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Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Widower in Atlanta Awarded More than $25 Million from Taxi Company

According to a report from Atlanta News First, a widower has been awarded more than $25 million in wrongful death compensation against a local taxi cab company. Ed Heller, who lost his wife to a devastating motor vehicle crash more than twenty years ago, received the verdict from a jury after filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the Atlanta-based United Express Cab Company as well as the taxi inspector for the City of Atlanta (Atlanta Taxi Bureau). Within this article, our Atlanta wrongful death attorney provides a more comprehensive overview of the case. 

Background: Women Killed in 2003 Crash After Taxi Cab Lost Control 

The wrongful death lawsuit in this case was centered on a deadly motor vehicle crash that happened in January of 2023. Tragically, Patricia Heller, 51 years of age, lost her life in an accident while riding in a taxi on Interstate-85 (I-85) near Hapeville overpass, southwest of Atlanta. The driver, Abdallah Adem, lost control of the vehicle on the slick interstate following a rainstorm. He struck a tree in the catastrophic wreck. Mrs. Heller was ejected from the taxi. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision. Notably, both rear tires of the taxi—which were inspected and passed by the City of Atlanta the previous day—were found to have insufficient tread. 

Findings: Vehicle Not Properly Inspected (Dangerous and Defective Tires)

The tires on the taxi cab were dangerous and defective. Those bad tires contributed directly to the taxi driver losing control of the vehicle during adverse weather conditions. The driver, Mr. Adem, was also speeding at the time of the crash. A comprehensive investigation revealed the taxi’s rear tires—which, as noted previously, had just passed a city inspection—were dangerously worn. Indeed, one police department found that these tires had virtually “zero tread.”

Investigators also determined that the Atlanta taxi inspector, a man named Greg Shepard, failed to properly evaluate the tires’ condition. Instead, he merely provided a very rough visual estimate without any thorough examination. Investigators also determined that the taxi driver negligently lacked the necessary training to identify the unsafe tread depth. Mr. Adem was charged and eventually pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide for speeding and driving on bad tires. 

Note: The jury determined that the Atlanta taxi cab company, United Express Cab Company, did not inspect the vehicle at all. The company has an obligation under Georgia law to conduct regular inspections of its vehicles. Failure to inspect by a commercial cab company is negligence. 

A $25.5 Million Wrongful Death Verdict to the Surviving Spouse

After multiple decades of complex legal filings, a verdict has finally been reached in this wrongful death lawsuit. In a landmark decision, a court has awarded a $25.5 million verdict in the wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the tragic 2003 crash involving Patricia Heller. Her husband, Ed Heller, was awarded the verdict based on the negligence of the taxi cab company and the City of Atlanta’s taxi inspector. The ruling underscores the severe risk posed by negligent vehicle maintenance. Mrs. Heller is also survived by two children. 

A Civil Wrongful Death Claim Allows Grieving Families to Seek Justice

The loss of a spouse, parent, or other close loved one to an accident that never should have happened is devastating. It can be one of the most challenging experiences that any family ever has to endure. A civil wrongful death claim is a critical avenue for justice. Through this type of lawsuit, eligible family members who had a close relationship to the victim can take action to hold the at-fault party—whether a driver, taxi cab company, or another corporation—legally responsible for a fatal accident that could have been avoided. A wrongful death claim allows grieving families to seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages, including: 

  • Property damage; 
  • Out of pocket medical bills; 
  • Funeral and burial costs; 
  • Lost of financial support; 
  • Loss of love, companionship, consortium, and parental guidance.  

Contact Our Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer for a Immediate Assistance

At Lourie, Chance, Forlines, Carter & King, PC, our Georgia wrongful death attorneys are skilled, compassionate, and experienced legal advocates for grieving families. If your loved one was wrongfully killed in Atlanta, we are here to help. Call us now or contact us online for your free, strictly confidential initial consultation. With an office in Atlanta, we handle wrongful death cases throughout Georgia. Please check the settlements our clients were able to receive.