In the recent Fulton County Superior Court case of Winfred Evans v. Norfolk Southern Railway et al. (2012CV223527), the railroad admitted liability for the accident in which Evans was injured but, in its closing statement, suggested that fair compensation for his injuries might be approximately $100,000, far less than the $1.5 million Evans was seeking.
The requested damages disputed by the railroad included nearly $700,000 in future earnings loss due to the shortened work expectancy predicted by Evans’ witnesses. However, because Evans had returned to work after the injury and was still working at the time of the trial, his attorney James Holland needed to make sure the jury did not reduce or reject the lost earnings claim out of a sense of fairness.
In the final minutes of his closing statement, Holland appealed to the jury’s sense of justice to refute the defense’s suggestions. He paraphrased a famous quotation by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that “injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.” Holland characterized the $1.5M in damages he was seeking as “the amount that is true and fair and right.” On the other hand, the “discounted compensation” suggested by the defense was not justice. Holland concluded by reminding the jury that Evans’ medical condition was permanent and that he would have to live with the jury’s verdict for the rest of his life. Holland ended the statement by saying simply, “Give him full justice.”
The jury’s verdict was slightly over $1.2 million and included the exact amount Holland requested for future earnings loss.
CVN's earlier coverage of this case (including other clips from the trial) can be found here and here.
Steve Silver can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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