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Video Vault: Bob Cheeley Delivers Powerful Closing at Trial Involving Survivor of Crash That Killed Five Nursing Students

Posted by Courtroom View Network on Mar 16, 2017 11:29:47 PM


Attorneys drew battle lines at trial over the brain trauma a nursing student suffered in a fiery tractor trailer crash. While a settlement during deliberations ultimately carried the case, Bob Cheeley's stirring closing rebuttal helped sway jurors to deliver an eight-figure verdict.  Richards v. Total Transportation of Mississippi LLC, SUV2015000174. 

Megan Richards, a Georgia Southern nursing student at the time, was injured in a 2015 truck crash that killed five of her classmates as they sat in traffic on I-16 in Bryan County, Georgia. At trial, Richards’ attorneys, including The Cheeley Law Group’s Bob Cheeley, argued Richards had suffered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, caused by an impact equal to hitting the ground strapped to the seat pushed out of a seven-story building. "Her brain is damaged goods. It is not the brain God blessed Megan with,” Cheeley told jurors as trial opened.

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But the defense challenged the contention Richards suffered a TBI. At trial, defense attorneys noted Dr. Scott Forseen, who originally diagnosed Richards with a TBI, had never treated her, while her actual treatment team had not concluded Richards had a traumatic brain injury until just before trial.

During his closing rebuttal, however, Cheeley argued medical evidence clearly showed Richards had suffered a TBI and she still felt the effects of the injury. Cheeley noted Forseen concluded Richards bore medical hallmarks of a TBI, as revealed through imaging workups. “The defendants would have you believe that that didn’t happen in this wreck,” Cheeley said, arguing the defense offered no one to challenge the presence of those tell-tale signs of brain trauma. “We wanted to get you the best medical proof, evidence available to explain why {Richards is still] having problems,” Cheeley told jurors.

Dr. Rachel Lacy a neuropsychologist who saw Richards more than a dozen times, detailed the severity of Richards' injuries, Cheeley noted. “By contrast, isn’t it amazing that, in the 19 months that this case has been pending, … the defendants have not asked one time for Megan to be evaluated by a doctor of their own choosing. That tells you something.”

Although the parties ultimately reached a confidential settlement before the jury rendered its verdict, Cheeley’s closing rebuttal helped drive the jury to hand down a $15 million award in the case.

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Topics: Georgia, Transportation, Richards v. Total Transportation, et al.