Trial Win: Max Marks Secures Jury Verdict of $700,000 in Punitive Damages and Attorneys’ Fees for Georgia Peach Farmer

After a five-day trial in which Block Firm partner Max Marks served as lead counsel, a Meriwether County jury awarded a local family peach farmer, Fitzgerald Fruit Farms, $500,000 in punitive damages and $200,000 in attorneys’ fees for a crop of Baby Gold peaches that a competitor intentionally ruined. Mr. Marks handled all pre-trial arguments and conducted both the opening and closing arguments during each separate phase of the three-part trial. When it was all said and done, the jury decided not only to impose punitive damages, but also that the competitor acted with the “specific intent to cause harm” necessary to break through Georgia’s statutory cap on punitive damages and support a larger verdict.


This is the second jury win for Fitzgerald Farms. In 2018, a jury awarded Fitzgerald Farms $150,000 in compensatory damages and $400,000 in attorneys’ fees for this same peach harvest—but the judge did not let Fitzgerald Farms seek punitive damages in the first trial. After an appeal, Fitzgerald Farms won across-the-board. In a detailed, published opinion (available here ), the Georgia Court of Appeals both upheld the jury verdict in Fitzgerald Farms’ favor and also decided that the first jury should have been allowed to award punitive damages. The court of appeals therefore ordered a second trial only on punitive damages, leading to the additional $700,000 verdict discussed above.


Through it all, Fitzgerald Farms has also been represented by Nowell Berreth of Alston & Bird, who served as lead counsel during the first trial with Mr. Marks as second chair and then swapped chairs for the second.


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