A Savannah, Georgia jury in Powers v. Howard, awarded $4.8 million to a family after an incident of road rage induced a driver to pull out a gun and open fire.
Frank and Heather Powers and their children were driving on I-95 from a vacation in Hilton Head back to their home in Kennesaw, a suburb north of Atlanta. Near an onramp on to the highway, Frank Powers saw a vehicle ahead of him allegedly moving erratically and tailgating other cars. As the Powers’ family approached the ramp, the driver of the erratic vehicle, Thurman Lee Howard, purportedly slammed on his brakes, and then sped off. After the Powers were on the highway for eight miles, Howard pulled alongside their vehicle, took out his .32 caliber handgun and fired five shots at the family. Fortunately, no one was injured and only the glass and side door of the Powers’ car were damaged.
In the lawsuit, Howard claimed that Frank Powers instigated the incident. Howard argued that he saw the Powers’ SUV stopped in the center of the highway just before the I-95 South turn, and as Howard drove his vehicle around the SUV, Frank Powers was “mouthing something and making an obscene gesture with his middle finger.” He said that he fired shots at the family because Frank Powers tried to force him off of the road, which caused Howard to fear for his life. The jury found in favor of the Powers family, holding that Howard had a “specific intent to harm.”