We had a good friend try a jury trial in Fulton County the first week of November and he ran into a tough reality with some Fulton County juries. The plaintiff was in a car accident and underwent an arthroscopic shoulder surgery and had a manipulation of frozen shoulder under anesthesia some months later. The medical bills totaled $55,000. The Plaintiff’s lawyer took the policy limits of the at fault driver of $100,000 in a partial settlement well before trial, a fact not known to the jury. They tried the case as the next layer of insurance with the uninsured motorist insurer would not offer anything. They asked the jury to award $550,000.
So, what is an arthroscopic shoulder surgery worth in Fulton County in 2022 with $55,000 in bills? When you get a majority North Fulton jury from Buckhead, Alpharetta etc., not as much as one would think. The jury returned a verdict for only $85,000, meaning the Plaintiff did not receive more than the $100,000 in settlement from the tortfeasor. Fulton can be very conservative when a Northern pool of jurors shows up.
What are the lessons from a result like that? You can try a technically sound case and still not get a conservative group of jurors interested in a substantial verdict for this type of an injury. The surgery is outpatient, it’s not gory and most people know someone who has undergone the procedure without complication. Be careful when overestimating value in a simple non-commercial accident case where there is nothing for the jury to get invested in.