Verdicts & Settlements
Sasser v. Ford Motor Company
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.
Mundy v. Ford Motor Company
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.”
Bilbrey v. United States of America
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.
Powers v. Howard
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.
Automobile wreck resulting in catastrophic injuries
Wrongful death automobile wreck settlement
Burn injuries commercial vehicle accident
Settlement for injuries sustained by man hit by speeding SUV
Jenkins v. Lambert
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.
Chhetri v. Michelin
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.”
Zakrocki v. Ford Motor Company
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.
Hamby v. Chrysler
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.
Wrongful death settlement with an automobile manufacturer and negligent driver
Wilson V. Evans
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.”