Gwinnett County Jury Returns $2.5 million Verdict in Road Rage/Racing Case

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Cook Law Group, LLC announces 2.5 million dollar verdict for death of passenger who died as a result of a crash caused by racing on a residential parkway: Marrero v. Polo et al, Case No. 10A07862-4 (Gwinnett County Superior Court).

On Friday, June 20, 2014 a Gwinnett County jury returned a $2.5 million verdict as a result of the death of 18 year old Emmanuel Marrero, who was killed during a racing or road rage incident in a residential neighborhood in Gwinnett County. According to the Wreck Report generated by the Gwinnett County Police Department, Emmanuel died after being thrown out of the rear passenger seat of a Honda Civic driven by an acquaintance. The Civic had spun out of control in the middle of a curve on Hamilton Mill Parkway in Duluth, Georgia, ultimately colliding with a tree in the median. Just prior to the crash, eyewitnesses saw the Civic disappear around a bend in the Parkway while racing side-by-side with a Mercedes SUV, and one eyewitness saw the Mercedes attempt to swerve into the Honda’s lane of traffic at least twice. Private and police accident reconstructionists also agreed that the Civic lost control due to an irregular “sharp left steering input” made while the Civic was already navigating the Parkway’s curve. However, there was no direct evidence of what caused the crash: the driver of the Honda suffered from injury-related memory loss of the crash and no other witness admitted to seeing the Honda lose control, explained Kate Cook, Partner of Cook Law Group, LLC. After considering witness testimony and physical evidence, the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office determined that the Honda lost control after being cut off by the Mercedes, and charged both drivers. Those charges are still pending.

Based on the DA’s conclusions, Plaintiffs Eunice Marrero and Judith Vazquez, the mother and sister of Emmanuel Marrero, filed suit in 2012 against Jason Polo, the driver of the Honda Civic, and Joseph Evancho, the driver of the Mercedes SUV. The Plaintiffs alleged in their Complaint and at trial that the drivers had engaged in a joint enterprise of racing and reckless driving and were therefore both liable for Emmanuel’s death. Although Polo admitted at trial to speeding and driving alongside the Mercedes shortly before the crash, Evancho maintained that he was 1000 feet ahead of the Civic before changing from the right lane to the left lane on the Parkway, and denied having any involvement in racing, speeding or the collision, according to Mrs. Cook. On June 16, 2014, Eunice Marrero finally laid eyes on the men who had caused her son’s death in a Gwinnett County courtroom. On June 20, 2014, after a five-day trial, Mrs. Marrero was finally given the truth. The jury found both Jason Polo and Joseph Evancho liable for Emmanuel’s death and awarded $2.5 million in damages.

“We told the jury to honor Emmanuel’s life and to give meaning to his death,” explained Matthew Cook, lead counsel for the Plaintiffs, “State Farm [Evancho’s insurer] and its counsel Jay Eidex from Sharon Ware were exceedingly confident they would win simply because of what they perceived to be plausible deniability for Mr. Evancho. They never offered a dime to settle this case.”

“It was a case that could easily have been lost and hung in the balance because Evancho would not admit to what happened and no one else saw or remembered the crash. Although Evancho was well prepped for his testimony in the case [Evancho ultimately testified after first invoking his 5th Amendment rights], there was one key fact he had overlooked when developing his story which made his version of the events leading up to the crash impossible. We waited for the last live witness of the trial to bring out that fact, which was ultimately the death knell for Evancho,” Mr. Cook elaborated. “Trials are about one thing: credibility. We established ours. State Farm undermined theirs by stalwartly insisting on Mr. Evancho’s veracity even after portions of his testimony were impeached time and again. Ironically, Evancho’s own testimony ended up indisputably proving his involvement and responsibility for the death of Emmanuel.”

“Matt fundamentally understands people and how to motivate jurors. He also deeply cares about the underdog and finding the truth, and that came through in this trial,” added Mrs. Cook.

Matt and Kate Cook have collected more than $100 million for their clients in the last 10 years. You can learn more about them at

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