BLG Files Suit in Drowning of Cobb Police Officer

Today, the widow of Thomas “Brent” Stephens filed a civil lawsuit against Kenneth Paul Reda arising from Brent’s death in a boating collision on Lake Allatoona on the night of April 22, 2010.  The suit was filed by Lori Stephens in the Superior Court of Paulding County.  Also named were Reda’s wife, Melissa, and his father-in-law, who the suit alleges may be responsible because they may have owned the boat and permitted Reda to use it.

Brent Stephens and Reda were friends and fellow police officers and SWAT Team members with the Cobb County Police Department.  Reda was driving the boat and Brent, along with Shelley Powell, were passengers.  The suit alleges Reda drove the boat into a fixed marker at a high rate of speed at night, causing part of the marker to break off and strike and injure Brent and throw him overboard, where he drowned.

The suit also claims Reda tampered with evidence and made false statements to conceal what happened.  “Rather than immediately call 911 for his friend,” BLG’s John Salter said, “Reda instructed Mrs. Powell to remove all the empty beer bottles, conspired to mislead law enforcement, falsely denied there was any alcohol on board, and lied to the 911 operator and the other first responders about what happened.”  Mr. Salter is counsel for Lori Stephens, along with BLG’s Allison Barnes Salter.

According to the suit, Reda deceived law enforcement into thinking Brent jumped from the boat as prank because if law enforcement believed Brent would be found alive, Reda hoped he might avoid a blood alcohol test.  Emergency crews searched throughout the night of April 22.  Brent’s body was not found until the next afternoon.

According to Allison Salter, “it is awful that Brent’s family spent hours hoping to find him alive when Reda knew the truth all along. And some of the things Reda said to mislead the investigation have been unnecessary, untrue and very hurtful to the family.”

“I know Brent and Lori because we all went to South Cobb High School and are around the same age,” Allison Salter said.  “It might be a long legal journey, but our goal is to collect a substantial monetary judgment that will mitigate for Lori and her young children the loss of a brave officer and, to them, a really good husband and father.”


Barnes Law Group Wins Final Approval For $14 Million Insurance Suit

A Fulton County Georgia state court judge has given final approval for the settlement of a suit challenging the unlawful health insurance renewal premiums charged to more than 3,000 Georgians.

BLG attorney John Bevis, one of the lead attorneys for the class, says “This is a meaningful settlement with a real cash payout. It is not one of those settlements where you get coupons or a $25 discount off your next purchase.”

Class members who were insured under the UMEG IMP policy issued by Fortis Benefits Insurance Company and submit a claim will receive a refund of 112% of the amount they wrongly paid. The case has been litigated all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court.


BLG Wins $825,000 for Motorcycle Accident Victim with Brain Damage

BLG founding partner Charles B. Tanksley recently obtained a settlement in the amount of $825,000.00 in a case pending in the Superior Court of Paulding County.  The case involves a 56 year-old motorcyclist injured when he was forced to lay his bike down to avoid a motorist that pulled out in front of him.

The incident was initially written up by the investigating officer as a single vehicle accident, stating that the motorcyclist simply lost control of the motorcycle and overturned in the median of State Road 120 at the intersection with Evans Mill Drive in Paulding County.

As a result of a thorough investigation by BLG, an eyewitness was identified who had been traveling immediately behind the motorcyclist.  The witness testified on video deposition that a white SUV pulled in front of the motorcycle, placing the fault with the driver of the SUV.

BLG used 911 recordings to identify the driver of the SUV.  In addition, a passenger of the SUV stated during the 911 call that “[the driver] must not have seen the cyclist and [the cyclist] was trying to avoid us when he wrecked.”