A Gwinnett County judge has ordered a Lawrenceville business to pay $6.2 million in legal fees and expenses to the widow and estate of a local home builder after a jury last year found the firm liable for the man's death.
Gwinnett State Court Judge Joseph Iannazzone's April 9 ruling awarding the fees augments a $17.8 million wrongful death verdict against Lawrenceville business Classic Millwork Designs Inc. that a jury awarded to the widow and estate of homebuilder Wade Blackwell last year. In a companion ruling, Iannazzone also denied Classic Millwork's motions for a new trial and to set aside the verdict.
None of the verdict was apportioned to any other party or nonparty.
Blackwell plummeted three stories to his death in 2015 while trying to close a dormer window that Classic Millwork employees had improperly installed, according to court records and counsel for Blackwell's widow.
Attorney Steve Pickens—a partner at Lawrenceville law firm Mahaffey Pickens Tucker, which represented Blackwell's estate and his widow, Patricia—said after the trial that the dormer window installation was done by workers who never read the instructions.
The jury awarded $12,872,249 as the full value of Blackwell's life and added $5 million for pain and suffering associated with the shock and terror Blackwell would have experienced as he plummeted to the brick steps below, Pickens said. The jury also awarded nearly $14,000 for funeral expenses.
Pickens' co-counsel, Gerald Davidson Jr., said the legal fee award by Iannazzone brings the total owed by Classic Millwork to approximately $24 million."
Daily Report/ Greg Land
Attorneys Steven Pickens and Gerald Davidson fought to secure this verdict and award of attorneys fees.