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Hall jury returns $1.8 million verdict in 2017 wreck involving motorcyclist
10152021 VERDICT1
A photo of an August 2017 wreck in Buford taken by local police. Provided by R. Michael Coker.

A Hall County State Court jury returned a $1.8 million verdict Friday, Oct. 8, in favor of a motorcyclist injured in a 2017 wreck in Buford after a five-day trial, according to court documents.

Maxim J. Johnson was driving a Kawasaki ZL600 motorcycle Aug. 21, 2017, on Ga. 324/Gravel Springs Road westbound at Ga. 124/Braselton Highway in Buford.

The lawsuit filed in Hall County State Court alleged Mark L. Mullen, of Hoschton, failed to yield the right of way while trying to make a left turn in a Mercedes SUV out of the Regions Bank parking lot.

The lawsuit alleged that Johnson flew off the motorcycle and onto the street’s asphalt after the collision, leading to injuries in his hips, hands and legs.

“One of the breaks was so bad that the bone protruded through his skin. Maxim underwent multiple emergency surgeries requiring the placement of extensive hardware and had to undergo months of therapy to walk and perform simple daily tasks,” according to court documents.

In roughly two years after the wreck, the medical bills exceeded $330,000.

In a brief filed with the court, the defense claimed Mullen looked to the right and then to the left twice before pulling out into the road.

“While he saw traffic at a safe distance to his left, he did not see any vehicle that would pose a threat to him as he was pulling out into the street,” according to the brief. “(Johnson) was traveling more than 20 miles per hour in excess of the posted speed limit. Despite noting Mr. Mullen’s vehicle as a potential threat, (Johnson) maintained, in his words, the ‘status quo.’”

While the wreck happened in Gwinnett County, the case was filed in Hall County because of Mullen’s address in Hall.

The jury allocated Johnson to be 18% at fault while Mullen was 82% at fault, which caused the judgment awarded to be reduced to $1,530,894.25.

Mullen died after the filing of the lawsuit, and the case proceeded against the executor of Mullen’s estate.

Barbara Marschalk, the attorney for Mullen’s estate, did not return a request for comment Thursday, Oct. 14.

Johnson’s attorney, R. Michael Coker, said his client is doing much better now.

“If they put him under an X-ray, you’d see that he has all kinds of plates, rods and screws kind of throughout his entire body,” Coker said. “Basically, he has some level of hardware in pretty much every limb, both of his arms and both of his legs.”