The Pasta Defense
When a person is injured by the carelessness of others, that person has rights – among them is the right to pursue happiness, is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Even if your body is imperfect or otherwise impaired, the law seeks to protect you. Sometimes that requires the help of a jury.
AT Sys. Southeast, Inc. v. Carnes, 272 Ga. App. 67
In the case of AT Sys. Southeast, Inc. v. Carnes, 272 Ga. App. 67, a Fulton County jury found in favor of an injured woman after the mini-van in which she was riding was struck by an armored truck. (The truck’s driver admitted he was at fault for the collision).
The woman was seriously injured in that crash, sustaining a severe hip fracture which led to complications including blood clots in her legs that moved to her lungs. The fact that this woman was overweight and had poor circulation made the effects of her injuries worse.
The presence of clots in her legs required her to undergo surgery to implant a filter to keep them from moving into her lungs causing additional pulmonary embolus. She was forced to remain immobile for six months. Her normal life was totally disrupted since she could no longer take care of her grandchildren, her own home, or even enjoy her usual church activities.
The Million Dollar Awarded Settlement
The plaintiff sued the driver of the truck, and at trial her injuries were shown to be permanent and debilitating. The jury found in her favor and awarded her a settlement of $1,250,000.
The defendant appealed claiming that the jury’s award to the plaintiff was “flagrantly excessive.” They asserted that the injured woman was an “eggshell plaintiff,” referring to her several pre-existing conditions that may have led to her prolonged recovery. Defense also asserted that the judge made several errors at trial and that a mistrial was required even though they admitted liability for the accident.
Rightfully, the appellate court found no fault in the jury‘s award, since the law does not presume to put a price tag on pain and suffering. Nor does it distinguish between the suffering of a retired grandmother and a corporate executive. The court found that the “enlightened conscience of impartial jurors” remains the best measure of pain and suffering and, therefore, damages.
The Common Preexisting Condition Argument
On the matter of the plaintiff’s pre-existing conditions – obesity, and circulatory issues as well as diabetes – it is the duty of the court to take the plaintiff in “whatever condition” he’s found in. Negligent actors assume the risk that any harm they cause may be made worse by pre-existing conditions.
In this case, attorneys for the defense attempted to minimize the level of injury the plaintiff sustained and the suffering caused by the defendant’s negligence. The trial court, the jury, and eventually the Appellate Court stood on the side of the plaintiff.
How Pasta Relates to an Injury Case
A wise old Italian cook once said that the only real way to know if pasta is properly cooked is to throw it against the wall. If it sticks, it’s ready.
It is usual for defense attorneys to scrape up every possible way they can to miniaturize the injuries caused by their client. Bear in mind that the attorneys for the defense in this case also went to law school, and spend countless hours every week searching the statutes. These insurance company attorneys were and are very well aware of what the law says about jury awards. Nevertheless, they seem to have resorted to throwing this verdict up against the wall of the Appellate Court. It didn’t stick. Georgia law was not served by these half-baked allegations and so the court dismissed them.
If you think you may have a civil case because of somebody else’s negligence, call the legal team at The Millar Law Firm for a free review. Your right to enjoy your life without pain and suffering is something the law exists to ensure and we’re here to help.