"We Are Not Afraid of an Appeal" - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

"We Are Not Afraid of an Appeal"

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Shanta Greene is asking for millions of dollars to cover medical expenses and damages Shanta Greene is asking for millions of dollars to cover medical expenses and damages
Shanta Greene's emotional reaction to the jury's verdict on Thursday Shanta Greene's emotional reaction to the jury's verdict on Thursday
SAVANNAH, GA -

A $12-million dollar verdict is in, but the case is far from over.

We are ready.  

That's what Howard Spiva told News 3 about the City of Savannah's decision to appeal a jury's award to Shanta Greene.  

Spiva says the decision by the city to appeal the case isn't a surprise to him, or to Shanta.  

He is ready for the next step, and confident.

"Shanta Greene and her legal team are not afraid of the city, not afraid of an appeal," said Spiva.

Howard Spiva has a not so quiet confidence about him.

That's because two weeks ago he took on the city and won.

He accused the city of Savannah of negligence. Saying that lack of attention by the city's tree and parks department back in 2010 led to a tree limb from Bee road falling on the car Shanta Greene was riding in, taking her leg.

"Its a class thing, a money thing," explains Spiva. "We have 12 million tourists who bring in billions of dollars, and we keep downtown vine free, prune trees and safe. They don't do that for the rest of Savannah."

Two weeks ago, a jury agreed, and gave her a $12 million decision.

The City announced Friday they will appeal.

"We are the stewards of the taxpayers' dollars," said Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson. "So we must make every effort to carry this as far as we feel we need to go."

Lengths that Spiva says his team is ready for.

"They told us again and again we will pay you when a jury tells us to pay you," says Spiva. "Now a jury has spoken and they are back to their old political tricks.

"The video depositions, the pictures, none of the evidence is changing. This case will be won no matter how many times its tried."  

The decision on whether it will be retried will soon be in the hands of an Appellate court. Until then the war of words will continue.

"As most of you know, this case has been played out in social media in many, many ways," said Mayor Jackson. "We will not be a part of that."

"We told them we'd go to war," Spiva responded. "We have and we're not stopping. We're going to change Savannah."

Money is a major issue in this case.

Not just the decision the jury made, but how much an appeal will cost the city of Savannah.

In addition to attorney's fees on both sides, for every day the city doesn't pay, they are liable for approximately  $2100.

That's about $65,000 for each month, even during the appeals process.

It could take 9-18 months for an appellate court to hear the case, and the city could try to go all the way to the State Supreme Court, which could take another 18 months.

If it goes that long, Savannah could be on the hook for as much as 2 and a half million dollars

On top of the $12 million dollar verdict.

And if an appeals court says the case should be retried..

Spiva says he was told be several jurors they wanted to give Greene more than $12 million. The next jury would have the option to do the same and increase the verdict.

===================================================================

UPDATE: In a closed-door vote late Friday, the City Council said "(We) are Stewards of tax payers dollars." and voted to appeal the verdict awarded last week to Shanta Greene. 

Officials say during this appeal time, the case has played out in social media. They will not participate in social media, city officials say.

Previous story:

Thursday was the end of a long hard road for Shanta Greene.  Three years  that's how long ago this ordeal started, and WSAV News 3 was there from the beginning.

It was July 2, 2010 on Bee Road, where a tree limb fell on the truck she, Louis Anderson, and Anderson's six-year- old son Xavier were riding in.  Rescuers worked feverishly to save Shanta, who was trapped in the truck under the limb, but in the end they couldn't save her leg.

Since then, News 3 has shown you her progress and challenges. You helped her children at Christmas time, watched as she was fitted for a prosthetic leg, and walked for the first time since the accident.  

Thursday News 3's Andrew Davis, who was there just after the tree fell in 2010, has been following Greene's legal battle and was there for the culmination of her journey as the verdict was read, "We the jury find in favor of Shanta Greene in the amount of 12 million dollars against the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Savannah."

The decision was read and the tears started flowing for Shanta Greene.  Three years after the accident, the jury found in her favor that the city was at fault. 

 "I'm just glad they heard me because for a while I felt like nobody was listening, that nobody heard me. That nobody cared but my team and my family. I'm just thankful for those folks.  I'm just thankful they took the time to listen to my story, to hear what my life was like for the last 3 years and it was hurtful and it was hard, but I did.  Every day with these guys and my family we push and we push and we succeed, " Greene said Thursday.

Success comes at a price for the City of Savannah: $12 million out of city coffers, not from insurance.

"It was never about the money to me. It was about how this changed my life, how a tree can be so dangerous," said Greene.

"Savannah is known as an urban forest, and we will continue to have that.  We only pray that no one will receive the kind of injuries that this young lady received, but it was, it was definitely an accident," said Mayor Edna Jackson after the reading of Thursday's verdict. 

An accident that changed Shanta Greene's life forever- a decision this day that changed it again.

"All I can say is we took on the city and we won.  Ain't nothing better than that," said Greene.

In addition to Shanta's award, Louis Anderson and his son Xavier received a total of $30,000 for bills and damages from the jury.  

When asked how the city was going to pay the millions of dollars, Mayor Jackson said that she said she would be calling a special meeting among Aldermen to determine where the money would come from, and if any programs or services would have to be cut. 

__________________________________________________________________________

A week and a half of talk about branches, leaves, medical procedures, carpenter ants and master tree plans has led to a verdict in the trial of Shanta Greene. Thursday, a jury awarded 12 Million Dollars to Greene. In addition, $30,000 was awarded to passengers in her car, for damages and injuries.

WSAV spoke with Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson as the verdict was announced. She says she "Is disappointed by the decision- and would hate to see anything happen to our beautiful tree canopy in the City".

The Mayor added: "The City will have to pay out for this verdict, and cuts may be coming to City Services". Mayor Jackson noted she will being meeting with City leaders to figure out a plan to handle the awarded payout.

Its been a dizzying amount of information and emotion for the jury in the Shanta Greene case.

Late Wednesday afternoon all the evidence was done and the lawyers had one final chance to sway the jury.

In his closing argument, Howard Spiva, said Shanta Greene trusted the city, and they let her down by not taking care of their trees.

He says the city's poor tree maintenance led the tree limb to fall on bee road in 2010, severing Shanta's leg.

During his argument, Malcolm McKenzie, the city's attorney, made the case that the city did check the tree on Bee road just weeks before the accident. It was described as mature, and good.

"They go around with blinders on," pointed out Howard Spiva. "What vines, oh what rot, what decay."

"There is no evidence of any actual notice to the city of a defect in this tree." countered Malcolm McKenzie, lawyer for the City of Savannah.

"Not one of their trained, certified, superior 24 year experience arborists will come in here and admit the decayed part of the limb further up caused the limb to crack and break," explained Spiva.

"If that was the standard for which the city should be held, then every mature tree with branches extending over a major road would be cut down or pruned back to the trunk," said McKenzie. "And Savannah would look much different than it does today."

The jury started deliberating Wednesday evening.

Greene's camp is asking for millions of dollars in medical bills, lost earnings and damages.

News 3 will be there when a verdict is read and keep you updated.

===================================================================

After a day of emotional testimony from a woman who lost her leg in a freak accident back in 2010, Tuesday was all about the tree which fell on Shanta Greene, and what experts say actually happened that day.

Shanta Greene lost her leg to a falling tree limb back in 2010. She is asking for millions of dollars in damages and medical bills from the city for what her camp calls negligence.

The city of Savannah made their case on the stand Tuesday.

Several city workers, tree experts and arborists testified there was nothing wrong with the tree. In fact they say, it was inspected just 6 weeks before the accident.

Experts took the stand to talk about how vines and even ants don't always mean a rotting tree, but are just part of nature.

They say it wasn't negligence that brought the tree down, but high winds that day.

Everything I could tell it was in good condition," said Alan Waters of Savannah's Parks and Tree Department. "It failed and it was kind of odd. I've been here 26 years and never seen a live oak limb in that condition breaks away from the tree."

Don Gardner, former head of the Parks and Tree Department, and creator of Savannah's master tree plan was even more direct with his answers.

"Did the roots have anything to do with the failure."
"no"
"DId the vines have anything to do with the failure?"
"no"
"did the unpruned stub have anything to do with the failure?"
"no"
"did the ants have anything to do with the failure."

Greene's lawyers say things like vines, carpenter ants, and rotted wood are signs there was something wrong with that tree and the city ignored it, or just didn't know about any problems.

The jury should have their say on how much, if any damages Shanta Greene will get after closing statements Wednesday.

====================================================================

A freak accident or negligence, that's what a Chatham County jury will have to decide.

Shanta Greene lost her leg back in 2010 when a tree limb fell on her moving car.

Its an accident which has now led to a dozens surgeries, thousands in medical bills and a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city of Savannah.

Monday she took the stand in her own case.

"My son could have been there," said Louis Anderson. "He wouldn't have made it if he wasn't there. I know I would have lost my baby. I know that."

The driver that day, Louis Anderson, started off by talking about how he almost physically lost his son Xavier, who was in the backseat of the car that day, and then emotional lost his cousin and best friend, Shanta Greene.

"I would never ever, ever get my best friend back all the way," said an emotional Louis.

When it was time for Shanta to take the stand, she didn't address the jury, but her best friend."

"That's my heart. I tell him every day it is not your fault," said a tearful Shanta. "There's nothing you could have done that day. All you did wrong that day was been by that tree."

Then it was about her medical issues, not just a lost leg but bowls, back and phantom pain which hurts every day.

"It feels like lightning, some day it feels like fire and some days it feels like someone is just taking and twisting your body. Its just painful. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."

And how the accident has physically and emotionally destroyed her life.

"That's why we aren't having any more kids and that's why I haven't made it down the aisle yet. But I love him to death and I will marry him someday. And I will walk down that aisle, I will promise him that."

"Most people look for the bad guys. Someone with a gun. Some people look for people who do DUI's, drunk drivers. Don't nobody ride down the street and look up for trees. I have lived here my whole life and never have I ever thought a tree could take away half of my life. Never would I thought in a million years a tree could have done something this awful."

Shanta Greene says she has accumulated $949,000 in medical bills - not including her painkiller and antibiotic regiment.

Her team rested their case Monday and the city started theirs.

The city of Savannah claim they didn't neglect the trees and it was just an "act of god".

The jury could start deliberations as soon as Wednesday morning.

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