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$5.6M Verdict Reversal in Wrongful Death Case

September 23, 2013

In June 2012, a couple was awarded $5,670,942.60 by a Paulding County jury in the case of Williamson v. Turner. This wrongful death case concerned their son who was killed when the jeep in which he rode was hit by a car driven by the insured Turner. Turner was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the incident, and it was a clear liability accident. The insurance company immediately offered the limits of $25,000 and sent opposing counsel a limited liability release containing some indemnification language and other language which Plaintiffs found offensive. Opposing counsel ultimately declined to accept the limits and sued Turner and the insurer, even though the writings showed that a settlement for the limits had been made.

After answering the complaint, the defendant, through his counsel, Douglas W. Smith, moved the court for an order enforcing what he believed to be a settlement between the parties. The judge in Paulding County disagreed and denied the motion. After the verdict and judgment, Doug appealed directly to the Georgia Court of Appeals which reversed the trial court decision on February 28, 2013. The Court held that the writings did in fact show a “meeting of the minds” and that a settlement had occurred. The details of the release were to be worked out. Plaintiffs applied for certiorari to the Georgia Supreme Court which was denied on September 23, 2013.

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