Marks Gray Attorneys Receive Defense Verdict in Duval County
Johnny Sarber and Heath Vickers of Marks Gray, P.A. received a complete defense verdict on January 29, 2016, following a five-day jury trial in Duval County Circuit Court. Mr. Sarber and Mr. Vickers represented Seldomridge Body Shop, a family-owned repair shop and towing company in Hilliard, Florida, along with the founder and owner of the company. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant’s driver allowed the tow truck he was driving to drift out of his lane and strike her pickup truck head-on as she waited in an intersection to make a left turn. Using physical evidence, expert analysis, and exposure of numerous inconsistencies in the Plaintiff’s story, Mr. Sarber and Mr. Vickers successfully argued that the Defendant properly maintained his position within his lane and that the Plaintiff solely caused the accident by turning in front of the tow truck, violating the Defendant’s right of way.
The Plaintiff had two low back surgeries that she claimed were caused by the accident and sought past and future medical expenses, future lost wages, and pain and suffering. The Plaintiff’s counsel, Harrell & Harrell, asked the jury to return a verdict totaling around $1.2 million.
Despite not complaining of low back pain for more than a month after the accident and despite an initial neurosurgical consult where surgery was not indicated, the Plaintiff’s primary treating physician testified at trial that the Plaintiff’s back pain and surgery resulted from the accident. He sent the Plaintiff to a surgeon, who performed surgery in November 2012 and March 2014 and testified by affidavit. The Plaintiff also called a radiologist and pain management physician as trial witnesses.
The Plaintiff admitted her traffic light was a green ball obligating her to yield the right of way but she maintained that she was sitting still and had not moved into the tow truck’s lane at the time of impact. The defense played an audiotape recording of the Plaintiff’s post-accident statement to an investigator claiming that she had a green arrow and had started to make her turn. The Defendants’ accident reconstruction engineering expert demonstrated that gouge and tire marks proved that the initial point of impact was 6 feet within the tow truck driver’s lane. The Plaintiff was allowed to call two accident reconstruction experts at trial, neither of whom was able to refute the physical evidence.
Johnny Sarber’s practice focuses on civil trial defense, primarily in areas of transportation law including tractor-trailer, heavy truck, passenger bus, school bus and other common carrier and commercial motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, and law enforcement defense. Mr. Sarber has been with Marks Gray since 1997 and now serves on the firm’s management committee. He is a member of the Florida Defense Lawyers Association (President 2011-2012), Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (current Board Director), Defense Research Institute, Trucking Industry Defense Association, and Transportation Lawyers Association, and is a founding member of the Florida Law Alliance.
Heath L. Vickers’ practice focuses on civil trial defense in the areas of transportation and trucking law, government liability, retail and premises liability, and medical liability. Mr. Vickers has been with Marks Gray since 2010. He is a member of the Florida Bar Association, the Jacksonville Bar Association, the Jacksonville Association Defense Counsel and the Florida Defense Lawyers Association where he serves as Co-Chair of the Premises Liability Committee. He was named a Rising Star by Florida Super Lawyers® Magazine in 2013, 2014, and 2015.Share