Warshauer Woodward Atkins Obtains Wrongful Death Verdict

Warshauer Woodward Atkins Obtains Wrongful Death Verdict
Oct 30, 2018

Warshauer Woodward Atkins partner Michael Warshauer obtained a $10 Million Verdict in Burke County, Georgia on September 27, 2018 in a wrongful death case stemming from a 2007 car wreck. Michael represented the siblings of a 41-year-old unmarried, childless woman who died in a car wreck. The defendant was a car dealership in Waynesboro, Georgia. It was a very difficult case, and hard fought over many years.

Shirley Ann Walker was a rear passenger in a vehicle being driven by an employee of Links of Waynesboro. In the early morning hours, the car experienced mechanical issues while driving on I-20 in South Carolina. In response, the driver left the freeway, but instead of staying at the gas station at which he checked on this car, the driver decided to reenter the interstate and return to Links to exchange the faulty vehicle for another one. He was unable to drive over 35 miles an hour. Two witnesses said the rear lights were not working, but the State Patrol’s examination showed that they were. A second driver, traveling in the same direction, did not see the car and collided with it, killing the passenger who was asleep in the back.

The second driver was intoxicated, plead guilty to felony DUI with cocaine, and the police investigating did not look beyond that fact and placed no responsibility on Links’ driver for driving too slowly. It was not until the case was investigated by Attorney Jeff Gilbert, who retained Warshauer Woodward Atkins to assist with the trial, that the issues with the car, and the problems associated with driving the malfunctioning car were discovered.

The defendant argued that the driver was not its employee; and asserted that all fault lay with the drunk driver. It also argued that Ms. Walker should not have been in the car in the first place. The jury apportioned 35% fault to Defendant Links.

Shirley Ann was from a very close family of five adult children. She and her twin were the youngest. She was presently unemployed and not likely to ever be employed. Earlier in life, she had worked in the needlecraft trades. She had no kids and no husband – in fact, never married. So the focus of the trial was on the value of her life to her in the most altruistic sense. The jury learned about what she enjoyed and what she missed since her death – weddings, births, her niece being crowned Ms. Fort Valley – and how these values are not dependent on wealth or income. Michael emphasized that “all lives matter” including poor people’s, and that life is no less valuable in Burke than in Fulton County or anywhere else. The family was very happy to hear that their sister, the poorest of the group, was just as valuable as any rich person.