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Georgia Verdicts

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Olympic athlete blamed collision for career-ending injury

Amount:

$2,000,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Georgia

Venue:

Troup County

Court:

Troup County, Superior Court

Injury Type(s):

hip-fracture, hip; ankle; other-groin; other-physical therapy; other-decreased range of motion; other-scar and/or disfigurement; surgeries/treatment-arthroscopy

Case Type:

Motor Vehicle - Sideswipe, Lane Change, Multiple Impact, Multiple Vehicle

Case Name:

David A. Smith II v. Donggue Lee, No. 14-CV-0644

Date:

August 9, 2017

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

David A. Smith, II (Male, 20 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Matthew Crawford Alford; Willis McKenzie LLP; LaGrange, GA, for David A. Smith, II ■ Nathan D. Cronic Sr.; Willis McKenzie LLP; LaGrange, GA, for David A. Smith, II

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Brian Terry; Orthopedics; LaGrange, GA called by: Matthew Crawford Alford ■ Lamont Dagen; Athletics; Pleasant Prairie, WI called by: Matthew Crawford Alford

Defendant(s):

Donggue Lee

Defense Attorney(s):

David M. Atkinson; Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers; Atlanta, GA, for Donggue Lee

Insurer(s):

Travelers Property Casualty Corp. for Donggue Lee

Facts:

On Sept. 16, 2012, plaintiff David A. Smith II, 20, a college student and professional high jumper, was traveling in the left passing lane of I-85 near Exit 18 in LaGrange. At the same time, Donggue Lee was operating a rental car in the lane to Smith's right. Lee crossed into the left lane, striking Smith's vehicle in a sideswipe impact. Smith lost control of his vehicle, veering off the road and colliding with a ditch on the right side of the interstate. Smith claimed injuries to his left hip. Smith sued Lee, alleging he had been negligent in the operation of a rental vehicle provided by Lee's employer. Smith alleged that Lee made an improper lane change. He also argued that Lee failed to keep a proper lookout. Liability was conceded. The matter went to trial on the issue of damages.

Injury:

Smith was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of Georgia Medical Center, where he was examined and released later that day. Smith underwent a CT scan several days later and was diagnosed with an anterior inferior iliac spine avulsion (AIIS) near his left hip, as well as a bone chip at the acetabular rim. Smith was examined by an orthopedic surgeon specializing in injuries to professional athletes and subsequently underwent several months of physical therapy. It was later determined that the bone chip did not heal properly and Smith required arthroscopic surgery to repair the condition, resulting in scar tissue. Smith underwent four months of post-operative physical therapy. In August 2016, Smith participated in the summer Olympic games, but claimed continuing pain, weakness and decreased flexibility to his left hip, as well as pain to his uninjured right hip, right ankle and groin. Smith believes he will require a hip replacement in the future. Although Smith is able to perform as an athlete, he claimed he is unable to pursue a professional career as a high jumper because of his hip condition. Smith's treating orthopedist testified that the bone chip had not healed properly, necessitating surgical intervention. Smith's agent testified as both a fact witness and an expert witness. He confirmed that Smith's career as a professional athlete was over given the impact the initial injury and required surgery had on his performance ability. Lee disputed damages, arguing that Smith's hip condition was unrelated to the collision. He maintained that the AIIS developed because of the physical strain placed on Smith's body as an athlete. Lee further argued that Smith's claims of future lost wages as a pro athlete were entirely speculative.

Result:

The jury awarded Smith $2 million in unspecified damages.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Jack Kirby

Trial Length:

3  days

Trial Deliberations:

10  minutes

Jury Vote:

unanimous

Jury Composition:

4 male/ 8 female

Post Trial:

Defense counsel indicated an intention to appeal the verdict.

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's and defense counsel.