Parties Choose Arbitration Over Jury Trial in Injury Claim

Case Caption:  Benjamin James v. William O. Hopkins Trucking
Court:  Catoosa County Superior Court, Civil Action File No. 2008-SU-CV-1329
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys:  Curtis “Chip” Thurston, Jr., Thurston Law Offices
Defendants’ Attorneys: Robert Luskin, Goodman McGuffey Lindsey & Johnson
Alleged Damages:  Injuries, lost future earnings of $1,000,000
Award:  $950,000
Date of Award:  January 2012

Summary:  Plaintiff James, a truck driver, was rear-ended at a weigh station in Ringgold, Georgia in 2006.  As a result of the accident, he was no longer able to drive a truck.  Both parties agreed to arbitrate the personal injury claim before a panel of three arbitrators, rather than have the case heard by a Catoosa County jury.  While arbitration was suggested by Defendant, Plaintiff was more than willing to forego a jury trial in conservative Catoosa County.  Plaintiff’s attorney was concerned with the lack of large verdicts in the County’s history as well as the potential for the jury to relate to his client, an out-of-town truck driver.

It took three days for the parties to present their cases to the panel.  Each side presented testimony from medical experts.  Defendant presented evidence that Plaintiff had no traumatic injuries and showed signs of pre-existing degenerative back problems.  In opposition to defense experts, Plaintiff presented expert testimony that directly connected Plaintiff’s back injuries to the accident in question.  The panel deliberated for only two hours before returning with a verdict in favor of Plaintiff in the amount of $950,000, which ironically, was the amount of Plaintiff’s outstanding demand.

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