Following a four-day trial, a DeKalb County jury took less than an hour to find no liability on the part of a tractor-trailer driver who slammed into a pickup truck at an intersection in southeast Georgia nearly 12 years ago, killing the other driver.
Lead defense lawyer Raymond Kurey of McMickle, Kurey & Branch in Alpharetta said there were no mediations and little settlement discussion until about 40 days before trial, when he sent an offer of settlement for $50,000, which was declined.
Because of that, Kurey said he and his co-counsel, firm associate Scott Zottneck, will likely seek attorney fees from that point on under Georgia’s offer of judgment statute.
Lead plaintiffs attorney Brian “Buck” Rogers of Fried Rogers Goldberg said his client, the wife of the deceased driver, has not decided whether to appeal or file posttrial motions.
Rogers tried the case with Alice Rodriguez of Peachtree City’s Rodriguez & Associates.
According to Kurey and court filings, 56-year-old Beverly Pool Jr. was driving a Chevrolet 1500 pickup truck pulling a work trailer when he attempted to cross Ga. 4, a divided, four-lane roadway in Emanuel County near Swainsboro.
Poole was on Ga. 57 and had to go through a stop sign before crossing Ga. 4, which has no traffic control devices at the intersection.
A tractor-trailer driven by Faisal Noor was approaching on 57 and hit Pool’s pickup near the front passenger side in October 2006.
“Mr. Noor said he recalled seeing the pickup in front of him, but it was too late to do anything to avoid it,” Kurey said.
Noor was lightly injured, he said, but Pool never regained consciousness and died shortly thereafter.
The Georgia state trooper who investigated the case did not cite either driver and reported finding no skid marks from the tractor-trailer, Kurey said. The plaintiff’s expert, Tom Langley of Woodstock, went to the scene two months later.
“He said he found 85 feet of pre-impact skid marks, and he placed the tractor-trailer going between 75 and 85 miles an hour,” Kurey said.
The defense expert, LaGrange accident reconstructionist Bob Awtrey, testified that the semi’s onboard software indicated it was equipped with a governor that prevented it from going over 67 mph, Kurey said.
The skid marks were also problematic because the trooper changed his story to say he “misremembered” whether there were marks, and then changed it again when confronted with his original affidavit, Kurey said.
Adding to the confusion was the fact that there was another wreck at the same intersection the day after the one that killed Poole.
“There are a lot of accidents at that intersection,” Kurey said.
Poole’s widow, Linda Poole, sued Noor and trucking company Knight Transportation in DeKalb County State Court.
At the close of the trial before Judge Johnny Panos, Kurey said Rogers asked the jury to award $5 million in damages.
The jury took about 45 minutes to return a defense verdict on Aug. 16, he said.
Neither side spoke to the jurors, who exited as a group, Rogers said.
“Buck did a good job; they tried a great case,” Kurey said.