The founders and lawyers that make up the firm are responsible for, or have participated in, cases rendering verdicts or settlements throughout their professional careers in an amount totaling over $300,000,000.001. Although such previous recoveries are not an indication or guarantee of future results, the lawyers at Hollis, Wright, and Couch are proud of their history of verdicts and settlements. Listed below are a few noteworthy results from recent years that show the diversity of the firm's lawyers, experience, and practice.
Verdict in Orkin Class Action Lawsuit
A fraud case was filed against Orkin for fraudulently inspecting a homeowner's home for termites. The inspector discovered that the home was so eaten up by termites that Orkin put car jacks underneath the house to keep it from falling down. In an action against Orkin, a document was produced showing the deplorable condition of the Plaintiff's house, and it stated that the homeowner "was black, poor, old and ignorant". Orkin's course of action was an effort to hide the condition for her, in hopes that she would die before someone discovered the condition of the house.
Judgment for the Plaintiff in the amount of $81,500,000.00.
Technology Business Successful In International Commercial Arbitration Tensor Technology, Inc. v. Ebco Technologies, Inc. -- Commercial Arbitration Proceeding in Jefferson County, Alabama
Tensor researched, patented and developed contraband detection systems for airports throughout the United States. These systems would significantly increase security and ease airport travel delays by quickly and accurately detecting the presence of bombs and contraband in packages and luggage. After proof of science occurred using equipment from the University of Kentucky, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded a grant to Tensor to operate a test bed facility at Auburn University between 1999 and 2001. Tensor hired a company in Canada (i.e., Ebco) to build such technology.
The technology was built by Ebco negligently, defectively and inconsistent with the agreed specifications. Among other things, Tensor lost many business opportunities due to the defective work by Ebco.
Judgment for Tensor in the amount of $17,308,000.00 in September 2005.
Verdict For The Plaintiff In Drowning Case
Derrick Marshall, a 19 year old college athlete, drowned at a family reunion at the Roadway Inn on the Eastern Blvd. in Montgomery, Alabama. The Montgomery County Health Department had previously shut the pool down because the pool was "too cloudy." It was alleged that the hotel provided access to the pool notwithstanding the County mandate to shut down, and failed to have appropriate safety equipment to save Derrick Marshall. Derrick Marshall drowned in the deep end and was unable to be found for 10-12 minutes due to the cloudiness of the pool. Although Derrick did not die immediately after the event, he was left in a permanent vegetative state for over four (4) months. He later died as a result of his injuries in Jackson Hospital. A lawsuit was filed on September 7, 2007 against the hotel for negligence and wantonness. A general manager was later added as a party.
Verdict for the Plaintiff in the amount of $3,766,000.
Estate of Arthur Perryman vs. SafetyNet Academy (Circuit Court of Dallas County, Alabama)
Arthur Perryman was an 18-year old resident of SafetyNet Academy, a residential treatment and educational facility for boys with psychiatric problems. It was alleged that Arthur became ill and that the Academy personnel failed to get him medical treatment in a timely manner and that this failure resulted in his death.
A wrongful death case was filed on behalf of the Estate of Arthur Perryman and in January of 2011, the case was tried and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Estate and awarded $3.5 million.
Joel Knight vs. Sterlin Johnson (Circuit Court of Madison County, Alabama)
On May 10, 2007, Joel Knight was riding a motorcycle along University Drive in Huntsville, Alabama. Having the green light, Mr. Knight proceeded into an intersection and struck the side of an automobile being operated by Sterlin Johnson. In the lawsuit, Mr. Knight contended that Mr. Johnson ran a red light into the intersection and caused the collision. Mr. Johnson tested positive for alcohol in his system. Mr. Knight sustained significant head and facial injuries as a result of the incident and was determined to be totally disabled from an employment standpoint. After a four day trial in January of 2012, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Knight and awarded a total of $3 million--$2.7 million in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages.
Non-Confidential Settlement For The Plaintiff In a Premises Liability Death Case
A patron of a local Montgomery convenience store was getting air for his car at night. Unknown to him, just an hour earlier a hooded gunman entered the property and attempted to rob a patron without success. The convenience store had failed to call the police to report the event. As the firms victim came to the convenience store to get air, he was shot in cold blood, caught on video. The widow initiated a suit against the convenience store for failure contributing to the death of the decedent.
The firm was proud to represent the Estate of the decedent through his widow. Non-confidential settlement for $2,250,000.
DeWaun King v. Alpine Engineered Products and Simonds International (Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama)
On November 24, 2004, DeWaun King went to work at Modern Homes (manufactured housing plant) in Mobile, Alabama. DeWaun was a saw operator responsible for operating the computer that would dictate how the wood was cut by the industrial saw. The saw was manufactured by Alpine Engineered Products (Defendant) and was installed at Modern Homes approximately two years prior to the incident. The saw was equipped with several 18-inch steel diameter blades that were manufactured by Simonds International (Defendant). At some point during the day, the bolts holding the blade to the mandrel broke off during operation of the saw thereby allowing the blade to come out of the saw and strike DeWaun in the leg. As a result of the incident, DeWaun sustained an open distal femur fracture that required surgery. He was left with a permanent impairment to his leg.
It was alleged in the lawsuit that the 18-inch steel diameter saw blade was defectively designed and manufactured in that the countersink holes (holes where the bolts feed through) were oversized thereby causing excessive vibration and pressure on the bolts, which ultimately led to the failure. The defendants countered and suggested that the bolt failure was due to over tightening of the bolts during the blade change process and was the fault of the workers at Modern Homes. The case was tried in April of 2008 and a Mobile County jury returned a verdict in favor of DeWaun King in the amount of $1.6 million against Simonds and Alpine.
Eloise Tyler, et al v. P. Gartenmayer and Budget Rental Car (Circuit Court of Leon County, Florida)
The Defendant Gartenmayer rented a car from Budget to use for a college campus tour for her son. She and her son were headed to Florida State University. The plaintiffs, Eloise Tyler, James R. Tyler and J. Tyler were on a family trip. The plaintiffs were in the left lane of I-10 and Eloise was driving. Defendant Gartenmayer attempted to change lanes thereby causing Eloise to swerve and lose control of her vehicle. The Plaintiffs' vehicle flipped several times and James was ejected from the vehicle and killed. Eloise and J. Tyler sustained personal, physical injuries. The Defendants contended that Eloise was comparatively negligent in the operation of her vehicle by overcorrecting and that James Tyler caused his own death by failing to wear his seatbelt.
The case was tried to a Leon County, Florida jury and obtained a total verdict in the amount of $1.45 million.
Minor Child Dies After Becoming Intoxicated at a Restaurant Brenda Chambliss, et al. v. Applebee's of North Alabama, et al., CV 96-744, Jefferson County Circuit Court, Bessemer Division
A twenty-year-old University of Alabama student and a friend came to Birmingham to watch the Super Bowl at an Applebee's Restaurant in a mall. While watching the game, both girls became visibly intoxicated, but Applebee's continued to serve alcoholic beverages and allowed the girls to leave intoxicated. Shortly after leaving Applebee's, the girls were involved in a one-car accident that killed the twenty-year-old student. Suit was filed, alleging wrongful death under the Alabama Dram Shop Act, which prohibits serving alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated.
Judgment for the Plaintiff in the amount of $13,000,000.00.
Pedestrian Lost Both Legs in Accident Caused by Intoxicated Customer that Bar Refused to Stop Serving Alcoholic Beverages -- Civil Action No. CV-03-705, Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County, Alabama
A pedestrian in Northport, Alabama lost both legs after she was crushed against the rear bumper of her car by a speeding vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver who had been drinking at a popular restaurant and bar.
According to testimony in the case, other bar customers had asked that the bar stop serving the intoxicated customer, who subsequently left the bar with a blood alcohol level far in excess of the legal limit and collided with the Plaintiff. The legal theory pursued by the Plaintiffs was that, under Alabama law, an establishment is liable for injury to the public caused by a "visibly intoxicated" customer to whom they serve alcohol.
The case was mediated to a confidential settlement for the Plaintiffs in December 2004.
Man Injured by falling scrap box/Work Place Safety - Donald Hodge, et al. v. Nucor Steel, et al. Civil Action Number 2004-109 in the Circuit Court of Morgan County, Alabama.
Donald Hodge, an employee of Levy/Decatur Mills Services, was operating a 988G Caterpillar loader at Nucor Steel in Decatur. Nucor Steel required Levy to remove a scrap box from their furnace. An employee of Nucor lowered a scrap box onto the bucket of the 988G loader Donald Hodge was operating. The chains that were attached to the scrap box did not release and Mr. Hodge exited the 988G loader to release the chains. During the process of releasing the chains, the scrap box slid off the bucket of the 988G loader, pinning Mr. Hodge's right leg beneath it. Mr. Hodge sustained a crushing injury to his right leg which required amputation below the knee and caused him to be permanently disabled and unable to return to work operating the 988G loader. Plaintiff claimed that Defendant Nucor Steel was negligent in that they did not have a safe procedure for removing the scrap box, and the Defendant countered that the procedure they used in removing the scrap box was safe.
Part of the settlement was confidential. The non-confidential portion of the settlement was for $600,000.00.
Man Struck by Dump-Truck Door/Work Place Safety - Michael Dennis Reed, et al. v. Waste Away Group, Inc., et al. Civil Action Number 2004-125 in the Circuit Court of Etowah County, Alabama.
Dennis Reed was working as a dump truck driver delivering his load to a landfill owned by Defendant Waste Away Group, Inc. Mr. Reed backed his truck into the landfill beside a vehicle owned and operated by Defendants. Mr. Reed exited his vehicle to open the rear door of his truck and begin dumping. The 700-pound door on the defendant's truck beside him unexpectedly flew open, striking Mr. Reed and pinning him to the ground. Plaintiffs claimed that Defendants were negligent in that they failed to properly secure the safety latch, which was designed to keep the door from opening. Defendants did not admit responsibility, and countered that the door opening was out of their control. Mr. Reed severely injured his lumbar back, resulting in a disc fusion surgery on the L4-5 vertebrae. Mr. Reed was permanently disabled by the injury and unable to return to work driving his dump truck.
Settled for $550,000.00.
1-Year-Old Suffocates to Death Due to Negligence of Medical Equipment Provider -- Circuit Court of Blount County, Alabama
The clients' child was born with, among other things, Tracheal and Bronchiomalacia. This condition prevented the child from inhaling like normal healthy children, although he could exhale breaths normally. With appropriate surgical intervention at age 4 or 5, the prognosis for the child was "good". During the child's first years of life, however, the child was required to breathe with use of a home ventilation system which was provided by a Birmingham, Alabama medical equipment provider.
On or about the child's first birthday, the child's equipment failed in the middle of the night, allowing the child to suffer massive brain injury which eventually required the parents to withdraw life support a few days later. The lawyers of the firm brought suit against the equipment provider that was responsible for maintaining and servicing the ventilation system in a timely manner as it was the alleged failure of this company to properly maintain and service the ventilation system that caused the death of the child.
The case was set to be tried in Blount County, Alabama.
Wrongful death confidential settlement for the Plaintiffs.
Child Murders Parents and Attacks Siblings While on Medication
A 17 year old schizophrenic child murdered his parents and attacked 3 of his 4 minor siblings in a small community in Alabama. Filed in 2000, lawyers from the firm represented the siblings (through their guardians) and pursued a claim against the child's psychologist and multiple pharmaceutical companies.
Lawyers for the firm asserted a negative connection between the child's underlying psychiatric condition and the drugs he ingested -- arguing additional warnings should have been provided by the pharmaceutical companies. After extensive litigation, the case was resolved in 2003. The defendants denied any liability.
Settlement for Plaintiffs for a confidential amount.
Driver and Passengers Injured in Accident in Vehicle Equipped with Defective Tires Civil Action No. CV-02-N2063-S, United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama
Mary Knight was driving her grandchildren to Disney World, traveling on I-20 in Birmingham in her 1995 Ford Aerostar, which was equipped with tires produced by a popular manufacturer. The left front tire blew out, causing Ms. Knight to lose control of the vehicle, which struck the guardrail as it left the roadway and collided with a tree, causing serious injury to Ms. Knight and her grandchildren. In a similar case, after it was determined that the manufacturer allowed defective tires to leave its manufacturing plants for sale to the public, a repository of documents relating to the manufacturing process was established. Following an extensive exchange of motions designed to access the document repository, the case was mediated to a confidential settlement in August 2003.
Confidential Settlement for the Plaintiffs.
Tractor-Trailer Accident - Kevin Hopwood v. Clinch Mountain Transport and Kenneth Owen Mills; Circuit Court of Marshall County, Alabama, Albertville Division (CV-03-200117).
Kevin Hopwood was returning from Nashville, Tennessee where he was earlier admitted to C.R.N.A school. While in Guntersville, Alabama, to surprise his mother with the news, a tractor-trailer driven by Kenneth Owen Mills and owned by Clinch Mountain Transport entered his lane of travel in violation of Ala. Code 32-5A-130, which requires left turns be made from the far left lane. The tractor-trailer struck Mr. Hopwood's car, driving it into a tree. It was discovered that Clinch Mountain Transport failed to run an annual safety review on the driver, who had violated the company's hiring standards by having multiple moving violations in the three years prior to the accident. Despite these violations, Clinch Mountain failed to take the driver off the road. In addition to breaking his hand, which required three surgeries, Mr. Hopwood sustained traumatic brain injury, which prevented him from completing C.R.N.A. school. His lost wages alone were in excess of $2 million dollars.
The defendants settled the matter, confidentially, at mediation prior to the trial of the case.
Product Liability/Automobile Crashworthiness - Kevin Kite v. Daimler Chrysler Corporation; Don Drennon Motors; Circuit Court of Talladega County, Alabama (CV-04-58)
Kevin Kite and a friend were traveling in a 1999 Jeep Wrangler at approximately 60 mph, when the vehicle lost control and rolled over, end over end. Mr. Kite was in the front passenger seat when the vehicle rolled. The seat back on the Wrangler collapsed due to a rear impact during the first roll. The roll bar, which held the attachment point for a portion of the seatbelt, shifted forward approximately 7 inches. The combination of the seat collapse and roll bar movement effectively removed the seatbelt from Mr. Kite, permitting him to be ejected. State Trooper photographs at the scene of the accident showed the buckle latched, but no one in the seat. The suit filed on behalf of Mr. Kite alleged that the seat back and roll bar system were defectively designed and not sufficiently crashworthy in a foreseeable rollover collision. Mr. Kite lost his left leg, and had multiple fractures throughout his body.
Daimler Chrysler and Don Drennon settled the matter, confidentially, at mediation prior to the trial of the case.
Minor Child Brain-Injured Due to Deploying Airbag Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama
A 15-year-old front seat passenger was brain injured in an automobile accident. As alleged, the 15-year-old female passenger was seat belted during the accident, but her seatbelt did not properly restrain her allowing her head to come into contact with a deploying airbag.
Defendants disputed that the 15-year-old girl was seat belted at the time of the accident. Plaintiffs presented testimony from multiple eyewitnesses that substantiated that the 15-year-old girl was seat belted. Additionally, Plaintiffs used downloaded vehicle "black box" information at trial to substantiate that the accident was of sufficient intensity to cause the seatbelt retractor mechanism to "lock up", which would have prevented the child's head from being "out of position" and coming into contact with the deploying airbag.
Attorneys for Hollis, Wright, and Couch also pursued a claim on behalf of the minor girl's parents for loss of consortium due to the brain injury. The case was tried before a Jefferson County jury in February 2005.
During trial, the case resolved for a confidential amount.
Tractor-Trailer Accident/Head-on Collision - Elizabeth Gautreau v. Charles Junior Hollenquest, an individual; and Sanders Timber Company, a corporation. Civil Action Number 02-T-1271-E in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. The case was tried to verdict in Lee County, Alabama.
Elizabeth Gautreau and her husband were traveling in a motor home from Gonzales, Louisiana to Washington, D.C. on Highway 80 in Phoenix City , Alabama. Defendant Hollenquest was operating an eighteen-wheel flat bed truck when he came over the top of a hill and saw that traffic had stopped at the foot of the hill. Plaintiff alleged that the truck locked down its brakes and entered the opposing lane of traffic, striking the Plaintiff's vehicle head-on. Plaintiff claimed that Defendant was driving at an excessive speed and had over 600 feet to stop prior to entering the oncoming lane of travel. Defendant countered that he only had 30 feet to stop and the accident was an unavoidable emergency situation. Mrs. Gautreau, a seat belted passenger in the front seat, suffered injuries to the right shoulder from the seat belt for which she later underwent two surgeries. Post-surgical arthritis significantly impacted Mrs. Gautreau's active lifestyle.
An Alabama jury returned a verdict of $250,000.00 for the pain and suffering of Mrs. Gautreau following this accident. All medical bills were paid by Defendant prior to trial.
Mother and Her Unborn Baby Die in Preventable Automobile Accident Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama
A female in her second trimester of pregnancy was involved in an automobile accident. The pregnant female was a passenger in a vehicle where a minor driver was speeding, lost control and ejected multiple passengers, including the pregnant female. The pregnant woman, and her unborn baby, died on the scene.
The lawyers in the firm established a case against the driver of the vehicle on behalf of both the mother and her 24-week-old unborn fetus. The wrongful death cases, on behalf of both the mother and the fetus, were resolved for a confidential amount.
Both wrongful death cases settled for confidential amounts.
1These recoveries and testimonials are not an indication of future results. Every case is different, and regardless of what friends, family, or other individuals may say about what a case is worth, each case must be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances as they apply to the law. The valuation of a case depends on the facts, the injuries, the jurisdiction, the venue, the witnesses, the parties, and the testimony, among other factors. Furthermore, no representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.