Two significant verdicts, turning tort reform upon its authors, as metro Atlanta reaches 5 million mark
Despite the political surge to tort "reform" and the distinctly conservative tone we see in jury panels these days, when serious cases are well tried jurors repeatedly show the willingness to award adequate verdicts. We experienced it a couple of weeks ago with a $2.3 million verdict in rural Gordon County for a young man with a serious leg injury that limits him to sedentary occupations and eliminates all but a bittersweet his lifelong loves of hunting, fishing and basketball.
This week there were verdicts of $5 million in very conservative Hall County and $11.7 million in Fulton County, which due to demographic shifts is not generally considered as plaintiff-friendly as a few years ago.
In Gainesville (Hall County), there was a $5 million verdict for a worker who had as catastrophic brain injury in a fall from a ladder in an unsafe workplace. As with our recent case in Calhoun, nothing has yet hit the newspapers.
In Atlanta (Fulton County), my downstairs office neighbors, David Boone and Bill Stone, won an $11.7 million medical malpractice verdict for a young man who was a college freshman in 2003 when he underwent a surgery to relive chronic back pain but came out a paraplegic. (Ironically, the surgeon who was then at Resurgens Orthopedics is in many respects a pretty good guy who I have known to get get great results in other operations.)
The great irony of the case in Fulton County is that the plaintiff used provisions of the tort reform legislation passed two years ago to exclude two of the defense experts, and to add on roughly $4 million in attorney fees and expenses in addition to the jury’s verdict due to the defense rejection of an offer of settlement under OCGA 9-11-68. Thus, the insurance company that lobbied so hard for tort reform legislation is hoist upon its own pettard.
All these cases underscore the importance of presenting serious cases in a serious, effective manner. When that is done, it may not matter much where a case is tried.
On a tangential note, the U.S. Census Bureau announced this week that the 28-county metro area — known officially as the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta Metropolitan Statistical Area — reached a population of 5,138,223. I remember when a much more compact metro Atlanta area reached a population of 1 million, provoking much celebration and civic chest-thumping. The 5 million population mark is just another news story. Differences between metro Atlanta and most other major American cities are not that huge. Neither is the potential for serious jury verdicts in serious cases.
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.