Personal Injury / Wrongful Death Cases

$45,000,000 | Tractor Trailer/Wrongful Death

Cash Settlement - 04/08/2016. James M. DeLoach, Jr., et al. v. Total Transportation of Mississippi, et al. State and Superior Courts of Bryan County, Georgia. During the early morning hours of April 22, 2015, seven Georgia Southern University nursing students, traveling in two vehicles, were on the way to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia for clinical training when a tractor-trailer owned and operated by Defendant Total Transportation of Mississippi, LLC slammed into the rear of their vehicles, which were stopped in a long line of traffic on I-16 EB in Bryan County, Georgia. Five of the young women died in the fiery crash. Two young women miraculously survived with severe physical and emotional injuries.

Our firm represented the families of Caitlyn Baggett, Emily Clark, and Abbie DeLoach, three of the young women who died in the crash. We also represented Megan Richards, one of the young women who survived. After thoroughly investigating the cause of the crash, we filed suit in Bryan County, Georgia in an effort to obtain justice for our clients and to determine why this horrific crash occurred.

Through investigative work prior to trial, we were able to prove that the truck driver driving the tractor-trailer that caused this horrible crash should have never been behind the wheel of the truck because of his bad safety record. More specifically, we were able to prove that Total Transportation of Mississippi, LLC, which was subject to the control of U.S. Xpress Enterprises, had a hiring rule in place that prohibited any driver who had been in a rollover during the previous three years from being hired.

After filing a separate lawsuit in Texas to obtain records from the truck driver’s prior employer, we obtained records proving that the driver had been recently fired from his prior job as a truck-driver for falling asleep behind the wheel and rolling a tractor-trailer. This information was available to Total Transportation of Mississippi, LLC, but Total Transportation ignored it and instead put a dangerous driver behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer. The result of that decision was Johnson again likely fell asleep behind the wheel during the early morning hours of April 22, 2015, taking the lives of five outstanding young women with extremely bright futures ahead of them.

We doggedly pushed this case to trial and had the trial scheduled in less than a year from the time of the wreck. As a result of the information discovered and our clients’ willingness to push these cases to trial, the Defendants and their insurers settled these cases on the eve of trial. The collective settlements exceeded $75 million. The individual settlements are believed to be the highest pre-trial settlements ever paid in individual wrongful death cases in Georgia history.

It was an honor to help these families obtain justice for the death of their daughters. As part of the settlements, we believe Total Transportation will take action to make sure this type of tragedy never happens again, which was a goal of our clients.


$5,470,000 | Verdict/Wrongful Death

10/23/09 Pitts v. A&G Trucking. Inc., et al., State Court of DeKalb County, Georgia.

Plaintiffs, four minor children, recovered for the death of their father, who was killed by a dump truck driver while the decedent was working as a "spotter" or "flag man" on the runway expansion at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. According to eye-witnesses, the driver of the dump truck was talking on her cell phone or CB radio and was given a stop signal by the deceased. Although she initially obeyed the stop signal, the driver then negligently began backing up without receiving any other signals, running over the decedent. Defendants, however, contended that the decedent had himself violated a workplace rule by turning his back and walking behind the dump truck driver while she was backing her truck.


Airplane Crash / Wrongful Death
Cash Settlement

A 31-year-old engineer died when a Cessna 414 twin-engine airplane in which he was a passenger crashed in Georgia. Claims were made by the surviving parents and the decedent's estate against the owners of the plane, the pilot and others. Braswell, et al. v. Unnamed Defendants (12/21/95).


$12,000,000 | Product Liability/ Negligence/ Construction Defect/ Corporate Liability/ Wrongful Death

Cash Settlement - 10/11/05. Fowler v. Phoenix Structures and Services, Inc., Sun Capital Partners, Inc., and Trinity Outdoor, LLC, State Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia. Brothers Joshua (23 years-old) and Anthony Fowler (21 years- old) were killed when a billboard on which they were working suddenly collapsed, throwing them 40 feet to the ground. The steel beams of the billboard fell on top of them. Evidence clearly established that the billboard collapsed because of faulty welds and substandard steel used in its manufacture. After Sun Capital Partners, Inc. ("Sun Capital") bought Phoenix (the billboard manufacturer), its management of the business caused the prior owners to all leave. At the time of the billboard's manufacture, Phoenix had no quality control at the plant. Sun Capital caused Phoenix to lay off experienced welders and required workers at the plant to work extensive overtime. There was no inspection of the billboard after it was built and before it was shipped to Snellville, Georgia. The case was settled during mediation, less than two weeks prior to trial.


$1,000,000 | Wrongful Death

Cash Settlement - 10/19/04. Zalkin v. Navin Enterprises, Inc., et al., The 13 year-old son of plaintiffs was run over after an unoccupied moving truck began rolling downhill towards Plaintiffs' front yard. The truck left the roadway in front of the residence and ran over Michael Zalkin, who was airlifted to Scottish Rite Hospital where he died from his injuries. The truck was owned by Navin Enterprises, Inc. who operated the truck as a franchisee of Two Men and A Truck/International, Inc. The truck company paid its policy limits without suit being filed.


Wrongful Death
$1,650,000 Settlement

Wrongful death action against construction company hired to build the viaduct and plaza adjacent to the Georgia Dome. Clients' daughter, Dawn McNally, was struck by a falling I-beam as she entered the Georgia Dome prior to a professional football game in December 1993. A recent UGA graduate, Dawn was 24, single and working part-time when the accident occurred. Investigation established that the I-beam had not been welded into place as it should have been. Dawn died almost instantaneously. McNally v. Archer Western Contractors, Ltd., Georgia World Congress Center Authority, Georgia Department of Transportation, et al., State Court of Fulton County, Georgia. (5/8/95).


Wrongful Death
$3,136,265 Structured Settlement (Present cash value is $1,250,000).

Wrongful death of child using recreational equipment. Plaintiff insisted that defendant adopt a safety plan to prevent future injuries as a term of settlement. Unnamed Plaintiff v. Unnamed Defendant, State Court of DeKalb County, Georgia. (2/1/95)


Wrongful Death / Fraternity Hazing
Cash Settlement

A 19-year-old college student died as a result of being hazed by members of a fraternity in which the victim sought membership. Suit was brought against the fraternity's, national and local chapters, the college, and the individual members involved. In addition to the monetary recovery, the fraternity took significant remedial action as a condition of settlement to prevent the opportunity for further hazing of prospective members throughout the U.S. Harris v. Unnamed Fraternity, et al., State Court of Cobb County, Georgia.( 1/19/95)


Personal Injury
$625,000 Cash Settlement

Plaintiff was shot in the eye by Daffin, a member of SAE Fraternity, resulting in the loss of an eye. Perciful v. Mack Paul Daffin and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity (Georgia Tech), State Court of Fulton County, Georgia. (6/15/93)

At Butler Wooten & Peak LLP, we have the resources and experience it takes to successfully pursue complex personal injury, wrongful death, and product liability litigation. Contact us today. We would be happy to discuss your case with you.