Reaction to Jury Award in Jasper County

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

A Jasper County jury awarded $131 million in compensatory damages Thursday, after Cole's family alleged negligence on the part of Ford Motor Company.

Cole was driving a Ford SUV in 2001 when he was involved in a wreck that claimed his life.

Cole was a promising minor league baseball player from Meridian and was in the New York Mets system at the time of his death.

Long-time Meridian defense attorney Wink Glover said he feels confident an appeal by Ford will be forthcoming.

"Now Jasper County has a reputation for having plaintiff- friendly jurors in cases down there," said Glover. "That is a rural area, but they are plaintiff-friendly."

"You have certain areas of the state where lawyers who try cases feel like there is a potential of large verdicts, just because of the jury makeups in those areas of the states," said attorney Rick Barry.

Glover says he would like to hear more details about the trial, such as who the witnesses were and what instructions the jurors were given before deliberation.

Jasper County has two county seats, Bay Springs and Paulding. Paulding, where this case was tried, is known for producing sympathetic juries. Bay Springs is known for being more conservative.

Will the award stand? There is reason to believe that Cole was on his way to making tens or hundreds of millions of dollars as a major league baseball player. His statistics for his final minor league season were impressive: a more than .300 batting average, with 19 home runs and 86 RBI, and 69 stolen bases in just 137 games.

"He could have become a highly-paid baseball player," said Glover. "He could have also broken his leg or something else that would have snuffed out his real opportunity as a major league baseball player."

"I think it will be taught, the fact that you have the potential in this state to be able for a jury to return a verdict in excess of $100 million," said Barry.

"No doubt there will be an appeal, but then again, I'm surprised Ford settled the punitive damages claim, because that's not done often," said Glover.


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