In what would seem an open and shut Dram Shop Liability and Wrongful Death Action, that I began discussing in my last blog post titled, “A Midtown, Georgia, now Closed, once Popular, Night-Club has a Default Judgment of over $ 10 Million Against it in a Dram Shop Liability Wrongful Death Action ~ part one,” this case turns into a fight with an insurance company, the withdraw of attorneys by order of the court, and the insurance company’s CEO and founder, Jeffrey Cohen, now sitting in a federal detention facility awaiting trial on charges of making false statements and money laundering and he is attempting to represent himself in said action.
Fortunately, the end result would be a default judgment against the club for over $ 10 Million Dollars in favor of the parents of the deceased Griner. Unfortunately, the insurance company that provided coverage for the club in the event of a dram shop incident had collapsed now leaving the Plaintiffs with the fate of whether or not they will collect said judgment in a receivership.
This is a situation that occurs and many people only see the large dollar amount of the judgment and not the difficulty of collecting the same. In many cases, obtaining a judgment is not the hard part, as such was ultimately in this case, it is collecting the judgment. The positive part is that this is a default judgment and, in Georgia, a default judgment can not be discharged in bankruptcy. The reality, however, is that the insurance company at issue, Indemnity Insurance, was incorporated in Delaware, which is not uncommon for many corporations. Therefore, if the insurance company is protected by the bankruptcy laws in Delaware, then therein lies the difficulty in collection.
It was duly stated that any payment on this judgment would most likely have to come from the insurer’s assets which have yet to be liquidated and have been noted to only pay a penny, or maybe a few more, on the dollar. This would leave the Plaintiffs with much less than $ 10 Million, if anything at all, depending on who else is in line against the insurer in the bankruptcy court to collect.
It is worth noting that the court and the attorneys did recognize the terrible fate of this incident and all hoped that the Plaintiffs would collect as much as possible in the bankruptcy action. This is indicated especially by Judge Fred Eady’s ultimate decision to strike the Defendants answers in the case and issue a final order in favor of the Plaintiffs for what would be a total of $ 10,564,517.00 that included $ 2.7 Million Dollars in expenses of litigation and attorney’s fees. At the time, Judge Eady was sitting on the bench in Fulton County, Georgia’s State Court.
The facts in this case are abhorrent. In these cases nobody wins. Money can not bring back a loved one. Everyone involved with be haunted for the rest of their lives for the careless and irresponsible acts of this evening. A picture of Jordan Griner will never bring him back to life. In wrongful death cases we see terrible outcomes for loved ones and Georgia law recognizes that money will never bring back a loved one.
At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates we are very compassionate about the senseless loss of life in these and other types of wrongful death cases. Therefore, we advocate zealously for our clients in attempting to collect what they are deserving under the circumstances. If you or a loved one has been involved in a wrongful death action whether or not it involves dram shop or other legal liability such as this case, then Contact Us for your free legal consultation. You will receive the respect and compassion that you deserve during this most difficult time.