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May 2004 Archives

May 3, 2004

Thomas v. Mitchell Graphics

Defense verdict for plaintiff with devastating brain injury

Facts: HCF’s clients was Mitchell Graphics, which was retained by a Columbus real estate agent to erect a for-sale sign on a property adjacent to Moon Road in Columbus. Mitchell Graphics placed the sign as directed with the sign perpendicular to the roadway. Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle that was leaving a nearby apartment complex. The driver of the vehicle claimed her view of traffic approaching from her left on Moon Road was blocked by the for-sale sign. It was undisputed that the for-sale sign was placed in the right of way in violation of the Columbus sign ordinance.

Plaintiff alleged that Mitchell Graphics was negligent per se. Mitchell Graphics argued that it did not know and had no reason to know the sign was in the right of way and that it was a non-negligent contractor for the real estate agency. Mitchell Graphics further argued that the sign, though in the right of way, was not an obstruction in fact.

Alleged injury/damages: Traumatic brain with more than six weeks inpatient at Shepard Center. Plaintiff produced life care plan of more than $7 million. Total medical specials through trial were $225,000.

Last offer/Last demand: Plaintiff last demand against Mitchell Graphics was $900,000. Mitchell Graphics offered $100,000.

Result: Defense verdict for Mitchell Graphics. $550,000 awarded against negligent driver (whose insurer had previously tendered her $25,000 limits). Of note, the real estate agency settled prior to trial for more than $1.7 million.

Court: State Court of Fulton County, Georgia

Attorneys: Richie Foster and Mike Crawford for defendants; Cal Callier and Andy Harp for plaintiffs