Georgia juries are capable of surpassing expectations.  An example occurred this week in Marion County, population 7,144 according to the 2000 census.  It is the prototype of the conservative, predominantly white rural Georgia county.  I have been told that the highest jury verdict in the history of the county prior to this week was $10,000.

The decedent in the wrongful death case tried this week was a 35 year old male inmate in the last 2 months of a 4 year sentence at a Muscogee Prison Camp.   While working as a trash collector for the City of Columbus, he was run over and killed by the driver, a City employee.
The case was filed on behalf of the decedent’s  8 year old son against the driver of a Columbus Sanitation truck for violating policy by (1) failing to give morning instructions to inmates; (2) backing the 36,000lb truck without assuring that collectors/inmates were off the back; (3) backing it without the use of ground guides/inmates 20 feet from the rear of the truck; and (4) backing it when collectors/inmates could not be "plainly seen".  The decedent was riding on the back, fell off & 5 wheels ran over him.  He  briefly survived.    
The Marion County jury awarded $400K for pain & suffering prior to death and $600K for wrongful death, a total of $1 million, or 100 times the highest previous verdict in the county. Congratulations to Joan Crumpler, a lawyer with the courage to take on a case that I would not have predicted would come out anywhere near that well!

One of the possible take-home lessons from this case may be that jurors in even the most conservative venue can award substantial damages where a big truck does serious harm, even when the person hurt or killed has undesirable characteristics.


The Shigley Law Firm  represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.