Cobb County Jury Awards $877,200 for Gruesome Leg Injury

Case Caption Judy Smallwood v. Commercial Equipment, Civil Action File No. 10-A-9043-2
Court: State Court of Cobb County
Judge: Honorable Maria Golick
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Alan Connell, Dee Ann Wheeler, Connell & Wheeler, Thomaston
Defendant’s Attorneys: Richard Foster, Hicks, Casey & Foster, Marietta
Alleged Damages: Multiple open fractures; need for future hip and knee replacement surgery
Verdict: $877,200
Date of Verdict: October 29, 2012

Plaintiff, a woman in her early 60s, rented a 5000 pound roll-off trash container from Defendant Commercial Equipment Sales and Service, Inc.  At Plaintiff’s request, Defendant’s driver moved the container to her downward sloping driveway in April, 2010.  Before detaching the container from the bin, the driver got out and asked Plaintiff if she approved of the placement, which she did.  At this point, half of the bin was on the ground and the other half was raised in the air, still attached to the truck.  The driver got back into the truck and released the container just as Plaintiff walked behind the bin to throw a box into it.  The container slid downward onto Plaintiff’s foot, scraping through the bones in her leg.

With the help of expert traffic engineer Herman Hill, who somehow survived a Daubert challenge to testify as a trash removal industry expert, Plaintiff argued that Defendant failed to follow certain safety procedures.  Plaintiff also had the “benefit” of gruesome photographs taken by Defendant’s representative at the scene, even before emergency services arrived.

The Cobb County jury found both sides at fault, attributing 49% of the blame to Plaintiff for negligently putting herself in harm’s way.  Consequently, the jury’s verdict of $1.72 million was reduced, leaving Plaintiff with an award of $877,200.00.

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