Rear-ender causes ongoing neck pain, carrier offers half-million. $2.6 million. Sacramento County.


Case proceeds to trial despite CCP 998 offer of $500,000 with admitted liability but disputed causation.

The Case

  • Case Name: Lonny Johnson v. Davis Development Company, Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: Sacramento County Superior Court / 34-2015-00178711
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, February 09, 2018
  • Type of Case: Vehicles – rear-ender
  • Plaintiffs:
    Lonny Johnson
  • Defendants:
    Davis Development
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $2,659,877.36
  • Economic Damages:

    Past and future medicals: $865,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past and future non-economic damages: $1,720,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 8 court days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP by Roger A. Dreyer and Joshua T. Edlow, Sacramento.


  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Sacino Bertolino & Hallissy, APC by John P. Hallissy, Sacramento.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Tyler Smith, M.D., orthopedic, Roseville. (Treating physician.)

    Carol Hyland, MA MS, CDMS, CLCP, life care planning, Lafayette.

    Vinnay Reddy, M.D., physiatry, Sacramento. (Treating physician.)

    Eddy Joelson, M.D., internal medicine, Elk Grove. (Treating physician.)


  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Edward Younger, M.D., orthopedic.

    William Hoddick, M.D., neuroradiology.

    Hamidreza Aliabadi, M.D., neurosurgery.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Richard Barnes, CPA,  economics, Sacramento.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Craig Enos, CPA, economics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On March 3, 2014, plaintiff , a 45 year-old male, was stopped on southbound Highway 680 when an employee of Davis Development Company, Inc., driving a Chevy work truck, struck the rear of plaintiff's vehicle. The impact caused a chain reaction, which propelled plaintiff forward into the vehicle in front of him. Plaintiff claimed he sustained injuries to his neck, producing pain as well as headaches and occasional radiating symptoms in his left arm. Plaintiff sued Davis Development Company, Inc., alleging negligence and claiming damages for past/future medical expenses, past/future loss of household services and past/future non-economic damages. He did not make a lost income claim.

    The defendant admitted course and scope as well as liability for the collision, and the matter proceeded to a trial on causation and damages only.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant's negligence caused ongoing pain and discomfort for plaintiff as a result of the rear-end crash.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    The Defense claimed that while plaintiff did sustain soft tissue cervical strain in the incident, his acute cervical strain healed after physical therapy approximately six weeks after the collision and before he left for a trip to Greece.

    Defendant's experts in orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery opined that plaintiff’s symptoms and treatment after his return from Greece were the result of a longstanding pre-existing condition that stemmed back to medieval martial arts injuries that plaintiff sustained in 2003 and 2008. Both doctors noted plaintiff’s 150 plus chiropractic visits in the three years prior to the collision as a basis for their opinions. They also based this on the fact that plaintiff reported doing better after physical therapy, citing 1/10 “negligible pain” and then traveling to Europe approximately three months after the collision occurred.

    Defense counsel also highlighted that plaintiff took seven trips to Europe in total in the four years after the collision in an effort to suggest that the non-economic damage portion of the claim was being exaggerated. The defense radiologist testified that the results of plaintiff’s MRI imaging studies revealed longstanding, age-related degeneration and did not reveal any evidence of a single traumatic event producing injury. All of defendant’s medical experts were of the opinion his prognosis was from degeneration and prior complaints and problems he had before the collision.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff claimed injury to his neck, including cervical facet mediated pain, producing headaches. He also claimed radiating symptoms caused by disc herniations resulting from annular tears at the C4-5 and C5-6 levels of the spine that are alleged to have occurred in the subject collision. He alleged that these injuries resulted in the need for multiple epidural steroid and facet injections, as well as medial branch blocks and radiofrequency ablations. This condition ultimately is claimed to have resulted in the need for plaintiff undergoing a two-level cervical discectomy and fusion three years after the incident.

    Plaintiff’s treating surgeon testified that Mr. Johnson would require an additional fusion surgery in his lifetime. Plaintiff’s treating physical medicine doctor opined that he would require two facet injections and other pain management over the course of his life expectancy (32 years).

  • Plaintiff claimed while he could continue to do his job of interactive history presentations to elementary school students, he could not enjoy his recreational activities.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $115,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $1,220,000

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,000,000 in October of 2015, then $250,000 in June of 2016.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $500,000

Additional Notes

Plaintiff served a $1 million CCP Section 998 offer in October of 2015 and then served a $250,000 CCP Section 998 offer in June of 2016. Plaintiff increased the demand after the Mandatory Settlement Conference to the $2 million policy limits. The first $1 million policy limit with Mercury Insurance and the second $1 million with Topa Insurance for a total of $2 million (April 2017). In response to Defendant’s CCP offer before trial, Plaintiff countered with a demand for $1.75 million. After the verdict, it was revealed that there was a third layer of insurance that had not been disclosed in the initial discovery responses from previous counsel for the defendant.

At the Mandatory Settlement Conference, Defendant’s offered $300,000. Ten days before trial Defendant offered $500,000 (pursuant to CCP Section 998).

Plaintiff filed a cost bill for experts and prejudgment interest in the amount of $691,481.59. Plaintiff indicated that he would settle the matter for $3 million if the carriers agreed to pay it by March 20, 2018. The defense carriers accepted that demand and the case has resolved.