Fulton County Court Adds to $3 Million Medical Malpractice Jury Award

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The Atlanta law firm of James M. Poe, P.C., and the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firm of Raynes McCarty represented the plaintiff, who benefitted under a court order adding nearly $1.5 million in attorney fees, expenses and interest to a June 2013 jury verdict.

Attorney's Atlanta law firm represented plaintiff in medical malpractice trial.

James M. Poe

The award now totals $4,479,045 prior to post-judgment interest, which began running on June 14, 2013.

Fulton County State Court judge Susan Edlein has issued an order granting an additional $1.5 million in pre-judgment interest, attorney fees and expenses to a plaintiff who had been awarded a $3 million medical malpractice verdict in June 2013, according to the Atlanta law firm of James M. Poe, P.C.

Judge Edlein granted the plaintiff’s motions to collect the additional amounts in a lengthy order issued on February 4, 2014. According to the order, the award would now total $4,479,045 prior to post-judgment interest, which began running on June 14, 2013.

Attorneys for the defendants filed motions for a new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict that were briefed and argued. Those motions were denied by Judge Edlein in an order on February 21, 2014.

The case is Moraitakis v. Sysyn (No. 12-VS-195119).

The plaintiff is a five-year-old boy who suffers from a metabolic disorder, maple syrup urine disease. This disorder involves an inability to digest some forms of protein. If it is not promptly diagnosed with appropriate changes in diet put in place, the disorder will result in a build-up of leucine in the brain. Leucine is an amino acid which is neuro-toxic. Prolonged high levels of leucine in the brain result in permanent, severe brain damage.

The boy’s parents filed the lawsuit in 2010 in DeKalb County State Court. The case was transferred to Fulton County State Court in 2012 for trial of claims against the neonatology group which had supervised the child’s care after he was transferred by helicopter from Gwinnett Medical Center to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

At a two-week trial in June 2013, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the child, awarding a total of $7.5 million in damages. The jury determined that the neonatology group should be responsible for 40 percent of the damage.

The attorney fees and costs award by Judge Edlein were based on an offer of judgment which had been made in July 2012 under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-68, or Georgia’s “offer of settlement” statute, which is designed to encourage pre-trial settlements.

According to Judge Edlein’s order, the plaintiff had offered to resolve all claims against the neonatology group for the sum of $2 million. That offer had been refused.

Under the statute, if a verdict exceeds the offered settlement by 25 percent, then the party making the offer is entitled to recover the attorney fees and costs incurred in carrying the matter to trial.

The plaintiff had also made the same offer to settle under O.C.G.A. § 51-12-14, Georgia’s Unliquidated Damages Act, according to the order. Since the jury’s verdict was greater than the rejected settlement offer, the plaintiff was entitled to an award of prejudgment interest representing interest on the proposed settlement for the time period from the rejection of the offer until the verdict.

After a verdict, all plaintiffs are entitled to post-judgment interest at the legal rate provided under Georgia law.

Atlanta attorney James M. Poe of the law firm of James M. Poe, P.C., and Charles Hehmeyer of the Philadelphia law firm of Raynes McCarty represented the child’s guardian ad litem throughout this action.

About James M. Poe, P.C.

The law firm of James M. Poe, P.C., represents clients in cases involving medical negligence, motor vehicle collisions, products liability, premises liability and other personal injury matters. The firm serves clients throughout Atlanta and surrounding communities in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Douglas and DeKalb County. The firm’s office is located at 400 Interstate North Parkway SE, Suite 1020, Atlanta, GA, 30339. For more information, call (678) 501-6860 or submit the firm’s online contact form.

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