Marietta, GA— Jurors Thursday awarded $450,000 to a Georgia woman injured in a three-car, metro Atlanta-area crash. Castano-Castano v. Stephens, 13-A-3525-5.
The Cobb County State Court jury deliberated for less than two hours before handing down the award to Yolanda Castano-Castano, who was injured in 2012 after a pickup driven by Michael Stephens struck her from behind, sending her car into a head-on collision with an SUV.
Castano says the collision left her with ongoing back and neck damage that required surgery, therapy, and pain-management injections, among other treatment.
“She’s probably never going to wake up and have the 'Hallelujah!’ moment— 'The symptoms are gone,'” The Yashinsky Law Group’s Jeffrey Yashinsky told jurors in describing how her neck pain limited her daily activities. “This wreck changed her forever.”
Yashinsky suggested jurors award roughly $3 million in damages during Thursday’s closings, including more than $2.8 million in non-economic damages.
Stephens admitted fault for the accident and the three-day, damages-only trial turned on the extent of Castano’s injuries and how they were connected to the crash.
During closings Thursday, Gray, Rust, St. Amand, Moffett, & Brieske’s Nicole Leet walked jurors through the timeline of Castano’s past-accident treatment. She argued that medical records showed many of Castano’s complaints immediately following the accident had improved with treatment, and that she went months without further treatment, while continuing to work and travel, before ultimately undergoing surgery.
“It is not a one-time decision of ‘Oh was this accident bad, and was she injured from it?’” Leet told jurors, in suggesting they award about $125,000 in damages. “The law… does not allow someone to say, ‘I had an accident. Everything after that is now related to that accident.'”
But Fried Goldberg’s Michael Goldberg argued evidence showed the accident played a critical role in Castano’s injuries and everything that flowed from them. “This accident doesn’t happen? This surgery never occurs,” Goldberg said as he highlighted Castano's medical treatment following the crash. “This accident played 1% [of a role]? They’re responsible for 100% of everything after that.”
After the verdict, Goldberg told CVN the case will ultimately conclude through the terms of a confidential high-low agreement. "The case will get resolved because of a confidential agreement to avoid any bad faith litigation," Goldberg said. "We were hoping for a higher number, but the defense attorneys did a great job holding down the verdict."
Goldberg added that he believed the age of the case may also have played a part in the award. "Because of a trip to the Court of Appeals and back, the case was 9 years old," Goldberg said, "and that may have affected the jury."
Leet told CVN the defense was satisfied with the outcome. "We were glad to be able to bring this case to a jury. Liability for the accident was admitted so the only real issue was whether plaintiff’s neck surgery was related to the motor vehicle accident, " Leet said. "The jury agreed with us that it was not. Jeff and Mike were great advocates for their client and the court ensured that the trial went seamlessly with COVID protocols."
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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