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Atlanta news outlets are reporting that two men were shot today at the Cobblestone Apartments in Marietta, Georgia. Although the circumstances of the shooting are not yet known, apartment shootings raise immediate questions of whether there were adequate safety precautions taken by the complex management to protect against such attacks. An apartment complex owes a duty to its residents to protect them against known dangers and dangers that could reasonably be foreseen. If Cobblestone Apartments has experienced similar acts of violence against its residents in the past, but failed to take reasonable precautions to protect its residents, they may be subject to civil liability to the victims.
After fewer than 2 hours of deliberations, a Dekalb County, Georgia jury returned a verdict of $15 Million in favor of a patient injured at a clinic owned by Emory Healthcare. The patient, Cris Nelson, was at the clinic for a routine physical when he was placed on an examination table to have his blood drawn. After a medial assistant drew several vials of blood, Mr. Nelson lost consciousness and fell forward off the table, striking his head and fracturing his neck. The force of impact caused a spinal cord injury which has rendered Mr. Nelson a quadriplegic. “It is never safe to give blood while sitting up on an examination table,” lead plaintiff’s counsel Lloyd Bell noted. “The standard of care requires that before a patient gives blood, he or she must be placed in a chair with arms or be positioned laying down,” Bell said. As a result of the fall, Mr. Nelson was taken by ambulance to Atlanta Medical Center and later Shepherd Center catastrophic rehabilitation hospital, one of the premier rehab hospitals in the country. “Compared to where he was immediately after his injury, Cris has made tremendous progress due to his hard work, dedication, and the support of his wonderful family,” Bell continued. “Cris and Debbie will be living with the consequences of Emory’s negligence for the rest of their lives. The jury verdict speaks to the tremendous damage this family has suffered.” The case is Cris and Debbie Nelson v. Emory Specialty Associates, P.C. and Emory Healthcare. (from right, Lloyd Bell, lead plaintiffs’ counsel, Debbie Nelson, Mike Watson, Cris Nelson, co-counsel, Valerie Ponder, Pamela Lee and co-counsel, Keegan Federal)
A 61-year-old hotel employee was found dead inside a freezer at a well-known hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. According to local news reports, Carolyn Robinson, a kitchen worker at Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta, apparently got trapped in a freezer just after 8 pm on Monday, but her body was not discovered until the following day. When I first saw this story, my immediate thought was why couldn’t she get out? From what the news outlets are reporting, walk in freezers are supposed to be equipped with a mechanism on the inside of the freezer to allow people to get out – sort of like the lever on the inside of a car’s trunk that allows someone inside to escape – as the device not working? If so, then there would likely be a major products liability issue. Thoughts and prayers for Ms. Robinson’s family who must be suffering unimaginable grief.
The Georgia Supreme Court today DENIED Agnes Scott College’s Petition for Certiorari in the case of Amanda Hartley v. Agnes Scott College, Inc. et al. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court effectively ended Agnes Scott’s appeal road, and the private college will now have to face justice in a jury trial in Dekalb County. “This has been a long and winding road on appeal,” said Lloyd N. Bell, attorney for Ms. Hartley. “Ms. Hartley is incredibly courageous,” Bell continued. “She is determined to hold Agnes Scott accountable for causing her to be falsely imprisoned, ruining her college career and causing lifelong emotional damage.” The case is expected to go to trial by the end of the year.
Every year, far too many Americans are seriously injured or killed in passenger van accidents. Recently, an especially deadly Florida accident occurred that left 8 people dead and 10 others injured. At the time of the accident, all 18 passengers (traveling in a 15-passenger van) were returning to their Haitian Assembly of God church in Fort Pierce after attending a “weekend Palm Sunday revival in Fort Myers.” According to the Florida Highway Patrol, this late-night accident happened shortly after the church van “ran through a stop sign, crossed all lanes of U. S. 27 and landed in a canal in rural southwest Florida.” Although the patrol officers initially questioned how this accident could have occurred, one of the passengers has now said that the van driver (who was killed), “didn’t notice a curve in the road and couldn’t stop in time.” Those injured in this accident ranged in age from 4 to 89. Uniqueness of This Accident: Number of Deaths and An Overloaded 15-Passenger Van Perhaps the most unusual fact about this terrible tragedy is that it’s been investigated by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) agents. NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said, “There are 12 million highway accidents annually and our teams investigate about a dozen.” It appears that this accident’s high number of fatalities and the known dangers tied to 15-passenger vans clearly influenced the decision to visit this Florida crash scene. Back in May of 2006, the NTSB even issued a Safety Alert to fully inform the public of the special dangers of 15-Passenger Vans. Among other points, the government stated that there can be special tire inflation issues. At this Florida crash scene, someone spotted, “a long strip of [tire] tread rest[ing] in one of the ruts made by the van as it plunged into the canal.” Overloading this Dodge van may have also increased the dangers. These vans have special “center of gravity” issues that can make it extra hard for a driver should emergency maneuvers become necessary. Accidents Like These Require an Experienced Trial Advocate and Investigator
- Investigative skills are critical. Since you’ll rarely have a crash site that’s investigated by the NTSB, it’s critical to hire an experienced Georgia trial lawyer – someone who has represented many clients (and their survivors) in major vehicle accidents in the past.
- Strong courtroom and negotiating skills are a must. Accident victims also need a professional advocate to interact with the other driver’s insurance company. After all, these companies are in business to deny claims whenever they can – or else to pay out very limited sums of money. You’ll also need someone who knows how to properly
- A thorough knowledge of the law is essential. You’ll need an Atlanta personal injury trial attorney who understands all pertinent legal fields, including the complex realm of product liability law that involves checking to see if all vehicles were functioning properly at the time an accident. Likewise, your lawyer must be ready to help you if the other driver was uninsured. Although we all have to carry some type of uninsured motorist coverage, the minimum levels required by law may not be fully adequate to cover the extent of your injuries. Your attorney will need to prepare strong arguments in favor of your receiving the maximum available under all statutes.
As most of us know, commercial trucking accidents occur regularly in Georgia and all across this nation. That’s why the National Transportation Safety Board has placed the need to “strengthen commercial trucking safety” on its “Most Wanted List for 2015.” In fact, we’ve just experienced another rash of trucking accidents in our area. Recent Georgia Commercial Trucking Accidents On March 20, 2015, all lanes on southbound Georgia 400 at Holcomb Bridge Road were closed for 20 minutes after there was an accident involving a pick-up truck and a tractor-trailer. Although the lanes were soon reopened, everyone in the area was asked to try and find alternate routes to their destinations; On March 17, 2015, two cars and a tractor trailer were in an accident near Milledgeville. According to one witness, a Nissan pickup truck “turned into the tractor trailer’s path.” After the two vehicles collided, the utility trailer being pulled by the Nissan “broke loose becoming airborne [and] landing on top of a Chevrolet Impala that was heading eastbound.” One person died at the scene and three others were taken to area hospitals; On March 16, 2015, a fiery tractor trailer crash took place on Interstate 285, just past I-675 in DeKalb County. According to a man named Terrance Cooper, “the crash started when a truck hit him and pinned him to the median.” His truck then flipped over and his diesel tank exploded. Cooper says he finally managed to crawl away from the truck just before it exploded; On March 1, 2015, a woman driving in her car was killed in a head-on collision with a tractor trailer in Cherokee County. According to news reports, the accident occurred around “2:30 am Saturday on I-575 northbound and Airport Drive.” Initial reports indicated that Kristen E. Adams of Jasper was “traveling south in the northbound lanes of I-575 between Ball Ground and Canton . . . [when she apparently] struck a tractor trailer head on.” Unfortunately, she was pronounced dead at that location and the truck driver was taken to a nearby hospital. As these serious events indicate, far too many accidents involving tractor-trailers keep occurring. However, not all of them may have been caused by the larger vehicles. As of 2012, there were just over 10.5 million larger trucks on this country’s roads, logging over about 280 billion miles each year. Several years earlier, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 76 percent of fatalities from tractor-trailer collisions were the occupants of the passenger vehicle.” These statistics clearly reveal that if we want to turn this dangerous trend around, all of us – regardless of the type of vehicle we drive – must start routinely observing basic safety guidelines. If we’ll each do this, we can soon start sharing the roads in a much safer fashion. Here are some safe driving hints that all tractor trailer drivers – as well as all passenger car and smaller truck drivers — must carefully review and follow daily. Safety Guidelines Governing All Roads Shared with Tractor Trailers/Commercial Vehicles
- Passenger car and smaller truck drivers must yield as often as possible. After all, the larger commercial vehicles are much heavier and have a harder time safely reacting to sudden changes on the roads. Try to catch sight of the mirrors on the commercial truck’s cab – if you can’t see them, the odds are great that the truck driver can’t see you either;
- Never tailgate or try to “cut off” a large tractor trailer. Also, you should rarely try to pass one unless the two of you are the only vehicles visible on a very long stretch of straight road;
- Tractor trailer drivers (and all others) should never drive for over 10 hours at a time. Driver “fatigue” has proven to be one of the major causative factors in numerous tractor-trailer accidents over the years. No one is able to stay fully alert when driving for extremely long hours. If you insist on doing this, you’re not only risking your own life, you’re endangering everyone else on the road;
- Never drink, use strong drugs of any kind — or talk/text on a phone while driving. All of these behaviors create different forms of distracted driving. Those who frequently indulge in these habits often wind up dying – along with their innocent victims;
- All vehicles must be maintained in optimal condition, including the brakes and tires. No larger vehicle can afford to make sudden stops without being properly maintained;
- Always drive the proper speed, especially in poor weather conditions. As most drivers know, it’s much harder to react quickly and safely to a sudden road problem when traveling at a higher speed;
- Never overload your truck. Fortunately, most states maintain weighing stations which can help monitor this situation;
- Truck drivers should have themselves checked for sleep apnea at least once a year. This is especially true if you have ever literally fallen asleep at the wheel. If you postpone this test, you may not live as long as you had hoped.
On December 19, 2014, Lloyd Bell and his co-counsel Julian Sanders obtained a $3.7 million verdict for their client Heinz Fojutowski who had been shot in the stomach upon arriving at the Country Inn & Suites Hotel. While investigating the case, attorney Lloyd Bell learned that the hotel’s owner, Bhagwanti, Inc., had discontinued security services several months earlier, prior to this shooting. The hotel was clearly wrong to make that change since there had already been violent crime on its premises and in another area within walking distance of it. Upon winning the case, Mr. Bell said, “The owners knew this was a high-crime area. However, to save money, they cut out the private security they had previously used for years at this hotel.” He then added, “Hotel owners have a responsibility to their guests to keep them safe from known criminal activity. If they can’t afford to spend money on proper security, they need to be in a different type of business.” The case was tried in the State Court of Clayton County in front of Judge Aaron Mason. The case is Heinz Fojutowski v. Bhagywanti, Inc., 2012-V- 04397-PF
On November 10, 2014, Lloyd Bell and co-counsel Joel Grist recently obtained a verdict totaling $8.2 million for their client, Linda Bullard, whose son Billy was killed when a “Saturday night special” unexpectedly discharged after it fell on a table top. Ms. Bullard filed suit against Bryco Arms, who manufactured the handgun, as well as Ronald Richardson, the owner of the pawn shop that sold it. The Court entered default judgment against Bryco Arms and other related entities for $2.2 million. A separate jury considered the negligence of Mr. Richardson and found him liable for $6 million in damages. “While there is no amount of money that can make up for the life of this young man, the jury’s verdict will allow my client to move on with her life knowing justice was served,” said Bell. Read more about this verdict in the Atlanta Constitution and the Daily Repot: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/lawsuit-ends-in-9-million-award-for-fayette-woman-/nh9j8/ http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202676536806?keywords=bullard&publication=Daily+Report
The Georgia Supreme Court ruled on Monday, June 16th, that a female student can sue the Agnes Scott campus police officers who caused her to be wrongfully imprisoned for over 3 weeks, reversing the decision of the Court of Appeals who had previously ruled in favor of the campus police finding they were “government officials” entitled to government immunity. The Court of Appeals reached this conclusion even though Agnes Scott is a private corporation and the campus police officers were all privately employed by the college. The student, Amanda Hartley, was a pre-med major at University of Tennessee in Knoxville when a female student at Agnes Scott approached the campus police and made numerous false allegations that she had been brutalized by Ms. Hartley. The campus police failed to conduct a reasonable investigation which led to Ms. Hartley being imprisoned for almost a month. All charges were later dropped, but not until after Ms. Hartley had lost her grant and scholarship money and forced to leave her graduate studies. You can read more about the decision at Courthouse News Service. You can also read the complete opinion by the Supreme Court here.
October 8, 2011 – Lloyd Bell obtained a verdict for $1.2 Million in a trucking wreck in which a truck struck a car from the rear killing the driver of the car. The case was tried in the Northern District of Georgia, Judge Owen Forrester presiding. Liability was hotly disputed since there was evidence the driver of the vehicle had stopped in the road after her car ran out of gas.