I am pleased to report a verdict last Friday, July 11, 2008 against the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) in Taylor County in a wrongful death case. This was a death case against Georgia DOT in which the decedent motorist hydroplaned off the road into a beaver pond and drowned. The Georgia DOT was negligent for failing to maintain a guardrail at this section of road where one was required. This verdict is significant beyond the fact that it was well tried by lawyers I know to be exceptionally talented: Chris Clark, Manley Brown and Chuck Byrd. The verdict is a valuable insight into the minds of rural county juries not only about how they value life, but how they will not tolerate any longer ineptitude by the Georgia DOT.
This verdict against the DOT comes just shortly after another wrongful death verdict against it, in Meriwhether County, Georgia, in the amount of $1.3 Million, obtained by my good friend and fellow trial lawyer, Lester Tate. In that case, the DOT had allowed a stop sign, for which they had maintenance responsibility, to remain down at an intersection for several weeks. This caused a horrible wreck resulting in the death of a pregnant woman and her fetus she was carrying. One wonders how much money the DOT could have saved the citizens of Georgia had they simply been reasonable, admitted their responsibility for causing these deaths and settling the cases before a jury told them how much they should pay.