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 Jury in Bibb County, Macon, Georgia Awarded $ 4.3 Million Dollars to the Parents of a Baby that was Born Premature, but Died, for Medical Malpractice and the Wrongful Death of the Child

hands-1402625-mOn August 1, 2007, Charles Dean, the baby boy of the Deans, was born by cesarian emergency delivery just 23 months and 4 days into the pregnancy and weighed just 1 pound and 26 ounces. Baby boy Dean lived for two (2) days and then died as he was just too small to survive outside the womb at that time. The parents of baby boy Dean, the Deans, brought a Medical Malpractice lawsuit against the two (2) obstetricians in charge of the care of the mother, Katherine Dean, during her pregnancy, for the Wrongful Death of Baby Boy Charles Dean.  The case is Dean v. Central Georgia Women’s Health Center, No. 72025.

In the lawsuit, the Deans argued that the mother had a prior history of miscarriage and a cervix condition and that, although all the tests that were ordered by the doctors were correct, when the mother began experiencing problems that lead to the premature delivery, the doctors failed to follow through when they should have been paying attention and doing more to stop the premature delivery of this baby. The Defense argued that the mother’s cervical condition and the premature delivery were not synonymous and that the treatment that a medical expert testified should have been performed during the pregnancy would not have prevented the premature labor and subsequent delivery.

The Macon, Georgia, Bibb County, Jury would disagree with the doctors’ defense, however, and, after a two (2) hour and fifteen (15) minute deliberation following a seven (7) day trial, would render a verdict in the total amount of $ 4.3 million dollars for the Deans.


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.


A Fatal Shooting in Helen, Georgia has lead to a Wrongful Death Civil Suit and Asks some very Important Questions

autum park for blog dec 20On August 16 May Araim was in Helen, Georgia when she was shot and killed by a man who was sitting on the main street of the small Bravian-Style town on a bench.  The man, Glenn Lampien, who shot May Ariam, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and the fate of the criminal case has yet be determined.

In the meantime, the son of May Araim, Ammar Araim, has filed a Wrongful Death Civil Cause of Action in the Pickens County Superior Court where the Defendant Lampien resides. The case is Araim v. Lampien, No. 2014SUCV566.

Two of the main questions that the Plaintiff Araim in the civil action wants answered is whether or not the shooting was indeed an accident or not, and whether the Defendant was intoxicated to excess. The civil suit alleges that the Defendant Lampien was “highly intoxicated,” and “negligently discharged the handgun” while sitting on the bench when he shot May Araim.

May Araim was an Iraqi-American woman and she was walking down the street wearing a hijab along with two other women in her family who were also wearing hijabs. A hijab is a traditional Islamic head covering.

One of the questions that the family wants answered is simple in nature, yet very complex in theory and practice: Did the Defendant shoot the Victim as an Accident as he claims, or because of her Religion as displayed by her traditional dress of the hijab?  This is a question that the family has every right to have answered.

According to sources close the civil litigation, the family does not feel that the criminal charge of involuntary manslaughter will beg the question or the answer, nor does the punishment fit the crime if this was an intentional act. If convicted of the crime of an accidental shooting as alleged, then the Defendant would only face a sentence that is less than one half of the maximum sentence for a DUI death.

The civil action also names parties that may have served alcohol to Defendant Lampien which gives the case a Dram Shop element as well. I have discussed the legal theory of Dram Shop in Georgia in my prior blog posts about how the Dram Shop law in Georgia has now even extended to convenience stores.


The Douglas County Jail in Georgia is being Sued for Medical Malpractice and the Wrongful Death of an Inmate: And, it won’t be the First Time the Douglas County Jail in GA has had these Problems

photo of inmateIn 2012, Joe Dent, age 52 was in the Douglas County, Georgia Jail’s Medical Unit when he died after he was returned from the hospital that had diagnosed him with pericarditis (inflammation around an area of the heart), gout, and kidney failure. A day before his death, Dent was given Bactrim in a double dose which was an antibiotic that was listed in his chart as one that he was allergic too.

Mr. Dent’s mother, Joyce Dent, is now bringing a suit against CorrectHealth, who manages inmate healthcare in Georgia, as well as William, Corn, England, Eason, and Bell who have all been named as Defendants. The case is Dent v. CorrectHealth, No. 2014CV252453.

The night after Dent was administered the fatal dose, he complained that he had a shortness of breath and he requested oxygen. It has been noted, however, that there were no steps taken to address his complaints such as listening to his lungs or calling for a doctor. After numerous complaints by Dent that his lungs were filling up, that his feet were swelling, nurses’ might have acknowledged Dent’s complaints, but no nurse did anything about it.

Dent died shortly thereafter, even after other inmates banged on the medial unit door to get a nurse for Dent.

Although Plaintiff’s Counsel has been met with some resistance from other’s  he has consulted with on this case in the legal community including, but not limited to, that the damages will not be enough to pursue, that the Deceased will not be a very sympathetic character to the finder of fact, the Plaintiff’s Counsel has held fast, and correctly so, and he quotes, “My thought is, ‘Too bad, you still can’t just kill him.’ Sure, he’s in jail, but you can’t give him a drug and not care whether it kills him.”


The Top Wrongful Death Verdict in Georgia for 2013

gun for blog august 30The following is the Top Wrongful Death Verdict in Georgia for 2013:

In a lawsuit in DeKalb County State Court a verdict of $ 4,800,000 was awarded where the Plaintiff claimed that the owner of a lot failed to warn of the danger on the lot that ultimately caused the death of her husband from a wound resulting from a gunshot, and the Defendants failed to respond to the Plaintiff’s complaint resulting in a Default Judgement against the Defendants which is very unusual in this type of case.

The case was Elizabeth Whatley-Fenty v. Brandon Marshall and, No. 13A458, and the date of the verdict was November 13, 2013.

The facts as summarized are as follows that on February 24, 2011, Travis Fenty, age 44, the driver of a tow truck, was trying to remove junk cars on a lot on Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway in Atlanta, GA when he was shot in the chest causing his death. Philmore Reed, age 74, was the man who shot Mr. Fently and Mr. Reed was the previous owner of the lot whom was still on the property due to his refusal to vacate after a foreclosure whereby the property was sold to Defendant Brandon Marshall and Marshall’s investment company.

Plaintiff Elizabeth Whatley-Fenty, who was Travis Fenty’s widow, sued Marshall and for Wrongful Death . The Defendants failed to respond to the Plaintiff’s complaint, which is very unusual in a case of this magnitude, and, therefore, a Default Judgement was entered against the Defendants.


Child Dies in Georgia After Being Strapped in a Car Seat All Day and Left in a Hot Car: Parent forgets to drop the child off at Child Care on the Way to Work

chid dies in hot car blog june 19One of the most sad and worst case scenarios happened on Wednesday in Georgia when a parent driving to work forgot to drop off his 22 month old son at daycare leaving his son strapped in the car seat in an SUV all day on a day where temperatures were in the low 90’s, and the child died as a result of the father’s actions.

The father realized the terrible fate only after he left work and was driving home.  Once he discovered the fatal error, he pulled into a parking lot where paramedics were not successful in reviving the child.  WSB TV reported that late that afternoon the child’s distraught father was taken away in handcuffs by authorities.  As of this date, the Father has been charged with the murder of his son in this incident.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that this has happened.  This happened again Monday only this time in Florida, when a 9-month-old baby died after his father apparently forgot him in his pickup truck for hours with outside temperatures hovering around 90 degrees.  Last year, two babies died on the same day under similar circumstances in Maryland and Virginia.  Furthermore, according to babies dying in hot cars happens about 38 times per year across the United States.

The report comes in similar to this: A parent is going to work with the child in the backseat, the parent forgets about the child, the child is left in the hot car, and the outcome is tragic, and predictable.  Such deaths continue to occur with disturbing frequency and are happening to parents from all walks of life.

In 2009, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning story attempting to answer how parents can forget their own children in cars. “What kind of person forgets a baby?,” Weingarten asked. “The wealthy do, it turns out. And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do it. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers. It happens to the chronically absent-minded and to the fanatically organized, to the college-educated and to the marginally literate. In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. … A Protestant clergyman. … An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.”


Parents of a Young Woman Killed on a Railroad Track Film Set Sue Rock Star Gregg Allman for Wrongful Death and Punitive Damages

railroad tracks for blog may 23Rock star Gregg Allman was recently filming a movie about his life after a film crew member, Sarah Elizabeth Jones, age 27, died, and several other film crew members were injured on the set. The set was taking place on a train track and rail way trestle owned by Rayonier Performance Fibers, who gave permission to use the property.  The owner of the railroad, CSX Transportation, Inc., did not, however, give permission and the complaint brought by the Plaintiff’s allege that the film crew was never aware of this fact.

There were supposed to be two (2) trains that passed per day on the railroad. On the day of Ms. Jones’ death, the film crew waited for two (2) trains to pass and then set up their equipment on the set which was the railroad track.  Then a third, unexpected, train approached and gave the crew no way to exit the track in time before the train collided with the set.  The debris that went flying from the collision caused the death of Ms. Jones.

The parents of Ms. Jones’ subsequently brought a case for the wrongful death of their young daughter alleging that the Defendants, Allman and CSX, were negligent in filming on a dangerous site and failed to take proper safety measures to watch for trains.  The Plaintiff’s are seeking compensation for the wrongful death of their daughter, and also seeking attorney’s fees and punitive damages.  The case is Jones v. Film Allman, No. STCV1400752.

This case is exactly the type of case where a jury will decide the value of Ms. Jones’ life, and whether or not the Defendants’ conduct rises to the level of punitive conduct. So far it has been stated that, “Every witness has talked about how fantastic she was. She was beloved by everybody who worked on the movie.”  As I have discussed in my website about the determination of damages in wrongful death cases, to determine the value of a life in a wrongful death case the finder of fact, in this case the jury, does not just look into the economic value of a life, the jury will also look at what the deceased is missing from the joys of living and all the enjoyment that life has to offer.

The interesting part of this case is the punitive damages aspect of the case. In Georgia, the code section that governs punitive damages in tort actions is O.C.G.A. Section 51-12.5.1  which states in pertinent part that punitive damages are awarded not as compensation to the Plaintiff, but in cases where there are aggravating circumstances in order to penalize, punish, or deter a Defendant. To be awarded punitive damages the Plaintiff must show by clear and convincing evidence that the Defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want to care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to the consequences.