Monday, November 22, 2010
$750K deal reached in ‘Joshua’s Law’ case
By Greg Land, Staff Reporter
The parents of Joshua Brown, the 17-year-old driver killed in 2003 when he lost control of his car on a stretch of wet highway north of Cartersville, reached a $750,000 settlement with the Georgia Department of Transportation just before the case was to go to a jury Friday.
Attorney Robin Frazer Clark, who represents Alan and LuGina Brown, hammered out the deal with lawyers from the office of Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker in the closing hours of a week-long trial described by Fulton County State Court Judge Susan B. Forsling as a “difficult case on a number of levels” because of the emotional tenor of the testimony and the technical details related to the highway’s engineering.
Following Joshua’s death, Alan Brown established a foundation in his son’s name and lobbied the Georgia General Assembly to require 16-year-olds to pass a driver’s education course before they can get a license and to add a 5 percent surcharge to traffic fines in order to fund driving simulators in the state’s high schools. Known as “Joshua’s Law,” the legislation passed and was signed into law in 2005.
The Browns sued the DOT in 2005, claiming that the stretch of road on which the accident occurred was poorly engineered and allowed water to pool on its surface rather than run off, among other defects.
Jurors, most of whom stayed behind to chat with the judge, attorneys and plaintiffs, said they had been leaning toward a defense verdict until word was sent to the jury room that the case had settled.
“It’s been my calling to get 21st century drivers’ education back in high schools,” said Alan Brown afterward. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about Josh. … I don’t think there’s ever closure in something like this, but at least this part is behind us.”
Staff Reporter Greg Land can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org