Georgia Juries Award Over $78 Million in Three Plaintiffs’ Verdicts this Week!

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Last week, Georgia juries awarded $78 million to three separate plaintiffs. As we have reported to clients in the past couple of years, verdicts in Georgia have increased to mind-blowing levels, to the point Georgia is on the verge of graduating from the Watch List to a Top 10 Judicial Hellholes jurisdiction. This is exactly why The Disruptive Lawyer’s Little Black Book of Litigation Management advocates the premium on Disruptive Lawyers who can negotiate deals.

The three verdicts were for $43 million, $27 million and $8 million. Each case was defended by a credible insurance defense team and two of the cases had solid liability arguments. Just a few years ago, the value of these cases would be under $10 million combined. It also appears based on discussions with the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the cases that the cases could have been resolved for well under $10 million in total, which at least suggests they could have been handled in a more disruptive fashion.

SUMMARY OF CASES
The $43 million verdict was against CVS Pharmacy in Fulton County (Atlanta). The plaintiff was selling computer equipment out of the back of his car. He coordinated a meeting with a buyer at a nearby CVS parking lot. While in the parking lot, a third party, unrelated to the buyer, jumped in the back of the car and shot plaintiff. Plaintiff had about $750,000 in medicals and long-term health issues, such as he could not lift his left arm. The jury gave ZERO apportionment to the shooter! Perhaps on appeal CVS will prevail, given that it would seem the plaintiff was a trespasser (or at least licensee), which would trigger a much lower duty of care in favor of CVS. Of note, plaintiff made an demand at mediation of $3 million, and defendant offered $250,000.

The $29 million verdict was in southwest Georgia and involved a clear liability death case of a young mother who was a military veteran. The decedent was killed when a tractor trailer turned left in front of her motorcycle.

The $8 million verdict was also in Fulton County (Atlanta) and involved a young lawyer who, while stepping out of her car in a parking deck, hit her head on a low hanging pipe attached to the ceiling of the garage. The plaintiff claimed not to see the pipe. She did not have any objective injuries, including no sign of a concussion when treated hours after the incident. She also did not have any objective cognitive deficits. Rather her “closed head injury” was based on her subjective complaints of constant pain and headaches. The award included $2.5 million for pain/suffering. The jury apportioned 21% to plaintiff on comparable fault to reduce it to about $6 million.

LESSON
You can control a mediation/negotiation, but it’s getting harder to control Georgia juries, which are awarding irrational verdicts untethered to any reason whatsoever. Hence, there is a heightened demand for Disruptive Lawyers who have the trial knowledge and also the unique skill set to successfully negotiate and resolve cases before the insurance/defense industry plays Jury Roulette.

PRO BONO CONSULTATION & DISRUPTIVE ANALYSIS
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