BLG Wins $400 Million for Al-Zarqawi Victims’ Family

On a cool morning in September 2004, Marietta subcontractor Jack Hensley performed a daily ritual: he walked out of his house in United Arab Emirates to start the generator for he and the other subcontractors living there while they helped rebuild Iraq.  But this morning was different.

Jack was surrounded by al-Quaida militants and, along with his fellow housemates, abducted.  A few days later, Jack was gruesomely beaten and beheaded.  His death played out in a video that played across international television screens.

Left to pick up the pieces, Jack’s widow, Pati, and daughter turned to BLG for justice.  In a trial that took place in the United States District Court of the District of Columbia, BLG partners Roy E. Barnes and John F. Salter sued the country of Syria for aiding and supporting the terrorists who abducted and killed Jack.

Judge Rosemary Collyer awarded Pati and the family of another slain American subcontractor over $400 million in damages in 2008.  After two years, the appeals process has finally concluded.

As partner John F. Salter stated, “It is an extraordinary testament to the fortitude of these families. No one should ever have to witness a family member suffering such unspeakable brutality. They hoped the judge’s order would send a message. Together, I think we did exactly that.”


DeKalb Teachers Call-in BLG to Make It Right

When DeKalb County School District teachers Elaine Gold and Amy Shaye needed someone to stand up for them, they turned to BLG.  BLG recently brought suit against the district in a class-action on behalf of the two career teachers.

The suit involves a promise made – but not kept – by the district when they stopped contributing to a teacher retirement plan that was part of the teachers’ benefits package.  While the district is within their rights to eliminate the contributions, they are required by their own district policy to give a two-year notice to all teachers affected by the change.  Rather than follow this policy, the district simply stopped paying into the retirement system.

The lawsuit, which was featured in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article today, simply seeks payment by the district for contributions over the past two years that were never paid.


Making It Right for hard-working DeKalb County Teachers

BLG, on behalf of two DeKalb County educators, has filed a class-action lawsuit against the school district and board for failing to make contributions over the last two years to a district employee retirement fund.

“This is about keeping promises the board made to employees” said BLG attorney John Salter.

BLG’s John Salter Named to 2011 Super Lawyers Rising Stars

Congratulations to BLG partner John F. Salter, who was recognized for the fourth time and third year in a row as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine.

Salter was also recognized as a Rising Star in 2006, 2009, and 2010.

Click here to view Salter’s award information on the Super Lawyers webpage.


Roy Barnes works with new Governor to Make It Right for slain trooper’s widow

When former Georgia Governor and BLG founding partner Roy Barnes heard about the way Georgia’s insurance laws were treating the recent widow of a Georgia State Trooper who was killed in the line of duty, he decided to do something about it.

He immediately agreed to take Keisha LeCroy’s case pro bono, and then picked up the phone to call newly-elected Governor Nathan Deal. Despite facing each other in the November 2010 Governor’s race, the two quickly developed a plan to introduce a new bill before the Georgia Legislature to change the law.

Current law requires surviving family members of state workers who are killed in the line of duty to pay an increased rate to keep the state insurance policy. Keisha LeCroy would have been required to pay $900 per month for coverage of her and her son.


BLG and Gov. Deal Win Benefits for Slain Trooper’s Family

BLG founding partner and former Governor Roy E. Barnes didn’t let politics stand in the way of achieving justice for slain Georgia State Trooper Chadwick LeCroy’s widow and son.

When he heard how the state was effectively ending medical benefits for the trooper’s widow and son, Barnes picked up the phone and called former rival and newly-elected Governor Nathan Deal.

The two worked closely with state legislators to re-write a state law regarding medical coverage of state law enforcement officers.  The proposed law continues medical coverage at the same rate for surviving family members of state law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Today, House Bill 107 passed the Georgia Senate after having passed the House last week, and is now headed to Governor Deal’s desk to be signed into law.

As BLG partner Allison Barnes Salter put it, “This isn’t a partisan issue.  Most Georgians can agree the families of those who gave their life to public service deserve this support.”


BLG’s Charlie Tanksley Named to 2010 Georgia Legal Elite

Congratulations to BLG founding partner Charles B. Tanksley, who was recognized as one of Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend magazine this month.

Tanksley was recognized as one of the best lawyers in Georgia for governmental affairs.

BLG Named to 2010 US News & World Report Best Law Firms

Congratulations to the BLG team.  In their inaugural Best Law Firms publication, US News & World Report ranked BLG a “National Tier 1” and “Atlanta Tier 1” law firm.

This is the first year US News has ranked law firms, and they reviewed nearly 9,000 law firms across the country to obtain their rankings.

According to US News, “Achieving a high ranking is a special distinction that signals a unique combination of excellence and breadth of expertise.”

Click here to view BLG’s award information on the US News & World Report webpage.

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.