The Great Trials Podcast

Bill, James & Ryals Stone | Thornal v. Clausen | $26.1 million verdict

December 14, 2021

This week, your hosts Steve Lowry and Yvonne Godfrey interview Bill Stone, James Stone and Ryals Stone of The Stone Law Group (https://www.stonelaw.net/). 

 

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Episode Details:

The Stone Law Group's trial team -- comprised of father Bill Stone and sons James Stone and Ryals Stone -- explain how they thoroughly investigated a fatal car accident and proved that their client, a promising 19-year-old University of Mississippi student, was not the proximate cause of his own tragic death, as law enforcement investigators initially concluded. In the early morning hours of March 29, 2013, University of Mississippi freshman Price Thornal was attempting to travel from Oxford, Mississippi to his hometown in Tallahassee, Florida to celebrate his father's birthday. Price's Honda Civic was hit head-on by the defendant, who was driving a Dodge Durango on the wrong side of the divided US Hwy 84. Trial lawyers Bill, James and Ryals Stone used the GPS system in Price's car to plot his trajectory and utilized the defendant's cell phone records as evidence of her negligence and opposing trajectory. In spite of the defendant's attempts to cast blame on Price, the Stone Law Group used basic physics as well as expert accident reconstruction to show the jury which car was traveling in the appropriate direction. In November 2021, after just 20 minutes of deliberation, an Early County, Georgia jury found the defendant's negligence to be the proximate cause of Price's death and awarded $26,141,628 in damages. 

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Guest Bios:

William Stone:

Bill is a trial lawyer from Blakely, Georgia, who specializes in personal injury, wrongful death, professional malpractice, product liability, commercial and consumer fraud cases. The firm’s predecessor was founded in 1915 by Bill’s grandfather, the late Wm. Lowrey Stone. Past members of the firm include Bill’s father, Lowrey S. Stone, who formerly served as Chief Judge of Superior Courts, Pataula Judicial Circuit.

Bill was born in Dothan, Alabama, on August 19, 1953. He attended the public schools in Early County, Georgia and graduated from Early County High School in 1971. He attended the University of Georgia College of Business Administration and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a major in accounting on graduation in 1975. Bill also attended the Netherlands Institute of Industrial Economics near Amsterdam in The Netherlands in 1973.

Bill received his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1977. He was admitted to practice law in the state of Georgia in 1977 and in the state of Alabama in 1985. He is also member of the bars of the United States District Courts for the Middle and Northern Districts of Georgia, the Middle District of Alabama, and the Central District of Illinois, as well as the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits.

The publishers of the Martindale Hubble Law Directory have awarded Bill its highest rating (AV) for legal ability and integrity.

Bill is a Life Member and past president of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and is also a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Georgia, the Alabama State Bar, the American Association for Justice, and the Southwest Georgia Trial Lawyers Association.

Bill has served on the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission that recommends candidates to the Governor for appointment to vacant judgeships in Georgia. He has authored a number of published articles and is a frequent lecturer at legal seminars on the subject of trial practice and tort law.

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James Stone:

James grew up in Blakely, Georgia and currently lives with his wife, Rachel, in Roswell, Georgia. James practices in our Atlanta office, primarily focusing on cases involving catastrophic personal injury and death from medical negligence, trucking accidents, and motor vehicle accidents.

James, a fifth-generation attorney in his family, grew up with an eye always towards practicing law. Watching his father represent clients who lacked the ability to obtain justice for themselves, James always appreciated the work and time invested in pursuing high-stakes litigation and catastrophic injury cases. Now, James works alongside his father and brother, furthering that pursuit of justice and relentlessly fighting for clients and families injured in accidents are wronged by corporations.

James is a 2009 graduate of the University of Georgia where he received his BBA in Management Information Systems. Afterward, James attended Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and graduated in 2013.

James was admitted to practice law in Georgia in 2013 and Alabama in 2015.

James is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, the Alabama State Bar, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the American Association of Justice, the American Bar Association, and the Sandy Springs Bar Association.

James has been involved in numerous complex lawsuits resulting in verdicts or settlements higher than seven figures.

In his spare time, James enjoys recreational activities such as mountain biking, running, softball and coaching little league baseball.

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Ryals Stone:

Ryals D. Stone is a Partner in the Rome office of Stone Law Group. He represents individual and small business plaintiffs in cases involving catastrophic personal injuries or wrongful death, specifically those caused by motor vehicle accidents or trucking collisions, unsafe premises, industrial boiler explosions, defective products, medical negligence by a medical provider, insurance bad faith or financial fraud, and other civil RICO racketeering conspiracies.

During his career as a trial attorney Ryals has handled many complex civil cases and has been an active and integral member of the firm’s trial team during numerous multi-week jury trials, which have resulted in verdicts and settlements of over $150 million combined.

Ryals is the oldest son of Stone Law Group senior partner William S. Stone. The firm’s predecessor was founded in 1915 by Ryals’ great-grandfather, the late William Lowrey Stone. Past members of the firm include Ryals’ grandfather, Lowrey S. Stone, who later served for 15 years as Chief Judge of Superior Courts, Pataula Judicial Circuit. Upon being admitted to the Georgia Bar in 2010, Ryals proudly became the 5th straight generation of Georgia attorneys in the Stone family.

Raised in his hometown of Blakely in rural Southwest Georgia, Ryals went on to earn his undergraduate degree in History from University of Georgia in 2005 and his law degree in 2009 from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

During law school, Ryals also studied International Comparative Constitutional Law at the University of Cambridge in England. He earned the highest marks in several of his law school classes, including Trial Advocacy Basic Skills and Professional Responsibility. As a 3rd Year law student he was selected as a distinguished Abraham J. Caruthers Fellow, chosen to mentor Cumberland’s renowned first-year legal research and writing program. Throughout his final year of law school, Ryals gained valuable practice experience as a law clerk in the Bessemer, Alabama District Attorney’s Office and for the In-House Counsel at Southern Progress Corporation.

Ryals is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts of the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Georgia, the Georgia Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Georgia. He is a Champion member of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA), American Association of Justice (AAJ), Attorneys Information Exchange Group (AIEG), the Rome Bar Association, and he currently serves as President of the Pataula Circuit Bar Association. He has continuously served as a voting member of GTLA’s Executive Committee since 2013 and currently serves as an elected officer of the Civil Justice PAC’s Board of Directors. He has served GTLA’s Verdict Editorial Board as a Board member and frequent contributing author since 2015. Ryals currently serves on the Board of Governors of AAJ as one of only 5 Governors from Georgia. Ryals has also served multiple terms on the Board of Directors for the State Bar of Georgia’s Young Lawyers Division.

However, above any of his career achievements Ryals is most proud of his role as the founding member and inaugural Co-Chair of GTLA’s “LEAD” Program (“Leadership Education and Advanced Direction”), a leadership academy he co-created specifically for talented young Georgia trial lawyers. Today, the program boasts nearly 100 LEAD alumni over its first five years, many of whom are now counted as among GTLA’s highest-ranking officers and Board members.

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Free Resources:

Stages Of A Jury Trial - Part 1

Stages Of A Jury Trial - Part 2

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