Mike St. Amand obtained a defense verdict in the Superior Court of White County on behalf of Kenneth Nicely in the case of Donna Hulsey and Timothy Hulsey v. Kenneth Nicely. This case was tried November 17-20, 2014 with the jury returning a verdict for the Defendant and asking that the Defendant be reimbursed for all of his attorney’s fees and court costs.
On or about February 4, 2013, Plaintiff Donna Lois Hulsey was the driver in a vehicle that was lawfully stopped behind stopped traffic on GA 284 facing North in a 2012 Jeep Patriot. Plaintiff Tim Hulsey (Ms. Hulsey’s husband) was a front seat passenger in the car as well. Plaintiffs were lawfully stopped behind stopped traffic on Clark’s Bridge Road in Gainesville, Ga., when Mr. Nicely’s pickup truck rear-ended the Plaintiffs. Ms. Hulsey contended that Mr. Nicely was travelling at approximately 45-52 mph at the point of impact.
As a result of the collision, Ms. Hulsey claimed to have suffered back injuries requiring extensive chiropractic and pain management therapy resulting in medical bills and lost wages totaling over $17,000.00. Ms. Hulsey claimed to suffer from permanent severe, disabling and constant low back pain from the accident also causing her to lose substantial time from work. She obtained medical treatment at the emergency room of Northeast Georgia Medical Center, a local neurology clinic, a pain management center and a local chiropractor. Her treatment consisted of a bi-lateral sacroiliac injection to the spine and spinal decompression therapy with the chiropractor.
At trial, Ms. Hulsey brought a lumbar support pillow and TENS unit which she claimed to need to tolerate her constant pain. She presented six witnesses at trial to bolster her claimed injuries, including a friend, a co-worker, her daughter and treating chiropractor, Dr. Terry Crews. The witnesses described Ms. Hulsey’s severe pain after the accident and testified that she was unable to carry on daily activities such as driving, performing household duties or even picking up or playing on the ground with her small grandchildren.
In defense of Mr. Nicely, Mr. St. Amand presented evidence that the impact between the two vehicles was not a severe as claimed by Ms. Hulsey and introduced excellent post-accident photographs showing only minor damage to the rear of the Hulsey’s vehicle. Through discovery, the defense discovered that Ms. Hulsey had already been treating for low back pain before the accident and was scheduled for additional treatments when the accident occurred. The chiropractor’s deposition was taken by Plaintiff’s counsel for preservation of evidence, but on cross-examination, Dr. Crews admitted that he had forgotten about previous treatment to Ms. Hulsey because his office had lost her file.
After three days of trial, the jury deliberated for one hour before returning a verdict in favor of the Defendant and asked on the verdict form that he be reimbursed for all of his attorney’s fees and court costs. In post-trial discussions, the jurors stated that the evidence did not support the claim of a new injury and that Ms. Hulsey’s injuries were pre-existing.
The Plaintiffs’ lowest demand was for $20,000 and they had rejected an Offer of Settlement in the amount of $1,500. The defense is considering pursuing a claim for the fees and expenses incurred after the rejection of the Offer made pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 9-11-68.