(Podcast name updated to "For Justice's Sake".)
Attorney Rod Dixon recounts a case with a devastating car crash. A commercial driver's negligence led to a mother's death and misplaced blame on an injured victim. By taking a closer look at the evidence and refusing to give up on a biased investigation, our firm found out who was truly to blame for the accident.
WARNING: Details of this case mentioned between 9:28 to 10:20 may be considered graphic by some listeners. You can check for and skip this section using the Chapters section.
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Backstory: Two women were driving in Thomasville, Georgia when their car experienced a flat tire. They pulled off the road on the left shoulder to change the spare tire. As they were doing so, a commercial car collided with them. The driver of the initial car suffered a broken leg and lacerated liver and the passenger was thrown onto the highway and declared dead at the scene.
Attorneys S.K. Rod Dixon filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the victim's three adult children in Fulton County State Court.
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Thank you for tuning in to the pocket lawyer podcast hosted by the design firm in case of the $7 million texting while driving verdict. My name is Renee Cooper.Rod Dixon:
Hi, I'm attorney Rod Dixon.Renee Cooper:
Today's 15 second shout out goes to Gotcha's Breakfast Bar on Cascade Road in the city owned restaurant featuring deliciously-crafted breakfast, brunch and lunch items, vegan options, Fulton's goals to eliminate single-use plastics. They have dine in and orders to go. Today we are First, a little bit of backstory. A driver and a passenger were in Thomasville, Georgia when their road on the left shoulder to change the spare tire. As they were doing so a commercial car the initial car suffered a broken leg and lacerated liver. The passenger was thrown onto the Rod Dixon filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the victim's three adult children in Fulton County that the news did not cover. Can you describe how you learned about the case and why you took it?Rod Dixon:
Well, I was contacted by the family, the son of a lady who as described to me was Now, the details of the the initial story at least as far as the son knew, included that the police that his mother, the deceased, was in fact at fault for her own death. Because according to the the time this defendant's vehicle came along and hit her.Renee Cooper:
After you receive the information from the son, how did you continue your learn more about?Rod Dixon:
Well, as often the case when a family member comes to us, whether it's a family member, they come to us and tell us the initial details, what they understand have happened and we decided about what happened than even they knew. So in this instance, the son knew that the police the roadway. We take that and we understand that this is the death , so we know we have to dig Did she have to die? So in this instance, we at first obtained an accident reconstruction, we sentto photograph everything around the scene:
the roadway, the grassy area where the car pulled over in the daytime, but then also at night, when the accident actually took place. So we could best interviewed witnesses. And of course, we went over the information that the police had that they what is called an Open Records Act. And once we got those details, we knew at that point there was this commercial vehicle because the details in his story and what the police said we're not addingRenee Cooper:
So what were some of those contradicting details and why do you think that it they were and maybe not 100% correct?Rod Dixon:
One of the initial things we learned was that the driver of this commercial vehicle--it was a young White man who had been going down the roadway and he hit and killed a 46 year old Black automatically go to race as a reason for anything happening. Certainly this young man did not intend hospital. And we learned that the police officer, the main officer investigating this, this crash, a hospital and told this young man that he was not going to charge him with anything and that he eyes of someone who is very in tune with how racial biases can impact the investigation of a raised red flags in my mind. That said to me, You know what, it's not appropriate for this officer he's going to help him in any way can.Renee Cooper:
The car was not in fact obstructing the roadway, but was well within the area itRod Dixon:
How did you... How were you able to prove that, who actually looked at that evidenceRod Dixon:
So with the accident reconstruction, we have the reconstructionist, the expert, go to the we mentioned earlier. But we also have the accident reconstruction is examined the vehicles actually animate what we believe happened in the crash. And so the accident reconstructionist has conclusion that the vehicle our client, or the deceased, was in was actually all the way off the police officers say. And so we learned that they were all the way off the roadway, and that the vehicle, we knew that the defendants vehicle had to veer off the roadway. Right?Renee Cooper:
And so then the question became... Now we've proved we have sufficient proof, we believed on the side of the roadway in an emergency situation that changed a tire. Why did the have to get to the "Why did this happen." And in this instance, we continued our investigation and records, to try to figure out if maybe he was distracted. So what we're able to learn in going deciphering what they really meant, we knew that the driver had been on the road for two solid hours had sent and received more than 200 text messages to this one person--to and from this one phone number for this one person and I got on the phone and I call that number to figure out who with. And as it turned out, it was his ex girlfriend. Now ex girlfriend at the time, they that he had sent a text message to his that he had sent one to his ex girlfriend within a minute of together. Why did this young man leave the road? Well, he had a cell phone in his hand while he was roadway. And unfortunately, a lady lost her life as a result.Renee Cooper:
Even as being distracted, he didn't see the car at all? And what happens when he hitRod Dixon:
Yeah, so no, he did not see the car before he hit it. That just goes to show you how down was driving ahead of this defendant vehicle. And he saw the disabled vehicle and our clients on quarter mile away before he got to him. He changed lanes because there's two lane roadway he changed his rearview mirror and saw the defendant barreling down on our clients. S o we knew that it was not paying attention. He was on that cell phone and a lady lost her life.Renee Cooper:
So these maybe a little bit more, I'm going to say gruesome detals, but I think of these cases can be.Rod Dixon:
The one whose life was spared, was behind her vehicle but a little off to the side, behind the vehicle handling the spare tire. And so when the defendant came across off the roadway s in, our deceased passenger, was in she was sa dwiched between the vehicles and the tire. And sh And even with the details of that, the authorities coming to the scene of the crime, still initially abled vehicle and continued to travel down the ro dway. And it came to rest about 75 to 100 feet do eased. car. I guess in this situation, the car had moved from its initial point, but that's why you do the Right.Renee Cooper:
What happened when you went to trial?Rod Dixon:
We took the case to trial because we could not get it resolved pre-suit. We determined justice for this unfortunate lady and for her children, was to present the case to a jury. We brought the accident reconstructionist. We told the jury what happened. We showed them with the from the vehicles, the testimony from the witnesses, we showed them with the evidence that while he was working, ironically, to deliver medications to people. He was distracted, because which we've got him on the witness stand and cross examined him about the text messages, he admitted, that they subsequently broke up. A text argument with his girlfriend led to the death of a mother million to compensate for the life of this lady, and the jury awarded $7 million.Renee Cooper:
It's really hard because in this case, there is nothing that's going to bring the this, where you previously mentioned, the driver of the commercial vehicle, probably has to lived case of the $7 million, who does have to pay that back? Does it fall on the driver or does it fallRod Dixon:
The driver is principally responsible for the verdict, but because the driver was the company is in fact responsible for paying for any negligence and the damages from any negligence this case, the company itself was responsible for paying the $7 million verdict.Renee Cooper:
This is a very important case overall, because I know that almost everyone has bit distracted while they have driven, but this just shows the worst case scenario for multiple wrongful death case. I'm curious the photo editing that was able to go in and show that the car was was was not obstructed, who did that, who pull that evidence together?Rod Dixon:
So the accident reconstruction is took the photos, digital photos, of course, at the measurements of the cars including length and width and wheelbase, and those things that are the time. And so in certain of the photos, where the vehicle was pulled off the road to the left when the vehicle was struck and dug into the ground. And the tire marks were at such an angle, could see if you took the reconstructed images of the cars, and then because these are digital tire marks in the lightened photos, you could overlay the two to determine the direction the struck the deceased vehicle. And so when you did those things and overlaid them you can see that direction off the roadway at the time of the collision. So it was really because we were able that we were able to really drive that conclusion home to the jury because at that point, it wasn't what a mathematic formula said. It was look at what your eyes are telling you. You can see this, a verdict that was justRenee Cooper:
Are there any other details about this case, or similar cases that you feel are being in a situation like this?Rod Dixon:
I don't know that I would call it a detail as much as it is a lesson and one that I text message or reading that text message worth the possibility, the risk that you will hit be seriously injured? So I would say to anyone when you're behind the wheel riding down theread a text or to send a text first ask yourself:
is whatever in this message worth the trouble that is no. Reading or sending that text message can wait another five minutes.Renee Cooper:
Thanks, Rob for giving that information. It's not a pleasant topic to hear helpful for all of us a little lesson of how to do better, and how to make sure we can look for the definitely needed. Of course, all of our listeners can keep the conversation going on Facebook, across social media. You can ask us questions about this case, or about similar cases. You can chance to win a $50 restaurant gift card. We'll also be attending the city of South Fulton Trunk or Treat on Saturday, October 30. at Welcome from Sandtown Pub on Wheels. We're giving out free gifts like reusable straws, because he supports doing away with single-use plastics. We'll also be giving away a free Nintendo Switch. Yeah, I know, table. We also have some other freebies and fun gifts and prizes to give away. You can learn more Fulton's website or details on our social media. Remember if you have a case referral or a consultation request, click the link in our shiny new phone number at 888-DIXON-11, or 888-349-6611. Thanks always for listening and continue to stay safe.