Legal Alert: Georgia Jury Awards $1 Billion on Premises Liability Case!

In the past few years, we have seen the value of verdicts in Georgia – especially in metro-Atlanta – rapidly increase. Well, the trend continues on steroids as a Clayton County jury yesterday returned the most shocking verdict on a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia (and likely US) history: $1,000,000,000! If you have trouble counting zeros, that isn’t a typo. The award was indeed $1 BILLION! (Cheston v. Crime Prevention Agency, Inc., Clayton State Court 2018)

The lawsuit involved a sad case of a 14-year-old raped at an apartment complex by a security guard employed by Crime Prevention Agency, Inc. The case went to trial strictly on damages as the court had already ruled that the employer was at fault for the employee’s wrongdoing. (The guard had entered a criminal statutory rape guilty plea and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.) The entire award was in compensatory damages – not punitive damages, which would have been capped. The verdict should be overturned or reduced dramatically by the court (one would hope, and we will report back on this).

While one jury does not speak for the entire state, this verdict does punctuate the ongoing trend in Georgia (particularly in metro-Atlanta) of juries returning larger and larger awards.