When a tractor trailer rear-ended a car on Highway 99 in Bakersfield, the back of plaintiffs’ vehicle was demolished. Colman Perkins Law Group partner John Flock took on the case and defended the trucker.
The car driver was injured, but his wife and grandchildren riding in the car were fine. They later claimed emotional distress.
Plaintiffs contended the trucker was driving faster than safe for the prevailing conditions.
The defense team argued that the car driver changed lanes unsafely, moving into the truck’s lane as traffic was slowing and seconds before the collision occurred.
Plaintiffs also relied on a report from the driver ahead, whose vehicle’s axle was sheared off when the plaintiff’s car was pushed into his. That driver also claimed he saw the truck approaching too fast in his rear-view camera as it failed to brake in time.
Disputing medical assertions
In the years that followed, plaintiff had two shoulder surgeries to repair full-thickness rotator cuff tears. Our team argued these conditions were pre-existing and produced by his work as a contractor (we had a one-page medical record to verify this).
Plaintiff also underwent an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion to repair a herniated disc. We asserted the procedure was performed to remove a pre-existing large disc osteophyte caused by degeneration of his spine.
The hefty demand
Plaintiff incurred $400,000+ in medical billing and maintained he would require another surgery valued at $300,000. He requested $750,000 in past pain and suffering and $750,000 for future pain and suffering.
His wife had $10,000 in medical billing and requested $100,000 for pain and suffering. In total, they requested damages of close to $2.4 million.
Significant setbacks at trial
- The court granted plaintiffs’ motion for a directed verdict on comparative negligence and apportionment, so the jury was not permitted to apportion liability between the parties.
- Our driver refused to appear for trial and the trucking company owner was unable to appear.
- The court refused to permit our client to use the driver’s deposition transcript, even though he failed to appear at trial, was no longer employed with the trucking company and the defendants were separate.
Jury awards less than our pre-trial offer
After three weeks of trial and more than a dozen experts’ testimony, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $323,250—a figure $142,000 below our pretrial offer of $465,000.
We expect to recover over $150,000.00 in expert witness fees and costs. All told, plaintiffs may end up with $100,000.00. There is no question they will seek a new trial.