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The Highest Product Liability Verdicts in Georgia in 2013 ~ part 1

tires-for-product-liability-blog-august-23.jpgThe following are the top Product Liability Verdicts in Georgia for 2013 ~ part 1:

1.) A $ 16,520,000 verdict for the Plaintiff in DeKalb County State Court for Wrongful Death due to Defective Design and Failure to Warn.

The case was Ganga Chhetri, as Executrix of the Estate of Kharka B. Chhetri v. Michelin North America, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Hermanos Izaguirre Tire and Bhim B. Bhista, No. 11A40145-1, and the date of the verdict was October 30, 2013.

The facts as summarized were that on March 11, 2011 a van carrying fifteen (15) people was on I-75 driving on the way to work at Perdue Farms where all the people in the van and the driver were employees. That evening, at 9:00 p.m. approximately, the left rear tire of the van blew out and caused the van to hit the guardrail and then overturn.

The Plaintiff’s husband, Kharka Chhetri, age 50, was a passenger in the van and he died along with another passenger. The other passengers who survived did suffer serious injuries including some amputations. The person driving the van was Bhim B. Bhista, who the Plaintiff names in the lawsuit and alleges negligence by vehicle.

The tire that blew was manufactured by Michelin and the Plaintiff named Michelin in the lawsuit alleging a defective design of the tire. There were other allegations as well against the other Defendants named in the lawsuit. Michelin claimed that, although there was documentation that supported issues of the tire components, it was improving the design. Michelin also tried to lay blame on another Defendant, Firestone, that had done an oil change recently on the vehicle, for failing to notice an issue with the tire’s thread.

After a seven (7) day trial and two (2) days of deliberation, the jury awarded the Plaintiff damages in the amount of $ 20,000 for funeral and burial expenses as well as pain and suffering, $ 5 million dollars for Wrongful Death Damages, and $ 11.5 million for Punitive Damages for which 80% the jury apportioned to Michelin and 20% to the Defendant Driver Bhista.

The jury found no fault on the part of Defendant Firestone. The damages of over $ 16 million was reduced to an actual recovery for the Plaintiff of just over $ 15.5 million since the Defendant Driver Bhista had entered into a Consent Judgement that precluded him from owing any money.

2.) A verdict in the amount of $ 13,610,373 for the Plaintiff for Wrongful Death and Defective Design and Manufacturing as well as Failure to Warn, Negligent Repair, and Workplace Negligence.

The case was Sheryl Simpson Jones v. Genmar Yacht Group d/b/a Carver Yacht and RP Mobile Marine, No. 10A2967, and the date of the verdict was September 30, 2013.

The facts as summarized were that on July 1, 2008, Chris Jones, age 45, and father of two (2), took his houseboat to JOA Marine to repair the port engine. Mr. Jones planned on staying on the boat until the boat was repaired the next day.

JOA told Mr. Jones that there was no shore power at the repair slip. As a result, Mr. Jones had to run his own on-board generator for power to the electrical appliances on the boat at the same time that the boat was tied to the dock. Mr. Jones had died on the boat at some point and was found dead the following morning.

It was determined that Mr. Jones’ death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning on the boat since the generator that Mr. Jones used shared an exhaust system with the port engine yet the port engine had been taken off the boat for repairs causing the carbon monoxide to vent into the living spaces of the boat.

The Plaintiff, Jones’ wife, sued the manufacturer of the boat, Carver Yacht, for the faulty design of the exhaust system for the port engine arguing that the design was contrary to the standards set forth by the American Boat & Yacht Council and there was no warning as such, and she also sued the the employer of the marine mechanic that disconnected the exhaust system. The Plaintiff settled with the employer for policy limits of $ 1 million prior to trial. She proceed to trial, however, against the manufacturer of the boat.

After an eight (8) day trial, the jury deliberated for only six (6) hours and returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff for just over $ 13.5 million dollars for mostly the Wrongful Death of her husband. The actual award was later reduced by the court since the jury did apportion some fault to Mr. Jones himself for the incident. The Plaintiff’s actual award was, therefore, just over $ 10.2 million.

I will be discussing two (2) more product liability cases in my next blog titled, “The Highest Product Liability Verdicts in Georgia in 2013 ~ part 2.”

At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates, we are experienced legal counsel for those who have been injured by defective products so please Contact Us for your free legal consultation if you or your loved one has suffered injuries or death due to a defective product. You may contact us by phone at 770-865-8654, (813) 363-6664; by email at; by the Contact Form on this blog; and/or by the Contact Form on our website.

We look forward to working with you and making sure that you receive all of the just compensation that you deserve.