The Champion Firm obtains $17 million settlement in wrongful death lawsuit against MARTA
The Champion Firm P.C., a Metro Atlanta personal injury law firm, obtained a $17 million settlement in a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). The lawsuit arose out of the death of Robert Smith, a contractor who died on June 3, 2018 while performing work as part of a project to install a cellular wireless system in MARTA’s stations and tunnels.
Smith’s surviving wife, Michelle Smith, hired Darl Champion of The Champion Firm, P.C., and co-counsel Rudjard Hayes of Sanchez Hayes & Associates, shortly after her husband’s death. The lawsuit against MARTA was filed in Fulton County Superior Court in 2018. MARTA originally refused to acknowledge 100% responsibility for Smith’s death and attempted to blame him and a co-worker as being partially responsible for the incident.
After extensive litigation over a year and a half, which included the depositions of more than 20 MARTA employees, MARTA brought in additional attorneys from Weinberg Wheeler to defend the case. The defense strategy then changed. MARTA accepted that it was 100% negligent in causing Smith’s death but now it argued that the Workers’ Compensation Act’s exclusive remedy provision barred the Plaintiff’s claims entirely. As a result, MARTA argued it had no liability at all for Smith’s death.
Extensive discovery was conducted on the exclusive remedy defenses. After a nearly seven hour hearing before Judge Emily Richardson in June 2021, the judge informed the parties in November 2021 that she was rejecting the exclusive remedy defenses MARTA had raised.
In March 2022, faced with the prospect of a trial for Rob Smith’s death, MARTA agreed to settle all claims against MARTA and its employees for $17 million.
“Rob Smith was a caring father, husband, son, brother, friend, and co-worker who was loved by all. Ultimately, after 3 years and 9 months of litigation, MARTA and its insurer took full responsibility and acknowledged the multiple errors that its employees committed,” Champion said. “While no amount of money will ever fill the tremendous void his loss has left in the lives of his wife, children, family and friends, this settlement will allow Michelle and her children to have closure and financial security.”
About The Champion Firm P.C.:
Started in 2014, The Champion Firm P.C. is a top-rated, full-service Metro Atlanta personal injury firm specializing in motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, wrongful death, and medical malpractice. Led by Attorney Darl H. Champion Jr., The Champion Firm team has successfully litigated and settled over $90 million for clients all across Georgia. If you or someone you know was injured in Georgia as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact The Champion Firm P.C. today for a free consultation.