By Luke E.W. Jerkins

On July 1, 2014, in recognition of his efforts and professionalism, Spicer Rudstrom attorney Gary M. Kellar was named a partner of the law firm approximately three years after joining the firm. For most attorneys, such an accolade is the summit of a successful law career, resulting in job security, shorter days and greater salaries. Kellar, not swayed by his new title, continued to litigate matters and found himself in his comfort zone (the courtroom) numerous times over the past year and a half.

On September 9, 2014, Kellar completed a two-day trial stemming from an accident wherein the defendant “t-boned” the plaintiff’s vehicle in Clarksville, Tennessee. The plaintiff was injured as a result of the accident and claimed the defendant failed to yield to the right of way. During the trial, the plaintiff presented more than $135,000 to the jury in damages as a result of the injury. The defendant argued that the damages were not causally related to the accident and that the defendant was not negligent. The jury ended up awarding the plaintiff only $9,800 in damages—on a previous offer of $20,000.  Rigsby v. Murphy; Montgomery County Circuit Court, #12-0373.

A month later, Kellar completed another two-day trial resulting from a pedestrian (the plaintiff) being struck by the defendant’s vehicle while the plaintiff was attempting to enter a hospital. The liability of the accident was hotly contested, as well as the damages. The plaintiff incurred special damages in excess of $25,000 and requested a verdict from the jury of the amount plus future medical bills and pain and suffering. The defendant defended on liability at the trial. On October 22, 2014, the jury deliberated for no more than 15 minutes before returning with a verdict in favor of the defendant. Primm v. Edwards; Davidson County Circuit Court, #13C1297.

Kellar tried his third jury trial in three months when he completed a two-day jury trial on November 13, 2014. This accident occurred when the defendant’s vehicle slid into the plaintiff’s vehicle on a snowy day in February 2011. The plaintiff claimed the defendant was 100 percent at fault for failing to control her vehicle, resulting in the accident. The defendant blamed the accident on the slippery condition and noted the plaintiff’s extensive history of pain. The plaintiff claimed $12,574 in damages plus future medical. The jury returned a verdict for the defense after a brief deliberation.  Wallace v. Marshall; Sumner County Circuit Court, #12CV57.

On December 1, 2014, Kellar returned to the Davidson County Courthouse to argue his fifth trial in 2014—which was also an attempt to record his fourth defense verdict for the year. This matter originated in December 2010 when the defendant’s vehicle contacted the plaintiff’s vehicle on the interstate in Nashville, Tennessee. The plaintiff claimed the defendant failed to control his vehicle, resulting in a rear-end collision. The defendant argued the accident was a result of sliding on ice. The plaintiff claimed more than $20,000 in damages as a result of the accident. After a two-day trial, the jury exonerated the defendant on liability.  Stutters v. Chandler; Davidson County Circuit Court, #13C2875.

Kellar began 2015 as he ended 2014, with another trial. The first lawsuit stemmed from a rear-end accident in 2011, which caused the plaintiff to have back surgery. The plaintiff claimed more than $70,000 in special damages. The defendant conceded her fault but continued to trial to argue that the plaintiff’s damages were not causally related to the accident. The jury returned a verdict on January 13, 2015 in the amount of $39,707.00 and nothing more.  Wall v. Banks; Sumner County Circuit Court, #12CV1131.

While some attorneys have tried fewer than five trials in their legal careers, Kellar has tried seven, just since becoming a partner in 2014. Those who know Kellar are not surprised, noting his tireless work ethic and drive to compete in the courtroom. Kellar has tried more than 30 cases over the past decade and is currently Top 10 in the State of Tennessee in trials since 2005 (according to the Tennessee Jury Verdict Reporter).