Client Stories

Roderick Hemmingway

Drill Sargent Ollie Hemmingway was the embodiment of the new army. His commanding presence and soft spoken authority served him well in training Army combat recruits. His wife Gerry was a civilian administrative employee working at the base. Their loyalty and trust were severely tested when their young son nearly drowned at the Army base pool and suffered severe irreversible brain damage. The United States of America would not accept responsibility.

Hill and Bleiberg began a Federal Tort Claims Act case by filing a lawsuit against the United States of America and the United States Army in Federal District Court. Months later in Washington DC the head of the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice told the Hemmingway's and their lawyers that the government would never pay the many millions of damages sought. On the eve of trial before Judge Dudley Bowen in the Augusta division of Federal District Court, the Department of Justice reversed course. The facts developed by Hill and Bleiberg proved a case beyond a doubt establishing negligent supervision of children at the pool. While Roderick's brain injury could never be repaired. the child's care was guaranteed through a lifetime multimillion dollar annuity. Ollie and Gerry Hemmingway's faith and trust in the system they defend was restored.


Ishita Mahajan

The day Provesh Mahajan learned his family had won an immigration lottery to enter America had been the happiest day of his life. Now all he could think was that his 7 year old daughter would still be alive had they remained in India. Nidhi and Provesh were such typical American immigrants. Ambitious for their children, hard working and proud to be Americans. They moved to a small community in North Georgia. They joined the local Baptist Church. Their daughter, Ishita, was a star student and so popular in the local elementary school because of her warm smile and open heart. Ishita loved to dress up, especially wearing a dress. On the day that changed her parents lives, Mom drove her to a store where they spent precious time together looking through and choosing a dress. Mom told her that they had to leave to be home and prepare dinner for her father. Nidhi would always regret being so concerned with the time.

Firefighters said they could see this plume of smoke in the late afternoon sky from a mile away as they approached the highway intersection. A drunk woman driver in a SUV had struck the rear of their car while stopped at a red light. Good Samaritans pulled Nidhi from the driver's seat as the car became engulfed in flames. The damage to the rear of the car was so severe that no one knew their had been anyone in the rear seat until Nidhi began crying out for Ishita. Although the drunk driver had minimal insurance, Hill and Bleiberg found a way for this family to be compensated with many millions of dollars for their horrible loss. Ishita's elementary school classmates and teachers planted a tree in the front of the school to honor her memory.

Sarah Hodges

After consuming 9 mixed drinks in a local bar the defendant drove less than a mile before crossing the roadway center line. Fourteen year old Sarah was a passenger in the center rear seat of the oncoming vehicle on her way to cheerleading practice. The sudden collision left the drunk driver dead and Sarah with fractures of her low spine, her eye socket and severe internal injuries from her lap belt. Her claims were substantial but the drunk driver had only minimal liability insurance coverage. The miracles of modern medicine were restoring her to virtually full health after serious emergency surgeries. How should her case go forward? Bar Owner Liability, defective car design, multiple Uninsured Motorist coverages, Excess Insurance Contract Coverage all were pursued by Hill & Bleiberg. Each domino had to fall at precisely the right time for Sarah's claims to be fully and completely compensated - and they did. Orchestrating a multi million dollar recovery against an array of defendants is never as simple as it may appear in hindsight. Sarah is back to her active life with a lifetime of financial security.

Barbara Nester

In follow-up to a fatal crash on I-75 which occurred on Mother's Day, May 12, 2002. A Clayton County Jury returned a verdict in favor of the family of Barbara Nester, killed in the collision, in the sum of $ 7,030,146.78 (Seven million, Thirty thousand, One hundred Forty- Six and 78/100 dollars). The trial was held in the State Court of Clayton County. A tractor trailer had crossed from the northbound side of I-75 near Cartersville into the southbound lanes of traffic. The truck driver had lost consciousness with the cruise control on the 18 wheeler set at 70 m.p.h.

Barbara Nester, age 49, was traveling southbound on her way home from visiting her family for Mothers' Day. The collision was so severe that Barbara's Toyota literally exploded. Her automobile collided three times with the tractor trailer, spun around as it was lifted off the ground, and was knocked backwards 87 feet where it collided with an oncoming automobile. Amazingly, Barbara Nester survived the crash. For nearly an hour, she was trapped in her car's rubble while rescue teams frantically attended to her and extracted her from the car with the Jaws of Life. She was finally life-flighted to Grady Hospital's Trauma Center where she remained conscious and alert. Nearly 4 hours after the crash, Barbara Nester succumbed to multiple internal injuries from which she bled to death. Barbara Nester is survived by her parents, 2 brothers, and a sister.

The family was represented in the trial of this case by Hill & Bleiberg. The trial's courtroom responsibilities were shared equally by Gary Hill and Robert Bleiberg, who have been law partners their entire professional career. Post judgment interest accrued at over $2,000.00 per day. The judgment was fully satisfied on the 10th day after judgment was entered for $7,050,371.78.

Shani Elam
Portions of a Sept. 15, 1998 article from the Fulton County Daily Report
The family of a teenage girl who suffered massive brain injuries when she was hit by a car has settled her case for $15.13 million. A trial was to start Monday.

On June 2, 1995, Shani Elam and a friend were walking on a sidewalk along Riverdale Road in south Atlanta, according to Bleiberg. The two were struck by a car driver by Bridget Jordan, the assistant manager a Speedway store and service station on Riverdale at Interstate 285. Jordan was on company business, taking receipts to a bank, when her car jumped the curb at an intersection after striking another car.

Elam was thrown into the air and landed on her head. She was what Bleiberg calls "locked-in condition," meaning she has some awareness of her situation, which included constant joint pain and the limited, uncoordinated movements of her hands. She communicates by blinking, he says.

"It's probably the worst brain injury case anyone was about to try in Georgia," he says.

The money will be used to buy an annuity that is guaranteed to pay $41 million over 20 years, says plaintiff's lawyer Robert P. Bleiberg, who handled the case with partner Gary Hill. Bleiberg says this may be the largest Georgia pre-trial settlement for a single plaintiff.

The annuity will pay for Shani Elam's care for her lifetime and allow her family to build a handicapped-accessible home, purchase a van that can transport her and provide her with round-the-clock care, Bleiberg says.

A pediatric neurologist would have testified at trial that the life expectancy of someone with Elam's injuries is 20 to 30 years, Bleiberg.

A trial expected to last three weeks would have started Monday before Fulton State Court Judge Albert L. Thompson.

Defense Attorney Renee Kastanakis says her client, Speedway Super America, agreed to settle because the accident victim, Shani Elam, who is now 18, is "one of the most sympathetic plaintiff's we have ever seen."

"As much as a judge would instruct a jury they can't consider that, it's a huge risk, " Kastanakis says.

Taken from a Sept. 15, 1998 article reported by June D. Bell in the Fulton County Daily Report.

Donnadene Benjamin


Portions of a Nov. 11, 2002 article reported in the Fulton County Daily Report.
A Fulton jury has returned an $11.5 million medical malpractice verdict against an internist group, a physician, Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and the managed care company that owns it for the death of a 46-year-old sickle-cell anemia patient.

In this case, Donnadene Benjamin, a Jamaican who came to the United States in 1997 and worked as a pharmacist, was referred to Kennestone's in-house internist program in August 1999. She had been feeling tire, according to Hill.

Benjamin had maintained a low hemoglobin count for years without problems and had never had a blood transfusion, Hill said. Over a 24-hour period, Benjamin received six units of packed red blood cells and developed headaches, a bloated stomach and breathing difficulties, Hill said. Two days later, she had a massive brain hemorrhage, went into a coma and died two weeks later.

The plaintiff's lawyers Gary Hill of Hill & Bleiberg and Kevin H. Hudson of Foltz Martin contended that Donnadene Benjamin's death in 1999 was the result of unnecessary and improper transfusions.

Hill said giving a patient six units of blood within 24 hours "is completely unheard of" in such a situation. The transfusions changed Benjamin's blood chemistry and viscosity and led to the brain hemorrhage, he said. Defense attorney Green did not return a call seeking comment on the verdict.

Prejudgement interest added to the Oct. 31 verdict by Fulton State Judge John R. Mather raised the total recovery to 12.5 million for plaintiff Addisson Benjamin, whose wife, Donnadene, died two weeks after getting blood transfusions as Kennestone.

Hill said he believes there are other recent verdicts in the $10 million to $15 million range in which insurers had underestimated the value of wrongful death claims.

"There has been a real shift in the value of meritorious wrongful death claims," he said, citing a $13.4 million verdict earlier this year for a murder in a Gwinnett County apartment.

Taken from a Nov. 11, 2002 article reported by Trisha Renauld in the Fulton County Daily Report.