In Atlanta, Georgia an Automobile Accident involving at least one (1) Drunk Driver that caused the Wrongful Death of a young lady settles out of court and prior to trial for over $ 4.3 Million Dollars

toddler-and-mom-feet-1442012-mOn July 20, 2013, at approximately 1:00 a.m., Carlos Ashley and his soon to be bride, Adrianna Barron, were returning to their home in Henry County, Georgia from a premarital counseling session in Atlanta, Georgia when traveling on Interstate 75/85. On that same fateful night, Jeremy Crawley was also driving on Interstate 75/85, although he was drunk, when he hit the retaining wall and went across five (5) lanes of traffic before coming to a stop that was perpendicular to the highway. Three (3) of the four (4) cars that were behind Crawley were able to stop.

The fourth (4th) car (car # 4), however, was not able to stop.  Car # 4 hit the last car in line (car #3), the car that carried Carlos Ashley and Adrianna Barron; Carlos was driving and Adrianna was his passenger.  Then the car that carried Mr. Ashley and Ms. Barron (car # 3) hit the car in front of them (car # 2).  Subsequently, car # 2 hit the first car that was able to stop (car # 1). The drivers of car # 1 and car # 2 were not severely injured in the crash.

Carlos Ashley and Adrianna Barron would not be so fortunate in car # 3.  Car # 3 was hit by car # 4 and it also hit car # 2.  Carlos Ashley suffered a serious injury in the crash and was taken to the hospital.

Adrianna Barron, only 23 years old at the time, would suffer an occipital dislocation at the base of her skull.  The injury would be described by experts as an internal beheading of which Ms. Barron was most likely aware, that resulted in her tragic and untimely death at the scene of the accident.  Adrianna would leave behind a young child, her son, whom she shared with Mr. Ashley.

It is truly a senseless and tragic event when a mother and child lose one and other in such a manner.  Ms. Barron’s young son will never know his mother, and his mother lost all those moments in life from her wedding day, to seeing her son off to his first day of school, and to being there with her family for all those moments in life in which we all treasure.

Crawley and the driver of car # 4, Hollis Floyd, were both charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and first-degree homicide, among other traffic violations.


A Midtown, Georgia, now Closed, once Popular, Night-Club has a Default Judgment of over $ 10 Million Against it in a Dram Shop Liability Wrongful Death Action ~ part two

night life blog jan 15 2015In what would seem an open and shut Dram Shop Liability and Wrongful Death Action, that I began discussing in my last blog post titled, “A Midtown, Georgia, now Closed, once Popular, Night-Club has a Default Judgment of over $ 10 Million Against it in a Dram Shop Liability Wrongful Death Action ~ part one,” this case turns into a fight with an insurance company, the withdraw of attorneys by order of the court, and the insurance company’s CEO and founder, Jeffrey Cohen, now sitting in a federal detention facility awaiting trial on charges of making false statements and money laundering and he is attempting to represent himself in said action.

Fortunately, the end result would be a default judgment against the club for over $ 10 Million Dollars in favor of the parents of the deceased Griner. Unfortunately, the insurance company that provided coverage for the club in the event of a dram shop incident had collapsed now leaving the Plaintiffs with the fate of whether or not they will collect said judgment in a receivership.

This is a situation that occurs and many people only see the large dollar amount of the judgment and not the difficulty of collecting the same. In many cases, obtaining a judgment is not the hard part, as such was ultimately in this case, it is collecting the judgment. The positive part is that this is a default judgment and, in Georgia, a default judgment can not be discharged in bankruptcy. The reality, however, is that the insurance company at issue, Indemnity Insurance, was incorporated in Delaware, which is not uncommon for many corporations.  Therefore, if the insurance company is protected by the bankruptcy laws in Delaware, then therein lies the difficulty in collection.


A Midtown, Georgia, now Closed, once Popular, Night-Club has a Default Judgment of over $ 10 Million Against it in a Dram Shop Liability Wrongful Death Action ~ part one

lightspeed for blog jan 12This most tragic incident began on January 19, 2010 when Christa Scott, then age 26, went to work at her job as a waitress for the once popular drinking and clubbing hotspot in Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia, Door 44. That night Door 44 was the host of a “Scallywags Ball” that was inviting patrons of the club to, “Come Get Stewed, Screwed, and Tattooed,” which was code for what the club was known for, wild partying and drinking. The bar not only hosted such events, it also encouraged its employees, like Scott, to drink with patrons and had employees do shots before shifts also known as “shift shots”.

On the same fateful night that Christa Scott was getting drunk on the job, a young Jordan Griner was the designated driver for himself and other interns of Georgia’s then Governor Sonny Perdue’s office. The responsible Griner had dropped off all of those that he was driving home that evening and was heading home himself that night when he was driving West on 17th Street in Atlanta, Georgia.

At the same time, the drunk waitress Scott was driving on West Peachtree Street when she ran a red light striking the driver’s side of Griner’s vehicle.  Jordan Griner had to be extracted from the vehicle and was later pronounced dead at Grady Hospital.  The parents of Jordan Griner would never see their son alive again.  Scott, on the other hand, walked away from the accident and went to a nearby establishment asking for a drink of water in an attempt to cover up her noticeable and obvious intoxication.


Dram Shop Law in Georgia Applies as a Bar Settles for $1M with a Police Officer Injured from a Drunk Driving Patron of the Bar

bar photo for blog may 15 2014Woof’s Atlanta Sports Bar on Piedmont Road in Georgia settled under Georgia’s Dram Shop Law for the insurance policy limits of $1M when a patron of the bar slammed into an Atlanta police officer, Osbert Beckles’, parked patrol car in January, 2013 causing Beckles’ serious injuries such as a traumatic brain injury, pelvic fracture, ruptured spleen, and other injuries. Fortunately, police officer Beckles’ is making a miraculous recovery after suffering such severe injuries.

The drunk driver, Scott Eugene Walker, fled the scene after the wreck and was then apprehended, and showed a number of visible signs that he was highly intoxicated. Welker was charged in Fulton County with DUI, serious injury by vehicle, hit and run, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, and other offenses as well. According to a spokesman for Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, Welker’s criminal case is pending.  Welker’s attorney in the criminal case is Atlanta Attorney Robert Chestney who was not available for comment.

It is interesting to note that the police report did not contain any information as to where Welker had been drinking prior to the accident. Therefore, in March 2013, the Plaintiff’s Attorney’s filed a personal injury suit in Cobb County State Court naming Welker and a John Doe defendant to represent the then-unknown bar.

The information that sealed the Dram Shop Case was found out only through discovery and the persistence of the Plaintiff.  Once the information of Woof’s Bar was discovered, in June, Plaintiff’s attorneys filed an amended complaint naming Woof’s and its parent company, H.H.S.T. Sporting Group, to the lawsuit, and accusing the bar of violating Georgia’s Dram Shop Statute.


Man Sentenced to 15 years for Fatal DUI Crash that Killed an 11 Year Old Boy in Georgia

shattered glass for blog post may 13 2014In Fulton County, Georgia a man was sentenced to 15 years for killing an 11 year old boy when he was drinking and driving. The young man who was killed, Patrick Williams, was crossing the street when the drunk driver, Gatha Dyer, hit him throwing him 53 feet when the boy landed on another car’s windshield.

The drunk driver slowed down and then attempted to flee the scene until a witness followed him and got his tag information to give to the police. The drunk driver was on probation for another DUI in Cobb County at the time as well.

This case illustrates many important points that were mentioned in the last two prior blog posts parts one and two about What Can be Done to Help Reduce the Number of Injuries and Deaths from Drunk and Impaired Driving in Georgia. First, this case illustrates that driving while drunk or impaired does cause death. This has been illustrated in a number of my blog posts such as the blog post about the Parents of the Teen Killed in Drunk Driving Crash who Won a $2 Million Dollar Judgement.

Second, this case illustrates the importance of not trying to stop the driver yourself but to get the license plate of the driver and call the police for help.  Third, this case illustrates the need for more strict penalties for drunk drivers such as a suspended license and not just more jail time or probation.  A suspended license will cause hardship on the driver every day whereas more probation time or a few extra nights in jail rarely have this same impact that will resonate with the driver and, hopefully, cause the driver to think twice before getting behind the wheel again while impaired.


What To Do to Reduce the Number of Injuries and Deaths from Drunk and Impaired Driving in Georgia ~ part two

drug free zone blog may 12 2014This is a follow up to the blog post What To Do to Reduce the Number of Injuries and Deaths from Drunk and Impaired Driving in Georgia ~ part one.

4.) Team Up with Other Drunk and Impaired Driving Accident Victims in your Community and Become Active in the Fight Against Drunk and Impaired Driving: Education is the key. By educating our youth and our community about the dangers of driving drunk or impaired, we send a message. If we are heard and listened to by just one person, then we might have saved a life. Most of the drunk and impaired driving accidents happened with younger drivers so it is important that we reach out to this segment of our community and educate our youth of the dangers of driving drunk or impaired.

Teaming up with others who lives have been touched by the actions of a drunk or impaired driver can be both healing for the victims as well as sharing with the community the pain that has been suffered by these acts. Using your trauma to educate may prevent future drunk or impaired driving accidents.

5.) Notify your Local Police Department that you are in Favor of Sobriety Checkpoints: Sobriety Checkpoints are roadblocks that are set up by law enforcement to apprehend drunk or impaired drivers. Sometimes these drivers may not show obvious signs of intoxication, but are still driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These checkpoints tend to be put into place around the holidays and other major events where drinking and partying are more likely.

In Buckhead, Georgia a few years back, these sobriety checks were routinely set up outside the Buckhead, GA area, a location where people would routinely go on the weekends to party and drink, and these roadblocks served as both a deterrent and to apprehend those who thought they could drink inside the perimeter and then head home outside the perimeter. Remember, impaired driving is not a legal right and it is against the law, and we, as citizens need to be vocal that we will not tolerate this type of behavior.


What To Do to Reduce the Number of Injuries and Deaths from Drunk and Impaired Driving in Georgia ~ part one

drinking and driving blog may 12While we may never be able to completely stop drunk and impaired driving from happening in Georgia, and the devastating effects that drunk driving has on our communities, there are things that each of us can do to help reduce the risk of injuries and deaths in Georgia from drunk driving:

1.) Promptly Report Anyone Who Appears to be Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol, or Otherwise Impaired: People who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving exhibit some noticeable behaviors when behind the wheel such as:  • Tailgating • Weaving in a lane • Erratic breaking, acceleration, and declaration • Hitting object, curbs, or other vehicles, or having “near misses” • Not signaling properly • Not having headlights on at night while driving • Slower response at traffic signals and signs such as slow starting, or sudden stops.

These are just to name a few. We have all seen them on the road and we do our best to stay out of their way. We can take this one step further, however, and take down the license plate of the driver, and contact 911 when we observe this type of erratic and abnormal behavior in a driver who might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Doing so, may save a life. Remember, however, that is it very dangerous to try and stop the driver yourself. You do not want to put yourself at risk of a crash or conflict with this driver. Contact the police immediately so they can safely get this driver off of the road.

2.) To Discourage Future Accidents, go through the Legal Process to Punish Drunk and Impaired Drivers: If you have been struck by a drunk driver, then it is important that you follow through with the process of punishing this person. You can do this by Contacting Us and hiring a drunk driving accident attorney that will assist you in following through with the necessary steps to punish the drunk driver and hold this person responsible for their actions.

If you were injured in the accident, and it is found that this person was driving under the influence of drugs of alcohol, then you may be entitled to punitive damages in your case as well as the other damages you are allowed in vehicular accident cases. These punitive damages will not only help you, these damages will also discourage the person from ever driving impaired again.


The Georgia Court Rules that Drunken Driver’s Parents can Move Forward with a Claim for the Death of their son, but reminds us that the Power of the Trial Court to deny such claims is Alive and Well

photo for blog post april 2 2014In 2008, a young man was driving drunk when he hit an illegally parked tractor-trailer vehicle, setting the drunk driver’s vehicle into flames, and killing the drunk driver along with his passenger.  The parents of the drunk driver are seeking damages from the owner and operator of the illegally parked vehicle.

The Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled that the parents can move forward with the claim but caution that the trial Judge still retains the power to dismiss cases such as this based on the fact that the Plaintiff was drunk and, therefore, his negligence caused, or at the very least significantly contributed to, the accident.  The Court of Appeals further stated that, in this case, however, the issue of who was more at fault should be a question for the Jury to decide; was the drunk driver, or the owner and operator of the illegally parked vehicle, more at fault that ultimately caused the death of this young man and his passenger.

A lawsuit over the passenger’s death settled for an undisclosed amount.  The parents of the drunk driver, however, have pursued a claim against the owner of the tractor-trailer and the tractor-trailer’s insurance company claiming “but for” the vehicle being illegally parked, the fire would have never started and their son would not have died.

Cobb County State Court Judge Kathryn Tanksley initially granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment based on O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33 (g), which states in pertinent part that a tort plaintiff, “shall not be entitled to receive any damages if the plaintiff is 50 percent or more responsible for the injury or damages claimed.” Tanksley said it was clear that the drunk driver’s negligence was equal to or greater than that of the defendant and that reasonable minds couldn’t disagree over that conclusion.  The plaintiffs appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals and won before a unanimous panel.


Parents of Teen Killed in Drunk Driving Crash Win $ 2 Million Dollar Judgement

drinking and driving march 20 blog postTo reiterate prior blog posts about both the dram shop rule as it applies in Georgia and who can later be held responsible for serving alcohol when someone is later injured or killed, and the dangers of drinking and driving, a Judge in Boston, Massachusetts recently ordered the payment of a total of two million dollars ($ 2,000,000.00/and No 00ths) to each of the parents of a teenager who was killed in a drunk driving crash.

The teenager was at a party who was hosted by a 23 year old by the name of Craig Snow, and the Judge ordered Snow to pay each of the parents one million dollars ($ 1,000,000.00 and No/00ths) as the host of the party.  In Georgia, the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) Section 51-4-4 governs the Parent’s Rights to Recover for the Wrongful Death of a Child.  The Judge in this case stated that the judgement was based on the concept of reasonableness stating that homeowners are left with little protection for serving people at their homes, getting them drunk, and then letting them drive.

The Judge further reiterated that this case should serve as a wake up call to anyone hosting a party where alcohol is present.  Most homeowners policies in Georgia will not protect the homeowner from liability if the homeowner was serving alcohol in the home.

Furthermore, the person who was driving the car who was drunk who caused the accident that killed the daughter was charged with, and pled guilty to, motor vehicle homicide while driving drunk.  Georgia has similar laws that hold person’s criminally responsible for driving drunk and causing the death of another under Article I. Homicide, Title 16, Chapter 5, Article 1.

These are accidents and tragic deaths that could have been avoided.  It can not be reiterated enough how drinking and driving is not worth it and can cost the life of another human being.  Again, in these situations, nobody wins.  A life is lost and the person loses the right to enjoy life, the parents lose a nineteen year old daughter, two young men must live with this the rest of their lives, and money will never fully compensate anyone for this loss.


Cherokee County Groom Charged with DUI and other Crimes in Wedding Day Crash that Killed his Bride

stop-driving-1437890-mThis is another strong reminder never to get behind the wheel of a car, truck, or any machine if you have been drinking or are under the influence of any drugs or mind altering medications or the like.  In one of my previous blog posts I wrote about a groom who allegedly swerved to avoid hitting a dog on the eve of his wedding day when the car he was driving went off of the road and crushed the bride underneath the car killing her at the scene of the accident.

It has since been reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the groom was driving under the influence of alcohol and has since been charged with first degree vehicular homicide, laying drag, reckless driving, and failure to maintain lane.

This is another example of a senseless tragedy that could have been avoided had the groom not been drinking and driving.  If you plan on drinking, then the lesson is simple; do not drink and drive.  It might be inconvenient to call a cab, have a sober friend drive you home, or make other provisions in these situations.  It is not worth the consequences, however, as this story clearly proves. Nobody wins in these situations.

A life that was worth living is now lost, and another human being will also have to live for the rest of his life with the fact that he senselessly took someone else’s life. No amount of jail time, sorrow, forgiveness or anything else will erase the memory that such irresponsibility took the life of another human being that can never be replaced.