Originally posted Monday, September 16, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Atlanta now has four syndicated court shows shooting in town: “Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court,” “Divorce Court,” “Couples Court With the Cutlers” and now the latest: “Personal Injury Court.”
This newest show, which debuted this week in Atlanta on the CW69 at 4 p.m., is presided by Gino Brogdon,a former Fulton County judge (1996 to 2006), a former Alston & Bird and current arbitrator/mediator.
The "Personal Injury Court" cases involve big-dollar stakes: injuries that could cost the defendant in the six figures and sometimes seven. But how could they resolve such expensive, complicated lawsuits in a TV courtroom in 22 minutes time? Let's just say these are re-enactments distilled from real court cases, with the names and some pertinent details changed.
The plaintiffs and defendants are actors and provide a semi-scripted rendition of the actual events. The show provided me two sample episodes. In one case, a woman trying on a wedding dress fell off an elevated platform while taking measurements and broke her leg. In another, a restaurant party patron slipped and seriously injured herself while dancing a conga line on top of peanut shells patrons had dropped on the ground.
Brogdon knows what the result is ahead of time but said the show gives him a chance to explain the underlying legal arguments behind the decision. In both cases, he split the difference almost down the middle since both sides were partially at fault.
"I wouldn't say the terms scripted or actors,," said executive producer David Armour, who also oversees "Paternity Court," "Couple Court" and "Personal Injury Court" at Georgia Public Broadcasting studios in Midtown. "I consider it more ripped from the headlines. These are real stories. It's based on real legal principles."
Brogdon said much of his arbitration work is personal injury cases. Doing this show wasn’t a big stretch. “So I try to explain the legal reasons in a way the audience can understand,” he said. “We try to stay true to the underlying case.”
And they will reveal the occasional charlatan faking or exaggerating an injury to get money.
“When you fall on someone’s property, that’s not enough to recover,” Brogdon added. “You have to prove more than that.”
For Brogdon, taping the first 120 episodes was not difficult: “I don’t have to act. I’m just being myself. I try to stay true to who I am as a judge.”
Armour is confident this show will get the viewers as his other two shows have.
“It’s great storytelling,” he said. “The audience will love it how big it is, how grand it is and how quickly it moves.”
“Personal Injury Court,” check your local listings. In Atlanta, it’s on at 4 p.m. weekdays on the CW69 (WUPA-TV)
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.