Jury awards $1 in Aspen road rage case
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” One dollar. That’s what an Aspen jury awarded the plaintiff Friday in a case of road rage after deliberating for more than 10 hours over two days.
The seven-member jury returned a verdict in favor of Jarrod Hollinger in a civil case stemming from a July 2006 altercation between two motorists on Highway 82 at the entrance to Aspen.
Jurors awarded Hollinger $1 for pain and suffering ” he was sprayed with mace by Scott Courts after a near-collision between the two men.
“We had to rely so much on testimony and not a lot of evidence,” said juror Lisa Johnson. And the case came down to a question of “necessary use of force” and whether Courts acted in self defense, Johnson said.
Hollinger was hospitalized briefly after Courts sprayed him with mace, but his attorney, John Case, did not ask jurors for any specific amount of damages.
Courts responded to Hollinger’s lawsuit with a countersuit claiming self defense and asserting that Hollinger was the aggressor.
Hollinger and Courts were both arrested on misdemeanor charges following the incident, but charges against Hollinger were dismissed. Courts agreed to a plea deal and received a deferred sentence on a municipal misdemeanor charge of assault and battery.
The attorneys for both men pointed out inconsistencies and questioned the credibility of the opposing side’s story.
The jury was deadlocked on Thursday evening, but District Judge James Boyd asked jurors to reconvene Friday and the panel returned a decision shortly after noon.
“It’s not always about the money,” Johnson said, adding that the jury’s decision was about teaching both men a lesson.
Case, Hollinger’s attorney, said the suit was about Courts looking to be exonerated.
“And he was not,” Case said.
Courts’ lawyer, Jonathan Cross, said his client had tried repeatedly to settle for medical costs, but Hollinger wouldn’t budge. Cross said he’ll file a motion in the next 30 days in an attempt to recover his client’s court costs and attorney’s fees, which he estimated at $10,000.
“How much was the jury behind this decision if they didn’t award any money?” Courts mused after the verdict. He likened the outcome of the trial to winning the battle and losing the war. “That’s all they were after was money.”
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