Crash Case Against Cobb Health Board Settles for $1.75M
Katheryn Hayes Tucker, Daily Report
November 12, 2015 | 0 Comments
A man who suffered a back injury when his car was hit from behind by a Ford Econoline van owned by the Cobb County Board of Health has received a $1.75 million settlement, lawyers on both sides said this week.
Allen Robinson, now 44, was stopped in front of his home on Pat Mell Road, turn signal flashing, waiting for traffic to clear so he could make a left turn into his driveway, when the van crashed into his vehicle, according to the lawsuit. The wreck was six years ago. Since then, Robinson has undergone two surgeries for spinal fusion to relieve a herniated disk and amassed medical bills totaling $423,000, according to a plaintiff’s summary filed with the court. The driver of the van, a health department employee, was cited for following too closely.
Robinson was taken by ambulance to WellStar Kennestone Hospital. He did not have an MRI until a few months later, when he discovered the herniated disk, according to his attorney, Kevin Ford.
He said the first spinal fusion surgery was done through Robinson’s back, and the second through his abdomen, leaving him with significant scarring. To treat his lingering pain, doctors implanted a trial spinal stimulator, which failed to work. He could possibly need another operation in the future, Ford said.
The settlement agreement came at a mediation ordered by Cobb County State Court Judge Maria Golick as the lawyers were preparing for trial, according to Ford, who had brought in Peter Law of Law & Moran to try the case with him. Ford said Rex Smith of Henning Mediation & Arbitration Service “did an excellent job” of bringing the parties together within about two hours. Ford added the defense admitted fault, so if the case had gone to trial, the questions would have been limited to proximate cause and damages.
“It doesn’t happen often, but this was an admitted liability case—with a very nice plaintiff,” said defense attorney James Hardee of Fain, Major & Brennan. “Obviously we’d rather not pay $1.75 million, but it’s one of those rare cases where everybody’s happy to have it resolved. We can get on to our next case, and Mr. Robinson can get on with his life.”
The settlement was within the insurance policy limit of $3 million, both lawyers said.
If the case had gone to trial, both sides would have faced challenges, Ford said. The plaintiff would have faced a defendant that was part of the Cobb County government in a Cobb County court. The defense would have had to contend with a case whose only witness was the plaintiff’s roommate, who testified he had just stepped out the front door and saw the wreck occur. Ford said the roommate testified by deposition that the van never slowed down before hitting Robinson. The roommate ran to his friend and found him unconscious.
The case is Robinson v. Cobb County Board of Health, No. 2011A4655-2.