Verdict for Apartment Community Client in Georgia
On January 29, 2015, Kate Whitlock from the Atlanta office won a defense verdict and was awarded attorney’s fees by a Fulton State Court jury. HPTY’s client, a company that owns and manages apartment communities, was the target of a lengthy and active lawsuit by one of its former tenants who, the night prior to trial, demanded $480,000 in settlement.
Plaintiff contended that she was exposed to a white powder while she was a tenant at one of our client’s apartment complexes. She initially claimed the white powder was silica, but we proved it was sodium sulfate. Plaintiff claimed to have developed permanent respiratory disease and been totally disabled as a result of the exposure. Kate and the trial team defended the personal injury claim primarily on causation grounds. Through our experts, Dr. James Wellman, a pulmonologist, and Mr. Charlie Blake, an industrial hygienist, they were able to prove that sodium sulfate is the active ingredient in over-the-counter consumer carpet cleaners like Love My Carpet and Carpet Fresh. It does not cause respiratory disease. Further, Plaintiff’s symptoms were not consistent with respiratory disease.
HPTY filed a counterclaim for early termination damages under the lease and for attorneys’ fees and expenses of litigation under Georgia’s stubborn litigiousness statute. Judge Fred Eady directed a verdict on Plaintiff’s personal injury claims, but required proof that the apartment was habitable in order to recover under the rental agreement.
The 12 person jury returned a verdict in favor of our client in the amount of $106,932 ($4,932 under the lease and $102,000 under the stubbornly litigious statute).