Coggins v. Moore’s Auto Care

Mike St. Amand successfully defended Moore’s Auto Care and its employee, Wade Wilhoit, in the case of Gary Coggins v. Moore’s Auto Care in a Polk County trial October 20-23, 2014. Mr. Coggins was represented by an experienced and accomplished local trial attorney, W. Wright Gammon, Jr. The Plaintiff contended that the accident occurred as Defendant Wilhoit was test-driving a malfunctioning 1999 Ford F-450 wrecker truck in a westerly direction on U.S. 278 east of the city limits of Cedartown, Georgia. The Plaintiff and two independent eyewitnesses stated that the wrecker was either stopped or almost stopped in the fast lane of the four lane divided highway with no brake lights or hazard lights flashing.

The Plaintiff was following a PT Cruiser whose driver veered into the right lane the last second to avoid impacting the wrecker. Mr. Coggins then hit the wrecker flush in the rear at approximately 55 mph, causing complete destruction of his Dodge Caliber and significant head and back injuries to Mr. Coggins. Mr. Coggins lost consciousness at the scene and was transported to Polk Medical Center where he was diagnosed with wrist contusions, facial contusions, lacerations, a large hematoma and a concussion. He was later treated for a closed head injury with symptoms of severe and disabling headaches, ringing in the ears, light and noise sensitivity, disorientation, confusion, irritability, behavioral and personality changes. He also underwent a lumbar discectomy and fusion for his alleged low back injury. Mr. Coggins’ attorney characterized his injuries as severe, painful, permanent and disabling.

Mr. Coggins alleged $59,091.26 in medical expenses and claimed to have missed 5 months of work from his job as a laborer at Newark Paperboard in Cedartown, resulting in approximately $16,000 in lost wages.

At trial, Plaintiff’s counsel reduced the claimed medical expenses to $21,193.00 dropping the contention that the back surgery was related to the automobile accident. The defense was able to convince the jury that Mr. Coggins was partially at fault for the accident and obtained a verdict in the amount of $11,251.93. The jurors afterwards explained that they awarded the Plaintiff half of the medical expenses that were conceded to be due to the accident and half of his claimed lost wages, but only for the three weeks after the accident. The jury did not award damages for the Plaintiff’s alleged pain and suffering. Mr. St. Amand retained the services of an accident reconstruction expert, Will Partenheimer of FORCON International, who performed a line of sight study which showed the Plaintiff had over 2,000 feet of visibility prior to the point of impact. The Plaintiff rejected an offer to settle for $25,000 prior to trial. No appeal is expected.

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