About a month ago a Hinds County jury returned a $75,000 verdict in Taylor v. Stubblefield. Here is the Complaint.

The Defendant, who lives in Hinds County, rear-ended the Plaintiffs in Magee. It appears to have been a low impact rear-ender. My understanding is that the Defendant was going approximately 3 mph. The Defendant admitted liability.

Typical Mississippi Driver
Typical Mississippi Driver

The Plaintiffs offered evidence of $150,000 in medicals and lost wages. But–and this turned out to be a big one–one of the Plaintiffs had preexisting pain and medical treatment.

In closing, the Plaintiffs asked the jury for $350,000. The majority black jury responded with $75,000 ($50k for Sadie; $25k for Joe). Here is the Verdict/ Judgment.

Steve Kennedy and Barry Ford with Baker Donelson represented the Defendants. Jessica Murray and Aundre Branson with Schwartz & Assoc. in Jackson represented the Plaintiffs.

Judge William Gowan presided.

My Take:

Big win for the defense. Word on the street is that Plaintiffs’ last pre-trial demand was $535,000. Attorneys get blamed for demands that are too big, but it’s usually a decision driven by a client over-valuing their case.

Look at it this way. Every day plaintiff firms field calls from people who MAY have a case on liability, but suffered no real damages so they have no case. I refer to this as the “it coulda killed me call.”

The most entertaining of these callers are the ones who think they have a ‘hot commodity’ and that you are about to start sucking-up to them to get the case. In general, older white men are the group most likely to fall into this category. Because of their know-it-all attitude, you don’t feel bad shooting their case down like you do with some people. With the people with the worst attitudes, I actually kind of enjoy it.

And its getting harder all the time for lawyers to bring client expectations down to reality. I’ve been asking around. Everyone is seeing more know-it-all clients than in the past. Criminal lawyers included.

The internet is the reason. People do a little research online and think they are qualified to make judgment calls that it takes attorneys years of experience to master. What these folks completely miss is that cases reported on the internet tend to be outliers–that’s what makes them interesting enough to write about.

  • Anonymous

    Pre-trial demand of $535,000 and only $150,000 worth of evidence offered? Sounds like someone got a little over zealous in their demand package…

  • Gulf Stream

    So Baker Donelson is handling car wrecks now?

  • Ian

    3mph impact? Most people walk faster than that. Someone ran up the meds because there was a big policy. That almost never works, and is really irresponsible lawyering.

  • Mediumlaw attorney

    Baker Donelson handling car wrecks was definitely my main takeaway from this as well. Goes to show how much litigation has dried up. That doesn’t bode well for any of us.

    • Gulf Stream

      I desperately want to know the rate they charged to try a car wreck case.

      • Mediumlaw attorney

        I don’t think they do anything for under $250 an hour, and would be willing to bet the insurance carrier paid more in legal fees than the judgment.

        • Gulf Stream

          If they convinced a car insurer to pay more than $185 per hour for liability work THAT is the most impressive feat of lawyering to take away from this case.

  • Old Lawyer

    Philip omits mentioning that the defendant was an 18-wheeler which is not insignificant. And why Is there no mention of plaintiff/client expectations being driven by TV commercials? Might that be the elephant in the room about client expectations?

    • Gulf Stream

      The 18 wheeler angle explains a lot – at least about how it ended up on BDBCB’s doorstep. I’d venture the high demands had a lot to do with attorney expectations and the unreasonable belief that a soft tissue injury in Hinds County is worth millions as long as you have some chiropractor and PT records to back it up.

    • RodNGun37

      Sherman tank, C-130, road paver . . . for a lot of jurors, 3 mph is 3 mph. Would be interested to see photographs of Plaintiff’s vehicle.

  • RodNGun37

    Lesson: take attorneys that work for billboard settlement factories to trial when you can. Imagine if an adjuster rolled over and gave Plaintiffs “only” a time and a half specials or 2 times specials to avoid risk. Overpaying for claims still happens a whole lot. And of course what Ian described is exactly what happened.