In the recent Clarke County Superior Court case of Rammohan Rao Balasu and Kavita Bitra v. Kathy McLeod Allen (SU13CV0618), Plaintiff Balasu claimed over $200,000 in damages as a result of a 70-mile-per-hour automobile collision on I-85. Defendant Allen admitted liability for the accident, in which her car rear ended Balasu’s car and spun it into a ditch at the side of the interstate highway. Balasu lost consciousness in the accident and was taken to a nearby emergency room for treatment. The impact also caused Allen’s vehicle to veer left, across the opposite lanes of traffic on I-85, before colliding with a billboard at the opposite side of the road and finally coming to rest.
Balasu testified that he still suffered back pain each day as a result of the accident that occurred four and one-half years before the trial and introduced medical records of his ongoing treatment. He also introduced photographs of his car at the accident scene, showing the severity of the impact, and the testimony of the Georgia State Trooper who investigated the accident.
Rather than introduce evidence to counter Balasu’s claim, Allen’s attorney, Sherri Short rested her case without calling any witnesses, which entitled her to make the final closing statement. She then relied on that statement to question the amount of damages to which Balasu was entitled. Short first caught the jury’s attention by immediately labeling Plaintiff’s claim of $200,000 in damages “absurd,” “outrageous,” and “ridiculous.” She then acknowledged the severity of the collision but noted that not all severe collisions result in severe injuries.
Once Short had the jury’s attention, she pointed out that plaintiff had the burden of proof and noted that plaintiff introduced no medical evidence that might support his claims of continuing pain, such as recommendations for injections or surgery. She also called the jury’s attention to an earlier deposition in which Balasu stated that he felt no pain on some days.
Short’s forceful closing seemed to have the desired effect on the jury. Despite over $15,000 in medical bills submitted by Balasu, the final judgment in his favor was only $23,500.