George Hall Named Director for GDLA

Congratulations to George Hall for being named to a 3 year term as a Director of the Southern District for Georgia Defense Lawyers Association.  Part of GDLA’s mission is: “to support and work for the improvement of the adversary system of jurisprudence in our courts, to work for the elimination of court congestion and delays in civil litigation, and to promote improvements in the administration of justice and to increase the quantity and quality of the service and contribution which the legal profession renders to the community, State, and nation.”

Congratulations to all of the 2015-2016 Officers and Directors!

Officers

President: Matthew G. Moffett – Gray, Rust, St. Amand, Moffett & Brieske, Atlanta
President-Elect: Peter D. Muller – Goodman McGuffey Lindsey & Johnson, Savannah
Secretary: Hall F. McKinley, III – Drew Eckl & Farnham, Atlanta
Treasurer: Sarah B. (Sally) Akins – Ellis, Painter, Ratterree & Adams, Savannah

Executive Committee  (includes the officers and three most recent Past Presidents)

Immediate Past President: Kirby G. Mason – Hunter Maclean, Savannah
Past President 2013-2014: Theodore (Ted) Freeman – Freeman Mathis & Gary, Atlanta
Past President 2012-2013: Lynn M. Roberson – Swift Currie McGhee & Hiers, Atlanta

Vice Presidents

Craig C. Avery – Cowsert & Avery, Athens
David N. Nelson – Chambless Higdon Richardson Katz & Griggs, Macon
Jeffrey S. Ward – Drew Eckl & Farnham, Brunswick
James D. “Dart” Meadows – Balch & Bingham, Atlanta

Directors

Northern District
Brian T. Moore (2016) – Drew Eckl & Farnham, Atlanta
Pamela Lee (2017) – Swift Currie McGhee & Hiers, Atlanta
Wayne S. Melnick (2018) – Freeman Mathis & Gary, Atlanta

Middle District
Jason C. Logan (2016) – Constangy Brooks & Smith, Macon
Jason D. Lewis (2017) – Chambless Higdon Richardson Katz & Griggs, Macon
Robert R. (Rusty) Gunn, II (2018) – Martin Snow, Macon

Southern District
James S.V. Weston (2016) – Trotter Jones, Augusta
James W. Purcell (2017) – Fulcher Hagler, Augusta
George R. Hall (2018) – Hull Barrett, Augusta

State-at-Large
William T. (Bill) Casey, Jr. – Hicks Casey & Morton, Marietta
Martin A. (Marty) Levinson – Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young, Atlanta
Ashley Rice – Waldon Adelman Castilla Hiestand & Prout, Atlanta

Partnership Raised 54,837.5 lbs of Food for Legal Food Frenzy

We-Did-ItWE DID IT!

Hull Barrett, First Citizens Bank and Ivey Residential set a goal of raising 45,000 pounds for Legal Food Frenzy.

The grand total of collected food and funds equaled 54,837.5 pounds for the joint initiative, a 75% increase over 2014 and an amount that even surprised the partnership!

The food and funds will remain local for the benefit of Golden Harvest Food Bank.  The donation provides a much needed supply of food to help the families of those kids during summer months when schools are closed.  Hull Barrett, First Citizens Bank and Ivey Residential are excited that the contribution will help increase the food stores in the distribution center.  Golden Harvest Food Bank set a regional goal of 160,000 pounds from all the legal organizations in the area; the partnership is glad to provide 1/3 of that goal.

Hull Barrett, First Citizens Bank and Ivey Residential kindly thank all of the donors that made this campaign a success.  The companies witnessed extreme generosity within the 2 week campaign.  In kind donations include Firehouse Subs for donating coupons to be used during First Citizens’ “Food Friday” event and Cabela’s for donating a gift card to be utilized as a prize for collections.

Pictured right to left: George Robertson (Associate at Hull Barrett and City Representative for Legal Food Frenzy), Rebecca Plankey (Vice President, Retail Sales Manager at First Citizens Bank), Lindsey Swartzbaugh (Director of Marketing at Hull Barrett), Caroline Ashe Teague (Sales and Marketing Director at Ivey Residential), and William J. Keogh III (Partner at Hull Barrett and Golden Harvest Food Bank Board of Directors).

3 Days Left: The Importance of Golden Harvest Food Bank

Hull Barrett partnered with First Citizens Bank and Ivey Residential to raise 45,000 pounds of food and funds during Legal Food Frenzy benefiting Golden Harvest Food Bank.  With the fundraiser ending in only 3 days (May 1st), we have received tremendous response from the community.  We are 68% to our goal!

In response to our outreach, the firm was asked why Golden Harvest Food Bank is important.  Dedication to the community is part of Hull Barrett’s mission.  The lawyers at Hull Barrett have also responded about the local non-profit battling hunger and community outreach in general:

Lanier“Food banks are among the most efficient non-profit entities in the country. According to GuideStar, the median program ratio for food banks is 94%. Golden Harvest Food Bank’s program ratio is even better – 96%.  Supporting Golden Harvest is a smart choice, and a good use of charitable dollars.” N. Shannon Gentry Lanier
Hudson-D“’Those of us who are blessed not to ever worry if we will have enough to eat, and are in a position to help those who are not so fortunate, should take great joy in giving to the Legal Food Frenzy.’  For us people of faith, whether in this way or some other, we are commanded to do for those who are in need.” David Hudson
Hall“We are blessed to live in the greatest country on earth. No child here should be hungry.” George Hall
Smith2“Golden Harvest Food Bank is a tremendous way to support those families in need throughout the year.”  Mary Runkle Smith
Lang-Cropped-Reduced“When I asked my daughter, a teacher, about how hunger affects children’s performance, she said, ‘everyone knows what it feels like to be hungry.  All you think about at the time is being hungry.  You sit and watch the clock until lunch.  If you aren’t thinking about the hunger itself, you are thinking about how embarrassing it will be if your stomach growls loud enough for anyone to know that you are hungry.  If your basic needs aren’t met, how in the world would you be able to learn anything?’” Susan R. Lang, Director of Administration
Driver3“It’s important for everyone to remember that we are part of a larger community of people and families that can use our help.” Chris Driver
Robertson“The Georgia Legal Food Frenzy is a tremendous opportunity for the Augusta legal community to show its appreciation and support of the CSRA.  Through this program, each legal entity that provides aid to those who are hungry can take pride in being a catalyst to the ultimate goal of ending hunger in the CSRA.  This  event furnishes a forum  where friendly competition is encouraged and, unlike court room litigation, everyone who participates is a winner.” George Robertson
Keogh“I have been proud to serve on the Board of Directors of the Golden Harvest Food Bank for several years now.  Golden Harvest, and its partner organizations, have been instrumental in addressing the needs of those in our community who are struggling.  Golden Harvest distributed over 17 million pounds of food in the CSRA last fiscal year, and is poised to distribute even more this year.  Giving back to those in need is an important responsibility we all have, and dedicated organizations such as Golden Harvest really make a difference.” Bill Keogh

 

Partnership’s Goal to Raise 45,000 lbs of Food during Legal Food Frenzy

This is Hull Barrett’s 4th year and First Citizens’ 2nd year participating in Legal Food Frenzy.  New to the partnership is Ivey Residential!  Firehouse Subs also offered an in-kind donation (more info below).

A company that is doing business in the community should also SERVE the community.  Hull Barrett realizes a mere monetary donation from the firm is not enough to make a real dent in the hunger stats that face the CSRA and surrounding areas.

Hull Barrett, First Citizens Bank and Ivey Residential are looking to spend more time and effort to bring awareness to the food insecurity and hunger statistics, and more, to do something about it.

3 companies, working together, have a real shot at making a difference.  We have set an ambitious goal of 45,000 lbs of food and funds, a goal that cannot be met without the help of the public’s generosity.

So, what is Legal Food Frenzy?

The Office of the Attorney General, the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia, and the Georgia Food Bank Association have joined forces to create a friendly food and fund drive to benefit food banks in Georgia from April 20 – May 1, 2015.

Nearly 60% of Georgia’s public school children are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

1 in 5 Georgians – are food insecure, meaning they don’t always know where they will find their next meal.

1 in 4 children in Georgia are food insecure.

The Legal Food Frenzy provides a much needed supply of food and funds to regional food banks to help the families of those kids during summer months when schools are closed.  The Legal Food Frenzy is timed to help meet that demand.

Golden Harvest hopes to raise $40,000 during Legal Food Frenzy.  Our partnership with First Citizens Bank and Ivey Residential would like to raise 20% of that goal.  That’s high!  But possible with the help of the community!  Interested in helping, click HERE.

How are we going to do it?

First Citizens Bank will have barrels in each branch location to collect food and funds during the 2 week drive.  In addition, they are hosting “Food Friday” on April 24th!  Every customer that brings in food or funds to a First Citizens location will receive a coupon for a free drink and chips at Firehouse Subs.  Firehouse Subs was generous for its contribution toward our goal.

Ivey Residential will gather donations and food on Sunday, April 26th from 10 am – 2 pm in the Crawford Creek and Canterbury Farms communities. Residents that want to help fight hunger but won’t be home may leave clearly marked donation bags on his/her front porch. Ivey Residential has also set up collection bins in its office and in the model homes of Crawford Creek and Canterbury Farms.

Hull Barrett will also have barrels in its offices in Augusta, Aiken and Evans.  Hull Barrett is going to take a grass roots approach with each attorney in the office reaching out and connecting in his or her own personal way.  We are also going to have a drawing the last day of the food drive, May 1st.  Anyone that donates online will be entered to win a $50 gift card to Whole Foods! Hull Barrett will also be giving away additional prizes at random, including during the first week of the fundraiser. So don’t wait to donate online!

Golden Harvest serves all of the CSRA. Let’s work together to make our community less hungry.

DONATION BUTTON

 

Questions about Social Media in the Workplace?

Social media has long since passed a fad and is now central to daily existence with 74% of adults utilizing a social media platform.*  That leaves some bubbling questions for employers and employees about social media and the workplace.

What can an employer do if it disagrees or dislikes a post an employee made on social?

What can an employee say online?

Do privacy settings make a difference?

What about right to privacy?

What does the law have to say?

These topics will be covered by employment lawyer Tom Cathey in the next Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Women In Business lunch on March 17 at 11:30 at Legends Club.  Click here to register:   http://bit.ly/1C7AgHR

For more information about Tom Cathey, click HERE.

 

 

Georgia Supreme Court Decision on Hospital Lien Laws

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Many Georgia plaintiff and health care lawyers were paying attention the Georgia Supreme Court decision on Monday.  The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the appeals court decision and validated hospital lien laws.  “Kight is important to all Georgia hospitals for preserving their right to make use of the Georgia Hospital Lien Act without exposure to individual or class action claims of the type asserted by the plaintiff,” said David Hudson, Managing Partner of Hull Barrett and attorney who argued the case for MCG Health, Inc.

The Daily Report covers the story in full:

Hospital Wins Right to Place Liens on Patients’ Injury Suits

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday scuttled a lawsuit against an Augusta hospital over its collection practices, rejecting a patient’s attempt to test the limits of the state’s lien laws.

Although the unanimous decision was a victory for the hospital run by MCG Health Inc., plaintiffs lawyers who were watching the case could take some comfort in the high court distancing itself from remarks in a Court of Appeals decision that appeared to give hospitals even greater leeway to place liens on their patients’ personal injury suits

Personal injury lawyers had been watching the case closely because they fear if liens are large enough, they could prevent patients from collecting on their personal injury settlements, depriving them of the full benefit of health insurance.

Some patients with cases against parties who allegedly caused their injuries claimed the hospital filed liens even when the patients’ health insurers had paid their bills.

The winning lawyer for the hospital, David Hudson of Hull Barrett in Augusta, noted that Monday’s decision rejected the plaintiff’s contention that a hospital must know at the time it files a lien the exact amount that it ultimately could collect via that route. He has said a lien can protect a hospital if a patient’s health insurer won’t pay and tells the hospital to seek recourse from the party that caused the injury, or if health coverage has lapsed.

The bottom line, said Hudson on Monday, is that “what a hospital can and cannot recover under a hospital lien will be governed by the language of the contract … with the patient’s insurer.”

A lawyer for the plaintiff, Harry Revell of Nicholson Revell in Augusta, said it was “somewhat comforting” that the Supreme Court hadn’t adopted in full the Court of Appeals opinion in the case—which he said allowed hospitals to “balance bill” through liens to collect the difference between what a plaintiff’s health insurer has agreed by contract to pay and what the hospital considers the value of the services provided, regardless of what the hospital’s contract with the insurance company says. But he said it was disappointing that Monday’s opinion didn’t acknowledge that it took a lawsuit and several months of litigation for MCG to reduce by about $35,000 what it was seeking from the plaintiff via a lien.

In the case decided by the state Supreme Court on Monday, plaintiff Christopher Kight was injured in an automobile accident in which he was a passenger in a car driven by an allegedly intoxicated driver. He received medical care for his injuries from MCG.

In March 2007, the hospital filed a lien for $36,177.68 in hospital charges against any causes of action Kight might have based on his injuries. That amount didn’t take into account that Kight was entitled to lower prices due to the discounted rate in the contract between the hospital and Kight’s health insurance carrier, Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

That December, after Kight received an offer from the driver to settle his claim, Kight demanded that the hospital cancel its lien, saying there were no unpaid charges in light of Kight’s insurance with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. When the hospital failed to cancel the lien, Kight sued the hospital.

In September 2008, while the suit was pending, the hospital filed an amended lien for only $863.10 that the hospital said superseded the previous lien. The hospital said Kight owed deductibles and co-pays in that amount.

Augusta Circuit Superior Court Judge Sheryl Jolly granted partial summary judgment to Kight and declared the March 2007 lien void and invalid. She later awarded Kight $40,950 in attorney fees and $3,376.60 in expenses, subject to a set-off of $863.10, representing what Kight owed the hospital.

The hospital appealed, and the case went to all 12 judges of the Georgia Court of Appeals because one of the court’s precedents was under consideration. In a unanimous decision written by Judge Gary Andrews, the court reversed. Andrews wrote that because Kight’s claim against the driver was not limited to the discounted charges the insurer paid to the hospital and, under the state lien statute, the hospital steps into Kight’s shoes for purposes of receiving payment from the driver or the driver’s insurer, the hospital could file a lien for the unpaid portion of the charges it had billed.

In a special concurrence representing half of the court, Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes said that a 2005 Court of Appeals opinion that Andrews said had been implicitly overruled in part by the Georgia Supreme Court remained good law for this proposition: a hospital can contractually waive its right to collect on a hospital lien through a “no recourse” provision in the hospital’s contract with a patient’s health insurer.

The state Supreme Court initially denied the plaintiff’s request that it hear the case but changed course after the plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration. The court later received amicus briefs in support of the plaintiff from the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and Blue Cross.

On Monday, the court affirmed the appeals court’s ruling that the lien was valid and the award of attorney fees to the plaintiff was improper. In a relatively brief five-page opinion, Justice Harold Melton emphasized the court’s ruling was limited to the facts of Kight’s case and said unspecified portions of Andrews’ opinion were “dicta” and not relevant to the case at hand.

The Supreme Court’s decision appeared to turn on the Court of Appeals’ finding that the hospital was owed some money when it filed its initial $36,177.68 lien—albeit only $261.10 in unpaid discounted payments due from Blue Cross and $186.48 in unpaid deductibles or co-pays due from Kight. (The $863.10 amount sought by the subsequent lien reflected additional care Kight received following the filing of the first lien.)

“Contrary to the ruling of the trial court and Kight’s arguments to this court,” wrote Melton, “the hospital was owed money on the date that the lien was filed. As a result, Kight’s principal argument that there was no debt on which to base any lien must fail.”

Melton added that the hospital hadn’t waived its right to impose a lien in Kight’s case, saying that, unlike in cases in which a hospital has agreed it had no recourse whatsoever except against a patient’s insurer, the hospital in its contract with Blue Cross had explicitly reserved its right to collect deductibles and co-pays directly from Kight.

Melton also rejected Kight’s argument that the hospital’s lien was void because it did not reflect the correct amount owed on the day it was filed, saying there was nothing in the state lien statute that required that.

Not long after the Court of Appeals had ruled in Kight’s case, a panel of that court reversed class certification in a similar lawsuit against MCG, noting the hospital treats insured patients under at least 35 different contracts with 35 different insurance carriers. Lawyers for both sides said Monday’s decision spelled the end to the claims of the named plaintiffs in that case, Revell explaining that in that case the hospital had canceled its liens altogether.

The case is Kight v. MCG Health, No. S14G0603.

Read more: http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202719376656/Hospital-Wins-Right-to-Place-Liens-on-Patients-Injury-Suits#ixzz3TKQnfQS0

Hiring an Accounting Coordinator

Hull Barrett is Hiring!

We are currently accepting applications for an Accounting Coordinator – Accounts Payable.

Applicant will report to the Director of Administration, work in the downtown office and perform a range of general clerical, accounting and bookkeeping support functions including but not limited to:

  • Perform all necessary account, bank and other reconciliations as assigned
  • Monitor customer accounts for non-payment and delayed payment
  • Perform all necessary accounts payable duties including but not limited to:
    • Check, verify and process vendor invoices
    • Prepare payments for signature
    • Sort, code and enter accounts payable data
    • Analyze discrepancies and unpaid invoices
    • Maintain vendor files
    • 1099 maintenance
  • Update, verify and maintain accounting journals and ledgers and other financial records
  • Assist in month end reporting procedures
  • Find and use accounting data to resolve accounting problems and discrepancies
  • Perform filing and general administrative tasks
  • Coordinate purchase of office supplies from established vendors
  • Oversee maintenance of closed files and off-site record storage
  • Assist with accounts receivable and other projects as assigned
  • Liaise with other departments/customers/vendors

Education and Experience

  • 1 – 3 years of experience in clerical accounting
  • Associate degree in business or accounting or similar degree an advantage
  • Accurate data entry and 10 key skills
  • MS Office (Especially Excel) and knowledge of accounting software
  • Knowledge of generally accepted accounting and bookkeeping principles and procedures

Key Competencies

  • Planning and organizing
  • Detail oriented, professional attitude, reliable
  • Must have strong work ethic
  • Must be well organized and a self-starter
  • Problem-solving
  • Team player
  • Communication skills

To apply, please send resumes with cover letter and references to employment@hullbarrett.com.

Hull Barrett included in 2015 “Best Law Firms”

Hull Barrett, PC is included in the 2015 “Best Law Firms” with a Tier 1 Ranking.

The “Best Law Firms” were announced publicly by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. Inclusion signifies “professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.” Only 7 Practice Areas are ranked in the Augusta area with only 11 firms making the list. Hull Barrett, PC is ranked in the following Practice Areas:

  • Commercial Litigation
  • Health Care Law
  • Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants

In addition to the Tier 1 Rankings, Hull Barrett received a Tier 2 Ranking in Mediation.

“To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top 4 percent of practicing attorneys in the US.” Twelve attorneys from Hull Barrett, PC were selected by their peers for inclusion in 2015 Best Lawyers in America® as released earlier in this year.

The full national publication may be viewed online at: http://bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

Neal Dickert Co-Authors Chapter in Trying Your First Case: A Practitioner’s Guide

Hull Barrett is pleased to announce that attorney and partner Neal Dickert co-authored a chapter in Trying Your First Case: A Practitioner’s Guide.

clip_image001Available August 1, 2014, “Trying Your First Case gives lawyers both young and experienced, a ‘playbook’ to use in preparing a case for trial.”  Co-authored by Neal, Chapter 8 focuses on “issues relating to the choice of the witnesses to use, meeting and preparing the witness, preparation and use of a trial notebook, organization of the direct examination of the witnesses, use of documentary evidence, and handling the difficult witness.”

Neal Dickert began practicing law in 1974.  From 1997-2007, he served as a Superior Court Judge for the Augusta circuit and returned to practice with Hull Barrett in 2008.  Practicing in the areas of general, civil and commercial litigation; mediation and arbitration; and appeals practice, Neal is a frequent lecturer on trial practices, ethics, evidentiary issues and testimony.  He also wrote the Georgia Handbook on Foundations and Objections.  Neal has successfully mediated over 300 cases including personal injury, product liability, premises liability, contractual disputes, business dissolution, medical malpractice, employment litigation and divorce.  Neal is the only Georgia-based lawyer to contribute to the “how-to” guide to presenting a case at trial.

For more information about the book, check out the American Bar Association website.

2014 American Red Cross Augusta Chapter Heroes Campaign and Breakfast

The American Red Cross held its annual Heroes Breakfast on June 4, 2014 at First Baptist Church of Augusta.

The breakfast serves as a capstone of a month long fundraising effort.  Hero volunteers raised over $45,000 for the organization.  The funds are allocated to stay local and “aid during times of disaster, seeing to the welfare of military families and providing citizens with lifesaving CPR and first aid skills.”

During the breakfast, The American Red Cross recognizes local individuals that have gone above and beyond to impact the life of another.  These individuals do not consider themselves to be a hero by definition, but simply acted according to conscience and intuition.  This event “celebrate[s] the spirit of humanitarianism by honoring those individuals in the CSRA who have shown courage, kindness and unselfish character by their acts of heroism in our community.”  The CSRA is better and stronger because of these heroes.

Brooks Hudson, Associate at Hull Barrett, PC, is a board member of the American Red Cross Augusta Chapter and helped organize the event.  The firm is a proud sponsor of this great cause.

 

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Pictured: Milton Martin, Of Counsel, (left) and Brian Coursey, Associate, (right), lawyers at Hull Barrett, PC.

JAMES Magazine Releases 2014 Most Influential Attorneys

JAMES Magazine, a leading Georgia publication focusing on government, politics and business, has selected lawyer David Hudson and lawyer Patrick Rice, both of Hull Barrett, PC, as one of the magazine’s 2014 Most Influential Attorneys.  Only 4 attorneys in private practice in the CSRA received this honor. This recognition was announced in the May/June 2014 edition of the publication.

“Along with the dictionary definition of ‘influential,’ JAMES Magazine’s spotlight on ‘influential Georgia attorneys’ takes into consideration not just expertise in court … but activity influencing the court of public opinion. This listing takes into account a lawyer who may or may not serve powerful clients but who shapes public or private policies- sometimes behind the scenes – in the interconnected and fascinating world of the law, business, and politics.  So this is not your usual ‘super lawyer’ list of the many fine Peach State attorneys who are tops in their areas of litigation.”

Phil Kent compiled the article featured in JAMES Magazine.  He is also “co-publisher of Insider Advantage and a panelist on Atlanta Fox5 WAGA-TV’s ‘The Georgia Gang.’”

Congratulations to David Hudson, Patrick Rice and all the influencers of the State of Georgia.

2014 Legal Food Frenzy Results

Yesterday, the Attorney General announced the results of Legal Food Frenzy:

In total, 270 firms participated and raised 1,140,672 lbs. of food!

Hull Barrett, PC raised over 32,000 lbs. of food! All of the food and funds raised will remain local and benefit Golden Harvest Food Bank.  Hull Barrett raised the most amount of poundage for this competition for the Golden Harvest Food Bank region.

Thank you to the attorneys, staff members, business associates, and clients that made this fundraiser a success. And a special thanks to First Citizens Bank for allowing Hull Barrett to place barrels in 8 locations for convenient collections. 32,000 lbs. will certainly help the 1 in 5 individuals that struggle with food insecurity.

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Hull Barrett Receives Favorable Jury Verdict

An Augusta shopping center owner and management company were sued in a trip and fall liability case seeking in excess of $250,000.  The case was tried in the US District Court in Augusta.

The plaintiff suffered serious injuries to his right elbow.  He subsequently had surgery and received a permanent impairment rating of 8%.  His medical bills totaled over $52,000.

The retailer in the shopping center was also sued by the plaintiff.  The retailer settled before trial.

This week, attorney George Hall of Hull Barrett, PC and co-counsel went to trial on behalf of the shopping center owner and management company.  After 2 days of trial, the jury awarded $15,725 to the plaintiff, far from the $250,000 sought.

Click Here to read more about Mr. Hall.