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.