Congratulations to Jeff Powers and Adam Beecher for receiving a $375,000 jury verdict in Bibb Superior this afternoon!The plaintiff was a 69 year old man who had a “train wreck” of a back (2 prior surgeries) and was on disability when the 2011 wreck occurred. This information was presented to the jury at the start by Powers and Beecher, and they let every medical record go into evidence.The plaintiff’s vehicle was hit by a sales-rep for Source Care Management, when she ran a stop sign in Dublin while checking her navigation system.The medical costs were around $170,000 (including the cost of a lumbar discectomy and fusion), and there were no lost wages.The final offer at mediation was $75,000. Wallace Miller (representing Source Care) and Bill Shelton (for the driver) defended the case, which was before Judge Ennis.

The defense argued the injury was preexisting and that the defendants were not responsible for surgery due to the condition of his back.

In closings, Jeff used a timeline to display the fact that their client had no treatment for back issues in the 10 years before the 2011 wreck, and deposition clips were played of the plaintiff’s treating physician and of the defense’s expert physician, both of which were particularly compelling.

It was obvious to anyone in the courtroom that Adam and Jeff believed in their client, and their preparation and presentation was outstanding. I look forward to hearing more of the details from them both. I understand it was a battle up to the very end!

CONGRATULATIONS!
Laura K. Hinson

INSIGHTS BY ATTY. JEFF POWERS

Mr. Curtis Isaac was one of 12 children born to two hardworking parents who were sharecroppers in Dublin, Ga. He dropped out of the 8th grade to help his parents work on the land they lived on which consisted of picking cotton, soybeans and tobacco crops. After several years of living with his family he went to work in Detroit for Ford Motor Co and then came back to Dublin to work for a construction company. In 1967, he began working for Roche Farm & Garden doing heavy manual labor. He worked there for 32 years until severe lower back pain at L4/5 levels forced him to quit. He filed a worker’s compensation case against his employer for a fictional date of injury. He retired from Roche in 1999 and had a microdiscectomy and then another in 2001 at the same level. The SSA determined him disabled because of his back problems in 1999. Having worked his whole life, he didn’t like not working so he worked odd jobs with his brother-in-law, such as raking pinestraw, cutting grass. He also worked as a helper for his brother-in-law’s masonry business. Mr. Isaac never earned much at these odd jobs, and we didn’t ask for any lost wages since he was getting SSDI.

On September 12, 2011 Mr. Isaac was injured in a car accident. At the time of the accident, he was 65 yrs old, driving to see a friend in downtown Dublin. The defendant was an employee of Source Care who was driving her personal car. She was traveling to Hawkinsville and was looking at her GPS. She didn’t see the stop sign and ran into Mr. Isaac. They admitted fault for causing the wreck. The driver was very nice and made a great impression. I crossed her for about 3 minutes.

The paramedics who treated Mr. Isaac at the accident scene and took him to the hospital noted that he complained of back pain that day. After the wreck, most of the treatment Mr. Isaac had was for his neck and shoulders. It was 7 months later when his lower back began hurting again. That’s when Dr. Pollydore ordered a lumbar MRI. Defense attorney used a fax cover sheet from Dr. Stefanis’ office that said patient was not surgical 3 months after wreck. Dr. Stefanis, however, had never examined Mr. Isaac. Pollydore recommended injections and Curtis returned to Dublin to see Dr. Hardmann, who began giving him these 1 yr after the wreck. This went on for another year and then Hardmann sent him to Dr. Holliday in Feb. 2014 when he was finally worked up surgically. In April 2014 he had a fusion at L4/5 which was the same level that was operated on in 1999 and 2001. We agreed to tender all the medical records to the jury.

Judge Ennis allowed the evidence of him being on SSDI because Dr. Holliday testified he suffered a 23% impairment from the fusion at L4/5. I told the jury in voir dire, opening, and closing that Mr. Isaac was on disability, but that he didn’t deserve this “sentence of pain/surgery given to him by the Defendants.” Dr. Holliday did a great job causally linking the surgery to the wreck, but under cross exam he began to criticize President Obama. We filed a MIL to keep out his comments but somehow the statement, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat and I don’t agree with anything Pres. Obama does….” came out during trial. In his closing, the defense counsel reminded the jury of this. He said, ” which doctor did you like better – Gorum or Holliday? And why was Dr. Holliday so ornery during the deposition? You heard those comments he made about President Obama.” I said that it doesn’t matter who the doctor votes for for President – that’s what is great about our country – we can vote for anyone we want. You are here to decide the harm done to Mr. Isaac, not what opinion a doctor has of the President or his policies.

We had a pretrial conference and there was some preliminary discussion that we were going to be prevented from telling jury she was working when the wreck happened. Fortunately, after filing a brief in response to the Defendant’s motion in limine, the Court went our way and allowed the testimony.

Defendants hired Dr. Michael Gorum in December 2014, who testified that he agreed surgery was necessary but the reason he had it was due to DDD and not trauma. He said our client had pain from wreck but his foot drop and need for surgery was anatomically caused by a “glacial change in his back from years of hard work, (cigarette smoking) and him being overweight.” They then redeposed him one week before trial to show him the films from 2001 which the doctor said “it was the biggest herniation in Mr. Isaac’s back that he’s seen in 25 yrs of being a neurosurgeon.” Gorum also said that his vertebrae was bone on bone and there were osteophytes growing in his spine which is why Dr. Holliday operated.

Defendants argued that this was a very complicated medical case with a bunch of long words and confusing testimony. I said it is not complicated. He was not treating for back pain for 10 years after he had the second microdiscectomy until they crashed into him. If was in such dire straights where are the medical records showing that his back hurt? People go to the doctor if they are in pain. They don’t go get their DDD checked if it is asymptomatic. People go see their doctor if it’s a routine physical, an OB GYN appt, or the dentist.

We are so humbled by and appreciative of your nice comments. I have known Mr. Isaac for over 14 years and it was a true honor to represent such a wonderful and deserving person. We mediated the case with Tommy Greer in November and, after many hours, it went nowhere. It seemed we were mediating two different cases. Adam Beecher did an incredible job with doing a lot of the work and helping me prepare. He did a great job of the client’s direct and redirect of Curtis and the character witness. We interviewed more character witnesses but they were not very strong. I am grateful for advice and help from Jarome Gautreaux, Rick Sizemore, Laura Hinson, and finally my neighbor, Charlie Cork who assisted us with the motion in limine.

Separate investigations into changes in the workers’ compensation system nationwide found that cutbacks were hurting injured workers and their families. Separate investigations into changes in the workers’ compensation system nationwide found that cutbacks were hurting injured workers and their families.

Nearly a year ago, ProPublica set out to investigate the extent of changes to America’s workers’ compensation system and the impact they were having on injured workers.

Around the same time, researchers at the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration independently decided to do the same thing.

On Wednesday, to our surprise, we published our story and OSHA released its report. Both detailed a system decimated by state lawmakers across the country.

Our investigation, in partnership with NPR, found that since 2003, more than 30 states have cut workers’ comp benefits, created hurdles to getting medical care or made it harder to qualify. The changes have resulted in devastating consequences for some of the hundreds of thousands of workers who suffer serious injuries at work each year.

The reductions in benefits have been driven largely by big businesses and insurers, which cite out-of-control costs. But we found that businesses are paying the lowest rates for workers’ comp insurance since the late 1970s. The costs are being shifted to taxpayers, who shell out an estimated $30 billion a year in medical costs and lost wages not covered by workers’ comp.

Read full story

Atlanta, GA – This morning, legislation was introduced in the Georgia State Senate that – if enacted – would unconstitutionally abolish Georgia citizens’ inviolate Right to Trial by Jury. Known as the “Patient Compensation Act,” Senate Bill 86[i] seeks to strip Georgia patients of their constitutionally-guaranteed ability to hold negligent healthcare providers accountable before a jury of fellow citizens, and instead would circumvent centuries of legal precedent by forcing injured patients’ cases into a bureaucratic system of healthcare providers who would sit in sole judgment over the conduct of their colleagues.

“Senate Bill 86 is an unconstitutional assault on some of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens,” remarked GTLA President Linley Jones. “For well over two centuries, the Constitutional Right to Trial by Jury has given an opportunity for justice to every citizen of Georgia – including victims of medical malpractice who were harmed through no fault of their own – and to encroach on that right would be to erode the very foundation upon which our state was founded.”

For the past two years, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the Medical Association of Georgia, MagMutual Insurance Company, the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia, former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers and many others have worked in unison to oppose the dangerous proposals set forth this bill.

“Replacing the time-tested civil jury system with a taxpayer-funded bureaucratic government agency would be an egregious infringement on Georgia citizens’ constitutional rights,” continued Jones, “and I strongly believe that Senate Bill 86 would be held unconstitutional if it were to come before the Georgia Supreme Court.

“Senate Bill 86 eliminates all current procedural safeguards, legitimate accountability mechanisms and meaningful appeals processes that are the cornerstones of the Civil Justice System, and I urge our lawmakers to reject this unconstitutional proposal outright,” concluded President Linley Jones.

GTLA Partners with KidsAndCars.org to Petition White House to Prevent Child Heat Stroke Deaths in Vehicles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Chris Kelleher (770) 355-6052

Georgia Trial Lawyers AssociationThe Georgia Trial Lawyers Association is partnering with KidsAndCars.org to save children’s lives across the country. Together, GTLA, KidsAndCars.org and numerous other safety advocates and organizations are petitioning the White House to authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to invest in the research and development of potentially life-saving technology that would help prevent heat-induced deaths of children in vehicles by detecting a child left alone in the rear seat of a vehicle. The petition, hosted on the White House’s ‘We the People’ website, will need to obtain 100,000 signatures by August 12th in order to be considered by the Administration. The petition can be found at: http://wh.gov/lL8nX.

“Each summer, we experience the heartbreaking news of dozens of senseless and unnecessary deaths of children inside of hot cars,” remarked GTLA President Linley Jones. “In response to these tragedies, we are asking the Obama Administration, DOT and lawmakers to join us in working together with automakers to develop proactive solutions.”

KidsAndCars.orgAccording to recent statistics from KidsAndCars.org, an average of 38 children die each year from heat stroke as a result of being inside of a vehicle – including at least 17 already in 2014. Research has shown that a parked car can reach 125 degrees in minutes, and children are particularly vulnerable to heat stroke, as their body temperatures rise three to five times faster than an adult’s.

“The technology to detect and protect children in hot cars is relatively simple.  What does not exist currently, though, is the necessary level of public demand that has been seen in the past to encourage automakers to add seatbelts and airbags to cars, as well as child safety locks, power window switches and rearview cameras to keep us all safer in and around vehicles. It is our sincere hope that, through this petition, the collective voices of the American people will once again inspire change for the better in our automobiles,” concluded Jones

 “The auto industry already recognizes that we’re human and our memories often fail us. You get a warning if you don’t buckle your seatbelt, leave a car door open, your gas is low or when you leave your headlights on,” explains Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, the leading national nonprofit group dedicated solely to preventing injuries and deaths of children in and around motor vehicles. “If you forget your keys in the ignition, you get a warning. If a child is left behind, you absolutely need a warning. The federal government and automakers have the ability to solve this problem, and we need action now.”

GTLA Announces Year-Round Partnership with EndDD.org to Kick Off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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Media Contact: Chris Kelleher (770) 355-6052

Georgia Trial Lawyers Association

Atlanta, GA – In recognizing the start of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association has announced a year-round partnership with EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving). A campaign that began in 2009 after the death of 21-year-old Casey Feldman at the hands of a distracted driver, EndDD.org has already reached 172,000 students and drivers in 41 different states through a personalized, interactive presentation that gives audiences the facts about the dangers of distracted driving in an engaging, effective and memorable manner.

“Distracted driving on our roads is an increasingly prevalent epidemic that not only puts the driver at risk, but also risks the lives of each and every person around them. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in a single year, over 5,000 people are killed on U.S. roadways and another 448,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes that involved distracted driving. It is our sincere hope that, through this partnership, Georgia drivers will take seriously the opportunity to commit to adopting safer, more responsible habits on our roadways,” said GTLA President Buck Rogers.

Through this partnership with EndDD.org, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association’s 2,000 members will be encouraged to deliver GTLA’s customized EndDD presentation in schools, civic organizations and other community groups in a concerted effort to raise distracted driving awareness across the state. Attendees will also be encouraged to sign the Family Safe Driving Agreement, which outlines simple steps that everyone can take to make our roads safer.

“As a father whose daughter was killed by a distracted driver, I have seen first-hand the devastating effect that reckless decisions on our roadways can have,” continued Joel Feldman, a trial lawyer and the Founder of EndDD.org. “Our efforts at EndDD.org have been supported tremendously by trial lawyers across the country, including Georgia. Distracted driving deaths are easily preventable. We must all choose how we will drive, and as parents we should model safe driving every time we have our children in the car with us. Together, we can save lives.”

Michael Wilensky, a Georgia attorney who has presented the EndDD presentation to schools, groups and congregations throughout and around Atlanta for the past two years, remarked, “The presentation put together by Joel Feldman empowers individuals of all ages to make the choice to not drive distracted and to speak up for their own safety when they are in the car with a distracted driver. Through evidence and videos, the presentation shows not only how to identify distractions while driving, but that these distractions go far beyond just talking on a cell phone or texting. The presentation is updated yearly, and each year I receive more and more praise from audiences that the presentation is educational, fun and meaningful; and, while outlining the proper steps to take, it also allows you to make the choice on your own.”

Melton v. General Motors Cited as Prime Example of the Link Between the Civil Justice System and the Safety of Georgians

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Chris Kelleher (770) 355-6052

Atlanta, GA – The Georgia General Assembly is currently considering House Bill 643, legislation that would severely limit the discovery process in all civil litigation and would allow wrongdoers to hide evidence without fear of penalty. And, despite being falsely portrayed as a common-sense, pro-business proposal, the potential far-reaching effects of HB 643 would be devastating for Georgians.

Georgia Trial Lawyers AssociationTake, for example, the case of Brooke Melton, a Georgian who was killed on her 29th birthday in 2010 as the result of a faulty ignition switch in her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. Though it was eventually discovered that General Motors first learned of this potential risk in 2004, the automaker failed to take adequate steps to ensure the safety of our drivers until the discovery process during the case of Melton v. General Motors Corporation revealed the depth and stunning length of GM’s inaction on this matter. Hiding behind procedural safeguards and failing to fully comply with the initial requests for discovery, General Motors evaded accountability for nearly a decade and ultimately put the lives of countless Georgians at risk. They likely would have continued to do so were it not for the light shined upon the truth by our civil justice system.

“The Melton case is the poster child for why the discovery rules in Georgia work to not only protect parties in civil cases, but also consumers,” said Attorney Lance Cooper. “Without the current discovery rules, the public would never have discovered the truth about GM’s knowledge of the safety defects in Brooke’s car, and GM would never have been pressured into recalling over 1.4 million cars.”

As a result of the facts eventually brought to light during the discovery process of Melton v. General Motors, GM has been compelled to recall over 1.4 million affected vehicles in the U.S. In addition, the National Highway Transportation Administration, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee and the United States Attorney’s Office in New York have all opened inquiries or investigations into General Motors’ failure to act on their prior knowledge of this defect.

How many more lives would General Motors have been willing to risk before they admitted to their mistakes? Thankfully, the discovery process saved us from having to answer that question. It is our responsibility to ensure that our civil justice system and our courts demand accountability from irresponsible businesses and not allow them to hide evidence.

“House Bill 643 will make it more difficult to uncover relevant evidence in cases and negligent parties will be able to stonewall during discovery and evade responsibility for their harmful conduct with no risk of sanctions for doing so,” concluded Cooper.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Chris Kelleher
October 23, 2013
(770) 355-6052
Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
Georgia Trial Lawyers Association Selects Inaugural LEAD Program Class
ATLANTA, GA – This year, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association launched the Leadership Education & Advanced Direction (LEAD) Program. Designed to identify those with leadership potential from among the Association’s younger lawyers, the LEAD Program will train and equip those members to serve in future leadership roles in both GTLA and in the community. In order to qualify, applicants must have less than 10 years of practice experience or be 35 years of age or younger.
After a rigorous application and selection process, 16 attorneys were chosen to participate in the 2013-2014 GTLA LEAD Program. They are as follows:
 
Powers Law Group, Macon
Tracee Benzo
Hasner Law, Atlanta
N. John Bey
Bey & Associates, Atlanta
Jennifer Coalson
Parks, Chesin & Walbert, Atlanta
Buck Daniel
Howard Nations Firm, Atlanta
Ron Daniels
Burke Lasseter, Warner Robins
Jed Douglas
Adkins & Douglas, Valdosta
Morgan Duncan
Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer, Columbus
 
Tedra Hobson
Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer, Atlanta
Jennifer Ivey
Linley Jones, Atlanta
Michael Ruppersburg
Simon Law Firm, Atlanta
Fareesh Sarangi
Sarangi Law, Atlanta
 
Madeleine Simmons
Morgan & Morgan, Atlanta
Kelley Simoneaux
Harris, Penn & Lowry, Atlanta
L. Chris Stewart
Stewart, Seay & Felton, Atlanta
Brian Worstell
Phillips, Branch & Hodges, Columbus
“I would like to congratulate all sixteen attorneys who were selected as a part of our inaugural LEAD Program class. The qualifications of this year’s applicants were truly impressive, and as a result the selection process proved to be an enormous undertaking. With aspiring leaders such as these, I have no doubt that the future of our Association is bright,” stated Buck Rogers, President of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.
“These participants represent a diverse group of GTLA members from firms, big and small, located all over the state and in a variety of practice areas,” continued LEAD Program Co-Chairmen Ryals Stone and Michael Geoffroy. “The goal of the GTLA LEAD Program is to challenge our participants to think critically about our organization, the practice of law and their personal role as a leader in their communities. Through participation in our program, these young attorneys will be poised for success, both in the courtroom and the community.”
The 2013-2014 LEAD Program consists of five sessions, and will begin on November 22-23 in Athens, Georgia. The program concludes with graduation at the GTLA Annual Convention & Gala in Atlanta on April 24-25, 2014.

Macon Dog Bite Lawyer

Jack “Sonny” Henderson’s evening jog ended abruptly two years ago when a pair of pit bulls attacked him on Clinton Road.

Monday, Bibb County State Judge William P. Adams awarded the 65-year-old retired postal worker a $350,000 judgment based on his injuries, medical treatment and lingering effects.

Shortly after the attack, Henderson said he would have bled to death in the street if it weren’t for two women who stopped to help.

Macon Dog Bite Lawyer Jeff Powers Helps Client in Pit Bull Attack

DUI Lawyer Macon GACongratulations to Jeff Powers and Adam Beecher on their $45,000 ($15k compensatory and $30k Punitive) verdict in Upson County yesterday.  As I understand it was a DUI case with $5k in specials and some difficult facts to overcome.  This is a great job in an extremely conservative venue.  Goes to show that you can get a good verdict in a conservative venue if you are willing to take the case the distance.

D. Chad Nuce
Pasley & Nuce, LLC
103 N. Center St.
P.O. Box 1168
Thomaston, GA  30286

Former Prosecutor challenges Alcatraz

Macon, GA – July 31, 2009 –  Attorney and former Bibb County Prosecutor Jeff Powers recently finished fourteenth in his age group and seventy-seventh in his third Alcatraz Challenge Aquathlon & Swim on Saturday, July 12 in San Francisco, CA.  The event began with a one and a half mile swim beginning at Alcatraz and concluding at Crissy Beach, near the Presidio.  Following the swim participants tied on their running shoes and ran across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and back for a total of seven miles.  Last year Powers finished in one hour and forty-five minutes and placed 50th overall in the competition.

Jeff Powers Alcatraz SwimmingPowers has been competing in triathlon events since 1988 as a student at Florida State University but fell away from competing in the intervening years.  “I was just glad to finish that first race,” Powers remembers.

Training for events like the Alcatraz Challenge is a year round endeavor.  “I swim at Northside Pool with a group of Masters Swimmers three days a week.  I also bike with a group several days a week.  Right now I am focusing on swimming and running,” says Powers, “In May, I competed in the Coliseum Hospital Rock N Roll ½ Ironman Race finishing third in my division for the swim portion of the race.  That was my warm-up for Alcatraz.”

“Running across the Golden Gate Bridge is exhilarating!  The Bridge literally moves while you are running and the wind and fog are coming in off the San Francisco Bay as you run out towards Sausalito.  This year the water was much more turbulent and the bridge was really windy,” grins Powers.

Powers future competition goals include a ½ Ironman Race and maybe even a Full Ironman at some point in the future.  “It takes a lot of training so I will have to work up to it but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” says Powers.

The Alcatraz Challenge Aquathlon & Swim began in 1981 as the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon.  The event has evolved over time dropping the bike event and becoming the Aquathlon it is today.  The venue allows racers to experience two of San Francisco’s pre-eminent landmarks – Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge – up close and personal.  Visit www.alcatrazchallenge.us for more information about the event.

AV Overall Peer RatingJeff Powers Rated 4.8 out of 5
By Peers On Personal Injury Area of Practice

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