October 21, 2022. After a false start due to a mistrial in jury selection and a four day trial, Partner Paul Groth secured a victory for his client in a case that was tried to a jury in the State Court of Gwinnett County, beating his Offer of Settlement. The suit arose out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on February 14, 2019 that occurred on Interstate North Parkway/Powers Ferry Rd. in Cobb County. The Defendant contended he looked down while traffic was crawling and bumped the rear of the Plaintiff’s vehicle. The photographs revealed minimal damage. The Defendant was found to be at fault for the accident and negligence was not disputed at trial. The defense focused on causation and damages.
The Plaintiff went to the Emergency Room on the date of the accident and claimed low back, neck pain and right shoulder pain. He was diagnosed with multilevel degenerative changes to his spine and tot he right AC joint. Plaintiff then underwent several weeks of chiropractic treatment and physical therapy before presenting to an orthopedist. He ultimately underwent a battery of treatment which included multiple platelet rich plasma injections to his right shoulder, cervical epidural steroid injections, facet injections and SI joint injections. His treatment culminated in surgery to repair his right rotator cuff tear. At trial, he claimed medical damages totaling over $240,000.
At trial, Plaintiff called Dr. Scott Barbour, MD from Barbour Orthopedics as his causation expert and treating physician. He testified that the plaintiff injured or aggravated pre-existing neck, back and right shoulder injuries in the motor vehicle accident. He further testified that all of the treatment, including surgery was necessary and caused by the accident.
Mr. Groth called Dr. Barry Jeffries, a board certified neuroradiologist who provided an opinion that the findings on the MRI were degenerative and chronic in nature rather than acute or traumatic. Mr. Groth also called Evan McConnell, a Biomechanical Engineer with RIMKUS to testify about the forces involved in the accident and whether they could have caused the claimed injuries. Mr. McConnell testified that the mechanics involved in this collision were not consistent with an acute disc herniation or rotator cuff injury. During closing Counsel for the plaintiff asked the jury to award $240,000 plus an unspecified amount of pain and suffering. Mr. Groth asked the jury to award the Plaintiff the ER expenses from the date of loss ($9,875) and no pain and suffering.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour and returned a verdict of $9,875. Well prior to trial, Mr. Groth had sent Plaintiff’s counsel an Offer of Settlement under O.C.G.A. 9-11-68 in the amount of $15,000. With the verdict coming in well less than 75% of the offered amount, he intends to seek to recover approximately 3 years worth of litigation costs and fees from the Plaintiff.
The Case is Lorenzo Stewart v. Matthew Walker, State Court of Gwinnett County CAFN 19-C-06524-S6.