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2 Hall firefighters reach settlement over 2014 training accident
All 3 crew members injured when ladder bucket failed have settled cases
Will Griffin
Will Griffin

Two Hall County firefighters injured in a July 22, 2014, training incident have reached a settlement with firetruck manufacturer Sutphen, their attorneys confirmed Friday.

Will Griffin, T.J. Elliott and Stephen Jackson fell 44 feet in a ladder truck bucket last year at the Allen Creek Training Center. Griffin and Jackson agreed this week to end the litigation against the Sutphen corporation and reach a settlement. Elliott settled last month.

“It was resolved to Mr. Griffin’s satisfaction, and he’s glad that it was resolved early in the process,” his attorney Dennis Cathey said.

Citing a confidentiality agreement, Cathey and Jackson’s attorney, Allan Myers, did not disclose exact figures of the settlement sum.

Griffin fractured his back and dislocated his shoulder, according to court documents. Jackson fractured his sternum and ribs as well as suffering a cut to his head, according to court documents.

Myers, who represented Jackson and his wife, Misty, said the couple continues to “deal with the continuing effects of the injuries,” but added that the litigation is now concluded.

“Misty and Stephen both are very appreciative of the support this community has shown throughout this entire ordeal,” Myers said.

Griffin, Elliott and Jackson filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court in early June seeking damages for medical expenses and other costs totalling more than $990,000 collectively.

Griffin and Jackson have been unable to return to work, according to their respective attorneys. Hall County Deputy Fire Chief Chad Black previously told The Times that Elliott returned to administrative duty toward the end of May.

Elliott’s attorney Shane Lazenby said his client finalized a settlement agreement Aug. 31 for a “pleasing sum.”
Jackson is still looking at another possible surgery related to his vertebrae, Myers said.

“It would be an extension of the fusion surgery that he had,” Myers said. “There have been complications with that, so the medical people are saying that it’s probable he’s going to have additional surgery.”

Witnesses to the incident reported hearing a loud pop and watching the ladder truck bucket drop to half its original height off the ground.

Hall County government purchased the truck from Sutphen for $505,000, a vehicle previously belonging to the Bluffton, S.C., Township Fire District.

The South Carolina agency reported multiple instances of cable failure with the aerial device.

Hall County recouped its money in November.

Sutphen’s lead attorney Michael Rust was not immediately available for comment.


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