$152,500 verdict for back injuries in minor impact collision. Alameda County.


Cab rear-ends car at stop light; minimal vehicle damage. Defense CCP 998 offer of $30,000. Plaintiff had low back decompression surgery. Jury said $152,000.

The Case

  • Case Name: Odom v. Friendly Cab et. al
  • Court and Case Number: Alameda County Superior Court / RG12650512
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, February 20, 2014
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, October 02, 2012
  • Type of Case: Vehicles - Auto vs. Auto
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Robert McGuiness
  • Plaintiffs:
    Joe Odom, 49, personal trainer
  • Defendants:
    Friendly Cab; Amanuel Woldelassie (cab driver)
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $152,500
  • Net Verdict or Award: Same
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Friendly Cab, as owner of the cab, was only responsible for $15,000.  Defendant cab driver Woldelassie, is liable for balance of judgment; insurance carrier defended and indemnified both defendants.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:


    Past Medical: $38,000
    Future Medical: $22,500
    Wage loss: $32,000
    Future wage loss: $10,000


  • Non-Economic Damages:


    Past Pain and suffering: $35,000
    Future Pain and suffering: $15,000

  • Punitive Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 1 week
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 days
  • Jury Polls: Various on special verdict form.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: N/A

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:
    Terry D. Buller, P.C. by Terry D. Buller, Oakland.
  • Attorney for the Defendant:
    Bennett Samuelsen Reynolds & Allard by David Samuelson, Alameda.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
    Stephen Brown, M.D., Berkeley.
    Thomas Mampalam, M.D., neurosurgery, Berkeley.
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
    Noeman Livermore,M.D., orthopedic surgery, Walnut Creek.
  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
  • Defendant's Technical Experts:

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On November 11, 2011 plaintiff stopped at the intersection of Heggenberger and Doolittle in Oakland to make a right-hand turn and was struck from behind by defendant's taxi cab.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff stopped to make right turn, struck from rear by defendant cab.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That there was no visible damage to the cab and less than $500 property damage to plaintiff's rear bumper.

    Defendants contested the nature and cause of plaintiff's injuries.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Soft tissue injuries to plaintiff's neck and back. Plaintiff had decompression surgery to his low back.

  • Plaintiff had been involved in construction work, but had not worked in that field for 6 years because of the recession. Plaintiff had been working as a personal trainer and pastor in the 2 years before the accident. Plaintiff contended that with the upswing in the economy, he would have returned to construction work if not for the accident.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $44,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $25,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $40,000-90,000/yr
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $30,000-40,000

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $75,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $30,000