Over the years, Reynolds, Horne & Survant has become somewhat of a specialist in the pursuit of cases against the manufacturers of multi-piece wheel assemblies, defective tires, and other automotive products liability actions. The case of Webb v. Firestone, Kelsey-Hayes, and General Motors, which went to verdict in March of 1991, was the largest verdict ever brought in against these defendants for a defective multi-piece wheel assembly. Following his attorney’s advice, the plaintiff rejected a $7.5 million offer of settlement and the firm went to verdict on this case with only one injured plaintiff involved. The jury returned a verdict of $19.1 million, which was ultimately reduced by the court to $13.5 million plus interest, and the case was resolved. The firm then pursued several other rim cases, most notable of which is Baker v. Firestone, involving a head injury to a man in his 50’s. Although the actual wheel rim products involved were missing, the case was settled for $5,250,000 in July of 1996, based on the California market-share approach to liability. In Jones v. Goodyear, the firm obtained a settlement at trial for the sum of $13 million in March of 1986. That case concerned a defective tire that had exploded and caused a motor vehicle accident, resulting in the plaintiff’s quadriplegia.
Three of the firm’s results in 1996 were particularly interesting, in that each of them involved a severe injury to a young person caused by an alcohol-impaired driver. In March of 1996, the case of Meeler v. Ocmulgee Marketing, Inc. (State Court of Bibb County) was settled for $1,715,000. The plaintiff was a high school student who was a passenger in a vehicle driven by another student who had been drinking. She received a spinal injury, resulting in paraplegia. The at-fault minor driver had only $15,000 coverage. Under the Dram Shop Act, Mr. Reynolds pursued Ocmulgee Marketing, Inc., the owner of the convenience store that sold the beer to the under-age student the night before the incident occurred. The convenience store paid $1,700,000 to settle.
In July 1996, the case of Mitchell v. Mackey was resolved for $1,186,664. Filed in the U.S. District Court, Middle District, Valdosta Division, this was a suit by a plaintiff against her boyfriend’s fraternity brother, who struck Plaintiff and her boyfriend with his car as the couple walked home from the Old South Ball. She sustained a brain injury as well as a broken arm (requiring insertion of a rod), extensive neck scarring, and multiple contusions. Although the bulk of the defendants’ payment came from insurance coverage, $186,664 was paid directly by the father of the defendant driver.
In September 1996, the case of Howell v. McMahon and RaceTrac Petroleum Company (Superior Court of Spaulding County) was settled for $1,300,000. The plaintiff was involved in a wreck with a RaceTrac Petroleum truck driver who was driving drunk but was found not to be on the job at the time of the accident. The plaintiff suffered a hip contusion with possible nerve contusion, closed head injury, post traumatic stress disorder, cervical sprain, lumbar sprain, and multiple abrasions and contusions. This was settled after commencement of trial.
Another major verdict occurred in a United States District Court. This case was based on the death of an African-American female in her 30’s and the brain injury of her five-year-old daughter. A jury returned a verdict of $23.2 million in that case: $10 million for the wrongful death, $8.2 million for the personal injury, and $5 million in punitive damages. Judge Orinda Evans, who heard the case, granted a new trial, and the case was settled at the beginning of the second trial for a confidential amount.
Reynolds, Horne & Survant also recovered $6 million on a judgment in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia in May, 1990. Plaintiff had sued Southwestern Life Insurance Company alleging that damages were due from the company’s failure to pay benefits under a policy.
In January 1998, Carl Reynolds acted as lead counsel in Weber v. Wesleyan College, filed in the Superior Court of Bibb County, Georgia. This case arose from the wrongful death of a wife and mother of two children. The woman was killed when a tree fell suddenly into the road bordering the Wesleyan campus, immediately in front of and onto her car. Plaintiff alleged that the college knew or should have known of the tree’s poor health and should have removed the tree earlier under the college’s legal duty to inspect and maintain property in an urban area. Apparently agreeing that Wesleyan had improperly allowed a dangerous condition to exist, the jury returned a verdict for $1,750,000 against the school. As is true with many of the firm’s personal injury cases, this verdict resulted not only in compensation to the plaintiff, but also spurred the removal of dangerous trees from businesses, schools and residential areas across Georgia. This type of injury prevention is one big reason the firm takes pride in its work.
In Halcome v. Publix Marketing, Inc., (Superior Court of Paulding County) similar public benefits resulted from a settlement of $720,000. In this case, the plaintiff was severely burned when gasoline he was pumping into his car splashed back and ignited. Plaintiff later died from his burn injuries. The Reynolds firm discovered during their investigation that the same pump had splashed gas on people before and a note was written that the pump should be taken out of service. Following the trial, gas pumps across Georgia, and later across the country, were required to have splash guards added to protect against this type of injury. The firm believes that plaintiff’s verdicts of this kind have more impact than legislation in making our country one of the safest in the world.
In an October, 2001 verdict in Bibb County State Court, Georgia, a jury awarded $3,760,000 to the parents of a thirteen year-old girl who died following an allergy injection. In this case, the otolaryngologist went out of town, leaving his allergy technician and a licensed practical nurse to give allergy injections. When the plaintiff’s daughter arrived for her shot, only the LPN was in the office. Immediately upon receiving the allergy injection, the girl began to suffer severe anaphylactic shock, a type of allergic reaction. Testimony and evidence indicated that the LPN failed to give the patient epinephrine for several minutes, resulting in fatal swelling of the girl’s airway and her death by suffocation.
Reynolds, Horne & Survant’s list of million-dollar verdicts and settlements goes on and on. The firm has recovered these amounts on behalf of injured clients in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, California, Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, Alabama, Texas, Kentucky, and Minnesota. Reynolds, Horne & Survant has obtained large recoveries for plaintiffs in many other states as well.
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