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Young v. Griffin

Court of Appeals of Georgia

October 29, 2014

YOUNG
v.
GRIFFIN

Page 626

Negligence. Ben Hill Superior Court. Before Judge Hughes.

Craig A. Webster, for appellant.

John T. Croley, Jr., Young, Thagard, Hoffman, Smith, Lawrence & Shenton, J. Holder Smith, Jr., Goodman, McDuffey, Lindsey & Johnson, James F. Cook, Jr., for appellee.

MCFADDEN, Judge. Andrews, P. J., and Ray, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 627

McFadden, Judge.

After a motorcycle ridden by Eugene Young collided with a truck driven by James Lamonte Griffin, Young sued Griffin for personal injury. A jury found Young 51 percent negligent and Griffin 49 percent negligent in connection with the collision, and the trial court entered a judgment in Griffin's favor. On appeal, Young argues that the trial court inadequately responded to improper closing arguments of Griffin's counsel, but even assuming the arguments were improper, they did not in reasonable probability change the result of the trial. Young also argues that the trial court gave three jury charges that [329 Ga.App. 414] were not supported by the evidence, but the evidence authorized two of the charges and the third was not reversible error. Accordingly, we affirm.

1. Trial evidence.

Young testified at trial that, on June 19, 2010, he was riding his motorcycle southbound toward a railroad crossing, traveling at 25 miles per hour. As he " got right at the track" the crossing lights flashed, and he heard a train. He then saw Griffin's truck blocking his lane on the other side of the crossing. He slammed on his brakes but was unable to stop and hit the truck. He was injured in the collision. In his cross-examination of Young, Griffin's counsel introduced into evidence photographs showing the skid marks left by the motorcycle.

Griffin testified that he was driving northbound toward the railroad crossing when the crossing lights began to flash and the crossing arm began to descend. There was no oncoming traffic between him and the crossing at that time, and he did not expect any vehicles to cross the tracks as the arm was descending. Griffin decided to make a U-turn to avoid waiting on the train. The turn took him " a few seconds." As he had almost completed the turn with his truck blocking the southbound lane, he heard and felt the impact of Young's motorcycle. He had not seen or heard Young before that point. The force of the impact damaged the frame of Griffin's truck.

The driver of a vehicle that was behind Griffin's truck at the time of the collision testified that the crossing lights began flashing and the crossing arm began descending before Griffin started the U-turn. The driver did not see any oncoming traffic when Griffin started the turn, and he did not see or hear Young before the collision occurred. The passenger in that vehicle also testified that the crossing arm began descending before Griffin started his U-turn, and that at that point she had not seen any oncoming traffic. She did not see where Young was when the gate began descending. She heard the impact of the collision, which occurred as Griffin was completing the U-turn.

The police officer who responded to and investigated the accident testified that the speed limit on that segment of road was 35 miles per hour. He testified that both Griffin and the driver of the vehicle behind Griffin's truck told him at the scene that Young had crossed the railroad tracks as the arm was descending. He determined that Griffin and Young both were at fault for the collision. (The trial court ...


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