SUCCESS STORY

Sticking to Your Guns with Trucking Clients

SFE Attorney: Cliff J. Wilson

Plaintiff Attorney: Kenneth J, Abere Jr.

Plaintiffs Doctor: Dr. V. James Makker (no longer licensed)

City, County, State: Multnomah County Circuit Court

Claims Alleged: Personal Injury

Injuries Alleged: Back, neck, arm, shoulder, hip injuries

Admitted Liability: No

Amount Claimed: $1,063,106.00

The Overview

Following an automobile accident with disputed liability, the passenger of the other car filed suit against the driver of her car, as well as a trucking company and its driver, with a prayer for over one million dollars.  In Multnomah County Oregon, where jurors are notoriously distrustful of truckers and trucking companies, Cliff Wilson, then-associate (now partner) at smith Freed Eberhard, produced an excellent result for his trucking clients after only one day of trial.

The Background

In addition to substantial alleged wage loss and pain and suffering, plaintiff alleged medical expenses alone as exceeding $225,000, which included multiple neck fusion surgeries.  Cliff’s thorough investigation, however, uncovered a lengthy prior history of complaints similar to those plaintiff claimed to be the result of the accident.  He also uncovered that plaintiff’s treating neurosurgeon recently had his medical license restricted, had his surgical privileges suspended, and had several complaints regarding unnecessary surgeries pending against him.  Additionally, Cliff uncovered prior criminal activity by the plaintiff that would have likely prevented her from obtaining the employment position she claimed she could no longer pursue due to the accident.

Plaintiffs Theme

Plaintiff attempted to win the jury over with her extensive medical treatment, how could she be lying about her injuries when she had so many “medically necessary” surgeries? Plaintiff’s strategy was simply to blame everyone else, because she was just the “innocent” passenger.

Our Strategy

Pre-trial, Cliff won motions ensuring that he would be able to present evidence to the jury of the plaintiff’s prior criminal background in order to challenge her wage loss claims, and that she herself played a substantial role in causing the accident by distracting the driver of her car.  On opening, Cliff’s succinct theme of distraction and credibility resonated with the jury both as to the actions of the plaintiff and her neurosurgeon.  Following Cliff’s cross-examination of the neurosurgeon, which effectively undermined plaintiff’s causation claims, plaintiff asked if Cliff’s client’s ‘offer to allow judgment’ was still on the table.  Cliff responded that it was, but only for a few more minutes. 

The Outcome

Plaintiff accepted, and settled for significantly less than her medical costs on the second day of trial. Cliff’s outstanding result for trucking clients in this case is an example of when valuing a case correctly and sticking to your guns can really pay off.

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