The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed an $18 million verdict based on "inflammatory comments" a lawyer made during closing arguments. The damages-only case surrounded care options for a man left with traumatic brain injury after another man crashed into his tractor. The estimated in-home care cost was significantly higher than that of memory care at a nursing home, and the plaintiff lawyer said in closing arguments that if the jury "sentence[d] him to a nursing home, [they would be] signing his death warrant." These remarks were referenced in the unanimous opinion tossing the results. Laurie Webb Daniel, chair of Holland & Knight's national Appellate Team, led the winning defense team in the case.
"It's a very significant ruling, I think. It's a signal to the plaintiffs bar to watch out," Ms. Webb Daniel said. "...When the measure of damages is the enlightened conscience of the jury, it is imperative that the trial court adhere to its gate-keeping role and enforce the rules of fair play adopted in the code’s prohibition of irrelevant evidence and improper closing arguments."
READ: Lawyer's 'Death Warrant' Remarks Get $18M Verdict Reversed