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Suit certified as class action

  Class Action  -   POSTED: 2008/03/10 08:05


Christy Toler of Jeff Davis County was struck by a car March 7, 2005, and sought treatment at the Brown Arrowhead Chiropractic Clinic in Brunswick.

Before she arrived at the clinic, she was met by a paralegal for attorney John E. King and signed a contract for representation.

Those were the basic elements included in a 2006 suit filed by Toler and three Savannahians against Arrowhead Clinic, King and several others.

Now Chatham County State Court Judge Hermann Coolidge has certified the case as a class action.

That means attorneys for Toler and the others named in the original suit can pursue a class of others who fit similar experiences.

The class, which will include plaintiffs statewide, could number as many as 3,500 individuals, said Stanley Karsman, one of several defense lawyers in the case.

That would include anyone in similar circumstances to Toler between Jan. 1, 2004, and Monday, the date of the order.

Coolidge directed the parties in the case to confer and submit a proposed notice to class members within 30 days.

Class certifications in Georgia may be appealed directly to the state Court of Appeals, said attorney Patrick O'Connor, one of several defense lawyers in the case.

O'Connor said he will appeal Coolidge's ruling, an action that could take "from a few months to as much as a year" for the appeals court to rule.

The original suit, filed by Karsman and attorneys Brent Savage and Steven Scheer, contended the defendants used their chiropractic centers to encourage incoming accident victims to use King to handle legal aspects of their accident claims.

They made no disclosure of any relationship between the defendants, the suit alleged.

The suit did not specify a damage sum.

The typical arrangement was for the patient, King and the clinic to each receive one-third of any money recovered from insurance companies, the suit contended.

In addition to Arrowhead clinics in Savannah and Brunswick and King and/or John E. King and Associates, defendants include Arrowhead Management Inc.; H. Brown Management Co.; Harry W. Brown, a chiropractor and sole owner of Arrowhead Management Inc.; and Harry W. Brown Jr.

It alleged professional negligence, fraud, negligence and breach of trust duties to the plaintiffs.

According to the suit, the defendants placed a profit motive "over and above the interest of the patient."

They also are accused of engaging in "unauthorized disclosure of private information and ... the over-utilization of chiropractic services."


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