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Record $50 Million Verdict for Running Red Light, Killing Father

Cynthia and Frank Bales on a Caribbean cruise with their son in the winter of 2007, the year before Bales was killed on his motorcycle. Photo provided by family.

A Charleston, SC, jury returned a record $50 million verdict in favor of Cindy Bales  as personal representative of the Estate of Frank “Randy” Bales in a personal injury case against Abel Martinez-Martinez. The January 16 verdict is believed to be the highest actual damage verdict ever awarded in Charleston County Court of Common Pleas.

Plaintiffs were represented at trial by attorneys Akim Anastopoulo, Eric Poulin, and Roy Willey all of the Anastopoulo Law Firm, LLC. Defendant was represented by Michael Ethridge, Robert Hawk, and Suzanne Hogg, all of Carlock Copeland & Stair.

The complaint alleged the incident occurred when Martinez-Martinez ran a red light at Fain Street and Aviation Avenue in Charleston County causing Randy Bales to hit him. Bales, who was on his way to work, was thrown from his motorcycle and died at the scene according to Court documents. He is survived by his wife Cindy, and son Curtis.

Defendant denied liability at the outset of trial, and argued to the jury that if it found Martinez-Martinez ran the red light, they should find that he did so due to the confusing nature of the intersection, according to Court records. The Defendant called an expert witness to show a 3-D animation of the intersection. However, the jury found that Martinez-Martinez was 100% to blame.

Roy Willey, an attorney representing the Bales family said, “As long as I live, I will never forget the moment Mrs. Bales grabbed my hand and said ‘finally’ as the Judge read that Martinez-Martinez was at fault for killing Randy. It takes a lot of courage to wait five years for closure.”

According to court documents, the jury found for Bales in the amount of $20 million actual damages, and $30 million punitive damages. It is believed to be the highest actual damage amount ever awarded in Charleston County Court of Common Pleas.

“The jury, in my opinion, properly sent a message that they were outraged at the Defendant’s conduct and that they wanted to send a message,” said Akim Anastopoulo an attorney representing the Bales family.

Eric Poulin, another attorney representing the Bales family, said “We are happy that we were finally able to get this family some closure, and bring Martinez-Martinez to justice.”

With offices across South Carolina, Anastopoulo Law Firm is committed to the relentless pursuit of justice on behalf of those that have been injured. The firm is composed of outstanding trial attorneys with collective decades of experience handling cases including: bad faith insurance claims, cerebral palsy, and personal injury claims.

The case is Charleston County Court of Common Pleas - Case Number: 2010-CP-10-8631.

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