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Savannah worker awarded $5.6M for injury at port

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POSTED: May 19, 2012 4:00 p.m.

SAVANNAH — The Georgia Ports Authority is considering whether to appeal a jury verdict that awarded more than $5.6 million to a longshoreman for injuries he suffered in a collision at the Port of Savannah.

The jury on Thursday decided to award Kirk Deweese money for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering he experienced because of an April 2005 wreck. Shortly after the jury announced its decision, Deweese was arrested for attempting to bring a loaded gun into the courthouse.

Deweese’s lawyers said he was driving a truck when a top lift backed into his vehicle, causing the truck to jackknife. He suffered injuries to his neck, back and hip that required nine surgeries and left him unable to work as a longshoreman, according to the lawsuit.

It’s unclear exactly how much money Deweese might ultimately collect. Local news media report that state law limits the maximum liability of the Georgia Ports Authority to $1 million. An attorney for the port, Thomas Mahoney Jr., said his client is considering an appeal.

Deweese was stopped by security officers from entering the courthouse Thursday when a scanner revealed that he had a .44-caliber revolver in a bag. The officers confiscated the gun and later arrested Deweese on charges of carrying a pistol without a license, carrying a concealed weapon and contempt of court.

He was released from jail after posting a $4,000 bond.

Deweese told The Associated Press that he lives in a high-crime area and has the gun for personal protection. He said he accidentally placed the gun in a bag that contained papers his lawyer needed urgently in the courthouse. In the rush to deliver the papers, Deweese said he forgot to take the gun out of the bag.

“I got caught up in the moment,” he said. “I didn’t even know it was there.”

 

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