September 29, 2022. Partner Paul Groth secured a victory for his client in a case that was tried to a jury in the State Court Hall County.  The suit arose   out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on June 14, 2017 at a stoplight while both the Plaintiff and Defendant who were coworkers were leaving work.  According to the police report, the Defendant looked down to place her drink in her cupholder and thought the Plaintiff had proceeded through the light.  When she realized the Plaintiff was still stopped, she was unable to stop in time to avoid the collision.  The Defendant was found to be at fault for the accident and was cited.  Negligence was admitted at trial and the defense focused on causation and damages.

The Plaintiff claimed head, back and neck injuries at the Emergency Room.  She underwent follow up treatment with an orthopedist where she claimed left shoulder pain.  She was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff and underwent injections.  She was also diagnosed with herniated discs in her cervical.  At trial, she claimed medical damages totaling $34,356.00.

At trial, Plaintiff called Dr. Erik Bendiks, MD and Dr. Jeffrey Dressander, MD, both of whom worked at Ga. Spine and Orthopedics. Both testified that  the plaintiff injured or aggravated pre-existing neck, back and left shoulder injuries in the motor vehicle accident.  he Plaintiff also called the ER doctor, Doug Morrison, MD who initially treated the Plaintiff.  Dr. Morrison, however, did not support the theory that the plaintiff’s left rotator cuff tear was caused by  the accident given she did not complain of any shoulder pain at the Emergency Room during the ER visit.

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.  During closing Counsel for the plaintiff asked the jury to award $185,000. Mr. Groth asked the jury to award the Plaintiff the ER expenses ($3,241) and add a few hundred dollars for pain and suffering.

After a four day trial with multiple expert witnesses, the jury deliberated for approximately 50 minutes and returned a verdict of $3,601.  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 Maria Diaz v. Yvonne M. Riley, State Court of Hall County CAFN 2019-SV-000074Z.