The Family who would not back down to GM for an Ignition Defect that killed their Daughter will be honored by the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association

justice-388623-mAlthough it is still not the norm, we are beginning to see families who have lost loved ones in accidents involving vehicles, pharmaceuticals, or other products with product liability defects stand up to the companies who are involved in the manufacturing and otherwise of such products, and not settle for amounts in either class action suits or otherwise. I have blogged about two (2) such extraordinary examples recently.

One blog being about the family of a four year old who was killed in a gas tank explosion who decided to take the case to trial whereby the jury awarded $ 150 Million Dollars to the family for the Wrongful Death of their precious son. The other case was the case of Beth and Ken Melton who took General Motors to the mat when their daughter was killed due to an ignition defect.

In the Melton case, it was further discovered that GM knew of the defect and further tried to cover it up . Chrysler, who was held responsible for the death of the four year old in the gas tank explosion case, has yet to acknowledge liability in that case, but the verdict has certainly turned heads of those at the National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration (NHSTA) who supported the gas tank design in the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee and rendered it an unreasonable safety hazard on the road. As I blogged recently, NHSTA is now rethinking that decision very carefully.

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A Hardworking Railroad Employee Injured in a Wreck Involving a Train is Awarded just over $ 1 Million Dollars by a Fulton County, Georgia Jury (Video Included)

look-out-for-trains-1444327-mThe Plaintiff, Winfred Evans, then age 46 years old, was a freight conductor for Norfolk Southern Railway when he was the passenger in a van that was used to carry workers for the railway in the Inman Rail Yard in Georgia. The van was owned by Professional Transportation, Inc. (a/k/a PTI). On this particular day, the van in which Evans was riding was running parallel to a set of tracks of the railroad when it approached a railroad crossing simultaneously with a train. Instead of stopping to wait for the train, however, the van turned in front of the train causing the train to strike the side of the van in which Evans was riding.

Although the van was only traveling at a rate of speed of approximately 8 to 10 miles per hour, it struck the van with enough force to cause Evans severe and permanent injuries. Fortunately, the person riding in the back of the van was not hurt. It is unknown if the driver of the van was injured, but it is known that he was subsequently fired from his job as a driver.

Evans was not taken from the scene in an ambulance and was hoping that home remedies would cure his pain. The next day, however, when he awoke he had trouble moving which prompted his wife to take him to the emergency room. Evans continued on with physical therapy to no avail. He then sought treatment with an orthopedic doctor who diagnosed him with strain in his left shoulder, and cervical and lumbar strain. He was also told that eventually he would need surgery. As a result of his injuries, Evans was unable to work for 17 months causing him a tremendous amount of lost wages.

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A Woman who was Injured in a Low-Impact Rear End Collision for which she sought Back Surgery was awarded Nothing by a Jackson County, Georgia Jury

car-parking-dent-923935-mIn November, 2001, on a rainy day, the Plaintiff, a woman from Tifton, Georgia named Melissa Chapman, was stopped on Pleasant Hill Road at a traffic light in Gwinnett County, Georgia when she was was hit in the rear of her car by Defendant Ameda Wittmer.  Defendant Wittmer would admit to being the cause of the accident, but deny that the accident was the cause of the surgical treatment that the Plaintiff later endured to her back.

It was acknowledged that the impact was a low-speed impact, that neither car sustained more damage beyond bumper damage in the form of minor scratches, there was no ambulance called, and there was no emergency visit to the hospital by the Plaintiff.  Later, however, and not much longer after the accident, the Plaintiff would complain to friends and family that she was experiencing back and neck pain.

She treated her pain initially with over the counter medication and other home remedies to no avail. She then sought the assistance of a chiropractor who referred her to an orthopedic clinic that treated her with an injection to no avail.

The Plaintiff then underwent surgery for herniated disks in her back and the surgery did relieve her pain. Although this was ultimately a surgical case, the problem that seemed to stand in the way of a decent settlement or jury verdict, as acknowledged by attorneys for both sides, was, in part, the fact that the Plaintiff waited two (2) months to seek medical treatment. The case is Chapman v. Wittmer, No. M12CV1132.

This case seems to ignore, in part, that there is scientific evidence, as I have posted in a prior blog post that does acknowledge that severe injury can be caused from low-impact rear end collisions going as slow, or slower, than seven (7) miles per hour. There are also cases that have set precent that even though the Plaintiff has waited to seek treatment, and in some cases engaged in activities that it might be argued exasperate an injury of this sort, that juries have returned verdicts in the seven (7) figures if the case has resulted in a surgery or other major injury.

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The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that in Medical Malpractice Cases in Georgia that if the Plaintiff’s Affidavit attached to the Plaintiff’s Complaint is Challenged that the Plaintiff May File an Amended Complaint with an Affidavit from a New Expert

gavel-952313-mThis is a case that many with the Georgia Bar have been watching as the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled unanimously to affirm the Georgia Court of Appeals’ ruling that states that if the Plaintiff’s Medical Expert Affidavit filed with the Plaintiff’s original complaint in a Medical Malpractice Case is found defective, and the Defendant files a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint based on said defect, that the Plaintiff could, if filed within thirty (30) days of being served with said Motion, cure the defect by filing an Amended Complaint with an Affidavit of a new Expert. This ruling serves to further define a rule of law in Georgia that has been in place since the 1980’s as well as set new standards for both Plaintiffs and Defendants in Medical Malpractice Cases in Georgia.

This ruling comes from a case that originated in Fulton County, Georgia, Superior Court, whereby the Plaintiff filed a Medical Malpractice Complaint with the required Expert Affidavit Attached thereto. The Defendant subsequently filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint stating that said Affidavit was defective. The Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint with a new Affidavit from a new expert, not a new Affidavit from the same expert as the original Affidavit.

The Defendant filed a Motion with the Court to Dismiss the Plaintiff’s claim for violating the rule that a Plaintiff’s Complaint in a Medical Malpractice Case must be filed with the Affidavit of a Medical Expert. The Honorable Kimberly Esmond Adams of the Superior Court agreed with the Defendant and dismissed the Plaintiff’s Complaint. The case is Gala v. Fisher, No. S14G0919.

The Plaintiff Appealed the case to the Georgia Court of Appeals and the three (3) Justice Panel of said Court consisting of the Honorable Elizabeth Barnes, the Honorable John Ellington, and the Chief Judge Herbert Phipps, disagreed with the Superior Court and reinstated the Plaintiff’s lawsuit. The case made its way to the Georgia Supreme Court whereby the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously agreed with the Court of Appeals, and, as further stated by the Honorable Presiding Justice P. Harris Hines that, “Nothing in our reading of the statute detracts from that purpose,” wrote Hines. “[The plaintiff] has exercised his right to amend his complaint as a matter of course under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-15(a), and produced an affidavit of an expert who opines that professional malpractice occurred.”

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Follow Up to the Blog Posted Dated April 9, 2015 re: $ 150 Million Dollar Plaintiff’s Verdict against Chrysler: NHTSA may Reopen Investigation of the older Jeeps’ gas tanks and may also open a New Investigation

business-law-883985-mAs I posted in my April 9, 2015 blog post titled, “A $ 150 Million Dollar Verdict in Georgia against Chrysler for the Death of a Young Child Due to an Exploding Gas Tank Exposes the Company to Future Massive Tort Litigation (Video’s of the Trial Included),” a Georgia Jury in Bainbridge, Georgia, just over one week ago, awarded a family who lost their 4-year old son in a 1999 Jeep Cherokee gas tank explosion following a rear end collision, $ 150 Million Dollars in Damages for the loss of their son and for their son’s pain and suffering in his horrific death. In that blog, I stated that the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), after investigating the Jeep’s gas tank design by, among other things, 20 year old data submitted by Chrysler, had determined that the Jeep was an, “unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.”

NHTSA may, however, be changing course in reference to its earlier determination that the Jeep’s gas tank design was safe.  Mark Rosakind, the head of NHTSA, told reporters yesterday at the New York International Auto Show at a briefing that he may reopen the investigation of the safety of the older Jeeps’ gas tanks, and that he may even begin a new investigation.  Rosalind was quoted as stating, “We’re not satisfied with the current situation, so we are looking for every avenue that would be appropriate for us to take action,” and, “Given all of the stuff that’s going on, we want to figure out what else we can be doing.” Rosakind also stated that he has a group that is organized to look into actions that regulators can take and he has further stated that, “Everything is on the table for us to look at.”

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A $ 150 Million Dollar Verdict in Georgia against Chrysler for the Death of a Young Child Due to an Exploding Gas Tank Exposes the Company to Future Massive Tort Litigation (Video’s of the Trial Included)

explosion-776833-mOn March 6, 2012, the Waldens were driving in Bainbridge, Georgia when their 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee was struck from behind by a vehicle that was traveling more than 50 miles per hour. Neither of the Drivers of either vehicle were injured in the impact.  The 4-year old child that sat in the back seat of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, manufactured by Chrysler, only suffered a fractured leg until the Jeep burst into flames causing the death of the young Remington Walden. The parent’s marriage would also die that fateful night.

This was not the first time that a vehicle with this gas tank design had exploded causing Catastrophic Injury or Death, and Chrysler knew it as they settled claims quietly and recalled just enough vehicles to keep the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) satisfied. Chrysler tried to settle with the Waldens, but to no avail. The Waldens had nothing more to lose: Their son was dead and their marriage was dead; now it was time for Chrysler to be exposed.

And exposed they would be by a Bainbridge, Georgia jury a week ago today when the jury awarded one hundred and fifty million dollars and No/00th ($ 150,000,000.00) to the Waldens for the Wrongful Death of their young 4-year old son Remi. The case is Walden v. Chrysler Group, 12CV472. The jury apportioned $ 120 Million Dollars of the verdict for the value of Remi’s life and $ 30 Million Dollars for the young child’s pain and suffering as he died while flames from the vehicle engulfed him and the Jeep in which he was riding. The jury only attributed one percent (1%) of the fault of the accident to the other driver that hit the Jeep from behind, leaving ninety-nine percent (99%) of the fault with Fiat Chrylser.

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