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Georgia Verdicts

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Landscaping work curtailed due to auto injury, alleged plaintiff

Amount:

$6,500,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Georgia

Venue:

DeKalb County

Court:

DeKalb County, State Court

Injury Type(s):

hip-fracture, hip; hip-hip replacement; other-physical therapy; other-reconstructive surgery; neurological-nerve damage/neuropathy (nerve damage, peroneal nerve)

Case Type:

Motor Vehicle - Intersection, Tractor-Trailer, Common Carrier Liability

Case Name:

James Swartz v. Dad's Logistics, Inc., Rodriguez Green, Spirit Commercial Auto Risk Retention Group and Craig Doyle, No. 14A53456

Date:

February 16, 2017

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

James Swartz (Male, 52 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Jay Sadd; Slappey & Sadd, LLC; Atlanta, GA, for James Swartz ■ Myrlin D. Earle; Hagan, Rosskopf & Earle; Decatur, GA, for James Swartz ■ Edward M. Wynn; Slappey & Sadd, LLC; Atlanta, GA, for James Swartz

Defendant(s):

Craig Doyle, 

Dad's Logistics, 

Rodriguez Green, 

Spirit Commercial Auto Risk Retention Group

Defense Attorney(s):

William S. Allred; Barrickman, Allred & Young; Atlanta, GA, for Craig Doyle ■ Michael D. Hostetter; Nall & Miller, LLP; Atlanta, GA, for Dad's Logistics, Rodriguez Green, Spirit Commercial Auto Risk Retention Group

Insurer(s):

Spirit Commercial Auto Risk Retention Group for Dad's Logistics and Green Safeco Insurance Cos. for Doyle

Facts:

On Dec. 23, 2013, plaintiff James Swartz, 52, a landscaper, was a front-seat passenger in a pickup truck driven by Craig Doyle. At the intersection of Moreland Avenue and South River Industrial Boulevard, Rodriguez Green, who was operating a tractor-trailer owned by Dad's Logistics, was attempting to make a left turn. Doyle's pickup truck collided with the passenger side of the tractor-trailer. The pickup truck got caught under the semi and was dragged approximately 10 to 20 feet before Green was made aware of this by another motorist and stopped. Swartz claimed a hip fracture as a result of the accident. Swartz sued Dad's Logistics and Green, alleging that Green was negligent in the operation of a motor vehicle. Swartz also sued Doyle, who later died of unrelated causes, in the event Doyle was determined to be at fault for the accident. Swartz further named the liability carrier for Dad's Logistics, Spirit Commercial Auto Risk Retention Group, as a defendant under the Direct Action Statute. Swartz alleged that Green failed to yield to the right-of-way. He also argued that Green should not have been turning through a yellow light at the intersection in light of the length of the tractor-trailer. Green and Dad's Logistics denied liability for the collision and argued that Green had the green light to proceed with the turn onto South River. Craig Doyle died prior to trial and Charlene Doyle, as administratrix of Craig Doyle estate, was substituted in the case. The Doyle estate denied liability. The estate argued that Doyle was unable to avoid the trailer in his path, despite braking. Doyle was hurt and filed a cross-claim against Dad's Logistics, Inc., Rodriguez Green and Spirit Commercial Auto Risk Retention Group. The cross-claim was settled for a confidential amount.

Injury:

Swartz was admitted to the hospital on the day of the accident with a hip fracture. The next day, he underwent surgery to repair the fracture. He was hospitalized for 12 days. In April 2014, Swartz was admitted to the hospital for three days to undergo hip replacement surgery. He then treated post-operatively with physical therapy and pain medication. In addition to the hip fracture, Swartz claimed permanent peroneal nerve damage. He claimed the peroneal nerve damage impairs his ability to work as a landscaper in the same capacity that he did before the accident. Swartz sought $302,000 in past medicals. He also sought $11,000 per year in lost wages because of his reduced capacity to continue working as a landscaper.

Result:

The jury determined that Swartz's damages totaled $6.5 million. They attributed 50-percent liability to Green and 50-percent liability to Doyle.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Dax E. Lopez

Trial Length:

3  days

Trial Deliberations:

3  hours

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel, as well as an article published in the Fulton County Daily Report. Defense counsel did not respond to a request for comment.