Fulton Jury Awards Plaintiff $631,000 After She Rejected $100,000 Settlement Offer

Case Caption: Stephanie Gowdy v. John Doe, Civil Action File Number 11EZ012578
Court:  Fulton County State Court
Judge:  Honorable Diane E. Bessen
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Alan Hamilton, Shiver Hamilton
Defendant’s Attorneys:  Darryl Haynes, The Law Office of James C. McLaughlin
Alleged Damages: Lower back injury, lumbar laminectomy, future surgery needed
Verdict: $631,000
Date of Verdict: April 18, 2012

Summary: Plaintiff, a 57-year-old woman who worked as an interior designer, was rear-ended by a hit-and-run driver as she slowed her Mercedes to turn into a shopping center.  The impact knocked Plaintiff’s vehicle over a curb and into the parking lot.  Plaintiff declined medical treatment on the scene, but later went to the emergency room complaining of neck pain and a headache.  Eventually, she began experiencing pain in her lower back and underwent a lumbar laminectomy to relieve pressure on her spinal cord.  At mediation, Plaintiff rejected an offer of $100,000.

Plaintiff filed suit against the John Doe driver and served Liberty Mutual, her UM carrier.  Days before trial, Liberty Mutual elected to appear in its own name.  In an interview in the Daily Report, Plaintiff’s counsel stated that when Liberty Mutual decided to appear in its own name, Plaintiff’s strategy changed from a focus on the uninsured motorist’s dangerous driving, to the Plaintiff deserving the benefit of years of payment for UM coverage.

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