Law Firm of Cochran & Edwards

Local Law Firm Wins $12.5 Million Jury Verdict


After an almost month-long trial in Douglas County State Court, a jury returned a verdict for $12.5 million against Suzuki Motor Corporation and its US based subsidiary, Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. Douglasville resident Adrian Johns suffered permanent spine injuries when the front brake on his Suzuki GSX-R motorcycle failed mid-ride, causing him to a crash on August 12, 2013 in Cobb County. In this highly contested case, the jury found that the crash was caused by a defective design of the front brake. The jury also found the defendants were liable for failure to warn of a known danger and for negligent conduct of a recall.

The evidence at trial revealed that Suzuki knew there was a problem in the design of its front brakes since the fall of 2012, but chose not to warn customers or dealers until then end of the busy spring and summer selling season. Suzuki ordered parts for a planned recall in April of 2013, but waited until October before publicly announcing the recall. Unfortunately for Mr. Johns, he tried to ride his bike to work one day in August, while the defect and recall plans were still closely guarded secrets in Suzuki.

Suzuki vigorously defended the case, spending over $1.3 million on two defense expert witnesses, arguing that the recall was irrelevant and blamed Mr. Johns for causing the crash through a combination of rider error and poor maintenance. According to Randy Edwards from Cochran & Edwards, LLC in Smyrna, “It is bad enough that Suzuki put AJ on a bike with a defective brake, but to add insult to injury, they argued that AJ panicked and somehow forgot to use his front brake when he needed it. Given his background in Special Forces for the US Air Force, we did not think the jury would buy that defense. And they did not.”

The jury agreed with the plaintiffs and awarded $10.5 million in damages to Adrian Johns. His damages included claims for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages and pain & suffering. The jury also awarded Adrian’s wife, Gwen Johns, $2 million in damages for her losses. Suzuki is expected appeal the verdict, although a successful appeal would likely mean another trial in front of another jury. “While Suzuki avoided liability for punitive damages, another jury may well tag Suzuki for substantial punitive damages” Edwards said. “We poured through hundreds of thousands of pages of Japanese documents and found some incredible documents where Suzuki was weighing the pro’s and con’s of conducting a recall, which the ultimately did, but not until after they got past the spring & summer selling season. Another jury may well be outraged at this conduct.”

The jury heard from over 25 witnesses, including multiple expert witnesses, doctors and other Suzuki riders who experienced the same type of sudden failure while riding. This was the first of several cases around the country to go trial, including a case in Jackson Mississippi where Edwards is co-counsel.

If you have been injured in a wreck caused by someone else, call Randy Edwards at Cochran & Edwards, LLC, (770) 575-8617 or email him at randy@cochranedwardslaw.com. Mention this flyer and for a free, no obligation consultation.

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