Judge Reduces Award in Ayers Civil Case

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story has reduced part of the jury award given to the widow of Lavonia pastor the Rev. Jonathan Ayers in her wrongful death lawsuit against former Mountain Judicial Circuit N.C.I.S. Drug Team Agent Billy Shane Harrison.

In a ruling issued last month, Judge Story reduced the amount of economic damages awarded to Abigail Ayers for the Rev. Ayers’ lost income from more than $1.26 million to just under $606,500, which the Court has deemed to be the present value of the Rev. Ayers’ lost income.

During the trial, attorneys for the two sides agreed to work after the trial to reduce the jury’s award for future lost income into a present-day cash value as is required by law.

Attorneys for Ms. Ayers had argued that the present day value of that future lost income was almost $736,000, based on the Rev. Ayers earning that $1.26 million through age 65.

However, Harrison’s attorneys argued that the Rev. Ayers’ would earn that $1.26 million through the remainder of his full life expectancy, which a mortality table put at about 74 years of age, and would result the lower present day cash value of just under $606,500.

In making his ruling, Judge Story sided with Harrison’s attorneys.

Judge Story states in his order that because the only evidence on this issue presented by Ms. Ayers’ attorneys was the mortality table cited by Harrison’s attorneys, that is what should be used to calculate the present value of the lost income.

The judge’s ruling reduces the total award to Ms. Ayers to about $1.6 million, from the original $2.3 million in total damages.

Back in February, a jury found in favor of Ms. Ayers in her wrongful death lawsuit against Harrison, who shot the Rev. Ayers in a parking lot of a Toccoa gas station in September 2009 with the pastor dying of his injuries hours after the shooting.