In setting up a $12.5 million verdict against Suzuki at trial last February over a crash allegedly caused by the brake failure on one of its motorcycles, Randy Edwards used a blistering closing argument, and surprising test results, to undercut a theory central to the defense’s case.Johns v. Suzuki Motor Corp., 14SV000043.
Adrian Johns fractured his back and suffered other injuries when he was thrown from his 2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000 as the bike traveled 30 mph down an Austell, Georgia roadway. Johns, represented by Cochran & Edwards’ Randy Edwards, contended the crash was caused by a defect in the motorcycle’s brakes.
The defense argued that rider error caused the crash, and brake problems seen in post-accident inspections of the bike were caused by the crash itself. Notably, defense expert Todd Hoover testified that liquid found in a post-accident examination of the bike was leaking brake fluid that had compromised the brakes after the crash.
“He refused to consider anything else,” Edwards told jurors in his closing. “When I asked him, he kind of chuckled under his breath, [saying] ‘No sir, that’s brake fluid. I’ve been around brake fluid my whole life. I know what brake fluid does to vehicles. That’s brake fluid. I don’t even need to test it I’m so confident. That’s brake fluid.’”
But the spot wasn't brake fluid.
“We had it tested after he said that during the trial,” Edwards told jurors. “We know what it is: bird poop.”
Edwards leapt on the test result to castigate Hoover's findings. “That tells us what Todd Hoover’s opinions are worth in this case. It’s not worth the $900,000 or the $1 million Suzuki’s paid him,” Edwards said.
“It’s worth bird poop.”
Jurors deliberated less than five hours before handing down the eight-figure verdict against Suzuki.
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