Road Rage Rebuttal

SFE Attorney: Jeff Eberhard

Plaintiff Attorney: Ted Martin

City, Co., State: Multnomah County Circuit Court, Oregon

Claims Alleged: Personal Injury

Injuries Alleged: Soft Tissue & PTSD

Admitted Liability: No

Amount Claimed: Excess of $1,000,000, including punitive damages

The Overview

Managing partner at Smith Freed Eberhard, Jeff Eberhard and then-associate now-partner Bill Taaffe, successfully defended a trucking company and one of its drivers in what was claimed to be an accident allegedly motivated by road rage. Smith Freed Eberhard was able to obtain a settlement for a fraction of plaintiff’s initial demand.

The Background

Plaintiff alleged that the driver of a double tanker truck intentionally ran him of the road. Although no physical harm was present, the plaintiff stated that the accident caused him severe emotional distress and PTSD.

Much to the defendants’ dismay, the plaintiff was able to track down two ex- employees of the trucking company to be his witnesses. They stated that the truck driver had a history with road rage and that the trucking company was aware of it. It looked like a lose-lose situation for the defendant. However, Jeff’s persistence and investigation lead him to uncover facts about each and every witness plaintiff had relied on, and even plaintiff himself, that would prove to be fatal to plaintiff’s exaggerated initial demand for relief. 

Plaintiffs Theme

Plaintiff’s strategy was to convince the mediator that defendant had purposefully and intentionally “smashed” his car into plaintiff’s car in a fit of road rage. Plaintiff’s version of events insinuated the idea that defendant was trying to kill him. His whole case surrounded the notion that he was “fearful for his life.”

Our Strategy

Jeff knew he needed to be able to discredit plaintiff’s witnesses in order to get a leg up on this case. Through multiple depositions, the credibility of each witness and of plaintiff himself began to unravel. Moreover, we knew plaintiff had essentially suffered no real extensive injuries and provided little evidence to back up his $1,000,000 claim. Jeff was determined to set the facts straight and to convey the case as it really was, an accident with unquestionably no hint of road rage on the defendant’s part. 

Through an intense and elaborate investigation, it was discovered that the plaintiff actually had previous anger issues of his own. It was also uncovered that one of the plaintiff’s star witnesses had sent text messages to the defendant driver stating that he was motivated by revenge and that he hoped to share in any money that the plaintiff recovered. The witness asked the defendant truck driver to join in his “evil, but brilliant” plan. The driver refused and Jeff knew this was his opportunity to attack plaintiff’s case, leaving him without any viable witnesses to rely on.

The Outcome

During the mediation process, Jeff and Bill were able to destroy both the plaintiff’s and his star witness’ credibility, which ultimately resulted in a settlement for 1.5% of the plaintiff’s initial demand. The adjuster and the client were very happy with the results.

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