November 10, 2022.  Partner Paul Groth won a defense verdict in a case that was tried to a jury in the Superior Court of Forsyth County before Senior Judge Grant Brantley.   Mr. Groth was retained as counsel for the Plaintiff’s UM/UIM carrier.  Because the liability carrier had tendered their limits prior to trial, he withdrew his Answer and tried the case in the name of the Defendant and in that capcity served as lead counsel at trial.  The lawsuit arose out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on August 20, 2014 on Highway 9 in Milton, Georgia.  As the Plaintiff slowed for traffic near the intersection with Webb Rd., the Defendant rear-ended him.  Photographs of the vehicle revealed little to no damage to the Plaintiff’s vehicle and damage to the front of the Defendant’s vehicle caused by the trailer hitch on the rear of the Plaintiff’s truck.  The defense admitted negligence and focused the defense on causation and damages.

The Plaintiff alleged a right rotator cuff tear and hand injury from hitting the Air Conditioner grill on the dashboard in the collision   He went to the ER on the date of loss.  He then treated with an orthopedist a month later.  Records revealed a prior rotator cuff surgical repair 10 years prior.  5 months after the accident, he underwent a cortisone injection and 11 months after the accident underwent surgery to repair the rotator cuff.  At trial, he claimed medical damages totaling over $140,000.At trial, Plaintiff called Dr. Phillip Langer, who heavily supported the plaintiff’s claims of having re-injured or aggravated the plaintiff’s right shoulder pain.

Mr. Groth called Dr. Barry Jeffries, a board certified neuroradiologist who provided an opinion that the findings on the MRI of the shoulder revealed significant degeneration and evidence of the prior surgery, but nothing represented acute injuries and were clearly not caused by the accident. Mr. Groth also called Dr. Torrence Welch, PhD., a Biomechanical Engineer with ESI to testify about the forces involved in the accident and whether they could have caused the claimed injuries.  Dr. Welch testified that the dynamics of the accident would not have been present to have caused acute injuries to the plaintiff’s right shoulder.  During closing Counsel for the plaintiff asked the jury to award the medical bills of $141,986.39 plus $993,904.73 for pain and suffering for a total award of $1,235,891.12.  Mr. Groth suggested the plaintiff had not proven any acute injury and, thus, a defense verdict was appropriate.  Alternatively, he suggested that if the jury was inclined to find for the Plaintiff, the most that should be awarded would have been the ER bill.

The jury deliberated for 2 hours hour and returned a defense verdict.  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 $10,000.  With the verdict coming in well less than 75% of the offered amount, he intends to seek to recover litigation costs and fees from the Plaintiff pursuant to the statute.

The Case is Steven Colitz v. Joshua N. Anderson, Superior Court of Forsyth County CAFN 16CV-1429-2.

Read more about Partner Paul Groth here.

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