"The dynamics were stacked against me," Goldberg said. "If I were in his place, I would have done the same thing in that situation because they were more liberal and more like my client. It's not improper to do that."
Rather than dismissing and refiling the case, Goldberg entered into a confidential high-low agreement with the defense that he said protected his client and precluded an appeal.
The apportioned judgment for Daniels was about $71,000 lower than the defense's last pretrial offer of $212,500, Cruser said. The plaintiffs' last demand was for $1 million.
"In retrospect, our number was too high. We overshot," said Cruser, who worked with his associate Kathleen Hurley as his co-counsel on the case.
The accident occurred June 6, 2011, when Daniels was a passenger in a 2004 Ford Taurus driven by her friend Kelvina Winbush as they were heading eastbound on Jimmy Carter Boulevard, according to the pretrial order and the accident report.
A 2008 Ford work van, driven by Atlanta Refrigeration Service Co. employee Jerry Garrett, was traveling in the opposite direction and turned left onto Regency Parkway. Winbush slammed on the brakes, skidded for about 50 feet and veered into the right lane before colliding with Garrett, who was cited for failure to yield.
An ambulance took Daniels to Gwinnett Medical Center, where she was treated for a broken right arm between the elbow and the shoulder, a concussion and a six- to eight-inch laceration on her forehead. Plates and screws were inserted in the arm to repair it, Cruser said.
Daniels alleged that American Refrigeration Service was negligent in hiring Garrett and entrusting him to drive a work van because he had received five speeding tickets in 2005 and 2006, as well as DUIs in 1988 and 1998. At the time of Garrett's hiring in 2009, a three-year motor vehicle report showed no accidents or tickets, Cruser said.
The jury's Dec. 14 verdict apportioned 60 percent of fault to the defendants and 40 percent to Winbush. The award more than covers Daniels' $58,000 in medical expenses, but it didn't include any punitive damages. The jury didn't specify how it arrived at its verdict amount, Goldberg said. Atlanta Refrigeration's insurer, Netherlands Insurance Company, has issued payment for the judgment, Cruser said.
In his closing, Goldberg asked for between $1.1 million and $1.3 million, including about $800,000 for pain and suffering, $300,000 in diminished earning capacity and the medical expenses. He tried the case with Chris Simon, who helped Goldberg with the damages claim.