GAINESVILLE, Ga. (January 23, 2019) – A $10.5 million settlement was reached this week in the aftermath of a 2017 landmark trial that involved one of Hall County’s largest civil jury verdicts – and a national insurance company that initially refused to pay.
The case centered around a tragic DUI accident involving the driver of a company truck who struck and severely injured a husband, wife and their 12-year-old daughter in a local retail center parking lot.
“This case is a testament to the patience and perseverance of a family and their team of attorneys who stood by them in the face of a national insurance company’s monumental resistance,” said attorney Mark Alexander of Stewart, Melvin & Frost, a regional Gainesville-based law firm.
In the lawsuit against the driver, his company’s insurer – Columbia National Insurance Company – failed to provide him with insurance coverage or legal representation, and refused all efforts to settle the case. After the jury’s historic multi-million-dollar judgement, the family aggressively pursued collection in Gainesville’s federal court.
The case against Columbia subsequently witnessed several twists and turns over the next two years. In September, a federal court ruled that the company vehicle and driver should have been covered under Columbia’s $4 million business insurance policy – and therefore Columbia had breached its duty to defend the driver.
Alexander’s legal team argued that Columbia should cover the verdict amount in excess of Columbia’s $4 million insurance policy limit based on its refusal to settle the case on behalf of the driver – and for failing to provide him with a lawyer. The case was set to go before a federal jury in February, but Columbia agreed to the $10.5 million settlement just prior to a pre-trial conference, according to Alexander.
“This was a horrific, life-altering event for this family,” Alexander said. “Now, after years of hard-fought legal battles with Columbia, when the ax of justice was about to fall, we were able to bring closure and justice to this family’s extended ordeal. We appreciate the family placing their trust in us and allowing us to fight on their behalf.”