Taylor v. Devereux Foundation, Inc. et al.Annotate this Case
Fifteen-year-old Tia McGee was sexually assaulted by an employee working at a behavioral health facility operated by the Devereux Foundation ("Devereux"). At trial, Devereux admitted that “Devereux breached the legal duty of ordinary care owed to Tia McGee for her safety from sexual assault and that the breach of Devereux’s legal duty contributed to Jimmy Singleterry’s sexual assault of Tia McGee.” The jury returned a verdict for $10,000,000 in compensatory damages, finding both Devereux and Singleterry, the employee who assaulted McGee, at fault, and $50,000,000 in punitive damages against Devereux. The trial court ultimately reduced the jury’s punitive-damage award from $50,000,000 to $250,000, consistent with the statutory cap on punitive damages found in OCGA § 51-12-5.1 (g). Jo-Ann Taylor, the executor of McGee's estate, contended that OCGA § 51-12-5.1 (g) violated the rights to trial by jury, separation of powers, and equal protection guaranteed by the Georgia Constitution. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that Taylor did not satisfy her burden of proving there was a "clear and palpable" conflict between the statute and the Georgia Constitution. Thus, the trial court's orders were affirmed.