On Wednesday February 6th, a Gwinnett County jury returned a verdict against a small trucking company in the amount of $736,289.89. The trial began Monday February 4th.
The case Nancy Wells v. Michael Senior, VIP Auto Logistics, LLC, and Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Insurance Company grew out of a sideswipe collision on I-285 on November 3, 2014. Michael Senior, driving for VIP Auto Logistics, and insured by Berkshire Hathaway, struck the driver’s side of Plaintiff Nancy Wells’ Chrysler PT Cruiser. Ms. Wells testified that she had to chase the driver down for several miles before he pulled over to blame her.
After a failed mediation, and the Defendants’ Answer being struck for failure to appear at depositions, the case proceeded to trial.
Michael Neff handled the voir dire. Jury selection was unique and resulted in having two professional truck drivers sit on the jury. Neff noted, “It was a gutsy move. My first thought was not to keep them on the jury. Dwayne and Shane talked me into not using peremptory challenges on them.”
Adams stated, “Our case wasn’t against all truck drivers. It was against a truck driver and trucking company who didn’t follow the basic safety rules. We trusted the two truck drivers would follow the rules and do the right thing while on the jury.”
The parties stipulated to admitting the police report, as the investigating officer was in the midst of military service overseas. From that report, the Defendants showed the jury that Ms. Wells had no complaints of injury at the scene, and that the driver was only cited for failure to maintain lane – not hit and run or violating any Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
The Defendants showed the jury large posters of the limited damage to Ms. Wells’ vehicle. The Defense also noted prior degenerative shoulder problems and a prior rotator cuff surgery on her right shoulder that was not caused by trauma. Adams noted, “The case was very ably defended by Bruce Taylor and Melody Kiella at Drew Eckl. It is a testament to their skill and advocacy that they were able to keep the verdict from flying away, even with an absentee client who refused to appear at a single deposition, or produce a single document.”
Dwayne Adams for Neff Law was lead counsel and put on substantial evidence of the Defendants’ bad faith in causing the crash by calling a trucking expert. He also called the Plaintiff’s treating doctor to rule out other causes of the shoulder injury from a low-damage wreck.
During closing, Adams stressed the importance of trusting others to follow safety rules in life. Also, when people don’t follow the safety rules, they need to be held responsible.
At trial, Ms. Wells was represented by Michael Neff, Dwayne Adams, Susan Cremer, and Shane Peagler of Neff Law. Defendants were represented by Bruce Taylor and Melody Kiella of Drew Eckl & Farnham, LLP.
The case was tried in Gwinnett State Court before the Honorable Shawn F. Bratton.