The family of a 50-year-old Gainesville man who was killed in 2016 by an overturning tractor-trailer was awarded more than $15 million Feb. 6 in a wrongful death case.
“It gives them the opportunity to have some closure, to feel like their lost son and lost brother has been honored,” attorney Shane Lazenby said. “They’ve been jacked around by this insurance company for more than three years, and finally they get somebody to listen.”
Kip Eugene Holland was walking Dec. 8, 2016, on Browns Bridge Road to a convenience store and was on his way back home. Lazenby said Holland was about 500 feet from home when he was run over near Mincey Marble in West Hall.
The driver, JW Harper, of Section, Ala., and Holland were transported with injuries from the scene to Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
Harper said at the time that he did not see anybody in the roadway, according to Georgia State Patrol.
“When asked, (Harper) said he had begun choking, having difficulty breathing and thought he passed out,” according to state patrol. “He said he did not remember the crash or what happened.”
The cab of the truck detached and went across the road into the Mincey Marble parking lot, where it struck two unoccupied cars.
When the trailer overturned, Holland was struck and was found by authorities at the rear of the trailer.
Holland’s mother and brother filed the civil action June 8, 2017, in U.S. District Court in Gainesville against Cypress Insurance Co., JW Harper Farms and Harper.
The defendants’ lead counsel, Grant Smith, did not return a request for comment Friday, Feb. 7.
The jury returned a verdict after 40 minutes of $13 million for wrongful death, $2 million in pain and suffering and $29,363 for medical and funeral expenses. The jury also awarded $6 million in litigation expenses.
"The defense attempted to justify Harper’s actions contending his departure from the road was due to a sudden and incapacitating illness as the result of an act of God," Lazenby said. "Mr. Harper was a 76-year-old man with a plethora of medical problems and records of falsifying his DOT medical exam history on three separate occasions. A medical emergency was in no way unforeseeable.”
Lazenby said the Holland family are “good, hard-working people who only wanted to honor the life of their loved one.”