We seek justice for all of our clients and are proud of the results we have obtained in past cases. However, every case is different. Recent settlements and verdicts listed below were dictated by the specific factual and legal circumstances of each case. The following is not intended to be an indication that the same results could be obtained for other clients in other cases.
Mediation on October 16, 2013 resulted in a $500,000 settlement in Thomas L. Cates & Erika R. Cates v. Babb Lumber Company, Inc. et al, Superior Court of Catoosa County, Civil Action No. 2012-SU-CV-1692. On October 12, 2010 the Plaintiff, Tommy Cates, a fuel truck driver for Parman Energy made a routine delivery to Babb Lumber in Ringgold. After making his deliveries to their storage tanks, some gas was left over and Babb Lumber wanted the remaining gas pumped into an old 1972 Ford F600 truck they used around the yard to haul shavings from one location to another. The truck was not operated outside the yard, and had no license tag. Plaintiff was outside his truck tending to some levers and valves on the side of the fuel truck, when he was suddenly struck in the back and pushed into the side of the fuel truck. He had been hit by the old Ford truck Babb’s driver was bringing down to be topped off. Fortunately, due to the angle of impact, Cates was not crushed, but he was knocked up against his own truck and then thrown to the side.
Babb’s driver claimed that as he approached the fuel truck and tried to bring it to a stop, “the brake went to the floor,” and afterwards, they claimed that the master cylinder was “very low” on brake fluid. They could not say, however, when the brakes had last been serviced, and he did not keep any service records on that truck. It was admitted that they did not run the truck “out on the street because it was dangerous.”
The impact injured Plaintiff’s low back and eventually he underwent surgery after months of consevative treatment. He was not able to return to work as a fuel truck driver.
Hubert “Hu” Hamilton served as lead counsel for the Plaintiffs.
Sarah Pierce vs. Lookout Property Management, Inc. and Battlewood Apartments, Ltd. Superior Court of Catoosa County; Civil Action No. 2012-SU-CV-1044, was recently settled (August 2013) under a confidentiality agreement prohibiting disclosure of the amount paid.
On Sunday morning, April 10, 2011, the plaintiff drove over to the Battlewood Apartment complex in Ft. Oglethorpe, GA to deliver some yard sale items that one of the residents had purchased from her the preceding day. She delivered the items to the apartment, and then elected to use a long metal and concrete ramp to return to the parking lot, instead of descending the stairs. As she got a few steps down the metal portion of the ramp, the ramp gave way or sunk beneath her slightly and she stared to lose her balance. She was moving forward, but stumbling and trying to get regain her balance while still holding onto the handrail, when the handrail ran out. At that point, something caught her foot, and her right ankle turned under her. She then fell off the concrete portion of the ramp and onto the nearby sidewalk, breaking the distal portion of her right fibula, sustaining a right malleolar fracture in the ankle joint, along with a fracture at base of her fifth metatarsal and a lateral cuboid fracture. The severe fracture required open reduction internal fixation, using a metal plate and seven screws to reattach and stabilize the fractured fibula. Months of rehab, with limited weight bearing followed.
Investigation revealed a steep slope on the right side of the concrete portion of the ramp which caused the plaintiff’s right ankle to turn under her and shatter. Her surgeon testified that the ankle supinated or was rolled under, placing stress on the ligaments and bones on the lateral side (outside) of the ankle. The force pulled the distal end of the fibula off as the ankle rolled underneath. The injury was exactly the type of injury the doctor would have expected if the ankle was turned under as the foot went off onto a steep slope to the right.
Plaintiff’s architectural expert testified that ramp violated numerous provisions of both the International Building Code (IBC) and the Georgia Accessibility Code, including that that handrails continue to the bottom of the ramp and then extend at least 12” beyond the bottom of the ramp (IBC2006 1010.8 and 1012.5). The allowable cross slope for a ramp is only 2% (IBC2006 1003.5), but the flared side of the concrete portion of the ramp where Plaintiff turned her ankle had a steep slope of 48 degrees. The concrete portion of the ramp also lacked any edge protection (IBC2006 1010.9.1) and there was a crack between the metal and the concrete which appeared to violate IBC2006 1002. All such ramps are supposed to have a flat landing at the bottom as well, level with the sidewalk (IBC2006 1010.6). There are corresponding provisions of Georgia Accessibility Code 120-3-20-.19 for each of the IBC provisions.
Plaintiff contended that what happened to her was exactly what the various Code requirements and standards were designed to prevent – a fall. The case was settled at mediation after being placed on the pre-trial calendar for the September term of court in Catoosa County.
On September 7, 2012, in Hamilton County Circuit Court (Tennessee), a jury returned a verdict of $3,500,000 for Marcus Black. Mr. Black was on his motorcycle and sustained a severe head injury when he struck the rear of the vehicle ahead of him. However, the chain reaction was triggered by a texting driver in the traffic ahead. The texting driver drove off and her identity was unknown. Suit was filed against Mr. Black’s uninsured motorist insurer. Eyewitnesses testified concerning the actions of the unidentified Jane Doe driver. The jury found Jane Doe 75% at fault for the wreck, while allocating 25% fault to Mr. Black. His damages will be reduced to $2,625,000 under Tennessee’s comparative fault rules. Mr. Black was represented by Patrick Cruise of The Hamilton Firm.
Holder v. Great American Ins. Co., No. 1:11-cv-00276 (U.S. Dist. Court, Eastern District of Tenn.): The Plaintiff became disabled as the result of a serious occupational injury in 2005. He was paid benefits for two years, at which time, his benefits stopped. The Occupational Disability Policy required the plaintiff to remain disabled after two years, and be approved for Social Security Disability. The Plaintiff was not approved for Social Security until about five years after his injury, and when he was approved, it was for SSI instead of SSDI. The defendant contended that there was insufficient proof of disability and that receipt of SSI disability benefits did not meet the requirements of the disability policy. The Plaintiff retained Patrick A. Cruise of The Hamilton Firm in 2011, after which suit was filed. The case was settled October 2012 at mediation in Nashville, TN. The terms and conditions of the settlement are subject to a confidentiality agreement.
Barrow v. Velsicol Chemical, LLC, 2:10-CV-02540, United States District Court (W.D. Tenn.): The plaintiff sustained a back injury while attempting to load his tanker with hydrochloric acid (HCL) at the defendant’s facility in Memphis, Tennessee. On July 15, 2009, as the plaintiff was standing on the HCL loading ramp, the metal grating on the ramp platform suddenly gave way, causing injury to the plaintiff’s lower back. The plaintiff’s injuries required extensive medical treatment and spinal surgery. The injuries were such that the plaintiff was unable to return to work. Plaintiff brought suit alleging that the defendant was responsible for maintaining the loading platform and had created the dangerous condition by previously improperly repairing the area where the Plaintiff was injured. The defendant denied liability and fault. The case was settled in May of 2012. All matters relating to the terms and conditions of the settlement are subject to a confidentiality agreement. The Plaintiff was represented by Patrick Cruise of The Hamilton Firm and David Bateman of The Bateman Law Firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Marc Beck v. FM Global, et al, Case No. 11VS184780C, Fulton State Court, Atlanta, Georgia, was settled in December 2011 for a confidential amount. A boiler service technician sustained severe head, brain and facial injuries in a boiler explosion at a poultry plant in Gainesville, Georgia on January 14, 2008, The plaintiff was an employee of a boiler service company who was sent to switch fuel supply for the boiler from gas over to fuel oil. The boiler supplied steam for the plant, and they wanted to maintain pressure while the change over to oil took place. Investigation of the explosion by the Georgia Department of Labor determined that the oil supply and return lines had been reversed, causing an excessive accumulation of fuel in the hot boiler as Mr. Beck attempted to fire the burner on oil. The burner had not been fired on oil since a new boiler was installed two years before. Plaintiff contended that the lines had been reversed when the new boiler was installed by another boiler service company, and that the manufacturer of the burner had supplied a defective manifold making it possible to inadvertently reverse the lines at the point of attachment to the burner. The boiler inspection company which had last inspected the boiler prior to the explosion was also named as a defendant. Mr. Beck was represented by Hubert Hamilton.
Jury Verdict of $784,676.65 in Fire Loss case against Nationwide Insurance Company in the Circuit Court of Hamilton County, Tennessee in a six day trial that was successfully concluded on November 9, 2011, O’Neal v. Nationwide. The fire originated in a Christmas tree that Mrs. O’Neal had just put up the night before the fire in December 2009. Nationwide refused to pay, contending that a family member had intentionally set the house on fire. The jury concluded otherwise as Plaintiff’s expert had found a melted plug blade in an electrical receptacle adjacent to the tree that Nationwide’s expert had missed. The evidence suggested an electrical origin due to a short or arcing at the receptacle. The verdict included a bad faith penalty of 18%. Hubert Hamilton and Patrick Cruise served as trial counsel for Mrs. O’Neal.
Currie v. Farmer, Case 08 CV 7097, Walker State Court, LaFayette, Georgia: Jury verdict totaling $792,500, on March 11, 2010, for a 39 year-old self-employed roofer/sheet metal fabricator injured in a bad wreck two years previously. On a Sunday afternoon the plaintiff had taken his Harley motorcycle out for a ride over to his mother’s house. As he cruised along a rural roadway near Chickamauga, Georgia at a safe speed, a Buick Skylark, driven by an 88 year-old man, suddenly turned left directly in front of him. The impact shattered the plaintiff’s left ankle. The orthopedic trauma surgeon was able to use steel plates and screws to put the bimalleolar ankle fracture dislocation back together, but the plaintiff was left with a painful arthritic ankle with limited mobility. The jury awarded $50,000 for medical expenses, $37,500 for lost earnings to date, $379,000 for future lost earnings, $20,000 for pain and suffering to date, plus $306,000 for future pain and suffering. The biggest challenge faced was overcoming sympathy for the defendant, who appeared in court in a wheelchair, after defense counsel made a big show of the fact that the defendant was ill. The trial judge prohibited further appeals to sympathy and the jury took seriously our admonitions not to let “outside reasons” influence their determination of the proper amounts of money required to balance out the harms and losses the plaintiff suffered, and justice was served. Hubert Hamilton and Patrick Cruise served as trial counsel for Mr. Currie.
Michael Nordone v. RSB Logistics, No: 4:08-cv-2-HLM, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia. Battling against strong headwinds, including an unfavorable report and opinions from the investigating state trooper, a client who could not remember what happened, and very inconsistent statements from the only eyewitness, a favorable settlement of $1,100,000 was reached after mediation in June 2009.
The Plaintiff was self-employed, performing high-end woodworking and remodeling when this wreck occurred on January 31, 2006. He was returning home from a job site in Dalton, GA, accompanied by an employee, in a modified 2003 F350 work truck when they were rear-ended by the RSB tractor-trailer, driven by a 70 years old driver, as they were northbound on I-75. The truck driver claimed that the plaintiff cut in front of him, moving suddenly from the right lane to the middle lane, and then slowed down so he could not avoid the wreck. The only eye-witness, the employee riding in plaintiff’s vehicle, had given different versions of what happened, so his value as a witness had been seriously compromised. However, the plaintiff’s case was aided by inconsistent data downloaded from the electronic control module (ECM) in the RSB truck. In addition, no data was found on the restraint control module (RCM) in the plaintiff’s truck when RSB’s expert attempted to download the data shortly after the wreck. This raised suspicion of improper downloading or even spoiliation.
By the time of mediation, the plaintiff had recovered much of his functional abilities, but he will not be able to return to full-time work.