July 15, 2020 – Partner Jay Eidex obtained Summary Judgment on behalf of his client Southern Paving Solutions in Fulton County State Court.
The Plaintiff brought suit in this matter following a fall over a parking block that was installed in the parking lot of co-defendant Coral Ridge Condominiums parking Lot. Coral Ridge had hired Mr. Eidex’ client Southern Paving Solutions to install the parking blocks and perform other paving repairs. The parking blocks in question was installed in a manner where it overlapped the lines delineating the parking spaces. Plaintiff tripped and fell on the parking block and alleged injuries as a result of her fall. Her contention was that both Defendants were negligent in the installation of the blocks which resulted in her fall and injuries. Southern Paving contended they were a contractor and simply installed the parking blocks as directed by Co-Defendant Coral Ridge. The president of the Coral Ridge HOA admitted in testimony that he directed the installation of the blocks and was present both at the time of the installation and for an inspection following the conclusion of the work which he approved. Both defendants denied the installation of the blocks was improper and that the fall was simply a result of the Plaintiff not paying attention. Further, the Plaintiff admitted in her deposition that she was not paying attention.
Mr. Eidex moved for summary judgment on behalf of Southern Paving alleging they were simply a contractor hired to perform a task and there was no evidence they were negligent or breached any duty owed to the Plaintiff. Co-defendant Coral Ridge Condominium also moved for summary judgment. Judge Wesley Tailor of the State Court of Fulton County conducted a hearing and granted Mr. Eidex motion for summary judgment while denying the co-defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Judge Tailor found that there were ” there are two avenues by which an independent contractor like Southern [paving] could be subject to liability to an injured third party: by negligently performing the work assigned or by holding itself out as an expert in the design of the project.” He further found that the evidence and testimony showed that Southern Paving did not fall into either category and thus, summary judgment was proper.
The Court’s Order can be viewed here.
The case is Linda Bradford v. Coral Ridge Commons Condominium Association, Inc., Southern Paving Solutions, LLC and Access Management Group, L.P.
State Court of Fulton County, CAFN: 19EV000647H
April 30, 2020 – Partner Joseph Kaiser prevailed in the Court of Appeals on a case that originated in the State Court of Fulton County. In that case, Plaintiff Judah Bell was involved in an automobile accident on May 17, 2016 in Oakland, California with a man named James Brown (who was actually an acquaintance of hers). Following the accident, Plaintiff moved back to Georgia and lost touch with Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown did have automobile liability insurance in the State Minimum amount for California of $15,000/$30,000. There was no police report made for the accident, but there was no dispute about the identities of the parties or the manner in which the accident occurred. Plaintiff contended she suffered multiple injuries to her body including a torn right meniscus which ultimately required surgical repair. She claimed medical damages in excess of $30,000 along with future medical damages and past and future pain and suffering. She further contended that the injury was permanent and debilitating.
Because Plaintiff lost touch with Mr. Brown and had known him to live in multiple states, she alleged Mr. Brown’s whereabouts were unknown and elected to bring suit for this accident in the State Court of Fulton County against John Doe and served State Farm (her uninsured/under insured motorist carrier) with process in the manner required by O.C.G.A. 33-7-11. State Farm filed an Answer in this matter and moved for Summary Judgment on the grounds that Georgia Law requires a defendant (if known) to be named in the suit and that at least a nominal judgment against the tortfeasor is a prerequisite under Georgia Law to allow recovery from a UM/UIM carrier. State Farm further disputed this suit was also an improperly filed John Doe action. Plaintiff filed a response largely relying upon the notion that “wherabouts unknown” is equal under the law to “identity unknown” and thus a John Doe action would be authorized and they were relieved of their obligation to obtain a nominal judgment against the tortfeasor. Judge Wesley Tailor granted State Farm’s Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff appealed.
The Court of Appeals upheld Judge Tailor’s grant of summary judgment in favor of State Farm specifically holding that it was undisputed that the identity of the tortfeasor, Mr. Brown, was known and that where the identity of a tortfeasor is known, they must be named as a party.
The original case is Judah Bell v. John Doe and State Farm, State Court of Fulton County, CAFN: 18-EV-02221
The full appellate opinion can be downloaded and read here or located at Bell v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 842 S.E.2d 530 (Ga. Ct. App. 2020)
February 7, 2020 – Partner Jay Eidex tried a case in the State Court of Hall County arising out of a an accident that occurred on April 8, 2013 on Highway 60 in Gainesville at the interchange with I-985. Liability was disputed in the case.
The Plaintiff was a taxi cab driver and he alleged that he was proceeding straight on Highway 60 with a green light across the highway when the Defendant failed to yield, turning left in front of them in an attempt to enter I-985. A witness later came forward several weeks after the accident to support that account. The Defendant contended he turned left on a green arrow and the Plaintiff’s vehicle ran a red light causing the collision. The collision was significant. Due to the conflicting accounts, no citations were issued.
The Plaintiff sustained a skull fracture and complained of low back pain. His treatment consisted of emergency room treatment on the date of loss, follow up visits related to the fractured skull and Physical Therapy for his low back pain. His total medical bills were approximately $20,000.
At trial, the Plaintiff called his passenger and an independent witness to corroborate his account. However, his passenger was impeached based upon the fact that he had also made a claim and in a prior deposition had testified that the Plaintiff had run the red light. Additionally, the independent witness was impeached and it was unclear that he had actually witnessed the accident.
The primary focus of the case was on the issue of negligence/liability. The jury deliberated for less than an hour and rendered a defense verdict.
The case is Jose Mejia v. Mark Cohea, State Court of Hall County, CAFN: 2013SV659Z
Groth & Makarenko is pleased to announce the addition of two new attorneys to the firm’s growing litigation practice.
Ryan O. Bell joins the firm after practicing as a civil litigator primarily focused on consumer debt.
Douglas A. MacKimm joins the firm after practicing as both a criminal defense attorney and Assistant Solicitor in Clayton County, Georgia.
January 8, 2020 – Partner Jay Eidex tried a case in the State Court of Cobb County arising out of a an accident that occurred on I-75. The facts of the accident were disputed at trial. The Plaintiffs contended that the Defendant failed to maintain his lane, striking another vehicle an causing his vehicle to spin striking other vehicles. Plaintiffs then contends that their vehicle was struck. The Defendant agrees that he lost control of his vehicle and that it spun striking multiple vehicles, however, he contended that he was first struck by a John Doe or unknown driver which caused him to lose control of his car. One Plaintiff claimed medical bills totaling approximately $20,000. Another Plaintiff claimed medical bills totaling approximately $4,300. The third Plaintiff was asserting a claim for loss of consortium.
At trial, the Plaintiffs called no witnesses to corroborate their account of the accident and they admitted they had not seen the Defendants car prior to the collision and did not know what caused it to start spinning. Mr. Eidex moved for a directed verdict which was granted by the Court.
The case is Justenia Chambers, Jamaine Chambers & Paris Metcalf v. Miguel Gamez Venegas, State Court of Cobb County, CAFN: 18-A-2132-1
January 7, 2020 – Partner Paul Groth tried a case in the State Court of Gwinnett County arising out of a rear end collision. The plaintiff was a rear-seat passenger and alleged that he suffered neck and low back injuries. The property damage to the rear bumper of the vehicle the in which the Plaintiff was a passenger was minor and the total repair bill was approximately $600. The Defendant admitted negligence in causing the accident.
Plaintiff first sought treatment at the ER 2 days after the accident and then continued treatment with a chiropractor, other doctors and also had an MRI of her lumbar spine. Plaintiff alleged past medical bills of $16,000 and asked the jury to award $75,000 inclusive of past medical damages, future medical damages and pain and suffering. Mr. Groth asked the jury to return a defense verdict.
The jury deliberated for approximately an hour and returned a defense verdict.
The case is Dennis Williams v. Amber Wilhite, State Court of Gwinnett County, CAFN: 18-C-02131-S1