While returning to home in rural Bulloch County from work in Savannah, our client’s husband was killed when another driver ran a stop sign governing the intersection of a county road and state highway. The at-fault driver was driving his company work truck while on his way to town. The at-fault driver’s employer attempted to escape its liability by contending that its employee was not within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident. We successfully defeated this motion before the trial court and had this decision affirmed by the Georgia Court of Appeals. The case then settled after jury selection.
In a case of first impression, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed a decision of the Bulloch County State Court to allow an uninsured motorist claim where the insured could not recover against an at-fault motorist who was insured by a liability insurance policy, but granted immunity by the no-fault act applicable in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. The Court of Appeals adopted the argument presented on behalf of our client that O.C.G.A. § 33-7-11(b)(1)(D)(iii) created uninsured motorist coverage where the alleged tortfeasor is insured, but for some reason no recovery can be obtained against the insurance carrier due to legal immunity that arises for some reason beyond the underlying facts of the accident.
A Chatham County Board of Education employee was driving a commercial truck when he struck a Ford Ranger broadside on Highway 21 in Garden City, Georgia, causing the pickup to roll over and partially eject the driver. The injured driver of the Ford Ranger initially hired a Savannah lawyer who subsequently abandoned the case when the Board of Education filed a motion to dismiss the case. After at least three other law firms turned down the case, the self-employed mechanic hired our firm, and the case was settled at mediation after resolution of the motion to dismiss in favor of the injured mechanic.
A tractor-trailer with faulty brakes struck a vehicle driven by a grandmother with her seven and eight year old grandsons as passengers on a four-lane highway in Dublin, Georgia. The collision resulted in a fire that killed the grandmother and young grandsons. The parents of the boys and a Savannah law firm hired our firm to bring suit against the trucking company, driver, and a signed company, all of whom blamed the grandmother for the accident. The case settled at mediation on the eve of trial for a large confidential amount.
A 24 year old college student was struck and killed by an 18 wheeler while riding his bicycle at night on a 4-lane U.S. Highway. Even though the bicyclist complied with all applicable safety laws, the driver and tractor-trailer company denied liability. Investigation into the case revealed the tractor-trailer driver had violated numerous provisions of the federal motor carrier safety regulations, including falsifying his long book entries. After filing suit, this case was settled with very limited discovery.
Our client was sideswiped by a tractor-trailer while traveling on I-24 just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. The tractor-trailer driver attempted to flee the scene. Our client suffered significant injuries which resulted in his permanent disability as a result of the accident. Our firm successfully held the truck driver and the trucking company responsible for these injuries.
A log truck completely blocked a state highway on a curve in Jeff Davis County, Georgia. As a young mother rounded the curve while driving to college in Douglas, she struck the front of the truck. The lady and her husband hired our firm after three other attorneys refused the case. The logging company’s insurance company had hired an accident re-constructionist to place blame on the mother. After filing suit against the driver and logging company and fighting the insurance company’s expert, the case settled on the eve of trial.
A 25 year-old young man, married and the father of two children, purchased a Go-kart type recreational vehicle advertised for off-road recreational use. A roll cage made of tubular steel surrounded the driver, but the vehicle was not equipped with a seatbelt. The vehicle on an off-road trail in a national park, flipped rear-end over front-end, ejecting the driver forward and out of the vehicle, due to the absence of a seat belt. As a result, the young man was killed almost instantly. The family’s personal attorney associated our firm to handle the prosecution of the claim against the kart manufacturer. The case was settled prior to trial for a large sum during mediation.
Our client suffered serious injuries when the 3/4 inch industrial drill known as a “gun” drill pierced his right hand while he was employed at the Grinnell Corporation in Statesboro, Georgia. Our client was in the process of positioning an automotive transmission part when the machine clamped and cycled into his right hand. The Plaintiff brought an action against the manufacturer of the “gun” drill because the machine did not contain the proper barrier guards or other safety devices to prevent the drill’s operation while the operator’s hands were positioning parts. The manufacturer countered that alterations made to the machine by the owner, our client’s employer, made the machine unsafe. Our client endured seven surgeries on his right hand and suffered the loss of his ring finger and the relocation of his small finger. The initial jury trial resulted in a hung jury. The case settled prior to retrial.
DEFECTIVE AUTOMOBILE AND TIRES
A 19-year-old University of West Virginia football player was killed when a tire detreaded on his Ford Explorer, resulting in a rollover of the vehicle. The family of the deceased young man and their Florida attorneys hired our firm to bring suit against Ford Motor Company and Firestone/Bridgestone. Evidence discovered in this case became part of the NHTSA investigation into the Firestone ATX tires. The case was settled on the eve of trial for a confidential sum.
Our client’s wife died due to injuries sustained when her 1998 Ford Explorer rolled over while on a county road in Bulloch County, Georgia after she attempted to avoid a Chevrolet Suburban which had crossed the center line while traveling towards her. On behalf of the surviving spouse, our firm litigated a negligence claim against the driver of the Suburban and product liability claims against Ford Motor Company. Unlike the other rollover cases handled by our firm, this Explorer stability case did not involve a tread separation. In addition to stability experts, our firm engaged in vehicle stability testing to support the claims against Ford. The case settled for a confidential amount on the eve of trial.
The driver of a 1998 4-door Ford Explorer suffered a catastrophic rollover after a tread separation of the left rear tire. The tread separated as the tire was improperly repaired and placed onto the vehicle with no fewer than 4 string plugs. Our firm, acting as co-trial counsel, engaged in a 3 week trial against the used car dealer that placed the tire on the vehicle and Ford Motor Company due to the propensity of the Explorer to rollover during foreseeable events such as a tread separation. This case settled during the 3rd week of trial.
A college student and his mother suffered a tread separation while traveling on I-10 inside the city limits of Biloxi Mississippi. Their 1996 Ford Explorer became uncontrollable and rolled over causing the death of the mother. Our firm, acting as co-counsel with an Atlanta firm, successfully prosecuted claims against Ford Motor Company, Michelin Tire and Rubber Company and a local tire company which had recently inspected the failed tire.
A 19-year-old young man was killed when his Chevrolet diesel truck stalled because of a defective fuel system as he attempted to cross a major intersection, resulting in his vehicle being struck by an oncoming 18-wheeler. The deceased young man’s family hired our firm. Suit was filed against General Motors, in addition to the owner and operator of the 18-wheeler. The case was settled on the eve of trial for a very large confidential sum.
DANGEROUS FALLS / CONSTRUCTION SAFETY
A fire safety instructor suffered a fatal fall while working in the air-return shaft of a multi-story building under construction. The general contractor and electrical sub-contractor allowed an opening, which was 18 feet above a lower level, to be covered with insulation board. While the inspector was showing a worker an area that needed attention, he stepped onto the insulation board and fell. Our firm successfully prosecuted claims based on violation of OSHA safety standards and general negligence principals against the general contractor and sub-contractors involved in the construction in this area of the building.
Our firm represented a welder who was permanently disabled as a result of a fall in a paper mill. Our client was performing maintenance work within the mill and a piece of cut steel fell and knocked him off of a scaffolding 12 feet above a lower level. The client suffered a cracked pelvis and fractured vertebra due to this fall. While negotiating the workers’ compensation bar for any negligence claims against his employer, our firm successfully brought a suit against the paper mill for negligence in the installation and inspection of the scaffolding.
The owner of a valuable tract of land terminated and breached his contract with a real estate broker. The broker hired our firm to bring suit against the landowner for breach of contract. Prior to the trial, the case went to the Court of Appeals where the broker was successful and the case was returned for trial. Upon trial, the jury awarded the broker almost $500,000 for breach of contract and attorney’s fees. The landowner appealed the verdict, but the Court of Appeals again found for the broker and upheld the verdict, which was settled for a sum in excess of $550,000.
Our client suffered a significant burn injury to his left lower leg during an aneurysm repair at a regional hospital in Savannah. Our client contended that the burn occurred as a result of the improper use of a warming device on his lower extremities during the aneurysm repair. During discovery, the physicians involved in the surgery acknowledged that the use of the warming device on the lower extremities violated the standard of care, but raised novel defenses as to causation. Further, none of the defendants accepted responsibility for placement of the warming device. Prior to the trial, the Georgia General Assembly passed SB3 in 2005 which dramatically changed substantive medical malpractice law. The defendants filed numerous motions related to the changes created by SB3. All of the SB3 motions were denied by the trial court. The case settled for a confidential amount on the eve of trial.
After being diagnosed with a stage IV head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, our client was never referred to an oncologist for any type of post operative radiation or chemotherapy despite invasive surgery to remove the tumor. Within a few months the carcinoma returned and metastasized throughout her body. Our firm successfully prosecuted a claim against all 3 of our client’s initial treating physicians and settled the claim at the close of discovery.
During a laparoscopic surgical procedure, the surgeons punctured the patient’s bowel. Even though the patient never regained consciousness from the surgery and was in obvious distress, the perforation and subsequent infection was not discovered for 2 days. By this point, the patient had become septic and died within a week. Our firm successfully represented the patient’s widow in a claim against the hospital as the doctors were employees of the state.
REPORTED APPELLATE DECISIONS:
- Bryan v. Brown Childs Realty Co., Inc., 252 Ga. App. 502, 556 SE.2d 554 (2001)
- Bryan v. Brown Childs Realty Co., Inc., 236 Ga. App. 739, 513 SE2d 271 (1999)
- Dept. of Transp. v. Cannady, 270 Ga. 427, 511 S.E.2d 173 (1999)
- Stewart v. Ford Motor Co., et al., Civil Action No. 1B01CV229 (Bulloch County Superior Court)
- Henderson v. South Carolina Dept. of Transportation, Civil Action No. 97-CP-14-248 (Circuit Court of Clarendon County SC)
- Ga. Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Williams, 266 Ga. App. 540 597 S.E.2d.430 (2004)
- Van Etten v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. and Ford Motor Company, Civil Action No. CV298-069 (US District Court, Southern District of Georgia)
- Remediation Resources, Inc. v. Balding, 281 Ga. App. 31, 635 S.E.2d 332 (2006)
- Tillman Park, LLC v. Dabbs-Williams General Contractors, LLC, 298 Ga. App. 27, 629 S.E.2d 67 (2009)