for the accident and the case was defended on the issues of causation and damages. Plaintiff alleged neck, back, and wrist injuries with medical expenses that amounted to $41,500. The treatment included chiropractic therapy, physical therapy, and a lumbar injection. Plaintiff acknowledged a prior neck injury that occurred about ten years ago; however, he was unsure whether he had a prior back injury from that same prior accident. Plaintiff also contended a prior left wrist injury was exacerbated due to the accident. In addition to plaintiff’s own testimony, plaintiff had one of his treating physician’s testify by evidentiary deposition, who related plaintiff’s pain to the accident. Plaintiff was successfully impeached on the stand with his prior deposition testimony and the cross-examination of the treating physician showed her determination was made solely on plaintiff’s subjective complaints of pain and what he told her. Plaintiff asked the jury for an award between $75,000 and $100,000. After thirty minutes of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.
DeKalb Jury Determines Proximate Cause Not Established
Alexandra Svoboda was able to bring in a jury verdict under the last pre-trial offer on July 13, 2023 in DeKalb County, following a two day trial. This was a stipulated negligence rear-end case which totaled both vehicles. The plaintiff alleged neck, shoulder, back injuries, and concussion that caused severe dizziness and vertigo. Plaintiff treated with a neurologist and vestibular therapist for the vertigo. Plaintiff played the video-taped deposition of Dr. Peggy Marbach at trial. Medical bills and alleged lost wages totaled roughly $58,000.00. Plaintiff had also been in a collision about two months before the subject collision. The concussion treatment started after the second collision. Attorney Svoboda successfully argued to the jury that causation of the concussion had not been established, and that the cost of the concussion treatment should be split between the two collisions. Plaintiff asked the jury for $500,000.00. The jury deliberated for approximately one hour and returned a verdict for $40,386.79. The last offer given to plaintiff before trial was $50,000.00. There are no appealable issues for either party.
Gwinnett County Jury Returns Defense Verdict
Sarah Britt and co-counsel Blake Durham secured a defense verdict in Gwinnett County on July 12, 2023 following a three-day jury trial. This was a disputed fault case following a multi-car accident on the downtown connector in 2018. The accident involved two (2) impacts and significant property damage. Multiple people, including plaintiff, were transported to the ER from the accident scene. Plaintiff alleged soft tissue neck and back injuries for which she incurred approximately $25,000 in medical expenses. It was undisputed that the defendant was traveling in the lane to the left of the stalled vehicles. As the defendant was approaching the stopped vehicles, a non-party swerved into his lane to avoid the accident ahead of him. Defendant struck the non-party’s vehicle and pushed it into the plaintiff’s vehicle causing a second impact. Plaintiff originally sued the defendant as well as the taxi company for whom he was working and John Doe. However, she dismissed and re-filed to take advantage of the Alston & Bird v. Hatcher ruling on apportionment. In the re-filed suit, plaintiff only sued the defendant driver who had been in the left lane (and not the non-party driver who swerved around the accident). The jury deliberated for one (1) hour before determining the non-party was at fault for the accident and created a sudden emergency for the defendant. The jury returned a straight defense verdict.
WACHP Continues to See Good Results in the Courtroom.
Steven Wilson obtained a favorable verdict for his client after a three-day jury trial in Fulton County State Court. The case was one of disputed fault in which defendant made a left turn and was T-boned by plaintiff. The jury apportioned 30% fault to plaintiff due to evidence that he saw defendant several seconds before the accident but took no action to avoid it. Plaintiff’s primary complaints from the accident were low back pain and right leg sciatica. Notably, plaintiff had a prior low back injury that resulted in limited treatment and an MRI approximately seven months before the accident involving defendant. Throughout the trial, plaintiff portrayed this prior low back injury as a minor injury that had resolved. After the accident, plaintiff treated with an orthopedist for three months before being discharged at maximum medical improvement and with zero disability. After the initial three-month period of treatment, plaintiff experienced several recurrences of low back pain and right leg sciatica that he related to the accident with defendant. The recurrence of symptoms resulted in additional medical treatment by plaintiff. Total medical bills were approximately $49,000. At the conclusion of plaintiff’s case, the court granted defendant’s motion for directed verdict on plaintiff’s claim for future medical expenses. The last demand prior to trial was $425,000, while the last offer was $51,000. At trial, plaintiff asked the jury for an award of $550,000. The defense asked the jury to award plaintiff no more than $11,500. After approximately two hours of deliberations, the jury […]
Court of Appeals Affirms Novel Defense Raised by Matt Hurst
In early 2019, Matt Hurst began defending a case in which his client was alleged to have caused an automobile accident while DUI (and accused to have fled the scene). Further complicating things was the fact that Plaintiff was an attorney, and the owner of a personal injury law firm. Though the bodily injury suffered by Plaintiff was extremely minor, the facts of the case made it such that there was a substantial risk that a very large punitive damages verdict might be returned. Plaintiff, in an attempt to maximize her recovery, attempted to file separate and distinct lawsuits in separate Courts. Plaintiff filed a Pro Se Complaint in Magistrate Court to recover for bodily injury (which included a substantial lost wage component) and hired counsel to file her claim for property damage and punitive damages in State Court. Plaintiff’s last demand for her case involving punitive damages was for $100,000.00. In preparing his defense, Matt Hurst noticed that though each Complaint had a very different focus, they both contained the same factual allegation, namely that “Defendant struck Plaintiff’s vehicle, causing bodily injury and property damage.” Based upon this shared allegation, Matt Hurst was able to resolve the Magistrate Court action and then move to have the remaining action dismissed due to the claims having already been adjudicated. The trial court granted the motion, and Plaintiff appealed. On June 6, 2023, the Court of Appeals issued an Order affirming the dismissal of Plaintiff’s lawsuit.
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