LONGVIEW, Texas & HOUSTON--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Attorneys Joe Jones and Clay Zelbst of Sloan, Hatcher, Perry, Runge, Robertson & Smith Law Firm obtained a $425,000 verdict in a jury trial earlier this month in Canton, Texas. Jones and Zelbst represented two minor girls who were assaulted by Michael Lee Joyner in his swimming pool on June 3, 2011.
“It was an honor to try this case with Clay. The jury verdict was in large part due to the tremendous amount of work, effort, and passion he put into this case. I look forward to working with Clay again in the future”
Joyner was a business man and former city council member in Wills Point, Texas. He also had worked for the Van Zandt County Sherriff’s Department before he moved to Reno, Nevada, where he died in 2015—more than four years after the assault occurred. The evidence at trial showed that Joyner violated the girls by grabbing them, dunking them under water, and touching both of them in a sexual manner. Joyner was 61 at the time of the assault; the two girls were only 11.
After a three-day trial presided over by The Honorable Teresa Drum, a jury of nine men and three women took about four hours to find Michael Lee Joyner liable for the assaults. As damages for the assaults, the jury awarded the victims $425,000, which will be paid out of Joyner’s estate.
“Michael Lee Joyner robbed these young girls of their innocence. He was a long-time family friend. They trusted him. The girls were visiting with another adult who went inside Joyner’s residence briefly – not ever suspecting that the man she knew for years would hurt her granddaughter and her young friend. Even though we can never change what he did to these girls, justice has finally been served,” Jones said.
Jones, who learned special techniques for representing victims of personal injury and injustice earlier this year at the Trial Lawyers College founded by Gerry Spence, worked closely with the two young victims to prepare them for trial. Despite knowing that it would be very painful to do so, both girls courageously testified under oath at the trial in order to tell their stories to the jury.
“Joe did an amazing job in that court room. He emphasized that these girls not only lost their dignity and innocence, but also that their lives were endangered. This case serves as a platform for sending a strong message that adults who prey on children will be held accountable and that justice for those whom they harm will be sought—and won—even if it takes years to obtain,” Zelbst said.
“Working on this case affected me and Clay on both a personal and professional level. I am the father of a nearly seven-year-old girl and I have a younger son. Our experience in trying this case puts us in a position of advocacy for all kids and their rights. Especially now, with this case so fresh in our minds and hearts, we are encouraging parents, relatives, teachers, coaches and anyone closely connected with children to be especially attuned to signs of sexual harassment and/or abuse. Listen to what the kids are saying. Observe how they are acting. Look for indicators of physical or psychological trauma. And if there is even the slightest suspicion of actual threats or harm to a child, be sure to relay those concerns to medical and law enforcement professionals as soon as possible,” Jones commented.
The civil trial against Joyner was Jones and Zelbst’s first civil assault case to try in front of a jury. Jones has been practicing law for almost six years, and Clay Zelbst has been practicing for approximately two years. Zelbst recently left The Sloan Firm to practice law with his father at Zelbst, Holmes & Butler in Oklahoma and will maintain a referral and co-counsel relationship with The Sloan Firm.
“It was an honor to try this case with Clay. The jury verdict was in large part due to the tremendous amount of work, effort, and passion he put into this case. I look forward to working with Clay again in the future,” Jones stated.
The Sloan Firm is a nationally-recognized law firm with offices in Longview and Houston, Texas. Earlier this year, the firm also obtained a $21 million verdict on behalf of its clients in another assault case tried in Texas.
More About The Sloan Firm
The Sloan Firm, established in 1980, and has an impressive track record with effective negotiations and litigation in its primary practice area of personal injury law with two board-certified attorneys in this practice area. The firm’s attorneys also have extensive experience in commercial law, employment law, product liability, insurance litigation, work place injuries, asbestos-related diseases, FELA (Federal Employers’ Liability Act), and oil and gas law. The Sloan Firm has successfully litigated on behalf of its clients in cases involving product defects, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, work injuries, medical malpractice, drunk driving accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, highway defects, burn injuries, premises defect, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and wrongful death.
For more information on The Sloan Firm or its attorneys, please visit www.SloanFirm.com or call toll free at 800-730-0099.