Winning Verdicts in
Sasser v. Ford Motor Company
Spinal Cord Injury – Auto Defect
On June 15, 2000, Kelsey Sasser, age 6, was riding in the rear center seat of her mother’s 2000 Lincoln LS sedan. The rear seats were equipped with special latches permitting them to fold down to provide extra cargo space and access to the trunk.
The car was involved in a frontal collision and Kelsey Sasser’s seat collapsed on her, causing spinal injuries. Kelsey is now paralyzed from the chest down and will require assisted care for the remainder of her life.
Harris Lowry Manton LLP worked with Kelsey’s mother to sue the manufacturer of the car, on Kelsey’s behalf, alleging that the seat collapsed as a result of a defective seat back latch. Jeff Harris explained, “Representing children who are catastrophically injured is a great responsibility. We were fighting to make sure that Kelsey would always have access to the highest level of medical care available. Had Ford done what a reasonable manufacturer would have done, this tragedy would never have occurred.”
The plaintiffs also sought punitive damages, asserting that Ford knew about design problems with the latch as early as 1993. The company changed the design on its 2001 LS models but failed to recall the 2000 sedan.
In this case, HLM secured combined compensatory and punitive damages against Ford totaling $47.7 million.
Terhune v. Forum Group Corp et al.
Wrongful Death - Nursing Home Neglect
Loretta Terhune was awarded $8.5 million in actual damages and $35 million in punitive damages as a result of the poor care her father received during the eight months he was a resident at Moran Lake Road Nursing Home in Rome, Ga.
Terhune sued Forum Medical, the company that owned and operated Moran Lake. Her father, Morris Ellison, was malnourished, dehydrated, denied medical care for a broken hip and ultimately died after what was supposed to be a temporary stay as he received post-operative rehabilitative care. He was otherwise in good health.
Steve Lowry, lead counsel, explained, “The care provided by this nursing home was horrific. The owner was using health insurance payments to fund his lavish lifestyle while depriving the nurse home residents of basic care. The large punitive damages award should serve as a wakeup call that the citizens of Georgia will not tolerate those who abuse the elderly.”
With the help of Harris Lowry Manton, Ms. Terhune’s case brought the largest judgment against a nursing home facility in the history of the State of Georgia.
Jenkins v. Lambert
Catastrophic Injuries - Auto Wreck
On May 10, 2016, a Decatur County Superior Court jury awarded $35 million to Climax, Georgia, Police Chief Joel Jenkins and $5 million to his wife Aimee after he was hit by a pickup truck in 2010. Harris Lowry Manton partner Stephen G. Lowry served as lead counsel for the Jenkins family.
The jury found Derrick Steven Lambert liable for Jenkins’ injuries. Lambert was under the influence of Oxycontin and Xanax when he hit Jenkins’ patrol car head-on with his 2005 GMC Sierra pickup truck. Chief Jenkins had pulled to the side of the road to help a stranded motorist. The lights on his car were flashing.
Chief Jenkins is confined to a wheelchair at present because of hip problems caused by the wreck. Jenkins, 42, is permanently disabled and can never work in law enforcement again.
Evidence presented to the jury included Lambert’s claim the patrol car lights weren’t flashing and his explanation that he didn’t see the car; he did not attempt to brake; and 11 days before trial he was charged with DUI. Lambert’s legal defense was to blame Jenkins and the stranded motorist for the wreck.
“Chief Jenkins was hurt for doing his job the way he was supposed to,” Steve said. “It was an honor to help Joel and Aimee after his tragedy.”
Though Lambert was under the influence, his lawyers pointed to the victim for causing his own injuries. They claimed circumstances did not warrant Jenkins parking partially to the side of the road facing south in a northbound traffic lane. Lambert also blamed the stranded motorist, claiming the man had a suspended license and knew he had a faulty gas gauge when he ran out of gas.
Lambert’s attorneys also fought against damages, saying Jenkins’ hip injuries were caused by a degenerative illness he had prior to the crash.
HLM associate Kristy Sweat Davies and Robert B. Langstaff of Langstaff Law Firm were co-counsel. Korinne Morris, a certified paralegal at HLM, was invaluable at the trial in Bainbridge, Georgia.
Mundy v. Ford Motor Company
Spinal Cord Injury - Auto Defect
On November 1, 2005, Jessica pulled her Ford Explorer into a parking space in front of the post office located in McDonough, Georgia. She intended to drop off a package in an outside drop box when she put her vehicle in park and conversed with a friend on her cell phone for several minutes.
She then opened the driver’s side door, exited the vehicle and walked toward the drop box. As she approached the sidewalk, the vehicle suddenly, and without warning, shifted into reverse from the park position and began to roll backward.
Jessica immediately returned to the vehicle and attempted to reach the shifter lever to place the vehicle back in park. As she tried to get back in the vehicle she was struck by the driver’s side door on the moving vehicle and knocked down. The vehicle ran over her, causing a fracture of her spine. As a result she was rendered a paraplegic.
In 2009, Harris Lowry Manton sued Ford Motor Company on behalf of Jessica Mundy and her husband, Butts County Sheriff Ken Mundy, and secured a $40 million verdict.
HLM was able to show that Ford Motor Company had known for decades that their transmissions suffered from a defect known as false park. In addition to obtaining the verdict on behalf of the Mundy family, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation to examine the transmissions defects. According to Jeff Harris, “Obtaining justice for Jessica and Ken was extremely rewarding and knowing that the work HLM did on this case led to a federal investigation of Ford was a great accomplishment for consumers nationwide.”
HLM’s trial team consisted of Jeff Harris, Steve Lowry and Jed Manton. Steve Lowry noted, “When an individual sues a company such as Ford, claiming that hundreds of thousands of its vehicles are defective, rest assured that Ford will put its unlimited resources behind its defense. At HLM, we are very proud of our track record of going toe to toe against the largest companies in the world and being able to prove where their decisions have harmed their consumers. The Mundy verdict is a great example of what can be accomplished with hard work and determination.”
Chang v. City of Milton
Wrongful Death – Auto Wreck
Harris Lowry Manton LLP obtained a $35 million verdict in a lawsuit against the City of Milton for the wrongful death of Joshua Chang, a native son of Canton, GA. Josh was killed in a single-vehicle accident on Batesville Road – an accident that could have been avoided entirely if the City of Milton had maintained its roads in accordance with the law.
Partners Jeffrey R. Harris, Jed D. Manton and Madeline E. McNeeley of Harris Manton Lowry represented the plaintiffs, Josh’s parents, in this case. Other members of the legal team included Christopher M. Simon and Tyler H. Bridgers of The Simon Law Firm and Naveen Ramachandrappa of Bondurant Mixon & Elmore.
After the verdict, Jed D. Manton said, “Josh never wanted to be a martyr for roadside safety. There’s no doubt this case is going to affect how cities across the state work to recognize and remove hazards along the roadways, and therefore save lives.”
Jeffrey R. Harris added, “With all the new cities popping up across the region, what was once farmland is becoming more urbanized. One of the jobs of the new cities is to remove roadside hazards that might have been installed when the area was unincorporated and mostly farmland. When these roads become thoroughfares to shopping areas, like this road in Milton, they become hazardous. In this case, the City of Milton dropped the ball.”
E invite you to read more about the case and the verdict here.
Louis v. Gwinnett Medical Center, Dr. Williard Hearin (2016)
Cerebral Palsy - Birth Injury
On November 9, 2016, a Gwinnett County jury awarded $30.5 million to a mother and her child who was born severely and permanently brain-damaged because of medical malpractice. Harris Lowry Manton LLP partner Jed Manton served as co-counsel, along with Daniel Weinstock of the Philadelphia firm Feldman Shephard LLP, in the Gwinnett County state court case.
Zetah Louis was 35 weeks pregnant when an ultrasound showed possible blood flow problems through the umbilical cord to the fetus. Instead of preparing for an emergency C-section, she was sent to Gwinnett Medical Center for a consult. After arriving at the hospital, she was forced to wait an extended time period and a follow up test which had been ordered STAT was not timely performed.
Because of the delay, her baby Re’Ayah suffered hypoxic brain injury and was born with permeant injuries including cerebral palsy, developmental delay and a seizure disorder. Re’Ayah, who is now 4, will need 24-hour care for the rest of her life.
The jury assigned 75 percent fault to the medical center and 25 percent fault to Dr. Hearin. “With this recovery, there is a substantial likelihood that Re’Ayah’s quality of life will improve in years to come, as she will now have access to the medical care she deserves,” Jed said after the jury awarded the $30.5 million verdict.
Fielder v. Latium USA Trading LLC
Serious Injuries – Trucking Wreck
Harris Lowry Manton LLP recently secured a $27 million verdict from a federal jury against Latium USA Trading LLC (“Latium”) and its driver, Michael Turner. Our client was awarded more than $4.5 million in compensatory damages and another $20 million in punitive damages, along with attorneys’ fees of $1.8 million.
Partner Jed Manton served as lead attorney for the plaintiff, 81-year-old Judith Fielder of Eatonton, Georgia. Mrs. Fielder suffered multiple catastrophic injuries. She had multiple surgeries during her 45 days in various hospitals.
Mr. Manton issued the following statement after the jury verdict was returned:
It is an honor to represent Judy and her husband, Bill. This verdict sends a clear and undeniable message that truck drivers and their employers must take safety seriously. In this day and age, it is unacceptable to operate a fleet of heavy trucks and trailers and provide no safety training, have zero safety policies for your drivers, and provide no training or instruction on the federal law applicable to truckers.
Ms. McNeeley added:
Judy Fielder is a wonderful woman who led a very active life before this wreck happened. She loved swimming with her grandchildren and performing volunteer work, and she was deeply involved in her church and community. These injuries have permanently affected every aspect of her life. We are deeply gratified that, with this award, she will be able to receive the care and assistance she needs, and she and Bill will be able to make the modifications that will let them stay in their home for as long as possible.
Click here to read more.
Simmons v. SouthCoast Medical Group
Spinal Cord Injury - Medical Malpractice
In March of 2018, Harris Lowry Manton LLP partner Jeffrey R. Harris and associate Yvonne S. Godfrey secured a record-setting $18 million Chatham County jury on behalf of their client, Joan Simmons, who was tragically and catastrophically injured as a result of medical malpractice.
Simmons, a 58-year-old woman in Okatie, S.C., was admitted to a Savannah, Ga. hospital on July 20, 2014, with complaints of back pain and signs of an infection. An infectious disease doctor at Southcoast Medical Group failed to diagnose and treat her spinal epidural abscess, a serious complication of the infection.
The untreated abscess put pressure on Simmons’ spinal cord, causing paralysis in both legs. As a result of this medical negligence, Simmons was left permanently paraplegic.
After hearing the facts presented by the legal team during the seven-day trial, the Chatham County jury returned the largest medical malpractice verdict – and the largest personal injury verdict – in the county’s history. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding that Southcoast Medical Group and its physician were liable for failure to diagnose and treat a spinal abscess. The jury apportioned 90 percent of the fault—or $16.2 million—to SouthCoast Medical Group and Dr. Sarah Barbour, an infectious disease specialist.
Harris Lowry Manton LLP’s trial attorneys clearly demonstrated the catastrophic effect of medical malpractice, explaining that Joan Simmons walked into the hospital and left in a wheelchair, unable to walk. The legal team worked hard to ensure that justice was served for their client and that responsible parties would be held accountable for their negligence.
“The jury in this case recognized that Joan Simmons was tragically, catastrophically injured and that she will be a paraplegic the rest of her life as a result of medical malpractice,” said Harris Lowry Manton LLP partner Jeffrey R. Harris. “The jury’s verdict clearly reflected that understanding.”
Corey v. City of Atlanta, Clear Channel and Barbara Fouch (2010)
Business Tort - Economic Loss
In July 2010, a federal jury awarded $17.5 million to Corey Airport Services after finding that the City of Atlanta, Clear Channel and Barbara Fouch, Clear Channel’s minority partner, conspired to deprive Corey of its equal protection rights while bidding for the advertising contract at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2002.
The case, which was filed in 2004, concerned how the City of Atlanta procures contracts for advertising at the world’s busiest airport.
HLM brought the complicated, lengthy business litigation to a successful finish, securing a $17.5 million judgment against the defendants, with all aspects of the decision recently reaffirmed by Federal District Judge Charles Pannell. Jeff Harris, of HLM, was brought on as lead counsel shortly before trial. Harris explained, “It was an honor to represent Billy Corey and his company. Billy was willing to take on City Hall to expose years of improper conduct. Facing an uphill battle and unlimited defense resources, Billy not only took City Hall on, but he won.”
Chhetri v. Michelin
Wrongful Death - Auto Defect
After a seven-day trial, the jury returned a verdict for the Plaintiff, represented by Harris Lowry Manton, and awarded $16,520,000 in damages in Chhetri vs. Michelin, a product liability and wrongful death case. HLM’s Jeff Harris served as lead counsel.
On March 22, 2011, 50 year-old Mr. Kharka Chhetri, beloved husband and father, died after the failure of a defective tire on a 15-passenger van in which he was a passenger. The tread completely separated from the tire, causing the van to go out of control, hit a guardrail, and roll over.
Mr. Chhetri, his wife, Ganga, and his three children, refugees from Bhutan, immigrated to the United States in 2009 through a United Nations resettlement program. Mr. Chhetri was traveling on I-75 south near Forsyth, Georgia, along with 14 other passengers, all of whom were on their way to work in Perry, Georgia, when the tire caused the van to crash.
Mr. Chhetri’s case was the first to go to trial of the 14 cases that Harris Lowry Manton has filed on behalf of the van passengers. As pointed out by attorney Jeff Harris, the Chhetri case “essentially was a bellwether trial for this accident.”
On behalf of Mr. Chhetri’s widow, Ganga, HLM demonstrated to the jury that Defendant Michelin North America, Inc. negligently designed and manufactured the defective tire that failed, a LT245/75R16 120Q Uniroyal Laredo Tire. HLM also demonstrated that Michelin knew, or should have known, that the tire was defective and dangerous, but it failed to warn the public of this danger, showing a conscious indifference to the consequences and warranting punitive damages.
Michelin argued that its tire was not defectively designed or manufactured, but the jury rejected this inaccurate defense. The jury also elected to award punitive damages in the amount of $11,500,000 against Michelin, in addition to the $5,020,000 awarded for the value of Mr. Chhetri’s life, his conscious pain and suffering, and funeral expenses.
After obtaining the verdict, which is one of the largest defective tire verdicts in Georgia history, HLM was able to settle the remaining cases for amounts that are confidential at the defendants’ request. Jeff Harris noted, “This refugee community was devastated by the loss of two of its members and catastrophic injuries to numerous others as a result of the defective tire. It was an honor to obtain justice on behalf of these hard-working families.”
Bilbrey v. United States of America
TBI Injury - Commercial Vehicle Wreck
Judge Clay D. Land ordered the United States of America to pay Mary Bilbrey and her profoundly injured son, Anthony Bilbrey, more than $11.5 million after a United States Postal Service (USPS) employee was found negligent in the operation of his mail delivery truck. Steve Lowry, of Harris Lowry Manton LLP, served as lead counsel for Mary and Anthony.
On December 22, 2006, after an early morning of Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart and a breakfast stop at Hardees, Mary Bilbrey – who was eight and a half months pregnant at the time – and her fiancé, Jason Murray, were driving to their Monroe, Georgia home.
Traveling south on Highway 11 Murray and Bilbrey both testified that the USPS employee suddenly pulled into their lane from his position off the right-hand side of the road. A commercially licensed, experienced driver, Murray swerved to avoid colliding with the USPS truck yet ultimately lost control of his vehicle. The car ran off the road into a fence where a wooden fence rail impaled the vehicle, forcefully striking Mary’s pregnant abdomen. She went into premature labor suffered serious injury and the impact severely brain-damaged her son.
The United States denied that the postal driver was responsible for causing the wreck. Steve Lowry explained, “Even though there were no independent eye witnesses to the wreck, we were able to prove that the postal driver was at fault through an extensive investigation that focused on recreating the wreck using forensic evidence to show the postal driver was at fault. The substantial recovery will allow for Anthony to receive the best available medical care going forward.”
HLM worked tirelessly to see justice done in this very tragic case.
Jones v. CSX
Wrongful Death - Film Location
After three long years, Richard and Elizabeth Jones, parents of camera assistant Sarah Elizabeth Jones, have come to the end of a long, painful road of both investigation and litigation. Harris Lowry Manton LLP secured an $11.2 million jury verdict in the case of Jones v CSX, a resounding jury confirmation that the 2014 death of the vibrant and talented 27-year-old was the result of the negligence of multiple parties, including CSX Transportation. Sarah was fatally struck by a train while working on the film Midnight Rider.
In this complicated case, which began with multiple defendants -- all of whom either settled out of court with the plaintiffs or were dismissed by HLM -- defendant CSX attempted to blame the victim for the tragedy, asserting the film crew should not have been on the tracks in the first place. The company also claimed the train operator could not see people on the tracks, and once he was upon the crew, could not slow down or stop as it would cause the train to derail.
After hearing the facts presented by HLM's legal team, the jury sided with the plaintiffs, speaking clearly through their unanimous verdict of $11.2 million, of which CSX is responsible for 35%.
HLM Partner Jeff Harris explained, “Richard and Elizabeth Jones’ objectives in filing this lawsuit have been clear and unwavering: To find out what happened on the day of their daughter’s death, determine who was responsible, hold those who made reckless and careless decisions accountable and, finally, ensure this kind of tragedy never happens again on another film set. With this verdict, the last step in our journey together, we have achieved those objectives."
When asked their reaction to the verdict, Richard Jones, on behalf of the family said, "We are at peace."
Zakrocki v. Ford Motor Company
Brachial Plexus Injury - Auto Defect
Rebekah Zakrocki was traveling at highway speeds between 65 to 70 mph along the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey at around 9:45 a.m. on November 10, 2000 when she lost control of her vehicle after the throttle stuck. She had to stomp on the gas pedal to release it, which, in turn, resulted in the car lunging forward. Ms. Zakrocki made a sharp turn to the left to avoid hitting a car in front of her, followed by a sharp turn to the right, her SUV eventually rolled over.
Ms. Zakrocki’s Explorer failed Ford’s internal objective for passenger vehicles in that it rolled over by virtue of steering inputs alone – an on-road friction rollover. Ms. Zakrocki sustained serious, long-term injuries as a result of the vehicle malfunction.
Steve Lowry of Harris Lowry Manton LLP was brought on to try the case because of his extensive background in product liability cases. Steve noted, “It's always an honor when another law firm asks you to try a case with them. Getting to try this case with Barry Eichen of New Jersey was a wonderful experience. We were able to show that Rebekah’s Explorer suffered from a defect which Ford knew about for years and obtain the compensation that she deserved.”
Harris Lowry Manton LLP secured an $10.6 million verdict against Ford for its negligence.
Green v. Moon
Wrongful Death - Pool Drowning
On November 17, 2011, a Gwinnett County State Court Jury awarded $9.85 Million to surviving parents Kemi Green and Gbolohan Bankolemoh of Abiola Bankolemoh. The judgment included $9.8 Million in damages for the wrongful death of their almost two-year-old son and another $50,000 in pain and suffering.
During the four-day civil trial, over which Judge John Doran presided, plaintiffs’ attorney Jeffrey R. Harris of Harris Lowry Manton, along with R. Alan Cleveland of Kenny, Solomon & Medina, detailed the tragic events that led up to the death of Abiola.
Co-defendants Tanya and Shawn Moon were running an unlicensed, unregulated and illegal daycare facility out of the Buford property owned by the third defendant, Terry Moon, Shawn Moon’s father.
Believing a home-based daycare environment would be better for her two young sons, Green, a pediatric nurse, interviewed Tanya and Shawn Moon who claimed their operation was state-approved and regulated. In fact, it was not.
On March 19, 2009, while under Tanya’s care, Abiola was left unattended for a period of time. He exited the back of the house, fell into the unsecured pool on the property and drowned.
“This tragic case shines a bright light on two major issues: unlicensed daycare in Georgia as well as pool safety,” said Harris. “Parents should check with state agencies for licensing information before enrolling their children in any program, especially home-based ones. And, if a daycare owner has a pool, it must meet all county codes for safety and security. It is their responsibility to keep all children under their care safe. In this case, the daycare operators and property owner failed to do so on multiple levels.”
Tanya Moon is also facing criminal charges.
Bernecker v. AMC et al.
Wrongful Death - TV Location
On July 12, 2017, 33-year-old stunt actor John Bernecker was fatally injured following a scripted high fall from a balcony on the set of “The Walking Dead” season 8 in Senoia, Ga. Harris Lowry Manton LLP partner Jeff Harris served as the lead trial attorney representing Susan Bernecker, the mother of John Bernecker, in Bernecker v. AMC et al.
On December 19, 2019, a jury in the State Court of Gwinnett County in Atlanta returned an $8.6 million verdict against Stalwart Films, LLC; TWD Productions VIII, LLC and other defendants, following a six-day trial. The trial team included Jeff Harris, Rebecca Franklin Harris and Yvonne S. Godfrey.
Throughout the trial, Harris argued that John Bernecker’s death was preventable, explaining that The Walking Dead’s production companies and representatives failed to follow AMC’s safety policies and procedures regarding the stunt Bernecker filmed for Episode 807 of the popular TV show. Harris demonstrated a failure to provide a dedicated on-set production safety representative, as outlined in AMC’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program safety manual, as well as a number of other safety-related issues that ultimately contributed to Bernecker’s death.
“John was a remarkably talented stunt professional who had an incredibly bright future in the film industry,” Harris said following the verdict. “My sincere hope is this verdict sends a clear message regarding the need to both elevate and strictly adhere to industry safety standards every day, on every shoot, on every film set. John’s tragic and preventable death happened as a result of a series of safety-related failures. Learning from these failures will go a long way in making sure that similar tragedies do not happen to another performer or another family.”
Born in New Orleans, La., in 1984, Bernecker was an accomplished stunt performer with nearly 100 film credits over the course of his career. He was honored at the 2018 Television Emmy Awards and nominated in both television and film performances at the 2018 SAG Awards. Bernecker was known for his stunt work on major productions like Ninja Turtles 1 & 2 (2014-2016), 22 Jump Street (2014), Logan (2017) and Fantastic Four (2015).
Doe v. Zion Baptist Church of
Braselton Inc, et al. (2015)
Sex Abuse - Church Organization
After a week long trial, Harris Lowry Manton LLP secured an $8,000,000 verdict on behalf of a minor who was molested by a church’s youth volunteer. An employer has the duty to exercise ordinary care in the selection of employees, and must not retain them after knowledge of incompetency. These same principles apply to non-profit organizations, including churches, when such an organization solicits volunteers to perform projects on its behalf.
HLM partner Jeff Harris explained, “Victims of sexual abuse are often targeted by predators who infiltrate churches and civic groups that serve children. Here, if the church would have followed its own policies and procedures this tragic incident never would have happened.”
Our case against the church centered around its failures to screen the volunteer. Tragically, numerous red flags should have alerted the church that their volunteer had no business interacting with the church’s youth. After the conclusion of a fall festival at the church, the volunteer escorted two minors off church property and molested one of the boys. The molester eventually plead guilty in criminal proceedings and is presently incarcerated.
HLM’s Jed Manton tried the case along with Jeff Harris. According to Manton, “This verdict will allow our client to have access to medical care that he needs going forward to help in the healing process.”
The lawyer hired by the insurance company on behalf of the church argued that the church bore no responsibility for the minor’s molestation. Fortunately, the Jackson County jury disagreed and found in favor of our client. The verdict is believed to be the largest verdict ever awarded in Jackson County. The trial team consisted of Jeff Harris, Jed Manton, Yvonne Godfrey and Molly McNeeley.
Wyckstandt v. Gwinnett Hospital System
Wrongful Death- Medical Malpractice
On November 21, 2000, Richard and Wendy Wyckstandt had their second son, Austin, at Gwinnett Medical Center. Unrelated to this case, Austin was born with a congenital heart defect and later died.
Wendy was released from the hospital two days after giving birth, but was readmitted on November 25. She was diagnosed with toxemia/preeclampsia. When her mother came to visit Wendy on the morning of November 28, she found her daughter drowned in the shower. Wendy was revived, transferred to ICU, but died about 24 hours later.
Evidence at trial showed that the hospital failed to follow its own policies and should have assisted Wendy whenever she was out of bed. Jeff Harris served as lead counsel for the Wyckstandt family with the assistance of Jed Manton, then an associate at HLM. Harris noted, “When we first got involved in the Wyckstandt case many did not feel that a patient would be able to win against a hospital in Gwinnett County. We always believed in this case and were very pleased that the jury was able to see that Wendy’s death was entirely preventable if she had received proper medical care.” Since the verdict, there have been several other large verdicts in Gwinnett County involving poor medical care.
Harris Lowry Manton helped the Wyckstandt family secure a $5 million verdict against the hospital system for its negligence. According to Jed Manton, “Successes at trial often turn on finding the piece of evidence that the defense is overlooking. The Wyckstandt trial is a prime example, where we were able to show through the hospitals internal polices, as well as their surveillance tapes, that the defense they put up to the jury was not an accurate account of what led to Wendy’s death.”
Powers v. Howard
PTSD - Road Rage Incident
A Savannah jury awarded $4.8 million to a couple and their children who were shot at on I-95 by an irate and out-of-control driver in July 2011.
Frank and Heather Powers and their children were driving home to Kennesaw after a vacation in Hilton Head when Thurman Lee Howard opened fire on them. The five bullets broke glass and struck the door of the family’s Ford Expedition but did not directly hit anyone. The drivers first saw each other earlier near a ramp to the highway. There, Howard pulled in front of Powers and hit the brakes. Eight miles later, Howard pulled alongside the family on the highway and started firing a handgun through an open passenger side window of his Audi Quattro.
Steve Lowry of Harris Lowry Manton represented the family who claimed Howard had a “specific intent to harm.” The Chatham County State Court jury reached its verdict in August 2015.
“If this case isn’t specific intent to harm, I don’t know what is,” Lowry said. “This was an important victory for the family who had been blamed by Butch Howard for the encounter. Mr. Howard refused to take responsibility for his actions but the jury held him fully responsible.”
Howard, also known as Butch, said that Frank Powers was the instigator. Powers, according to Howard, stopped in the road to block him for no reason and then screamed at him and made obscene gestures. He said he fired on the family because Powers tried to force him off of the road and he was scared for his life. The jury did not find Mr. Howard’s version credible. Howard spent six months in jail for the highway attack on the family.
Hamby v. Chrysler
Wrongful Death - Auto Defect
On July 27, 2002, Plaintiff Lori Hamby was hanging clothes on a clothesline in the yard of her grandmother’s house in Forsyth County. Her boyfriend was cleaning the family van parked nearby and watching their two-year-old daughter, Madison.
All of the doors to the van were open to allow access for vacuuming the van’s interior. Madison was standing in the van assisting with the cleaning. Her dad turned and walked a short distance away to get a bottle of cleaner when he heard the van begin to move behind him. He turned and saw the vehicle roll down the driveway with Madison still inside.
He chased after the van and fell down trying to stop it from rolling. Lori Hamby heard him scream for help and also began to chase the van. Both were unable to stop it from rolling down the driveway where it struck a small tree.
Madison fell out and was pinned under the right front tire. The toddler was pronounced dead at the scene due to the injuries she sustained when the van rolled over and crushed her. The van rolled down the driveway because it was not equipped with a brake shift interlock device, allowing Madison to shift the vehicle out of park and into gear.
Experts on the issue of brake shift interlock, HLM partners successfully sued Chrysler for wrongful death and negligence, securing a $4.5 million verdict for Lori Hamby. Jeff Harris, lead counsel, explained, “The auto manufactures have known for years that children often mimic their parents and try to shift vehicles out of park. Chrysler made the decision to not utilize the safety features which would have prevented this horrific accident.”
The Hamby verdict was the first case to hold Chrysler responsible for failing to use this basic technology and since this verdict, HLM has obtained numerous settlements against automobile manufactures for their failure to timely implement brake shift interlock technology in their vehicles.
Molina vs. Athens Heart Center, P.C. and Dr. Subodh Agrawal (2023)
Wrongful Death – Medical Malpractice
On Feb. 8, 2023, a jury in the State Court of Clarke County in Athens, Ga. returned an $4.36 million verdict against Athens Heart Center, P.C. and Dr. Subodh Agrawal after a six-day trial focusing on the wrongful death of popular Athens musician and restaurant owner Juan Molina following a routine, elective diagnostic cardiac procedure.
Molina died on August 25, 2017 after undergoing a diagnostic cardiac catheterization at St. Mary’s Hospital in Athens, Ga. that resulted in a fatal ventricle perforation. During a left ventricular chamber angiogram, also known as a ventriculogram, Dr. Agrawal tore and perforated Molina’s left ventricle wall by inserting a multipurpose catheter into the ventricle wall and injecting radiocontrast into the wall of the heart. Dr. Agrawal failed to recognize the severity and danger of the perforation to Molina’s left ventricle wall and failed to take corrective action in light of the perforated ventricle.
The jury determined that Molina’s death was due to medical malpractice on the part of Dr. Agrawal. After 16 hours of deliberation, the jury awarded $3.5 million for the value of Molina’s life, plus $500,000 for pain and suffering and $60,000 in medical and funeral expenses.
Harris Lowry Manton LLP partner Steve Lowry served as the lead trial attorney, with co-counsel James E. Carter of James E. Carter, LLC and Harris Lowry Manton LLP Associate Caitlyn Clark.
Allen v. Consolidated OB-Gyn, Dekalb Surgical Associates (2010)
Wrongful Death - Medical Malpractice
Kathleen Allen’s daughter, Tanyka Brydson, was admitted to DeKalb Medical Center to give birth to her twins via cesarean section. Tanyka’s incision area became infected and required immediate, aggressive treatment as well as timely surgical intervention. Instead, it was delayed.
Ultimately, Tanyka underwent multiple surgical debridements as her condition continued to worsen during her hospitalization at DeKalb Medical Center. Her mother had her transferred to another hospital where she ultimately died due to multi-system organ failure secondary to necrotizing fasciitis. DeKalb Medical Center failed to properly diagnose, treat and care for Tanyka.
Jeff Harris and Steve Lowry served as lead trial counsel, along with Jed Manton, in what defense counsel called the most complex medical malpractice case they had ever been involved in. Jeff Harris, however, explained, “While the underlying medicine was complex, HLM prides itself in being able to take the most complex issues and figure out a way to explain these concepts in a manner that the jury can relate to and understand. At the end of the day, this case was about the failures of the treatment team to recognize text book examples of a spreading infection. Tragically, Tanyka did not receive proper medical care and died as a result.”
Steve Lowry noted, “Tanyka suffered greatly because her post-surgical infection was not properly treated. We were able to use the defendants’ notations in her medical records to prove that timely intervention would have prevented this tragic result.” With the help of the HLM team, Ms. Allen sued the physicians responsible for the negligent care of her daughter and won a $4.3 million verdict.
Wilson V. Evans
Serious Injuries - Auto Wreck
On May 5, 2022, a Cobb County, Georgia jury awarded $1.225 million to a couple who sustained injuries as the direct result of a rear-end collision. Harris Lowry Manton LLP partner Andy Conn served as lead counsel in the Cobb County State Court case, which resulted in a notable jury verdict totaling more than 17 times the value of the plaintiffs’ original medical bills.
Anthony and Margaret Wilson were driving on Holly Springs Road in East Cobb on August 30, 2016 when their vehicle was struck from behind by a driver who negligently and recklessly failed to stop at a red light, followed too closely, and drove too fast for road conditions. As a result of the collision, Anthony Wilson suffered injuries resulting in approximately $73,000 in medical bills. Prior to and throughout trial, the defendant denied liability, and the insurance carrier offered well below the insurance policy limits of $250,000.
At trial, Conn presented evidence to the jury about the life-altering injuries suffered by Mr. Wilson and the significant affect this collision had on the Wilsons’ quality of life. After a four-day trial and four hours of deliberation, the Cobb County jury awarded $900,000 to Anthony Wilson for pain and suffering and $325,000 to Margaret Wilson for loss of consortium.
“The jury really listened to the evidence and to the witnesses in this case,” said Conn. “This verdict is an excellent example of why we fight hard on behalf of clients who have been injured through no fault of their own. We are thrilled that the jury got it right.”