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FEB. 7 - Savannah Lawyers Win $11.5 Million Verdict Against U.S. Post Office

Mail carrier found negligent, injuring pregnant mother

ATLANTA – United States District Judge Clay D. Land recently ordered the United States of America to pay Mary Bilbrey and her profoundly injured son, Anthony Bilbrey, more than $11.5 million after United States Postal Service (USPS) employee Randy Malcom was found negligent in the operation of his mail delivery truck.

On Dec. 22, 2006, after an early morning of Christmas shopping at Walmart and a breakfast stop at Hardee’s, Mary Bilbrey – who was eight and a half months pregnant at the time – and her fiancé, Jason Murray, were driving to their Monroe, Georgia home.

Traveling south on Highway 11 Murray and Bilbrey both testified that Malcom suddenly pulled into their lane from his position off the right-hand side of the road. A commercially licensed, experienced driver, Murray swerved to avoid colliding with Malcom yet ultimately lost control of his vehicle. The car ran off the road into a fence where a wooden fence rail impaled the vehicle, forcefully striking Mary’s pregnant abdomen.

For the first time in the history of Georgia Middle District, an advisory jury was empanelled by Judge Land to hear the evidence in the case. The 12 men and women – representing all counties in the district – were tasked with determining who was at fault in the accident. After deliberating for approximately three hours, they unanimously found USPS employee Malcom solely responsible for the incident due to his negligence.

Savannah-based attorneys and co-lead counsel Jim Carter of James E. Carter & Associates and Stephen Lowry of Harris Penn Lowry, LLP, tried the two-part case over three days in the historic downtown Athens, Georgia, courthouse.

“This is, by far, one of the most tragic cases I’ve seen in my years of practicing law,” said Carter. “Mary was a healthy mother, with a healthy son on the way. It was three days before Christmas. And, in an instant, their lives were changed forever.”

Further, evidence at trial indicated that Malcom did not assist Bilbrey and Murray after the accident. “Five police officers testified that no post office truck was visible at the scene and no one came forward identifying themselves as a witness,” said Lowry. “Mr. Malcom caused the accident, saw it was devastating and subsequently left the scene, going on to finish his mail route earlier than normal on that day.

“Mary was very severely injured and, by all accounts, should have died at the scene,” said Lowry. “She suffered severe shock and remained in a coma for almost five months. Her son, who was delivered by emergency c-section on the day of the crash will never roll over, sit up, stand, walk, talk or eat on his own. Mary’s injuries are life-long as well. The callousness of Mr. Malcom still amazes me. In addition to that, the Postal Service did nothing to aid law enforcement during the investigation of this accident. It was gross negligence at every level.”

In a Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, Judge Land named Malcom solely responsible for the incident and determined the $11.5 million in damages.
At the request of Bilbrey, the court appointed a conservator to ensure the funds awarded to her son, Anthony, are properly managed and distributed so he will be properly cared for throughout his life.

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